CANADIAN LABOUR/CANADIAN POLITICS:
WILL ONTARIO PROTECT MIGRANT WORKERS ?:
Molly received the following news release from the Status Campaign, an Ontario based coalition set up to help migrant workers. I personally feel that the tone of the following is too optimistic for two reasons. One is that the Ontario government is merely "looking into" reforms that would better protect migrant workers. The second is that the situation here in Manitoba is far from perfect. There is still a long way to go. no number of laws will do any good if enforcement is patchy at best. Still, take the following as it is.
Finally, of course, there is the question of whether there should be any bars on immigration at all. In a free society there would be no such thing; people would be free to live and work where they please.
Toronto Star article: Ontario eyes ways to help migrant workers:
Ontario eyes ways to help migrant workers
Looks to Manitoba which just brought in new rules
Oct 30, 2008
Lesley Ciarula Taylor
Ontario, which has long argued its labour laws protect migrant farmworkers, nannies and others imported here for jobs, is floating the idea of special protection for temporary workers.
People hired through temp agencies were the original focus of possible expanded protections, but now others would also be helped.
If the changes become part of the Employment Standards Act, Ministry of Labour spokesperson Bruce Skeaff said they would cover temporary foreign workers – from those in the food service industry to migrant farm workers to nannies. It would also represent a major update of the act.
In a consultation paper last May the ministry pointed to issues such as agencies that charge fees for finding jobs or if workers go from temporary to full-time work. It also raised questions about regulations and penalties to further protect the 700,000 people in Ontario with temporary jobs. There is currently no deadline for any new legislation.
Ontario has been consulting with Manitoba, where landmark legislation to protect temporary foreign workers has just been passed. The catalyst, said Manitoba Labour and Immigration Minister Nancy Allan,was creating a law to protect young models. Then, 200 workers imported from China to work at Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon were found to have paid $10,000 to recruiters.
The Manitoba law, to be phased in from January to April, will keep track of employers who bring in foreigners on temporary work permits and will license only Canadian recruiters. Even families who hire nannies will have to register.
"The onus is going to be on the employer," said Allan.
If ministry inspectors find a worker has paid for a job or isn't getting the agreed wage or benefits, the employer or recruiter will have to pay it back, said Dave Dyson, director of the employment standards branch in Manitoba and architect of that province's law.
Ontario has long stuck to the idea that its labour laws protect everyone, including temporary foreign workers. Once you're in Ontario, said Skeaff, you're covered by the employment act even if you are illegal. Allan said workers have not been adequately protected. "How do the workers know about the employment standards code? What language can they complain in? These people often come from places where talking to the government isn't so great an idea."
The biggest flaw in employment laws, said Dyson, is that no province knows how many foreigners on temporary work permits arrive or who they are, since Ottawa and the employer bring them in.
Stan Raper of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said: "The Manitoba government gets it. Why not Ontario ? We've been asking that for a fairly long time."