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Are foreign workers in Canada being misled to think they are paying for jobs?

The rules regarding foreign labour recruitment vary across Canadian provinces. For example, in Alberta, recruiters are not allowed to collect a fee for finding employment for a foreign worker. However, employment agencies are allowed to charge for other services, such as job-related training, resume preparation, and immigration consulting.

British Columbia's rules for foreign labour recruitment are similar to Alberta's.

In contrast, Saskatchewan prohibits recruiters from charging for job placement and training, but agencies can bill for immigration-related services. Manitoba prohibits recruiters from charging foreign workers at all.

Concerns have been raised recently that foreign workers are being misled to think that they are paying recruiters for jobs and not simply job training and immigration consulting. One man, a former police officer from Portugal, told CBC's Go Public that he was under the impression that he was paying for a combination of employment and immigration services, and that he was never told that the immigration consulting was optional.

The man said that the only agreement he signed with the employment agency, which is based in Edmonton, was a $2,500 retainer agreement, which included a range of immigration services. Those services included a year of immigration consulting and help in obtaining a professional driver's licence, a bank account, housing, phone service, a social insurance number and a health card.

According to him, a 25 per cent deposit was sent to the recruiter, which then sent him a contract with a towing company. However, he says most of the services listed in the retainer agreement were never provided, and the towing company terminated his employment in less than two months.

Commenting on the matter, the Minister for Service Alberta said, "We're doing our best to create messaging and create a public awareness campaign so that people know what their rights are when it comes to these issues."

If you have questions about recruitment and hiring in B.C. or anywhere in Canada, please visit our employment law website. Overholt Law handles a wide variety of employment law matters.

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