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Just Ask Angie: Resources for foreign workers

Q: What rights do I have as a foreign worker?
Just Ask Angie file
Angie Theilmann is a information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre. She has a biweekly column with the Coast Reporter.

Q: What rights do I have as a foreign worker? 

A: When things feel wrong, it takes courage to stand up for your rights in any situation. For those living as foreign workers here on the Sunshine Coast, or anywhere, it can feel especially difficult to speak up about a work situation. 

Maybe there is abuse happening within your employment situation, whether on a job site, in an office, or in someone’s home, if you are working as a caregiver. Abuse is considered any behaviour that scares, controls or isolates you. Abuse can be physical, sexual, financial or mental. Maybe there are problems that can include: being asked to perform unsafe tasks on the job; being asked to do tasks and jobs outside of the job description; being forced to work not-agreed-to hours or accepting a wage that is not what was stated in your contract, or many other things that don’t feel right. A foreign worker might wonder: Will I be forced to leave the country? Will I be able to find a different employer if my employment situation is not working? Is it worth speaking up? Will this make it difficult to renew my work permit? 

Fortunately, there are resources and organizations to help foreign workers understand their rights so they do not have to wonder, and can make decisions based on facts and Canadian laws. The Resource Centre can help anyone to navigate these resources–see the contact information below. 

For emergencies: Call 9-1-1 right away if you are in danger. 

MOSAIC: An organization helping newcomers to Canada with settlement and employment services. General Line: 604-254-9626. MOSAIC migrant workers program and phoneline: 604-324-7979. More info: 

The Migrant Workers Centre: An organization focused on access to justice for migrant workers, including offering free (pro bono) legal advocacy services. To book an appointment, call their office Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Call during business hours. Phone: 604-669-4482 or 1-888-669-4482 or email [email protected] to book an appointment. Appointments by phone, video conference, or WhatsApp can be arranged. More info: 

BC Employment Standards Branch a) You can call the Employment Standards Branch, and ask for support in any language, and talk about your issue, and they can tell you what is ok under B.C. employment laws and what is not: 1-833-236-3700 or visit b) If you realize something is not legal in your work situation, you can file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch. To file a complaint: 

Service Canada Abuse Line: Foreign Workers can report workplace abuse by calling Service Canada’s tip line at 1-866-602-9448, or online at 

DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society: Services include settlement services for permanent residents and temporary residents. Phone: 604-597-0205. Email: [email protected]. Website: 

“Open work permit for vulnerable workers”: If you’re being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit for vulnerable workers. For more information: 

***If you know someone who is a foreign worker, please consider clipping this article out and passing it one. If they do not need it, maybe they will know someone who does. 

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub at 107A - 5710 Teredo St. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact us: [email protected] or 604-885-4088. Search our online resource directory at