By: Elliot Saccucci (Partner) and Rachel McKenzie (Student-at-Law)

The Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) has introduced amendments that require Temporary Help Agencies (“THA’s”) and Recruiters of temporary foreign workers (“Recruiters”), to hold a license, as of January 1, 2024.[1]

Who is Impacted?

These legislative changes, which are found in section 74.1 of the ESA, impact:

  1. Temporary Help Agencies; and
  2. Recruiters.[2]

THA’s include employers who assign temporary workers to complete work for one of their clients,[3] with Recruiters being individuals who attempt to find jobs for a temporary worker, at a fee.[4]

Any entity that qualifies as a THA, or a Recruiter, is subject to the amendments under the ESA.

What is the Impact?

To comply with the licensing requirements set forth in section 74.1.3 of the ESA, THA’s and Recruiters will need to:

  1. Apply for a license to operate prior to January 1, 2024;
  2. Provide an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $25,000.00, made out to the Director of Employment Standards; and
  3. Ensure they comply with the ESA, Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act and Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.[5]

The cost of applying for a license to operate is $750.00, and it needs to be renewed yearly.[6] Applications became available on July 1, 2023, and can be completed at:[7]

Further, the Government of Ontario will maintain a list of all licensed THA’s and Recruiters, which is available to the public.[8]

Consequences of Non-Compliance

THA’s and Recruiters should exercise caution when determining which clients, businesses, and employers to engage with. Knowingly engaging with an unlicensed entity can lead to the imposition of sanctions.

Additionally, if a THA or Recruiter operates without a license, they may face the following sanctions:

  1. Be ordered to comply with the ESA;
  2. Receive monetary penalties ($15,000 for the first violation and up to $50,000.00 for repeat violations); and
  3. Face prosecution.[9]

Takeaways for THA’s and Recruiters

Considering ESA’s amendments, as outlined in section 74.1, there are three key takeaways for THA’s and Recruiters.

First, begin taking the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the ESA.

Second, note that the deadline to apply for a license to operate is January 1, 2024.

Third, recognize that failure to comply with the ESA’s amendments carries the risk of serious sanctions.   


[1] CBC News, “Ontario to require temporary foreign worker agencies, recruiters to be licensed starting Jan. 1” (July 5, 2023). CBC News. Retrieved from:

[2] Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41, s. 74.1. 

[3] Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, “Licensing for temporary help agencies and recruiters” (July 5, 2023). Government of Ontario. Retrieved from:

[4] Ibid.

[5] Supra note 2, s. 74.1.3.

[6] Supra note 2, s. 74.1.10.

[7] Supra note 3.

[8] Supra note 2, s. 74.1.12.

[9] Supra note 3.