According to the news released by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in April 4, 2022, 337,000 jobs were added in February 2022, bringing the country’s unemployment rate to 5.5%, which is the lowest level since the pandemic began. It shows positive signs towards the economic recovery of Canada.
Click here to learn more about the actions of Canada in addressing labour shortage.
As per the report of ESDC, the growth of the Canadian economy has outpaced employers’ ability to fill positions. This has led the government of Canada to focus on building a strong, reliant workforce throughout the country.
Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce, Development and Disability Inclusion, announced on April 4, 2022, the workforce solutions road map for the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program to address this shortage. The TFW Program is continuously being improved and adjusted to meet the labour market needs of Canada today. This initiative marks the next step in that effort.
As per the announcement of ESDC, the TFW Program will implement five key policy changes as part of its Workforce Solutions Roadmap in the coming weeks to address current labours and skills shortages.
For the changes to be effective immediately:
1. Creating a Permanent Exemption from the Seasonal Cap
Seasonal Cap Exemptions have been designed to enable employers in seasonal industries, such as fish and food processing, to hire foreign workers beyond the low-wage cap for an employment duration of no longer than 180 days per year. As per the announcement of ESDC, from now on, the maximum duration of stay will be extended to 270 days.
With that, employers who hire foreign workers will be able to predict the number of workers they need to hire and minimize the total number of workers that employers have to hire under the program.
2. Extension of the Validity Period for the Labour Market Impact Assessment
Prior to a foreign national applying to the TFW Program for a work permit, the employer in Canada needs to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A LMIA aims to ensure that a foreign worker’s entry will not adversely affect the Canadian labour market, as well as that the employer and job offer are valid.
As per the announcement of ESDC, there will be a temporary increase in the validity of LMIAs from 9 to 18 months. In this way, employers can make better use of their human resources and hire foreign workers on time.
This is indeed a good step since we have seen substantially high processing times for the work permits, especially from countries like India, where the average processing time for a work permit is 54 weeks.
3. Duration of employment for workers in the High-Wage Stream and Global Talent Stream
An LMIA specifies how long a foreign worker can be employed, and the maximum duration varies by program stream. Foreign workers are typically granted work permits with an end date that aligns with the employment duration listed in the LMIA.
Under the High-Wage and Global Talent Streams, the maximum employment duration is currently two years. As per the announcement of ESDC, the duration of employment for LMIAs processed under these streams will be increased to three years. By allowing employers to hire foreign workers for a longer period, they can plan their workforce better and reduce their administrative burden. In addition, these changes will open up pathways for workers to qualify for permanent residency.
For the changes effective starting April 30, 2022:
4. Cap of 30% for low-wage employers in certain sectors, cap of 20% for all low-wage employers
Generally, employers can only hire a maximum of 10% of low-wage foreign temporary workers. According to the announcement of ESDC, until further notice, the Government of Canada will increase this cap to ensure that 20% of full-time equivalent positions at an employer’s worksite may be covered by the Low-Wage Stream of the TFW program. Employers across the country will benefit from a 20% increase as it will level the playing field and help fill current job vacancies across many industries.
In the report of ESDC, a cap of 30% would be imposed for one year on occupations in seven sectors that have demonstrated labour shortages in low-wage positions, including:
- Food Manufacturing (NAICS 311)
- Wood Product Manufacturing (NAICS 321)
- Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing (NAICS 337)
- Accommodation and Food Services (NAICS 72)
- Construction (NAICS 23)
- Hospitals (NAICS 622)
- Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (NAICS 623)
According to the report of ESDC, the implementation of the policies will be carefully monitored, and the Government will continuously review them to make sure that real labour shortages are being addressed while not displacing Canadian workers or negatively impacting their working conditions.
5. Removing the 6% Refusal to Process policy
Currently, the TFW Program refuses to process LMIA applications for some occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services, and Retail Trade sectors in areas with a 6% or higher unemployment rate. In April, this policy will be removed as per the announcement of ESDC.
Canadians must still be considered first for employment opportunities, so the LMIAs must still demonstrate the clear need for foreign workers. The removal of the automatic refusal process will help employers in regions where severe labour shortages persist despite unemployment rates of 6% or higher.
According to the report of ESDC, as of 2020, TFWs made up less than 0.4% of the Canadian workforce. This proportion of TFWs will continue to remain small as a result of these changes.
As per the announcement of ESDC, Service Canada recently implemented new measures to increase capacity and speed up the processing of LMIA applications. This is a great effort since this will ensure employers across the country can hire TFWs in a timely manner.
These changes take place alongside the Government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen worker protections.
Temporary Foreign Worker Compliance Measures
We may see more changes to the compliance measures being to better protect TFWs. According to the recent news, ESDC is also rebuilding its TFW compliance regime. As part of ESDC’s efforts to target higher-risk employers, it is developing a risk-based approach that includes:
- Strengthening TFW inspection tools and mandating training
- Utilizing tip-line service, which enables them to flag abuse or misuse of the program
- Increasing its work with consulates to identify issues that need attention right away
References used for the above news: We ask you to review the news announced and referred in the articles here.
This is not legal advice, for the actual changes and implementation, we ask you to refer to ESDC and IRCC websites.
Interested in Working as a Temporary Foreign Worker in Canada?
If you are an employer and interested in hiring a temporary foreign worker, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you with the LMIA process. Once LMIA is obtained, we assist the employers in applying for the work permit. You can also speak with Chitra Bhatia, give us a call at +1-604-484-9474 to get started. We work with our clients throughout the process!