Your gateway to Canada


Immigration Newsweek

By Attorney Henry Moyal


As of last week, the Ontario government passed the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act. The Bill 210 passed 48 – 13 and which now makes it illegal for agencies to charge a recruitment fee to a caregiver to work in Ontario. But does it go far enough? Is it really going to stop agencies from doing business or from collecting fees from workers abroad who desperately want to come to Canada? I think not.

Canada is the only country which has an embedded program in its immigration laws that allow caregivers to become immigrants after two years of working. Caregivers in Israel for example can only be employed for the elderly and work visas are limited to five years. Caregivers in Libya or Saudi are not permitted to eventually become citizens of those countries. For those reasons, Canada is the number place to work as a caregiver because workers are almost sure that if they work for two years, they will become immigrants and then eventually citizens. That being said, will workers abroad think twice before giving thousands of dollars to agencies who promise them employers? Again, I think not.

The passing of the above law is welcoming but stakeholders and professionals who have worked in this field for over a decade know that it is something that should have happened long ago.
That being said, it is naïve to think that agencies and recruiters will just go away or not charge workers anymore. In my opinion, they will just adapt and find other tactics to collect money from workers abroad. It is naïve to think that workers will not be paying for placement fees. Again, the story will be different but the end result will be the same.

Further, it is a travesty that everyone is so focused on “ghost employers” and on workers who have made it to Canada and then become “released upon arrival” victims. While these workers undoubtedly have strong sympathetic causes, everyone forgets that they at least made it to Canada! It is certain that most agencies are not deterred by any potential lawsuits and are not afraid to face workers in Canada who complain that they have no jobs. What everyone (especially the media) is forgetting is that for every worker who makes it to Canada, there are perhaps hundreds who have paid thousands of dollars to sub-agencies abroad to get them employers in Canada that never materialize.

Case in point. Last edition of Balita published the law breaking news that a nanny in Canada was successful in suing an agency because she was promised a job in Canada and when she arrived no job existed. Yes, it is sad but let’s not forget that at least she had an employer (whether it was a ghost employer or not) and was successful in obtaining a work permit. I am not condoning the practice but one must look at the whole “nanny phenomenum” to fully comprehend what is happening. The article invited all those concerned to contact the writer. We received approximately ten inquiries from those in the same position. However, within the same period of time over 30 people contacted us to find out how they can get their money back from agencies to which they paid up to $5000 on the promise that they will look for an employer and after years no employers were found. It is such a simple scam. This is how it works. Let’s say a person in Dubai is looking to work in Canada. The local agency says – “ I know lots of people in Canada. Give me $5000 and I will find an employer”. The problem when no employer is found for months and months and sometimes years. In other words, there are thousands of people abroad who have paid approximately $5000 to these local agencies in their countries (let’s call them agency A). These agencies have a counterpart with a Canadian agency (let’s call them agency B) and the Agency A will collect usually half of the amount to look for an employer. The problem is that most of the time, no employer is found and Agency A keeps the money leaving the worker in the cold. We entertained over 30 calls from people in Canada and USA whose relatives abroad paid Agency A to find an employer. After months and years, still nothing has happened. In my opinion, an agency either should not take any fees until an employer is found or they should have a time limit (let’s say 6 months). If an employer is not found then a full refund should be given. It is now the wild west. Agencies A abroad are taking thousands of dollars from workers on fake promises. These agencies are not in Ontario and are not under the jurisdiction of the Ontario government. So who will stop them? No one. It is unfortunate that the media and government has missed the mark a little.

If nothing is done, I suppose we will have to wait another ten years until the media realizes what is so obvious now. Do not get me wrong, the new legislation is great but it is only provincial legislation. The Federal government must get on board and make serious changes to the way it issues work permits to caregivers. As I have said earlier, the best way to do so is for the Federal government to issue “non-employer” specific work permits to caregiver for a three year period. The current system is too open for abuse and while Ontario has made steps to close the gap, it does not go far enough.

Merry Christmas to all!

Attorney Henry Moyal is a certified and licensed immigration lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. The above article is general advice only and is not intended to act as a legal document. Send questions to Attorney Moyal by phone 416 733 3193 or email