How to get Legal Help during COVID-19
The Migrant Workers Centre provides free (pro bono) legal services to migrant workers.
Due to COVID-19, we have suspended in-person appointments and our drop-in legal clinic on Saturdays. Our services are available by appointment over the telephone, Zoom, or WhatsApp.
Please call our office during intake hours – Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at
604-669-4482 or 1-888-669-4482, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
If you are a newcomer to Canada who has faced sexual harassment in the workplace, please call our Respect at Work hotline (604-404-1932) to request legal advice over the telephone.
Accessing the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement Pension (English)
The CPP allows you to have a basic income after you reach an old age or if you are no longer able to work because of retirement, disability, or death. You need to meet the eligibility requirements to receive the pension. This fact sheet will explain the CPP Retirement Pension, eligibility for it, and how to apply. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Acceso a la Pensión de Jubilación del Canadian Pension Plan – CPP (Plan de Pensión Canadiense) (Español)
El CPP permite contar con un ingreso básico a las personas de edad avanzada o a quienes ya no pueden
trabajar por motivos de jubilación, discapacidad o muerte. Para recibir la Pensión deben cumplir con ciertos
requisitos. Esta hoja informativa explica que es el PPC (Plan de Pensión Canadiense), los requisitos y cómo
solicitarla. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
Access to the Medical Services Plan (MSP) during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains what the MSP is, eligibility requirements for enrolment for migrant workers in BC, and the BC government’s policy on MSP coverage during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 5 May 2021.
The Agri-Food Pilot (English)
The Agri-Food Pilot is a pilot program that provides a pathway for permanent residency (PR) for certain agricultural workers. This fact sheet explains who can apply under the program, what the eligibility requirements are, and how to add a family member to your application. This information was last updated on 16 February 2021.
El Programa Piloto Agri-Food (Español)
El programa Piloto Agri-Food proporciona una vía a la residencia permanente (PR) para ciertos trabajadores agrícolas. Esta Hoja Informativa explica quiénes pueden postular y cuáles son los requisitos, y cómo incluir a miembros de la familia en la solicitud. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 16 de febrero de 2021.
COVID-19 Safety Measures at Work (English)
This fact sheet explains COVID-19 risks at the workplace, your employers’ responsibility to manage these risks, and safety measures that can be implemented in the workplace to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Medidas de Seguridad en el Trabajo durante el COVID-19 (Español)
Durante la pandemia de COVID-19, es posible que usted enfrente riesgos en el desempeño de su trabajo. Esta Hoja Informativa explica algunos de los riesgos relacionados con el COVID-19 en el lugar de trabajo, la responsabilidad de su empleador de manejar esos riesgos, y las medidas de seguridad que se podría implementar en el lugar de trabajo para proteger a los trabajadores de contraer COVID-19. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
Employment Standards for In-home Care Workers in BC
British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Regulations set minimum standards for the treatment of employees, including care workers, in the province. It covers most areas of the employment relationship, including the hiring of employees, wages, records, hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, leaves, vacation and vacation pay, and termination of employment. The ESA applies to workers in BC regardless of their immigration status. This information was last updated on 19 February 2021.
Employment Standards for Migrant Agricultural Workers in BC (English)
British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”) and Regulations set minimum standards for the treatment of employees, including farm workers, in the province. It covers most areas of the employment relationship, including the hiring of employees, wages, records, hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, leaves, vacation and vacation pay, and termination of employment. However, farm workers are excluded from some of the ESA’s protections. This information was last updated on 16 February 2021.
Normas laborales para trabajadores agrícolas en British Columbia (Español)
La Ley de Normativas Laborales de British Columbia (ESA) y su reglamento establecen normas para el trato de los trabajadores en la provincia e incluye a los trabajadores agrícolas. Esta ley cubre diversas áreas de la relación laboral, como, por ejemplo, la contratación de trabajadores, sueldo, registros, horario de trabajo y sobre tiempo, días feriados, permisos para ausentarse, vacaciones y pago de vacaciones, y cesación o término de la relación laboral, pero no todas las protecciones que ofrece la ESA incluyen a los trabajadores agrícolas. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 16 de febrero de 2021.
Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccination
The Province of British Columbia is encouraging everyone in the province to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As a migrant worker in BC, you are entitled to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This fact sheet explains how you can register for and receive your COVID-19 vaccine. This information was last updated on 14 May 2021.
Giving Biometrics during COVID-19
Biometrics are measurements of unique biological characteristics that are collected as a part of a visa application. Migrant workers may be required to provide biometrics for a work permit or work permit extension application. This fact sheet explains what biometrics are, when biometrics are required as part of an application, and temporary COVID-19 exemptions for certain applicants. This information was last updated on 4 May 2021.
