Skip to main content

Refugee Claimants

If you have filed a claim for refugee protection in Canada and you’re waiting for the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to decide on your claim, and you cannot pay for your basic needs without working, you may be eligible for an open work permit that allows you to work in Canada. This provision has certain exceptions and also you need to meet the general eligibility criteria for this work permit. It is better that you seek legal advice from a lawyer. Please refer to the resources section for information on legal aid services. In your application you can also include your family members that includes a spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and their dependent children.

You and your family members may also be eligible for an open work permit if the RPD has rejected your refugee claim and:

  • you cannot be removed from Canada for reasons beyond your control, and
  • you cannot pay for your basic needs without working In such situations, your family members must be in Canada and you will still need to meet the general eligibility criteria required to obtain the work permit.

Provincial Regulations

Provincially regulated workplaces
have rights and responsibilities under
the Employment Standards Act in Ontario.
It sets out minimum standards
in relation to wages, hours of work
and public holidays.

You have the right to a safe workplace and get paid for the work done regardless of your immigration status. If you are working without a valid social insurance number (SIN) or work permit, you still have protection under basic labour laws, including employment standards, health and safety, human rights and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

If you are a non-status youth and have not been paid your wages by your employer, you have a right of action to claim your wages. OR the work you are doing requires you to operate machineries, your employer must make sure that the safety requirements are in place, if not, your employer is violating your rights. If you face any of these challenges, you may obtain legal advice. There are legal clinics and resources listed at the end of this booklet where you can reach for help.

Minimum Wage in Ontario

As of January 1, 2018, the hourly minimum wage is:
You must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour you work. There are certain exceptions to the minimum wage rule.

Hours of Work

Daily Hours
You do not have to work more than 8 hours a day, OR the number of hours in your regular work day (if it is more than 8 but no more than 13)

Extra Hours
If your workplace wants you to work more than your regular workday, then they must get your written consent to do so, (other than emergencies) by way of signing an agreement with you. You have the right to refuse to work more than the regular hours and can refuse to sign the agreement.

Meal break
You are entitled to a 30 minute break for each 5-hour period worked, this break can be either paid or unpaid depending on the employment contract.

You are entitled to get paid overtime when you work for more than 44 hours in one week. Overtime pay is calculated as 1.5 times your regular pay. For example: If you get paid $20 an hour normally, you should get paid $30 for every hour worked after 44 hours.


Public Holidays and Public Holiday Pay

Public holidays in Ontario are:
New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour
Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Most workers are entitled to take these days off work and be paid public holiday pay. Or, workers can agree in writing to work on a holiday and be paid.


Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

Domestic or sexual violence leave
provides workers with job-protected
leave when they or their children are
facing domestic or sexual violence.

You must have worked with your employer at least for 13 consecutive weeks to be eligible for this leave.

Workers get 10 individual days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave if the employee or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence.

The first 5 days of leave, each calendar year, will be paid. The rest will be unpaid.

You have to provide reasonable evidence to your employer to let you take this leave.

Workplace Safety
Almost everyone working in Ontario, is covered by the Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

This law provides, if you work with hazardous chemicals or other dangerous substances, the right to be trained on how to use and handle substances safely, and what the health effects are from exposure to them.

It is illegal for your employer to fire
you for asking about your rights.

Your employer cannot fire you because
you have an injury or serious medical
condition; if the company fires you
without trying to accommodate you,
you may have a human rights complaint.