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Canada Keeps Cracking Down on Employers of Illegal Workers

Last week, the Vancouver Sun published this story: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/West+firm+owners+charged+employing+illegal+workers/9256506/story.html reporting that a Vancouver construction company and its owners have been accused of employing six foreign nationals illegally.  while the company and the owner are presumed innocent, these type of enforcement actions are increasing.

One of the interesting aspects of the allegation is that the foreign workers said to be working illegally in this case were not treated poorly.  The allegation is simply that they were working without the legal authorization to do so in Canada.

Businesses must be increasingly aware of the enforcement culture regarding foreign workers as well as the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements that make it more difficult to hire foreign workers.

Back in the summer, the Manitoba Court of Appeal came down strongly on an employer of foreign workers.  As well, a recent press release from the Canada Border Services Agency has discussed a $40,000 fine that was levied on a Montreal business that hired foreign workers illegally.

In addition, the federal government has signaled that they will be implementing more stringent requirements that allow for easier enforcement of immigration laws.  While these laws have not yet been finalized, the public’s ability to respond to these proposed changes that came out in the summer has already passed.

On a going-forward basis, companies would be best advised to ensure their HR systems that are set up to detect when a person is legally entitled to work in Canada and, if there are any questions, what issues should be addressed before hiring that person.

Clearly, the failure to do so will more likely attract immigration enforcement proceedings in the future.

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About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.

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