On March 24, 2020, the federal government clarified its position on self-isolation for all persons entering Canada by air, sea or land. The details were provided in the Order of Council for Minimizing the Risks of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation) ("OIC").
Pursuant to the OIC, from March 25, 2020 to June 30, 2020, all persons entering Canada must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, unless they meet one of the exemptions from the mandatory self-isolation requirement, such as essential transportation workers (i.e. truck drivers, rail or air crew) and workers who provide an essential service while in Canada (not an exhaustive list). For individuals who are exempted from the mandatory self-isolation requirement, they must be asymptomatic.
On April 4, 2020, the Employment and Social Development Canada published a guideline for employers of workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP"). Below are the top five tips employers of workers under the TFWP should know about the mandatory self-isolation requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The temporary foreign worker's period of employment is intended to begin upon their arrival to Canada, and includes the self-isolation period. This means the employer must provide the temporary foreign worker with salary and benefits during the self-isolation period.
- The employer cannot authorize the temporary foreign worker to work during the self-isolation period, even if it is requested by the temporary foreign worker, with the exception of those deemed as providing an essential service by the Chief Public Health Officer. Further, the employer cannot ask the temporary foreign worker to work from home during the self-isolation period or to perform other duties during the self-isolation period, such as administrative tasks
- If the employer allows the temporary foreign worker to work during the self-isolation period and the temporary foreign worker is not exempted from the mandatory self-isolation, then the temporary foreign worker could be inadmissible to Canada on criminality grounds. This is because some offences under the Quarantine Act are deemed indictable offences. Further, the temporary foreign worker may face penalties of up to CAD$750,000 for violating the mandatory self-isolation requirement.
- The employer is responsible for regularly monitoring the health of the temporary foreign worker during the self-isolating period. In practice, the employer should communicate with the temporary foreign worker on a daily basis during the self-isolation period and ask if the temporary foreign worker is experiencing any symptoms, and maintain a record of responses received. Further, the employer must report to the local health authority if the temporary foreign worker becomes symptomatic.
- The employer needs to provide the below information to the
temporary foreign worker before they arrive in Canada:
- the Government of Canada's website with official COVID-19 information; and
- the information required from the border officer to determine
whether or not the temporary foreign worker has a suitable
self-isolation plan upon entering Canada. The self-isolation plan
should cover the following:
- where the temporary foreign worker will live during the self-isolation period;
- how the temporary foreign worker will buy groceries during the self-isolation period; and
- how the temporary foreign worker will access other essential services.
Guidelines for Canadian immigration are evolving quickly and is subject to frequent change with little to no prior notice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.