The Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers under the International Mobility Program is a significant initiative designed to protect migrant workers in Canada from various forms of abuse. This program not only acknowledges a range of abusive behaviors that may qualify a worker for an open work permit but also serves several key objectives:
Providing Escape from Abuse: It offers a means for foreign workers experiencing or at risk of abuse to leave their employers and obtain work authorization for other employers.
Mitigating Irregular Work Risks: By facilitating this transition, the program aims to reduce the tendency of migrant workers to leave their jobs and work irregularly (without authorization) due to abusive situations.
Supporting Inspections and Investigations: The provision also enables the participation of these workers in inspections of their former employers or recruiters, thus contributing to broader enforcement efforts.
Assisting in Legal Processes: It helps in reducing the fear and perceived risk among migrant workers regarding work permit revocation or deportation, thereby encouraging them to assist authorities in relevant cases.
Types of Abuse Recognized
Physical Abuse: This includes direct physical harm such as hitting, slapping, and choking, as well as conditions that threaten physical health like unsafe living conditions or being forced to work in hazardous environments.
Sexual Abuse: Encompasses situations where force or threat is used for sexual activity, including non-consensual acts and those involving physical force or coercion.
Psychological Abuse: This type of abuse involves patterns of intimidation or coercive behavior, including threats, harassment, or using religious beliefs to manipulate and control.
Financial Abuse: This involves controlling a worker’s economic resources, including failing to pay wages, stealing, or limiting financial access.
The examples provided above are not all-inclusive. Other forms of physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse may also be considered.
Abuse in the Employment Context
Charging Recruitment Fees Under False Pretenses: Employers or third parties exploiting migrant workers by demanding fees for non-existent jobs.
Workplace Harassment: Repeated, unwanted harassment by co-workers, including physical or verbal behavior.
Threats Over Work Conditions: Employers threatening workers for complaining about their work conditions.
Risks After Exiting Abusive Situations: Workers who have left abusive environments but face potential risks if they return.
Coerced Illegal Work Activities: Pressuring migrant workers to engage in activities that violate their work permit terms, like working for an unauthorized employer.
The Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers under the International Mobility Program plays a pivotal role in protecting migrant workers in Canada from a broad spectrum of abusive behaviors. By understanding and recognizing these forms of abuse, and facilitating the objectives of protecting and empowering migrant workers, the program aims to provide a safer and more secure working environment for migrant workers, affirming Canada’s commitment to upholding human rights and labor standards.