On June 7, the Quebec government, through the Ministry of the Economy, introduced Bill 44, An Act to amend various provisions for the purpose of reducing regulatory and administrative burden. As its name indicates, this Bill provides for various provisions aimed primarily at reducing the regulatory and administrative burden on businesses. Accordingly, the Bill proposes amendments to several statutes, including the Act respecting labour standards and the Regulation respecting personnel placement agencies and recruitment agencies for temporary foreign workers (the "Regulation").

Presently, under the current Regulation in force since January 1, 2020, any business wishing to obtain a personnel placement agency licence or a temporary foreign worker recruitment agency licence must submit an application to the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (the "CNESST") and must comply with several conditions and obligations.

Once issued, the personnel placement or temporary foreign worker recruitment agency licence is valid for a period of two years only and must be renewed at the end of each period. Any application for renewal of a permit must be received by the CNESST at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the licence, or the application for renewal will be denied. In the event that a business is denied a licence or a renewal application, or has its licence suspended, it may not reapply for a licence for two years unless it can justify a different decision with new facts.

Furthermore, it should be noted that companies that use the services of a personnel placement agency and/or a temporary foreign worker recruitment agency are required to ensure that the agencies with which they do business hold a valid agency licence issued by the CNESST. A list of licensed agencies is published on the CNESST website, allowing client companies to perform the required verifications. Failure to comply with the licensing requirements can result in a fine of $600 to $6,000 for a first offence and $1,200 to $12,000 for a subsequent offence.

Bill 44 proposes provisions to eliminate certain formalities relating to personnel placement agency and temporary foreign worker recruitment agency licences, mainly by removing the renewal requirement for these agency licences. While the proposed changes are few in number, the removal of the renewal requirement will certainly ease the burden on agencies to complete the formalities every two years to keep their agency licence in force.

Our Labour & Employment Group will be closely following the developments of Bill 44 in the coming months, particularly when Parliament resumes in the weeks following the October 3, 2022 election. For more information on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Labour & Employment Group.

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