ESDC Guidelines for Employers Receiving TFWs

by Dr. Justine Taylor

ESDC Guidance documents for Temporary Foreign Workers

May 26, 2020

ESDC has released a guidance document for Temporary Foreign Workers. Please provide this to your workforce. English, French, Spanish

Update FAQs for Employers of TFWs

May 29, 2020

Please see the updated FAQs.

Service Canada: Notice: Special Compliance Inspections for Employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 23, 2020

Service Canada has released a guidance document outlining their intention to inspect farms for compliance with new regulations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that came into effect April 20, 2020. Service Canada will delivering remote/virtual inspections. Once contacted you have 48 hours to respond. If you fail to respond you will receive a Notice of Preliminary Finding, by email and registered mail, to which you must respond to within five (5) days. If your response is not received, they will move to apply penalties. The following is a summary of your responsibilities as employers:


Email Service Canada immediately when workers arrive. Use the following template and send to

  • Subject: TFW arrival to (name of Business)
  • Body: Date and time of arrival of employee(s) to your work location, and their
  • Contact information for the TFW(s), if available.
  • Your contact information including mailing address. If applicable, please include a secondary contact information.
14-day Isolation Period
  • Workers are paid wages, at least 30 hours per week, based on the hourly wage indicated on their LMIA/offer of employment, starting on the day they arrive.
  • Workers are isolated separately from other workers
  • Workers to remain at least 2m away from others
  • Cleaning products are provided to workers
  • Workers are able to comply with provincial / territorial public health orders under the Quarantine Act/Emergencies Act
On-going Employment
  • Private accommodations, including own bedroom and bathroom, is provided to a worker who develops any signs of symptoms of COVID-19.
  • You do not do anything to prevent the worker’s compliance with a provincial/territorial law that regulates public health response to COVID-19.
During Inspection
  • All inspections will be conducted virtually/remotely
  • Submit information electronically.
  • Proof of wages paid (i.e. pay stubs)
  • Photos of accommodations respecting social distancing space (i.e. beds 2m apart, dining areas with chairs 2m apart, kitchen, washroom facilities)
  • Photos of private isolation space if it is deemed necessary
  • Proof of adequate sanitation products for the worker to use (paper towels, household cleaning and disinfecting products, dish soap, laundry soap, sanitizers, etc.).
  • During the course of the inspection, you may be asked for a virtual tour of the accommodations and/or facilities to verify these requirements. Some workers will be contacted for interviews conducted by phone or video conference.
  • If COVID-19 is detected, SC Investigators will immediately report to local public health officials who will take action as necessary.
  • If non-compliant, the Department has the authority to apply the most severe consequences possible.
    • Administrative monetary penalties ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 per violation, up to a maximum of $1 million over 1yr
    • A ban of one, two, five or ten years, or permanent bans for the most serious violations
    • The publication of your business name and address on a public website with details of the violation(s) & consequence(s)
    • The revocation of previously-issued LMIAs.
  • You have the right to judicial review should you not agree with the final decision.

Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers regarding COVID-19

April 22, 2020

ESDC has updated their guidance document for employers of TFWs.

TFW Travel: Requirement for face masks

April 17, 2020

Please be advised that the Minister of Transport has announced new measures requiring all air passengers to have a removable, non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel. Non-medical masks or face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops and cover your mouth and nose. It should be easy to put on and take off when necessary. These requirements should be considered for all foreign workers arriving in Canada and travelling within the country. For more information, please see the announcement, here.

ESDC FAQs Border and Logistics

April 14, 2020

ESDC has developed the linked FAQs document focused on questions related to the logistics of bringing in TFWs into Canada.

ESDC Compliance Requirements for TFWP

April 7, 2020

ESDC has developed the following updated page outlining compliance expectations for employers of TFWs.

Letter from ESDC to Employers

April 1, 2020

ESDC has issued the linked letter to employers of TFWs to ensure they know their obligations with regards to receiving incoming TFWs. The following are the key takeaways:

  • Penalties of up to $750K can be levied against a temporary foreign worker for non-compliance
  • A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or to imprisonment of up to three years, or to both
  • 14-day isolation period is MANDATORY

In addition ESDC has launched a new FAQs website on the TFWP. We urge you to review this site ASAP.  Topics include:

  • Details on payment
  • Details on travel requirements
  • Clarity on ability to work, payment terms,
  • Details on what to do if a worker displays symptoms or contracts COVID-19

Travel Requirements

On March 26th, 2020 the Government of Canada formalized the exemption for TFWs to travel to Canada. Flights to the four approved international ports of entry are now legally permitted and FARMS is working to schedule incoming flights.  There are several requirements to be met during the travel period:

  • Workers will need to pass a health check in their country of origin before boarding any flight. Their health will be assessed again at the port of entry.
    • If workers do not exhibit symptoms they will be allowed to travel onward to their destination using private transportation.
    • If they exhibit symptoms they will be directed to the local health unit or hospital.
  • If you are housing workers in Norfolk and/or Haldimand county, additional requirements may apply to you before these workers may arrive. Contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit for more information.

Self-Isolation Requirements

On Saturday March 28th, ESDC released their guidance document (ENG FRE) outlining employer responsibility for the safe introduction of newly arrived temporary foreign workers to Canada. The following is an overview of the requirements.

  • New arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days. The employer must provide access to isolated housing, food, water, cleaning  and hygiene products.
  • Housing must be separate from housing provided for workers who are not self-isolating. Incoming workers arriving at the same time can self-isolate together but must be able to maintain a distance of 2 meters at all times. It is recommended that living arrangements are photo documented to demonstrate compliance.
    • We urge you to start making arrangements immediately to ensure you can meet these requirements. You may need to consider hotels, trailers or other off-site locations to meet these needs.
    • Your local health unit will likely need to inspect any new housing you put in place. Please contact them for more details.
    • If you have staggered arrivals and plan to house all new employees together, the clock will reset to the newest arrival.
  • The accommodations should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Products should be provided to workers self-isolating. (see template)
  • Workers must be provided with information on COVID-19 on or before the first day of self-isolation. (examples in ENG SPA). In addition best practices on preventing the spread of COVID-19 should be posted in the accommodation in their language of origin. A general collection of materials can be found here, posters from the Mexican Government here and should be posted at all locations with Mexican workers, and guidance from the Jamaican Liaison can be found here and should be posted at all locations with Jamaican workers.
    • NOTE: Social distancing in Canada is set at 2m not 1m as per the last poster. 
  • Workers are NOT allowed to work during this period.
  • Workers are NOT allowed to be in-contact with any existing workforce except those who are already self-isolating.
  • Workers must be able to avoid contact with individuals 65+ years old
  • Employers must monitor the health of any incoming workers in self-isolation on a daily basis. (see template)
  • If any worker develops symptoms they must be further isolated immediately and the local health unit should be contacted. It is recommended that the appropriate consulate be contacted.
  • The period of employment begins when they employee arrives in Canada.
  • Employees must be paid during the isolation period a minimum of 30 hours per week during the isolation period, even if no hours are worked.
  • Violations of self-isolation should be reported to local law enforcement.
  • If you are housing workers in Norfolk and/or Haldimand county, additional restrictions may apply. Contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit for more information.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

nine − 9 =