In the News: Fines Mounting for Violations in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Programs

May 10, 2024 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Matt Lundy

The federal government penalized nearly 200 companies last year for violating the rules of its temporary foreign worker programs, resulting in record fines for infractions such as wage theft and abuse in the workplace.

Ottawa reached 194 decisions against non-compliant employers in 2023 and handed out $2.7-million in penalties, an average of $13,800 per decision, according to a Globe and Mail analysis of figures published by the government. Some employers have also been suspended from hiring temporary labour from outside the country.

While the government reached more decisions of non-compliance in 2021, last year set a new high for fines. And 2024 is shaping up to be even worse.

Canadian companies have sharply increased their hiring of temporary workers from abroad in recent years, helped by federal policy changes that broadened access to such workers. The government has said its efforts are aimed at addressing labour shortages.

But as companies were granted more access to that pool of workers, some economists and labour advocates raised concerns about the potential for exploitation.

“There’s a subset of companies that are using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program because they’re very poorly managed to begin with,” said Catherine Connelly, a professor at McMaster University and the author of Enduring Work: Experiences with Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. “They are not able to keep local workers. So their Hail Mary pass is ‘Okay, we’re gonna get temporary foreign workers who cannot quit.’”

Read the full article in the Globe & Mail.

Catherine Connelly

Catherine Connelly

Professor, Human Resources & Management, and Canada Research Chair of Organizational Behaviour Tier II

Dr. Catherine Connelly holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Organizational Behaviour, and is a Member Emeritus of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is a former associate editor for Human Relations and currently serves on several editorial boards including the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management Review, the Academy of Management Discoveries journal, and Human Resource Management.

Her research focuses on the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences of non-standard workers (e.g., temporary agency workers, contractors, temporary foreign workers), the effects of leadership styles on leader well-being, and knowledge hiding in organizations. Catherine also conducts applied research with several Canadian organizations in both the private and non-profit sector.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

We generally welcome discussion on our blog posts. However, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments in certain situations:

  • Comments which include unrelated or suspicious links or messages (spam).
  • Comments which are off topic.
  • Comments which attack or threaten individuals or a group of people.
  • Comments which include profanity or messages that would generally be considered offensive or inappropriate by the McMaster community.

This site is moderated by the DeGroote Marketing and Communications team. If you have any questions please email Katie Almas.