(Quebec) Quebec employers thirsty by the labor shortage will continue to turn to temporary immigrant workers in the coming years, and their number, up 65% between 2019 and 2022, will grow even more in the future, believes the Minister of Labor Jean Boulet. But the number of work accidents has more than doubled over the same period.
“Of course it is our anticipation that it will continue to increase. It meets needs. It is a question of meeting owners of stores, hotels, restaurants, in food processing, in manufacturing companies, “said Mr. Boulet at a press conference on Tuesday.
But if the number of workers is greater, this is also the case for work accidents, which exploded over the same period. The number of claims for these temporary immigrants rose from 154 in 2019 to 362 in 2022, an increase of 135%. Mr. Boulet sees a trend there.
The Minister is therefore announcing that the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) would have 10 additional employees this year for its “prevention squad”, which offers training and awareness to temporary foreign workers, in English, French and Spanish.
They will now be 22 to remind its workers that they have rights “concerning salary, vacation and absences”, that their salary “is protected in the event of a work-related injury” and that they have recourse if their employer fails to meet its obligations.
38,500 foreign workers in 2022
Because the number of workers is also growing strongly. Quebec received 23,300 in 2019, and 38,500 in 2022. And this trend will continue in 2023 for these workers who will be “called upon to be more and more present in the workplace in 2023”, indicated the Minister. .
Recent cases reported in the media, however, force him to ensure more surveillance. Radio-Canada revealed that the multinational Bombardier recreational products offered a salary four times lower to its Mexican workers than to its Quebec employees at its plant in Valcourt in the Eastern Townships, a situation deemed unacceptable by Mr. Boulet.
He also expressed concern over the refusal to compensate the family of a Guatemalan farm worker who died while changing the tire of a van on the farm where he worked. He is “reflecting” on the definition of a work accident, but he does not immediately commit to reviewing the law.
Because if the number of workers is on the rise, this is also the case for accidents at work. The number of claims for these temporary immigrants rose from 154 in 2019 to 362 in 2022. “We have to make sure that the cases documented by the media, that we can eliminate them. We must send a strong message to Quebec that temporary foreign workers must be treated fairly, and that they have access to the same rights and the same benefits as Quebec workers,” said Mr. Boulet.