Housing Rights during COVID-19
In the province of British Columbia, there are specific laws that govern tenant-landlord relationships. This fact sheet explains what a residential tenancy is, your general rights and responsibilities as a tenant, policy updates on housing rights during COVID-19, and options to resolve tenancy-related issues. This information was last updated on 3 February 2021.
Housing Rights for Live-In Care Workers
Many migrant care workers live with their employers. This fact sheet explains care workers’ housing rights in a live-in housing arrangement, and particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information was last updated on 16 February 2021.
Income Support Benefits for Migrant Workers during COVID-19
If you were working in Canada but lost your job through no fault of your own, were temporarily laid off, or cannot work because of illness or self-isolation, you may be eligible for income support. This fact sheet explains the different income support benefit programs from the federal government and from the government of British Columbia that are currently in place for workers. This information was last updated on 5 May 2021.
Layoffs and Terminations During COVID-19
COVID-19 has had significant economic impacts, resulting in many people temporarily or permanently losing their jobs. This fact sheet explains what it means to be laid off or terminated, what your rights are in those situations according to British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act, and how your work situation may impact your immigration status. This information was last updated on 16 February 2021.
Loss of Status and Options for Renewing or Restoring your Status during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains what loss of status means and options for migrant workers in Canada to renew or restore their status during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 4 May 2021.
This fact sheet explains a new policy issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on 20 October 2020. The new policy provides migrant workers on implied status with a document to prove their legal status in Canada during the transitional period. This information was last updated on 14 May 2021.
Mandatory Quarantine or Isolation upon Entry to Canada during COVID-19
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has imposed mandatory quarantine or isolation to limit the introduction and spread of the disease. This fact sheet explains what mandatory quarantine is, what you should do during mandatory quarantine or isolation, how mandatory quarantine may affect migrant workers and who might be exempt from the mandatory quarantine or isolation requirement. This information was last updated on 5 May 2021.
Options for Extending your Work Permit for Care Workers Inside Canada
Care workers already working in Canada have a pathway to permanent residence and several work permit
options. This fact sheet will explain the different work permits and their benefits and drawbacks. This information was last updated on 19 February 2021.
Taking Leave related to COVID-19
BC has implemented changes through the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to allow workers to take time off work if you have been affected by COVID-19 or to receive your COVID-19 vaccination. As a migrant worker you may be entitled to paid leave or unpaid leave through these measures. This fact sheets explains three new types of leave and their eligibility requirements.
- COVID-19 vaccine paid leave
- COVID-19 paid sick leave
- COVID-19-related unpaid, job-protected leave
This information was last updated on 21 May 2021.
Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit (VWOWP) (English)
As a migrant worker in Canada, you are protected from being abused at work. For those whose work permits only allow them to work for a specific employer in Canada, the vulnerable worker open work permit (VWOWP) would allow them to leave an abusive employer and look for a new job in Canada. This fact sheet explains what VWOWP is, its eligibility requirements, and other general questions related to VWOWP applications. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Permiso Abierto de Trabajo para Trabajadores Vulnerables (VWOWP – Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit) (Español)
Un trabajador migrante en Canadá está protegido del abuso en su lugar de trabajo. En el caso de las personas que tiene un permiso de trabajo limitado a un empleador específico en Canadá, el Permiso Abierto de Trabajo para Trabajadores Vulnerables (VWOWP – Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit) les da la posibilidad de dejar al empleador abusivo y buscar un nuevo trabajo. Esta Hoja Informativa explica qué es el VWOWP, los requisitos para obtenerlo, y otros temas generales relacionados con la solicitud de un VWOWP. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
Who Can Enter Canada during COVID-19
Like many other countries in the world, Canada has temporary travel restrictions on who can enter the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a migrant worker, your travel may be impacted by these restrictions. This fact sheet explains the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, the mandatory quarantine requirement, and the relevant exemptions. This information was last updated on 26 February 2021.
