Federal Government Announces Sweeping Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Federal Government today announced sweeping changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.  These are the most comprehensive changes made to the program to date and signify both increased restrictions for entry of foreign workers, greater enforcement by the government, as well as increased penalties for non-compliance.

The following highlights some of the major changes to the program:

  • The Labour Market Opinion process is being replaced with a new Labour Market Impact Assessment application
  • The new Labour Market Impact Assessment is more comprehensive and rigorous than the previous Labour Market Opinion process.  Employers will specifically be required to provide substantially more documentation, including the details regarding the number of Canadians that applied for the job in question and the number that were interviewed, as well as an explanation as to why they were not hired
  • The fee for employers requesting approval for a foreign worker to work in Canada will increase from $275.00 to $1000.00
  • Employment and Social Development Canada will refuse to process Labour Market Impact Assessment applications in Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Trade sectors in regions where the unemployment rate is 6% or above
  • A cap on the number of low-wage Temporary Foreign Workers that any one employer may have at a time as a percentage of their overall workforce
  • Those who did not require a Labour Market Opinion under the previous rules will be processed through the new International Mobility Program.  This program will be run exclusively by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  These positions will not be screened to see if Canadians are available for the positions
  • Lower wage positions will no longer be determined by the National Occupation Categories.  Instead it will be based on the provincial median hourly wage
  • The duration of any given work permit will be reduced from two years to one year, forcing employers to reapply for a work permit
  • There will be a reduced maximum number of years available to low skilled foreign workers
  • A new fast-track option will be available for (a) high demand occupations (b) highest paid occupations and (c) short term work for jobs with “above average” pay
  • Employers seeking to hire high-wage temporary foreign workers will be required to submit transition plans to demonstrate how they will increase efforts to hire Canadians, including through higher wages, investments in training and active recruitment efforts in the Canadian labour market
  • Increased fines of up to $100,000 on employers who break the program’s rules. The government will disclose the names of employers who have been fined
  • The federal government will increase the number of inspections conducted on employers so that one in four employers using temporary foreign workers will be inspected each year
  • The On-Farm Primary Agriculture stream will be exempt from the cap, reduced timelines and higher fees
  • The Live-in Caregiver Program, which facilitates the entry of nannies to Canada,  is subject to the new $1,000 fee but is not subject to the overall cap or the reduced timelines, although other reforms to this specific program are forthcoming
  • A new fee of $230 per work permit will apply to workers in the International Mobility Program

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide more details as they become available.  For more information please contact Sharaf Sultan at ssultan@chiarottosultan.com or at 416-214-1313.