How do I leave my employer if I am being abused?

You can apply for an Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers. This permit lets workers with closed or employer-specific work permits leave an abusive or potentially abusive work situation in order to find a new job in Canada.

  1. What is considered abuse? 

Abuse can be any behaviour that scares, controls or isolates you. It can be physical, sexual, financial or mental. It can include physical harm, threats or insults, unwanted sexual comments or touching, controlling where you go or which people you see, or taking some or all of your money. 

2. How do I apply? Do I need a lawyer? How much does it cost? 

In order to apply, you need to share your story of what happened or is happening to you and include evidence of this abuse. You also need to fill out forms provided by the IRCC and submit them online with your story and evidence. You do not need a lawyer to apply, but some workers prefer to receive legal assistance. The cost to apply is free. 

3. What evidence can I present?

You must describe the abuse you went through in a letter. You can also include supporting materials like photos, witness statements, text messages or emails, support letters from organizations, etc. 

4. Will my employer get in trouble or be contacted by IRCC?

No, your employer will not be notified by IRCC that you applied for this permit. It is up to you if you want to notify them or not. 

5. Will this affect my permanent residency (PR) application? 

No, your PR application will not be negatively affected if you apply for this permit. 

6. Can I work with any employer with this permit? Do I still need an LMIA to work? 

If you are approved for this permit, you are now able to work for any employer in any profession without an LMIA. But if you want to apply for PR in the future, you may have to stay in care work to accumulate the required work hours under the Caregiver programs. 

7. How long is the permit valid and what happens after it expires?

This permit is only valid for up to 1 year and it cannot be renewed. If you do not have PR yet before the permit expires, you will have to find an employer to sponsor you again in order to maintain your temporary status. 

But this is not fair – our closed work permits give employers too much control over our lives and working conditions and this is what leads to abuse. We should be free to work wherever we want and leave bad jobs.  

8. Do I need to have a valid status to apply? 

Yes, you must have valid temporary resident status to be able to apply for this permit.

This is unfair to all those of us who are forced to leave abusive employers and end up losing our status. These partial solutions will not solve our problem – that we do not have equal rights when we don’t have permanent residency. This is why migrant care workers like you are organizing to full and permanent status for everyone.