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23:1 (2021) Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal 71-102


Although Canada's migrant labour programs are seen by some as models of best practices, rights shortfalls and exploitation of workers are well documented. Through migration policy, federal authorities determine who can hire migrant workers and the conditions under which they are employed, through the provision of work permits. Despite its authority over work permits, the federal government has historically had little to do with the regulation of working conditions. In 2015, the federal government introduced a new regulatory enforcement system -unique internationally for its attempt to enforce migrants' workplace rights through federal migration policy -under which employers must comply with contractual employment terms, uphold provincial workplace standards, and make efforts to maintain a workplace free of abuse. Drawing on enforcement data, and frontline law and policy documents, we critically assess the new enforcement system, concluding that, because of design flaws and implementation failures, it does not realize its potential to protect workers' rights.

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