Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Human Resources and Social Development Canada
Office of the Minister of Labour

Office of the Minister of Labour
Government of Canada

Government of Canada

November 28, 2006 10:05 ET

Minister Blackburn Hosts International Event on the Protection of Migrant Workers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 28, 2006) - Today, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, opened a workshop on the labour rights of migrant workers and labour market programs in the Americas. Minister Blackburn welcomed representatives of labour ministries from the Organization of American States (OAS), international organizations, business and labour organizations, and Canadian provincial and territorial governments to the event.

"Canada is dedicated to the protection of the rights of migrant workers and we recognize and value the contribution that these workers make to our economy," said Minister Blackburn. "Partnership is important and we have much to learn from one another. Through this workshop we will be able to share information and best practices with the goal of promoting activities that will enhance the protection of these workers."

The event is designed to promote dialogue among Ministers of Labour and other senior officials in the Americas and allows them to share information and experiences related to the protection of the labour rights of migrant workers.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

BACKGROUNDER

Workshop on the Protection of Labour Rights of Migrant Workers and Labour Market Programs

The workshop serves as a follow-up to commitments made last year by Heads of State at the IV Summit of the Americas and Labour Ministers at the XIV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour (IACML). Both these meetings are held under the umbrella of the Organization of American States (OAS).

At the labour conference, Labour Ministers reaffirmed that all migrants, regardless of their immigration status, should be accorded the full protection of human rights and the full observance of labour laws applicable to them, including the principles and labour rights embodied in the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

These fundamental principles include: freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labour and child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in employment. Ministers also agreed upon an action plan which includes a commitment to address the labour rights of migrant workers as one of the priority themes within the framework of the promotion of decent work. The workshop is one of the activities that supports this plan.

Since the launch of the Summit of Heads of States of the OAS in the mid-1990s, the IACML serves as a forum for ministers to follow-up on Summit discussions and particularly to address issues related to the labour dimension of globalization and hemispheric integration such as the protection and promotion of fundamental workers rights.

The OAS was formed in 1948 and brings together the countries of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests. At the core of the OAS mission is a commitment to democracy through the promotion of good governance, human rights, peace, security and expanded trade.

Through its programs and services, the Labour Program of HRSDC is dedicated to supporting and promoting the rights and well-being of workers both at home and abroad.

Canada's Foreign Worker Program

The Foreign Worker program (FWP) is jointly administered by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) through its Service Canada (SC) delivery arm, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The Program operates under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations (IRPA). In general, anyone other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must have a work permit issued by CIC to work legally in Canada.

Hiring foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada

HRSDC\SC's role in the process is to assess offers of employment made to foreign nationals in order to develop opinions on the potential impact of these offers on the Canadian labour market. Among the factors HRSDC\SC takes into account are the availability of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and the efforts the employer has made to recruit Canadians and permanent residents. Other considerations include whether the wages and working conditions are in keeping with the norm for the occupation, whether the employment of the foreign worker will result in the transfer of skills or knowledge to Canadians, and whether the employment of the foreign worker will result in the creation of employment for Canadians.

CIC generally seeks a labour market opinion from HRSDC\SC before issuing a work permit to a foreign national. Prior to issuing a work permit, CIC immigration officers also ensure that workers have proper documentation, meet health and security criteria and possess the qualifications to perform the job.

HRSDC/SC ensures terms and conditions comply with provincial labour standards and are specified in employment contracts. Provinces and Territories are responsible for enforcement of labour standards - except for federally regulated occupations in which case the Labour Program in HRSDC is responsible.

Contact Information

  • Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    819-994-5559
    or
    Media Only
    Pierre Florea
    Director of Communications
    819-953-5646