Nannies bravely told their stories of exploitation, their abusers were exposed, and lawmakers have finally acted.

After a year-long Toronto Star investigation, a tough new Ontario law is now in effect to protect vulnerable foreign caregivers who look after children, the infirm and the elderly.

Anyone who charges a placement or recruitment fee to a caregiver to work in Ontario now faces fines of up to $50,000 and a year in jail.

The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, which passed into law late Wednesday, also makes it an offence for anyone to confiscate passports and other personal documents from caregivers, and empowers Ontario labour ministry investigators to retrieve them with search warrants.

“Respect for the dignity and worth of others is one of the core things of this bill,” Labour Minister Peter Fonseca said, adding the new law “seeks to protect those who protect and nurture others every day of their working lives. They care for our loved ones who cannot care for themselves.”

Bill 210 passed 48-13, with the support of the Liberals and the NDP.

The Tories voted against it, saying the legislation was rushed through Queen’s Park and could put many legitimate recruitment agencies out of business.

Highlights of the new law include:

• A ban on fees charged to live-in caregivers by recruiters, either directly or indirectly, or by anyone on behalf of a recruiter.

• Preventing employers from recovering, directly or indirectly through a third party, recruitment and placement costs from live-in caregivers.

• Prohibiting the practice of taking a caregiver’s personal documents such as a passport and work permit.

• Prohibiting reprisals against caregivers for exercising their rights under the legislation.

• Allowing live-in caregivers up to three and a half years to make a complaint — an increase from the current two-year period under the Employment Standards Act.