By Gerald V. Paul
Changes to immigration and refugee protection regulations published just days ago, give Human Resources and Skills Development Canada officials or Citizenship and Immigration officers the right to walk in on businesses as part of a random audit or because they suspect fraud.
Upon entering a property, officials will have wide powers of investigation. They will be able to “examine anything on the premises,” question employers and staff, request documents, use photo copiers to copy records, and take photographs or make video and audio recording.
But Naveen Mehta General Counsel, Director of Human Rights, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada, told The Camera on Wednesday, “This is the action of a Federal government consumed with the idea of an inexpensive and cheap labour immigration policy. A policy driven by ideology, be it the Farm Workers programme or hotels, with no protection for workers.”
Mehta noted this action is coming on the heels on the RBC’s temporary workers programme where the Federal government emerged in a negative light.
Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers came to Canada in 2011 – more than double levels of a decade ago.
According to Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Nancy Caron, “Immigration officers will be able to ask employers at any time during a foreign workers employment, and for up to six years, after the relevant worker’s work permit expires, to demonstrate that they are meeting or met their conditions for employing temporary foreign workers.”
After a work permit has been issued, the government would be able to conduct inspections of employers if there is reason to suspect an employer is not complying with the rules of the programme.
“Show me in the budget where they said ‘warrantless search and seizure’. Because I can’t find it,” Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said. He added that businesses risk having commercially sensitive information carried off their premises by Ottawa.