Quebec is beefing up workplace safety for foreign nationals in the province after seeing the number of temporary foreign workers in the francophone province spike in the past two years. 

“The number of temporary foreign workers in Quebec is increasing every year, and particularly since Ottawa has granted us more flexibility in the wake of recent negotiations,” said Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet in French in a statement. 

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“This labour force is more and more involved in all sectors of our economy throughout Quebec,” he said. “It is crucial to remember they have the same rights and obligations of any other worker in Quebec and that we will continue to offer effective, concrete help to employers.”

CNESST is more than doubling number of workplace safety officers for temporary foreign workers

This summer, the province’s workplace safety commission, the Commission des Normes, de l’Équité, de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail (CNESST), is going to more than double its squad for workplace safety and prevention officers who check on working conditions for temporary foreign workers.

Quebec is beefing up that team which now consists of 10 workplace prevention officers by 12 ahead of the summer season when the province sees the arrival of many temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector. 

Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette says her department, the Ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), is also gearing up to welcome these anticipated temporary foreign workers this summer and provide them with settlement services to help them integrate into Quebecois society.

“MIFI is also offering services to businesses which employ temporary foreign workers and will inform them on the conditions to which they must adhere, the rights and responsibilities of employers,” said Fréchette in French in a statement.

Last year, Quebec welcomed a record-breaking 51,260 foreign nationals through the International Mobility Program (IMP), up almost 18.4 per cent from the 43,295 in 2021.

Workers arriving in Quebec through the IMP and TFWP hit record levels last year

The previous record for temporary workers coming to Quebec through the IMP had been set in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when the province welcomed 44,795 workers through that program.

Since 2015, the number of workers coming to Quebec through the IMP has increased by almost 74.5 per cent, from 29,380 to last year’s 51,260.

Quebec also benefits from foreign nationals coming to the province through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and welcomed a record-breaking 38,505 of them last year, up 27 per cent from the 30,310 TFWP workers in 2021.

Since 2015, the number of TFWP workers in Quebec has more than tripled, jumping from 11,500 to 38,505 last year. That’s an increase of 234.8 per cent. 

Together, the IMP and the TFWP provided Quebec with 89,765 workers last year, far more than the 68,685 new permanent residents it received.

Quebec welcomes more temporary workers than permanent residents every year

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were only 55,710 temporary foreign workers in Quebec through the IMP and TFWP, or 61.1 per cent fewer than last year.

This year, Quebec is expecting to welcome even more temporary foreign workers than ever. 

With temporary workers playing such an important role in Quebec’s economy, the province wants to be doubly sure they are treated properly by employers.

“The CNESST is particularly sensitive to the situation facing temporary foreign workers in Quebec,” said Manuelle Oudar, the organization’s president and executive director.

“This is why the CNESST takes proactive action to ensure safe, secure and healthy working conditions. The organization takes pains to visit, inform and raise awareness in all workplaces while making available information kits, posters and documentation, particularly in Spanish. 

“The CNESST will not tolerate infringements of workers’ rights or actions that contravene their right to a  safe, secure and healthy workplace just like any other worker in Quebec.”

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