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BlogCOVID-19 measures for Canadian employers

8 April 2020

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While the Canadian border is closed to many, Canada’s Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced travel restriction exemptions for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) recently on March 26, 2020. The measures are intended to reduce, where possible, the negative impact of coronavirus on Canada’s economy.

Persons who have been issued work permits are exempted from the border restrictions and will be permitted to enter Canada subject to following the latest public health and safety guidelines. With new measures being introduced or revised almost daily, it is challenging to keep up with the pace. Here is a summary of what employers need to know about bringing workers to Canada.

TFW’s are still welcome to come to Canada. However, in accordance with an Emergency Order enacted on March 25, 2020, most TFW’s will be required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Federal exemptions to the self-isolation requirements have been introduced for those workers deemed essential to maintain the health and welfare of Canadians by Canada’s Public Health Officer (CPHO) including those who:

  • make necessary medical deliveries;
  • work in the trade and transportation sector to move goods and people;
  • cross the border regularly to go to work in Canada, including in the healthcare sector or critical infrastructure workers; and
  • cross the border to provide or receive essential services, including emergency responders and personnel providing essential services to Canadians related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This federal exemption from the need to self-isolate after cross border travel only applies to workers deemed essential pursuant to federal legislation. Workers deemed essential by provincial or territorial governments are still subject to the need for a 14 day period of self-isolation upon arriving in Canada.

Employers are responsible for facilitating the self-isolation of their employees as well as employee compliance with all other public health safety measures. Employers can not authorize an employee to work during the 14 day self isolation period, even if requested by the TFW, nor can an employer ask a worker to perform other duties such as building repairs or administrative tasks.

Employers are also required to pay TFW’s a minimum of 30 hours per week during the self-isolation period in accordance with the terms of the offer of employment.
Those employers who are required to provide accommodation for their TFWs must ensure that it meets minimum requirements to allow for social distancing and for the separation of workers who must self isolate from those workers who are not in self-isolation.

On April 1, 2020 Canada’s Minister of Health, The Honourable Patty Hajdu and Minister of Employment, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, wrote an open letter to employers advising them of their vital role and responsibilities in continuing to bring and support TFWs to Canada.

It is commendable that the Government of Canada continues to recognize the significance to the Canadian economy that TFW’s contribute and that they are both permitting their entry to Canada as well as continuing to process both Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and work permit applications for new applicants notwithstanding the challenges of COVID 19.

The statutory provisions and policy guidelines facing both employers and TFWs will continue to change frequently so stay tuned for further updates.

For further information about special COVID measures for employers and TFWs please refer to these links:

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