Newcomers and the law: Does it work for everyone?


Project Name

Newcomers and the law: Does it work for everyone?

Lead Agency: KEYS Job Centre
Legal Partners: Pro Bono Students Canada; Kingston Community Legal Clinic; a team of private practice immigration lawyers
Community Partners: Institute for Work and Health; Kingston Community Health Centres; Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations

Legal Topics for Training

The focus of the training is employment law with an immigration law component. The legal topics to be covered are:

  • aspects of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that affect newcomers’ ability to gain access to the labour market
  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Streams
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulation and the Controlled Goods Act
  • the Occupational Health and Safety Act and worker entitlements

Project Summary

This project will train community intermediaries who help newcomers in the Kingston area on employment law and immigration issues related to employment for newcomers.

Target Audiences

The training will be directed towards:

  • employment counselors
  • settlement workers
  • community-based outreach staff
  • community and peer leaders

Key Activities

The training will use a combination of case studies, role playing, reading materials, and small group interactive techniques. Newcomers may be invited to share their personal stories where appropriate. Participants will be asked to discuss case studies using guided questions that will require engaging with and understanding relevant aspects of the law and regulatory framework.

Participants will be encouraged to attend sessions relevant to their client groups or community constituency. The project will be supervised and coordinated by a KEYS staff person who is familiar with employment law, occupational health and safety, and human rights.

Need for Training

Depending on their country of origin and their field, newcomers trying to enter the workforce in Canada can face major barriers to equitable employment. If left unemployed or underemployed, this can spiral quickly into personal and other legal problems such as inability to pay rent or bills. Front line workers serving newcomers need training on the complex interface between employment and immigration law, and on occupational health and safety issues and workers’ rights.

Innovative Approach

These topics have not to date been strategically addressed in a comprehensive way for front line service staff and community and peer leaders who help newcomers in the Kingston area. This training provides an opportunity to present this information in a coordinated fashion. KEYS will also conduct a follow-up with participants to help them to adapt and improve the content for use by people in other parts of Ontario.

The training project will also inform research that will gather quantitative data about the employment and legal challenges faced by newcomers. The plan is to prepare a policy paper with recommendations for legislative and public policy improvements to better ensure that newcomers are treated equitably within the labour force.