Guide for Migrant Workers: Living and Working in Prince Edward Island

Work Conditions and Benefits

Work Contracts

To obtain your work permit, you must sign a work contract, which is a legal document that outlines the conditions that you and your employer have agreed to.

It is your right to have a copy of your work contract. If you do not have one, ask your employer to provide it.

Information covered in employment contract includes details about the following:

  • Your job duties
  • Pay deductions
  • Conditions of employment – including the number of hours you will work, break times, days off, and rate of pay per hour if you work more than your regular hours.

If you have not received a work contract, or, if you have asked for one and your employer has refused to provide it, you can ask for help at Cooper Institute, PEI Employment Standards, Community Legal Information, or call the Temporary Foreign Workers Association hotline toll-free.

Pay

Your employer can pay you in cash, by cheque, or by direct deposit into your bank account.

Pay Stub

Every time you are paid, your employer must give you a paper or electronic statement, called a paystub that explains your earnings. The paystub will show the dates of the pay period for which you are being paid, the number of hours you worked, your hourly wage, and any deductions from your total pay cheque. After your job ends, you must receive one final pay cheque for anything still owing to you. This final pay cheque must be paid either on the next scheduled payday or after 7 days.

Standard (Prevailing) Wage

You are entitled to receive the standard hourly wage for work in your occupation. Your employer cannot pay you less than other workers performing similar duties, with similar experience.

The standard or prevailing wage is different depending on your job and the province in which you are employed. To find out more about the prevailing wage for your occupation, go to Job Bank and enter the name of the main task you are doing. For example, you can enter "seafood processing". The report shows you the median wage for the type of work you are doing. Median wage is the most commonly paid wage for a position. More information

Minimum Wage

As of April 2020, the minimum hourly wage for workers in PEI is $12.85; your employer must pay you at least $12.85 per hour. Any increases to minimum wage will come into place June 1 or October 1 of each year. If you have questions about minimum wage, you can call the PEI Employment Standards Branch. More information

Overtime Pay

If you work more than 48 hours a week, (or 55 hours a week, if you work in a seafood processing plant or construction) you are entitled to overtime pay, which is 1.5 times your regular pay. For example, if you work 52 hours in a week and are paid $12.85 an hour, your first 48 hours would be paid at $12.85 and the 4 hours of overtime would be paid at $19.28 per hour ($12.85 x 1.5).

If you are not sure if you are working overtime, you can call PEI Employment Standards Branch. More information

Pay Frequency

It is up to the employer to decide how often they will pay you, but it must be distributed according to a regular schedule. In PEI, it is common to be paid every 2 weeks.

Pay Deductions

Your pay stub must show all money that is deducted from your wages. By law, employers must take certain deductions from your pay. Your pay stub will show an amount for Gross Income, which is what your total pay cheque was before deductions were subtracted, and an amount for Net Income, which is how much you receive on your pay cheque, once the deductions are subtracted.

Standard Deductions

Income tax – the provincial and federal government taxes based on your income.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) – a monthly benefit or pension that retired workers, typically over the age of 55, receive if they contributed to this fund during the years that they worked.

Employment Insurance (EI) – contributions for temporary financial help you may be able to get if you lose your job or your contract ends.

According to Canadian law, all workers must contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, even if they do not use these programs.

Additional Deductions

Accommodation costs - If your employer is providing you with housing, the cost of your rent can be deducted from your paycheque. The cost of housing provided by your employer should be written in your contract, and it should match the amount that is deducted from your pay. According to the rules of the TFWP, employers must assist workers to find safe, affordable accommodation, or provide accommodation that is safe and affordable.

Unfortunately, the rules do not say how much is considered affordable or what can be done if the rent is too high. You can try to assess your rental costs by comparing it with rent similar accommodations in the community where you are living. This information can be found through a housing search on kijiji.ca. More information

If you are concerned about the cost of your housing, or that you are being charged a rate that is higher than normal market rent, you can ask for help from Cooper Institute.

Deductions that are not allowed

Your employer cannot deduct management, advertising, or recruitment fees from your wages. They cannot deduct the cost of your plane ticket to Canada, or the cost of the LMIA. It is their responsibility to pay the costs related to hiring you and helping you settle in Canada. Employers cannot deduct wages for uniforms. However, they can require a deposit of money, which they must return to you when you return the uniform to them.

Time Off

You are entitled to 24 hours off, consecutively, in each 7-day period. Your time off can be any day of the week, although it is common for days off to be on weekends.