Your Obligation to Report Health and Safety Hazards during COVID-19 (English)
The law requires that the workplace be a safe and healthy place to work. In British Columbia, while it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, workers nonetheless have distinct obligations when it comes to workplace safety. This fact sheet explains workers’ health and safety obligations in the workplace, and in particular, the obligation to report and its applicability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Su Obligación de Informar Peligros a la Salud y Seguridad durante la Pandemia de COVID-19 (Español)
La ley requiere que el lugar de trabajo sea un lugar seguro donde trabajar. En British Columbia, es la responsabilidad del empleador asegurarse de que así sea, pero los trabajadores también tienen obligaciones con respecto a la seguridad en el trabajo. Esta Hoja Informativa explica las obligaciones relacionadas con la seguridad en el lugar de trabajo, especialmente, la obligación de informar en el contexto de la pandemia de COVID-19. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
Your Right to Freedom of Movement During COVID-19 (English)
Canada’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic includes quarantine and isolation requirements, which will have an impact on an individual’s freedom of movement. It is important to know that your employer cannot restrict your freedom of movement unless health orders allow it. This fact sheet explains your obligation to comply with quarantine and/or isolation requirements during COVID-19, your rights to compensation and/or income assistance when you cannot work, your rights with respect to your freedom of movement, and limitations on your employer’s authority to prevent you from leaving your accommodations during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 20 January 2021.
Su Derecho a la Libertad de Movimiento Durante el COVID-19 (Español)
La respuesta de Canadá a la actual pandemia de COVID-19 incluye la necesidad de hacer cuarentena y aislamiento, lo cual tiene un impacto en la libertad de movimiento de las personas. Es importante que usted sepa que su empleador no puede restringir su libertad de movimiento, a menos que las autoridades sanitarias lo permitan. Esta Hoja Informativa explica su obligación de cumplir con los requerimientos de cuarentena y/o aislamiento durante el COVID-19, su derecho a compensación y/o ayuda social si usted no puede trabajar, sus derechos con respecto a la libertad de movimiento, y las limitaciones de la autoridad del empleador para impedirle a usted que salga del lugar donde vive durante el COVID-19. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 20 de enero de 2021.
Your Right to PPE (English)
Your work may expose you to certain health and safety hazards. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, your last defence is personal protective equipment (PPE). This fact sheet explains what PPE is, who provides and pays for PPE required for your job, and your PPE-related rights and responsibilities as a worker, including during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Su Derecho a Equipo de Protección Personal (PPE) (Español)
Usted puede estar expuesto a ciertos peligros para su salud y seguridad. Si no es posible eliminar el peligro, su última defensa es el Equipo de Protección Personal (PPE). Esta hoja Informativa le explica qué es el PPE, quién proporciona y paga por el PPE necesario para hacer su trabajo, y sus derechos y obligaciones como trabajador en relación con el uso de PPE, con y sin pandemia de COVID-19. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
Your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work (English)
This fact sheet explains what unsafe work is, how you can exercise your right to refuse unsafe work, and your right to not be punished by your employer for refusing unsafe work. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Su Derecho a Negarse a Hacer un Trabajo en Condiciones Inseguras (Español)
Como trabajador en Canadá, usted tiene el derecho de negarse a hacer un trabajo en condiciones inseguras y nadie puede negarle ese derecho. Esta hoja informativa explica qué es un trabajo en condiciones inseguras, cómo ejercer su derecho a rechazarlo y su derecho a no ser castigado por su empleador si usted se niega a hacer el trabajo, porque las condiciones son inseguras. La información entregada en este documento ha sido actualizada el 1 de diciembre de 2020.
For more fact sheets related to immigration and employment matters, click here.
Applying for Permanent Residency: Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway
Date: 8 May 2021
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Jonathon Braun and Articling Student Ravneet Riar presented a webinar on the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway for essential workers, announced by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on April 14, 2021. The webinar covered topics such as eligibility requirements, information on how to fill out the application forms, supporting documents and more. A Q&A followed the presentation.
Applying to Extend Your Work Permit in Canada
Date: 5 December 2020
Description: MWC Legal Advocates Rubia Pivetta and Ravneet Riar hosted a webinar on the process of extending your work permit, including creating a GCKey account, required documentation, and policy changes related to COVID-19, followed by a brief Q&A session.
Changes to Immigration Law for Migrant Workers During Covid-19
Date: 18 November 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyers Natalie Drolet and Amanda Aziz hosted a webinar on border changes relating to who can enter Canada, changes to processing work permits and PR applications, the impacts on PR applicants who have reduced hours of work or who lost their jobs, and changes to CBSA involvement, including detention and removals.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) – Agricultural Stream
Date: 26 September 2020
Description: MWC Legal Advocate Lucy Sun delivered a webinar with information pertaining to the TFWP – Agricultural Stream. Lucy covered the application requirements and application process, followed by a Q&A session. Spanish interpretation was provided.
BC Provincial Nominee Program: Part III
Date: 12 August 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the last webinar in a series of three about the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This part covered the invitation to apply, the application, and what happens post-nomination, followed by a Q&A session.
Applying for Permanent Residency for Caregivers under the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Pilots
Date: 18 July 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Pilots for permanent residency for caregivers. This webinar covered the eligibility requirements for applicants and their dependents, and the work permit options available to applicants. The webinar also covered the documents required and discussed common immigration issues.
