News Release April 6, 2017: BC groups call on province to curb abuse in recruitment of temporary foreign workers

News Release – BC groups call on province to curb abuse in recruitment of temporary foreign workers

Vancouver, BC (April 6, 2017) – Today, a coalition of organizations in British Columbia is calling on the provincial government to take action to stop the abuse of temporary foreign workers.

To date, 37 organizations have signed on to an open letter to Labour Minister Shirley Bond demanding that the province do more to protect temporary foreign workers from exploitation by recruiters and employers in the province. Temporary foreign workers in BC are routinely charged thousands of dollars in illegal recruitment fees, and workers often go into debt to pay these fees. The combination of high debt, low pay, and temporary immigration status makes workers very vulnerable to abuse.

The coalition will deliver the open letter to the office of Labour Minister Shirley Bond today.

The open letter calls for enhanced licensing of recruitment agencies, proactive investigation of workplaces, and access to information and advocacy for workers. The coalition says a strong and proactive regime is needed because temporary foreign workers face barriers to reporting abuse. Most temporary foreign workers can only work for a specific employer under closed work permits, so they cannot complain about abuse without risking their job security and future in Canada.

The open letter is part of a campaign organized by Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment, a coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about the abuse of temporary foreign workers. They say that the province is not doing enough to protect these workers.

“It’s time for the province to act. BC is lagging behind other provinces which have recognized that temporary foreign workers are particularly vulnerable and have taken steps to protect them from exploitative recruitment practices, such as charging fees for jobs and promising jobs that do not exist,” says Natalie Drolet, Executive Director and staff lawyer with West Coast Domestic Workers Association, a member of the coalition.

“The changes we are asking for would bring BC in line with other provinces such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and would provide temporary foreign workers in this province with meaningful protection from exploitation by recruiters and employers,” Drolet explains.

More information about the campaign, including a petition, can be found at risingup.ca.

For more information, please contact Natalie Drolet at 604-669-6452 or Erie Maestro at 604-366-7218.