The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act is a law that was created to prevent  discrimination in employment and services. Under the Act, Canadians are protected from discrimination when they are employed or receive services from:

  • the federal government
  • First Nations governments
  • private companies that are regulated by the federal government, including banks, trucking companies, broadcasters and telecommunications companies

Rights for foreign workers

Canadian laws protect every worker in Canada, including foreign workers. In Canada, foreign workers have the right to:

  • be paid for their work
  • have a safe workplace; and
  • keep their passport or work permit

Federal labour and employment laws cover:

  • the federal government
  • banks
  • companies that transport goods between provinces
  • telecommunications companies; and
  • most businesses owned and run by the federal government

Most other occupations are covered under provincial and territorial laws. Every province or territory has an office that deals with labour and employment laws, which can provide information about fair pay, hours of work, rest periods and working conditions.

Foreign workers have the right to call or visit these offices; an employer cannot punish a foreign worker or have them deported for contacting an Employment Standards office. To find your local office, see provincial and territorial employment standards offices.

Find more information on your rights as a foreign worker.

The Labour Standards Code provides rules about employment rights, for example rules about vacation pay, holiday pay and minimum wage. It also includes rules that protect foreign workers. The foreign worker rules are about:

  • recruiter licensing to recruit foreign workers in Nova Scotia
  • employer registration to recruit and hire foreign workers in Nova Scotia
  • charging and recovering recruitment fees/costs from a worker
  • holding a foreign worker’s property
  • record keeping for employers and recruiters
  • changing terms and conditions of a foreign worker’s employment

Here are some useful links:

Duty to accommodate

At times, people need to be treated differently to prevent discrimination from happening. This may require an employer to make a change to an employee’s work environment or duties, to make it possible for that person to do their  job every day. This is called the duty to accommodate and it only applies to needs that are based on one of the grounds of discrimination.

The duty to accommodate has limits. Sometimes accommodation is not possible because it would cause an organization undue hardship.

Learn more about the duty to accommodate and undue hardship.

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Last Modified: July 19, 2021