The Government of Canada has decided to increase funding for its support program intended to protect temporary foreign workers (TFWs) from mistreatment and abuse by informing them of their rights and how to exercise them, as well as offering them support tailored to their needs. Thus, the seventeen projects set up in 2021 in Quebec, following a call for projects coordinated by Immigrant Quebec and funded by the Government of Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, will be able to continue until September 30. 2022.
It must be said that the program, intended primarily to inform temporary foreign workers of their rights and obligations in the context of a pandemic, has borne fruit. Indeed, the various support activities for temporary foreign workers have affected nearly 50,000 people in Quebec since April 2021. Above all, the various projects funded have made it possible to take a closer look at certain situations that these vulnerable workers sometimes experience. .
Indeed, the program has enabled Immigrant Québec “ in the event that an employer does not respect the rights of foreign workers, to alert the public authorities and find emergency solutions to help workers. We have been able, even in rare cases, to secure workers in a hotel or emergency accommodation while waiting to transfer them by air to their country of origin,” explains Christophe Berthet, General Manager of Immigrant Quebec.
This was the case, for example, in November 2021, when several workers from the Immigrant Québec team took part in a rescue operation for around twenty temporary foreign workers on a farm in Montérégie. The employer had stopped paying them, and some of them had even been transferred to other agricultural establishments. In December 2021, four other temporary workers, normally employed by this same farm, were found and, at their request, repatriated to Guatemala.
An awareness tool
The 17 projects funded through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program also distributed 67,000 flyers, organized 47 webinars and social events, and scheduled 260 group information sessions. “ The results are edifying: there is a real need to provide reliable information in this health context and to support temporary foreign workers, particularly in the agricultural sector”, underlines Mr. Berthet.
Over the past few months, Immigrant Québec has used various channels to reach these workers directly. For example, 17,000 of them received information via a newsletter. The organization also regularly updated the infotetquebec.com portal. Offered in three languages, the site thus reached nearly 40,000 unique visitors between July 1, 2021 and December 15, 2021.
Partners also receive various practical tools, such as the Immigrant Québec postcard with a QR code linking directly to infotetquebec.com. They can display the information on their premises or transmit the document electronically to temporary foreign workers who use their services.
Building the links
At the same time, a social safety net has been woven in recent months around these temporary foreign workers working in the 17 regions of Quebec. Over the months, organizations, employers and the community have come together to offer them services. Several tools have also been put in place by Immigrant Québec to inform the organizations participating in the projects and create links, such as the publication of articles and the distribution of newsletters sent to more than 1,200 stakeholders. Organizations are thus aware of the services offered elsewhere.
In mid-December 2021, Immigrant Québec also organized a virtual meeting between the various organizations, with the aim of sharing their best practices. A formula allowing everyone to exchange and be inspired by others in a spirit of community and sharing of learning. Thus, following another meeting of this type, several organizations decided to make contact with temporary foreign workers outside their work environment, for example in grocery stores specializing in Latin food or parking lots shopping centers.
The Immigration Summit, organized by Immigrant Québec in October 2021, was also an opportunity to meet for project lead organizations. A workshop on good practices to support temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector has also been scheduled, led by Actions interculturelles de développement et d’éducation (AIDE). Six organizations testified and the activity attracted some forty organizations.
But above all, since April 2021, several collaborations have emerged between different organizations with complementary missions. Other organizations have also developed the reflex of turning to Immigrant Québec to obtain referrals and be put in touch with partners. Mutual assistance that can only be positive for temporary foreign workers, even if the pandemic subsides.