Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program Changes
Posted on May 18, 2015
Changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to allow employers to recruit foreign workers on a temporary basis, came into force on April 30, 2015.
The median hourly wages per occupation and region chart to determine which jobs are “high-wage” or “low-wage”, has been updated. Changes to the median wage table will affect the wage-stream of future LMIA applications, as well as threshold used to determine eligibility for 10-day expedited processing.
Employers in Québec will also be subject to most of the changes to the TFWP that were originally announced in June, 2014.
Canadian businesses must first obtain authorization from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before providing employment to a foreign national. This is known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Employers offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage will need to meet the requirements of the stream for low-wage positions.
Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
TFWP is meant to be used only as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.
Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit such Plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
To ensure that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, there is a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations in the Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Trade sectors will be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be phased in over 2015 and 2016 in order to provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust accordingly.
Employers who offer a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:
pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
ensure affordable housing is available;
pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
provide an employer-employee contract.
For all low-wage positions, the duration of work permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be limited to a maximum of one year.
As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector. LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.
Certain high-demand occupations and high-paid occupations, as well as occupations that are short in duration, may be provided with 10-business-day service for hiring a temporary foreign worker.
Certain occupations in Quebec fall under the facilitated process, meaning that local recruitment efforts do not need to be performed by employers as part of their applications to hire temporary foreign workers for these occupations. Learn more about work permits in Quebec and which occupations are facilitated in Quebec.
“Canadian employers needn’t be anxious about these new changes, as long as they ensure that they are compliant with the terms of their LMIAs,” says Attorney Daniel Levy of the Campbell Cohen Law Firm.
“Employers should make certain that not only are they continuing to offer at least the prevailing wage by occupation for that region, but also that the wages offered are consistent with the wage stream of the LMIA issued.