International Migration Research Centre

Document Type


Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


Department of Health Studies


Key Recommendations to Reduce Migrant Worker Vulnerability and Secure Meaningful access to Rights and Protections

Immigration, Visa and Work Restrictions

  • Provide opportunities for permanent residency for all TFWs who want it, regardless of sector or skill level.
  • Under Federal-Provincial Immigration Agreements, expand the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in sectors such as carework and agriculture.
  • Provide open work permits or at very least sector-specific work permits for all TFWs.
  • Provide family visas to allow family members to unite with TFWs while in Canada.
  • Provide job security and protections for TFWs. Specifically, all TFWs must have eligibility for renewed employment based on seniority and Canadian work experience before an employer can have approval to hire different TFWs.
  • Remove the ‘four years in/four years out’ and cumulative duration rules.

Social and Health Protections

  • Provide all TFWs full and equal access to settlement services (including language), and social protections, including full access to EI benefits.
  • Work with provincial partners to ensure that health insurance is available immediately to all TFWs upon arrival.
  • Work with provincial partners to offer specialized, accessible support which addresses language, literacy and logistical barriers, to allow workers full and meaningful access to social and community services, health care and workers’ compensation benefits. Examples include mobile health outreach services, multi-lingual information/support lines, provision of legal support, and free interpretation services in workers’ languages.
  • Work with provincial partners to provide TFWs support to stay in Canada to receive investigations and treatment for illnesses and injuries prior to repatriations, especially those which may be caused by or related to their work.
  • Work with sending country government partners to provide TFWs portable (bilateral) health insurance.

Labour and Human Rights Protections

  • Work with provincial partners to ensure provincial and federal regulations on labour and human rights (including collective bargaining rights) adhere to international human rights and labour standards and apply to workers across all sectors.
  • Ratify and enforce all international conventions and agreements relevant to migrant workers, in particular, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers (Convention 189).
  • In cases where an employer wishes to dismiss a TFW make available an independent, impartial appeals process to the worker from both within and outside of Canada.
  • For jobs requiring an LMIA strengthen requirements, monitoring and evaluation of employer practices, housing and workplace safety, with a range of consequences based on the severity of infractions, and incentives for compliance.
  • Commit adequate funds to support enforcement and regulation of unscrupulous employers and recruiters. Create federal legislation or changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that strengthen regulation and monitoring of immigration recruiters and consultants in partnership with provinces, as well as immigration Foreign Service offices.
  • Appoint a federal level ombudsperson / advocate whose responsibility is to receive complaints from TFWs and advocate on their behalf to various levels of government, while ensuring protection from employer reprisals. The advocate’s office should work in partnership with and support the efforts of community groups who have long provided assistance to TFWs. Inform all workers upon entry about the presence of this advocate and have a toll-free telephone support line where complaints can be lodged, available in the most common mother tongues spoken by TFWs.
  • Prohibit hiring and recruitment practices that allow employers and recruiters to discriminate based on race, gender, national origin or any other differentiation category as recognized under employment standards and human rights legislation.