N.S. farms to register if hiring foreign temp workers

Farmers and any other employers bringing temporary foreign workers to Nova Scotia can expect to have to register their operations with the province, starting this winter.

The provincial government on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require employers who want to recruit temporary foreign workers to register online with Access Nova Scotia.

A spokesman for the provincial office of immigration confirmed the new rules will also apply to farmers, including those who bring foreign workers to Nova Scotia through the federal Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

The online registration process with Access Nova Scotia will be free of charge and will take only a few minutes, the province said in a release.

The registration requirement is part of a larger legislative package following formal consultations last year, which according to the province confirmed reports of “recruiters charging high fees and workers arriving to find employment conditions and compensation had changed from the original offer.”

“These are some of the most vulnerable workers in our province,” Labour Minister Marilyn More said in the province’s release. “These amendments will help better protect those who come to work in Nova Scotia from other countries.”

The registration process is expected to allow the provincial government to better track the numbers, occupations and locations of temporary foreign workers in Nova Scotia, a provincial spokesman said Monday in an email.

The new rule, he said, :also provides the province with an opportunity to ensure employers are aware of their responsibilities and to ensure the workers are aware of their rights.”

Temporary foreign workers are already covered by occupational health and safety regulations and labour standards, the province noted in its release, but added that the new legislation “will better protect them from being exploited.”

Other requirements to be phased in during the next year, after the legislation passes, are to include:

  • requiring federal government approval before changes to conditions of employment;
  • starting this summer, updating the provision that prohibits charging fees to workers for job placement services;
  • creating ways to recover any fees charged; and
  • starting this fall, requiring that recruiters of temporary foreign workers obtain a licence from the province’s director of labour standards.

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