What masks should my employer give me?

Your boss should be providing you respirator masks to better protect you against COVID-19. This type of mask protects you more than medical masks because it has a better filter and fits your face better. Look for these numbers on your mask: N95, N99, KN95 or, KF94.

Respirator masks look like this:

If your employer is not providing proper masks, sanitizer, or not helping you and your coworkers be safe at work or in your bunkhouse, contact us for support.

For more information on types of masks and mask use:
Types of masks and respirators
Advice for community settings

What is my minimum wage?

You must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour you work, even if you’re working for cash, and regardless of your immigration status. This includes being paid for any time you work for set up or take down, and during any “training” or probation periods. The minimum wage varies by province.

On January 1, 2022, the minimum wage went up to $15.00 in Ontario. Check your paystubs to make sure you’re paid the right wages! For other provinces, and more information, see here: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/min-wage-on/

We know that the minimum wage is not a livable wage, especially when many of us have to pay for high tuition, pay bills and take care of our families. Employers often take advantage of our temporary status as migrant student workers and pay us below minimum wage. You have labour rights! If you’re not being paid properly or respected at work, contact us.

Where can I find a job?

For current international students, it is common for us to look for jobs while studying in school because fees are so high. For graduated students on the post graduate work permit (PGWP), we face added pressure to find high-waged jobs in NOC 0, A and B levels because the government only counts these jobs toward permanent residency. All of the essential work we do in NOC C and D jobs, such as working in grocery stores, warehouses, retail and service, cleaning or food delivery, does not count toward PR. This is not fair.

If you’re looking for a job, you are not alone! We are not a job placement agency but we can connect you with other workers like you who are taking action together to fight for decent jobs and end the rules that make our lives harder.

Where can I access financial support?

There are not many income support programs for migrant student workers, and this puts us under huge financial stress. Check if you qualify for the Canada Recovery Benefit, Employment Insurance or Canada Child Benefit. Applying for these programs will not affect your permanent residency application.

If you are a current student, there may be emergency supports or bursaries available through your school.

Many current and former international students are speaking up about high tuition fees and the lack of income supports for migrants. Join us to get involved!

How many hours can I work on my study permit?

Not all international students are allowed to work, and we face restrictions on where we can work and how many hours. Check the conditions of your study permit.

If your permit says you’re allowed to work during your studies, you can work full time on campus and a maximum of 20 hours per week off campus. Even if you worked less than 20 hours one week, you cannot add these hours to the next week.

When your program or school has a “regularly scheduled break,” you can work full time off campus. These breaks can include the summer or winter holidays. Check your program or school’s academic schedule.

Many of us work more than 20 hours off campus because we need to. Some of us work 20 hours on SIN and the rest on cash. We should be able to choose where and how much we work. But as migrant student workers we don’t have equal rights.  That’s not fair, so together we are speaking up to win change. Join us!

What is my minimum wage?

You must be paid at least minimum wage for every hour you work. Minimum wage is different in every province. In Ontario, the minimum wage is currently $15.50 per hour. Find out the current minimum wage in your province here: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/min-wage-on/.

Because we don’t have permanent immigration status, employers can take advantage of care workers by making us work more hours than we are paid for or paying us less than minimum wage. This is not fair and this is why care workers are demanding landed status now!

Can my boss take deductions from my wages?

Your employer is allowed to take certain deductions from your wages depending on what Caregiver Program you are under.

If you are under the Live-In Caregiver Program and received an LMIA permit before November 30, 2014, your employer can deduct:

• Private Room weekly: $31.70
• Meals Weekly: $53.55 or $2.55 per meal
• Room and Meals Weekly: $85.25

For care workers with LMIA-based work permits under the Caregiver Program after November 30, 2014, your employer cannot make deductions for room and board.

If you have an occupation-restricted work permit under the new Caregiver program that started on June 18, 2019, your employer can deduct room and board. 

Your employer must provide you with a pay slip each pay period that shows your pay, hours and deductions.

Migrant care workers fought for the right to live out of employers’ homes and not be charged room and board. It is not fair that the government brought back these rules. That is why care workers are continuing to fight against unfair rules and demanding status now. Join us.

How many hours do I have to work in a week?

In Ontario, the maximum number of hours your boss can schedule you in a week is 48. If your boss wants you to work more, they must ask you to sign a written agreement from the Ministry of Labour. It is your legal right to refuse. If you sign it, you can cancel the agreement by giving your boss 2 weeks’ notice.

Care workers are often pressured to work more than 48 hours a week, but it is difficult to stand up for our rights when we are tied to our employers for our permanent residency status. This is why we need status for all now! Join us!

If I lost my job, am I eligible for income support?

You can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) if you have worked enough hours and have a valid work permit and/or implied status. Receiving EI will not affect your ability to apply for permanent residency in the future. 

Sometimes migrant care workers are denied or told that we are not eligible for EI because of our work permit. This is not true. You are entitled to this benefit. All migrant workers deserve access to benefits and income supports regardless of immigration status.

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.