Saskatchewan’s migrant workers rights regime has been characterized as a “positive national standard” for the rest of the country. Introducing the legislation in 2012, then-Minister of the Economy Bill Boyd argued it would “position Saskatchewan as having the most comprehensive protection for newcomers of any province in Canada.” In Safe Passage: Migrant Worker Rights in Saskatchewan, Dr. Andrew Stevens reviews the impact of Saskatchewan’s Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act (FWRISA) since its implementation. Using cases of employers and recruiters investigated under the FWRISA, this report explores how the government has addressed the exploitation of migrant workers in Saskatchewan.
Dr. Stevens argues that the FWRISA deserves recognition as an important piece of legislation that has strengthened migrant worker protections and explicitly recognizes foreign labour’s unique vulnerabilities in the workplace. However, despite the strengths of the legisltion, Dr. Stevens argues that enforcement still remains a problem, with the complaints-based system too often putting the onus on precariously employed workers to self-report violations. Moreover, there is no requirement for employers to demonstrate comprehension of the province’s migrant labour regime in advance of accessing workers from abroad, resulting in employers that are ill-informed or ignorant of their responsibilities. Dr. Stevens concludes that Saskatchewan’s existing migrant worker rights regime could be further improved by investing in a more rigorous audit and inspectorate system and through an expansion of community supports for newcomers.