Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enables employers in Canada to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis to meet short-term skill and labour needs when Canadians or permanent residents are not available. The TFWP is legislated through the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations and is jointly delivered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with the support of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The role of the CBSA is to determine the admissibility of foreign nationals to Canada at the Port of Entry (POE). CBSA also verifies the eligibility of foreign workers and issues work permits on behalf of IRCC, if the necessary criteria are met.
Collection and Use of Personal Information
The management, administration and enforcement of the TFWP is complex and the processes for collection, use and disclosure of personal information (PI) differ across the government departments and agencies. CBSA officers gather information from a variety of sources (including the work permit application, multiple information systems, and directly from individuals at the POE) to determine the eligibility and admissibility of the foreign workers.
CBSA collects PI pursuant to Sections 11, 20 and 22 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Part 11 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. However, not all information that is collected for the purposes of the TFWP is considered to be PI as prescribed in Section 3 of the Privacy Act (e.g. the Employer Name for a corporation). PI collected in support of the TFWP could reside in multiple systems, including ESDC’s Foreign Worker System, IRCC’s Global Case Management System, Field Operations Support System, and Computer Assisted Immigration Processing System. PI is disclosed, as needed, to facilitate the entry of authorized temporary foreign workers to Canada. It may also be used or disclosed for enforcement, safety, security, reporting, evaluation or statistical purposes.
For CBSA, the risk of a privacy breach is low. Principal privacy issues identified regarding the TFWP are being addressed in a Memorandum of Understanding, currently under development between the CBSA and ESDC.
Accessing your Personal Information
While there is a lowered expectation of privacy at the border, the CBSA respects the right to privacy and makes every effort to safeguard PI. The CBSA provides notice of collection to individuals entering Canada through forms (e.g. Declaration Card, application for a work permit). Information retention standards differ among government departments. The CBSA retains electronic information indefinitely and retains paper information for two years after the last administrative use.
You may formally request access to your PI, or access to corporate records related to or created by the TFWP by contacting the Access to Information and Privacy Division. More information about Access to Information and Privacy.
If you have concerns about the collection, use, disclosure or retention of your personal information, you may issue a complaint to the CBSA Access to Information and Privacy Division. Complaints should be made in writing and include your name, contact information, and a brief description of your concerns. Contact the Access to Information and Privacy Division at the CBSA.
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