Agri-Food Pilot Program – Pathway to Permanent Residency for TFWs
Date: 18 July 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet and Legal Advocates Jeanne Robert and Lucy Sun hosted a webinar on the the Agri-Food Pilot, a new pathway to permanent residency for some migrant agricultural workers. This webinar provided an overview of the eligible occupations, application requirements, and the application forms and process, followed by a brief Q&A session. Spanish interpretation was provided.
BC Provincial Nominee Program: Skills Immigration and Express Entry: Part II
Date: 8 July 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the second webinar in a series of three on the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This webinar covered the registration process and scoring, which was followed by a Q&A session.
BC Provincial Nominee Program Overview: Part I
Date: 10 June 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the first webinar in a series of three on the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This webinar provided an overview of the program, the eligibility requirements for each of its categories, followed by a Q&A session.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 28 May 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet and Legal Advocate Jeanne Robert partnered with RAMA Okanagan’s Amy Cohen to present a webinar on the right to refuse unsafe work during COVID-19. This webinar featured speaker Wendy Mah of the BC Government and Service Employees Union, Brian Campbell of the BC Federation of Labour Health and Safety Centre, and Tom Brocklehurst of WorkSafeBC.
Changes for Immigration and Refugee Law During COVID-19
Date: 28 April 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Senior Counsel Lobat Sadrehashemi of the Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic provided a webinar on the following topics: who can enter Canada, processing of refugee claims, appeals, and Federal Court, detention and removals, and applications for permanent residence, temporary residence, and citizenship.
Access to Health Care for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 23 April 2020
Description: This webinar discussed the temporary MSP coverage offered in BC during COVID-19. It provided information on who is eligible for coverage, how to enroll, and what to do if your application to enroll is refused. Speakers included MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Omar Chu of Sanctuary Health.
Income Support Benefits for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 7 April 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Staff Lawyer Kevin Love of Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) delivered a webinar on income support benefits available to migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar provided an overview of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Employment Insurance (E.I.), provincial benefits, and immigration implications. The speakers addressed questions on eligibility for the different benefits, how to apply, and the application process.
For a full list of MWC webinars, click here.
Migrant Work in the Time of COVID-19 Research Project
Migrant Workers Centre is partnering with researchers at the University of British Columbia to better understand and document the experiences of migrant and undocumented workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the pandemic has made the lives of migrant and undocumented workers more precarious, and it is important that the Canadian government understands and responds accordingly. The research will raise awareness of the issues among Canadians and the Canadian government and further support MWC in our ongoing campaign for Amnesty for Undocumented Workers.
If you are a migrant or undocumented worker, we would like to hear from you. Tell us how the pandemic has affected your life through a confidential interview. The interview will be approximately one hour, which can take place either physically-distanced in-person or online. Please note that your name, interview, workplace and work status will be kept confidential. All participants will receive an honorarium of $50.
If you would like to know more and/or would like to participate in the research, please contact Vanessa Banta (email@example.com) or Geraldine Pratt (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is no need to share your actual name: the confidentiality of your name, your interview, your workplace and your work status will be strictly maintained.
Amnesty For Undocumented Workers Campaign
On 29 April 2020, MWC launched the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers campaign in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign calls on the Government of Canada to regularize the status of undocumented workers by immediately:
- Creating a new permanent residency program for all essential migrant workers, including undocumented workers
- Allowing migrant workers in Canada to apply for a 12-month open (unrestricted) work permit to maintain or regularize their status while their application for permanent residency is in process.
These measures are urgently needed in light of COVID-19, which has exposed the extent to which the Canadian economy and society depend on migrant workers who lack permanent resident status and, as a result, lack access basic rights and services that Canadians expect.
Show your support for the campaign by sending an email to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino and your Member of Parliament! Click here to access the easy email campaign tool.
For more information on the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign, click here.
MWC in the News during COVID-19
During the pandemic, MWC has advocated on behalf of its members for policies and programs that respond to the needs of migrant workers during these unprecedented times. In addition to launching the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers campaign, MWC has advocated for:
- The CERB and other income support benefits to be available to migrant and undocumented workers regardless of whether they hold a valid Social Insurance Number
- BC’s temporary health care policy allowing migrant workers on implied to renew their MSP coverage to become permanent
MWC also worked with the Migrant Worker Expert Health Working Group to provide recommendations to Employment and Social Development with respect to ensuring the health and safety of migrant agricultural workers during the pandemic.
For news coverage on MWC’s advocacy, please click here.