Updates on what has changed for migrant workers over the summer.
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Hey Friend, 

Welcome back from the summer! A lot has changed over the last few months for migrant workers in Canada. Below are four of the major legal changes and trends to keep in mind. Get in touch with us if you have questions. 

I also want to draw your attention to a website called which documents changes to immigration policy over the last nine years. There is a whole section on migrant workers!

Best wishes,

Tzazná Miranda Leal

(1) No more 25% mandatory savings deducted from Jamaican SAWP workers! 

The government of Jamaica announced that it will no longer require farmworkers in the SAWP to have 25% of their earnings deducted from their paycheques and put into a savings accounts. See the announcement as reported by Jamaican and Canadian media.

 What you need to know:
  1. The change will come in effect for workers coming to Canada for the 2016 season.
  2. For now it is only the Jamaican government that will stop the deductions.
  3. The Jamaican Government will continue to deduct 5.5% of wages to finance the operation of the Liaison Office and medical expenses.
  4. Many SAWP workers see numerous other deductions from their paycheques, some of which are not legal. Generally, non-statutory deductions made directly from workers wages need to be authorized by the worker in writing. See the Deductions from Wages section on the Ministry of Labour's website for more detail. 

(2) The "4 & 4 rule"

The “4 & 4” is a rule that limits the amount of time many migrant worker can stay in Canada: workers who have worked in Canada for 4 cumulative years will have to leave for 4 years before being able to come back. See our factsheet for more detailed information on how it affects to migrant workers. 

 What you need to know:

  1. It applies to Temporary Foreign Workers (including those working in agriculture) in “low wage” occupations and caregivers. It does not impact Seasonal Agricultural Workers.
  2. There is a lot of confusion around how workers count their 4 years. The ‘4 year clock’ started running on April 1, 2011 for workers who were in Canada then. If workers arrived after 2011, the clock starts running when they started working in Canada. It does not include extended vacation, unemployment or times they spent outside the country.
  3. Workers have left throughout the summer because they could not renew their work permits past their 4 years. If you know workers who are leaving and might not come back, make sure they take information on how to apply for the Canada Pension Plan when they turn 60-65. Most migrant workers make CPP contributions and are eligible, so go to Service Canada's website for details on the application. 
  4. Some workers might stay in Canada without a work permit and might require information on their rights while undocumented. We will be sending you information on that in our next release - please subscribe to our list to get the details.

(3) Certain workplaces barred from hiring more than a certain number of Temporary Foreign Workers

In June 2014, the Federal government announced a set of changes to limit how many migrant workers a workplace could employ. Initially, only 30% of a workplace could be comprised of Temporary Foreign Workers.

What you need to know:

  1. As of July 1, 2015, the portion of the workforce that can be made up of migrant workers went down to 20%. The details on how it is calculated can be found at the Service Canada website.
  2. Migrant workers who are impacted by this rule are workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program who are making less than $21.15/hour (this is the cutoff for Ontario and differs by province). Caregivers, all agricultural workers (both in the SAWP and in the TFWP Agricultural stream) and International Mobility Program workers will not be impacted. Workplaces with less than 10 workers nationally will also not be affected.
  3. These changes will likely result in large layoffs of migrant workers. Workers can chose to stay in Canada and look for other work, and will need support applying for a new work permit. Some may choose to become undocumented. Stay in touch with us for our next e-alert, which will contain information on the rights of undocumented workers. 

(4) LMIA rejection rates 

Some of our member organizations report that LMIA’s are increasingly being rejected for migrant workers in different industries. The Caregivers Action Centre recently organize a public legal education event in response to reports that over 90% of   new caregiver LMIA’s were rejected in the period between December 2014 and March 2015.

What you need to know:

  1. Caregivers are having a very difficult time getting LMIA’s for new employers and so are not being able to leave abusive working conditions.
  2. Some caregivers who have already left a past employer and cannot get a new LMIA approved might have their status expire and become undocumented if they remain in Canada to look for work.
  3. Our members report that many LMIA’s are being rejected because they did not meet the required types or amounts of advertising that are specified in the LMIA process. Please read this section carefully and follow these guidelines to make sure that LMIAs are not summarily rejected. 
Due to these changes, it is becoming increasingly important for all of us to know how to support workers and families who live in Canada undocumented.
Our next update will focus exclusively on information and Know-Your-Rights for people living without status in Canada. Keep your eye out for it!
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You are receiving this email because you believe migrant workers deserve immigration status on landing and full access to rights and benefits. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, KAIROS, Legal Assistance of Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre. 

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