For any shift over 5 hours in duration, you are entitled to one unpaid 30-minute meal break. In certain circumstances where you did not get your entire 30-minute break at one time, the employer must pay you for that 30 minutes. You are not required to remain on the work site during your 30-minute break.

Vacation

Vacation Time

You are eligible for a minimum of two weeks paid vacation time after you have worked for the same employer for 12 months, continuously. If you are entitled to more vacation days, it will be written in your contract.

Vacation Pay

Your employer must pay you 4% vacation pay for every dollar you earn, which accumulates over the time that you work for the employer. This accumulated vacation pay is paid to you when you take vacation time, but it can also be paid out to you on every pay cheque. If you wish to have your vacation paid at any other time, you must create a written agreement with your employer. If your job ends before you have used your vacation, your employer must pay the unused vacation pay in a lump sum. If you have not received your vacation pay at the end of your contract, you can file a claim with PEI Employment Standards. More information

Paid Holidays

PEI has seven public holidays every year. They are: New Year's Day, Islander Day (3rd Monday in February), Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day, Remembrance Day, and Christmas Day.

To have a day off with pay for these holidays, you must:

  • Be employed with the same employer for at least 30 calendar days prior to the holiday,
  • Have earned pay on at least 15 of the 30 days before the holiday, or
  • Have worked your last scheduled shift before the holiday and your first scheduled shift following the holiday.

If you are eligible, on paid holidays, or statutory holidays, you should either get the day off (with pay) or be paid extra for working that day. When you work during a public holiday, you should receive regular pay plus one-and-half times your regular pay OR regular wages for the hours you worked on that day plus another day off with pay for the number of hours you worked. If you are not scheduled to work on a holiday, you are entitled to another day off with pay.

Special Leave

You are entitled to unpaid time off work for illness, the birth or adoption of a child, and other personal matters without threat of losing their job. Once your leave is finished, you are entitled to return to your position at work, or a comparable position with the same employer with no loss of seniority or benefits.

Maternity Leave

Unpaid leave from your job to care for your newborn or newly adopted child. You are entitled to unpaid leave for up to 17 weeks if you have worked for the same employer for any 20 weeks out of the past 52 weeks.

Parental Leave

Unpaid leave from your job to care for your newborn, which commences after maternity leave. You are entitled to unpaid parental leave for up to 35 weeks if you have worked for the same employer for any 20 weeks out of the last 52 weeks.

Adoption Leave

Unpaid leave from your job to care for a newly adopted child. You are entitled to unpaid adoption leave for up to 52 weeks if you have worked for the same employer for any 20 weeks of the last 52 weeks.

Compassionate Care Leave

Unpaid leave from your job to for up to 8 weeks to care for a family member with a serious illness, who is at serious risk of death.

Leave to Care for a Critically Ill Child

Unpaid leave from your job for up to 37 weeks to provide care to a critically ill child. You must have worked for at least 3 months for the same employer.

Family Leave

Unpaid leave of up to 3 days to attend to family responsibilities, if you have worked for at least 6 months for the same employer.

Sick Leave

After six months of continuous service with an employer, an employee is entitled to unpaid leaves of absence of up to 3 days for sick leave during a 12-month period. An employer may ask for a medical certificate.

Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner or Sexual Violence Leave

If you have experienced domestic violence, intimate partner violence or sexual violence and have worked for 3 months, this leave provides up to three days of paid leave and an additional seven days of unpaid leave.

Employment Insurance (EI)

Employment Insurance (EI) is temporary financial help for people who:

  • Have lost their jobs.
  • Cannot work because of sickness, childbirth, or parenting.
  • Cannot work because they are taking care of someone who is dying.

You and your employer both pay into Employment Insurance while you are working. Workers in the TFWP must meet the same eligibility requirements as Canadian workers.

EI Regular Benefits (Job Loss)

You may be eligible to collect Employment Insurance benefits if you worked accumulated at minimum number of hours of work before you lost your job. The number of hours you must work to qualify for EI benefits depends on where you live in PEI and can range between 400-600. Look up the hours you must work using your postal code (more information). You cannot receive EI benefits from outside Canada.

You are not eligible for EI if your work ended because:

You can apply for EI in two ways:

You will need to provide:

  • Proof of your address
  • Your mother’s last name before marriage
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Information about your job
  • Your banking information
  • Your work permit

You can apply even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment.

