Greenhouse Canada

ESDC releases findings, safeguarding temporary foreign workers in Canada

October 2, 2023  By Greenhouse Canada

The Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) released its findings from recent compliance activities aimed at protecting temporary foreign workers during their employ in Canada.

The results from ESDC show that of their more than 2,100 completed inspections of employers of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) across all sectors of the economy including fruit and vegetable production between April 2022 and March 2023, 94 per cent were found to be compliant with employment regulations and standards.

This follows ESDC’s introduction last year of new regulations to improve its ability to conduct TFW program inspections and help employers adhere to the rules.


Ontario’s fruit and vegetable growers employ more than 20,000 seasonal and temporary foreign workers annually. These are workers who come to Ontario legally under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), or the agricultural stream of the federal government’s TFW program and help Canadian growers address labour needs on their farms.

Canadian farmers who employ seasonal and temporary farm workers under SAWP or the TFW program have the same obligations to those workers as they do for their Canadian employees. Government regulations stipulate that this includes government-approved wage rates; access to health care such as OHIP in Ontario; Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan as well as workplace insurance coverage such as WSIB in Ontario; and coverage under provincial employment standards and occupational health and safety legislation. Farms are also required to provide every worker with a copy of the federal government’s publication outlining workers’ legal rights and protections to ensure they are aware of their rights.

To ensure these requirements are being followed in practice, farms are subject to frequent federal, provincial, and in many cases, foreign government compliance inspections. ESDC statistics show that the agriculture sector in Canada has above-average employer compliance rates compared to other industries and sectors that use the TFW program, and compliance rates for Ontario farmers are particularly high.

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