Employment Insurance (EI) – Special Benefits

Special benefits provide temporary financial help to people in specific situations where they are not working. Each type of benefit has different eligibility criteria and application processes. You can receive maternity, parental, and compassionate-care benefits in your own country. However, you need to be in Canada to receive sickness benefits.

Maternity Benefits: Eligible mothers can receive benefits for up to 15 weeks. This time off needs to be taken between the 8 weeks before a baby is expected and 17 weeks after the baby is born.

Parental Benefits: Either parent can receive benefits for up to 35 weeks within 52 weeks of the child being born or adopted.

Compassionate Care Benefits: Eligible individuals who have a family member who is at risk of dying within 26 weeks can receive benefits for up to 6 weeks, so they can take care of that person.

Family Caregiver Benefit for Children: Eligible caregivers can receive benefits for up to 35 weeks to care for a critically ill or injured child. Caregivers must be family members or very close to the child in need of care.

Sickness Benefits: Eligible individuals who cannot work because they are sick can receive benefits for up to 15 weeks.

You can get more information about Employment Insurance coverage for the various types of leave by calling or visiting the Service Canada website. More information

Travel

Usually workers do not have to pay for their travel to Canada. As a worker in the Low Wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, your employer is responsible for paying for your travel to and from your home country and Canada.

If you are already in Canada, your employer must pay for your travel to your new place of employment and for your travel back to your home country.

However, if you are paid $18 per hour or more in PEI, you are in the High Wage category of the Temporary Foreign Worker program and may need to pay for your travel to Canada.

CPP for TFWP

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement pension is for individuals who have worked in Canada. Workers must have contributed to CPP through wage deductions at least once in the past. The worker must also be at least 60 years old. There may be an additional 25 per cent tax applied to any CPP benefits received by non-residents of Canada. Some countries have Social Security agreements with Canada that may affect eligibility requirements and tax obligations. It is important to review any agreement that exists between Canada and your country of origin.

Importantly, the amount that you can receive through CPP retirement benefits is dependent on how much, and for how long, you contributed through deductions from your pay while working in Canada. If you made less than the basic personal amount of income while working in Canada, $12,298 in 2020, or, your income falls below this basic personal amount when you subtract CPP contributions, you may be eligible for a tax credit. Contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or talk with a local tax clinic about your options. More information

You can find out more about Social Security Agreements on the CPP website, and you may phone toll free to ask questions about International social security agreements and the Canada Pension Plan. To inquire about application processes and eligibility for CPP and CPP Disability Benefits, phone Service Canada or visit their website. You may also contact the PEI Association of Newcomers to Canada for information about how to apply for CPP.

An overview of the CPP can be found on the Service Canada website. More information

Taxes

If you owe money in taxes or if you want to receive a tax refund, you must file your taxes. If you are eligible to apply for permanent residency, filing your taxes is especially important. Filing taxes can be complicated. You can call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if you have questions, toll free (more information). Low-income people who have simple tax returns can visit a free tax clinic, but many of these clinics are open only from February to April. To find out about Free Tax Clinics in PEI between February and April, visit the CRA website (more information). If you can afford it, another option is to get help from a private tax company.

To file your taxes, you will need:

A T4 slip: A T4 slip is a statement of all the money you have earned in a year for one employer. Your employer or employers must send your T4 slip to you by the end of February.

First Tax Return

If this is your first time filing taxes in Canada, you must file them by mail.

Exception: If the Canada Revenue Agency has your birth date on file, you may be able to file online. To file a paper application, mail it to the Canada Revenue Agency. You can pick up paper tax forms at a local post office between February and early May each year. Alternatively, you can download them from the CRA Website. More information

Subsequent Tax Returns

You can file your taxes by mail or online. Your taxes will be processed much faster if you file them online. To file your taxes online, use NETFILE (more information). This is a tax-filing program from the Canada Revenue Agency. Alternatively, you may use software that is NETFILE-certified, which is software that is approved by the CRA.

Temporary Foreign Workers Association

Toll-free: 1-888-366-0194

Community Legal Information

Community Legal Information

Contact Community Legal Information

Acknowledgments

Cooper Institute thanks the individuals and institutions that provided information for the production of this document. This Guide was made possible through the generous support of the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island. While financially supported by the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island, the findings of this research do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Special credit is due to the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) whose comprehensive migrant worker guides have served as inspiration for this one.

This is an updated version of our 2016 Guide for Migrant Workers and covers some of the key issues that affect migrant workers in PEI as of July 2020.