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Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

April 29, 2013

Canada is changing the way it allows the Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers.

Changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will make it difficult and costlier for Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers.

The changes, effective immediately affect companies hiring high- and low-skilled foreign workers, through any stream of TFWP, including Labour Market Opinion (LMO), LMO-exempt categories (like Intra-company transferee) and more. The changes are not likely to industries where there are proven acute labour shortages and the unfilled jobs are truly temporary (Eg. Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program and other agricultural occupations) .

The Government is introducing changes through legislative, regulatory and administrative tools. The changes inter alia require that Canadian businesses:

  • have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time through the LMO process (this would include training Canadians, etc.);
  • pay a fee for the processing of LMOs
  • identify English and French as the only languages as a job requirement.
  • pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the existing wage flexibility (this was introduced a short while back, and was meant to provide flexibility to Canadian businesses in offering consistent wages to all their employees, in cases where the prevailing wages were higher than the company’s existing pay structure);
  • to reassure the government that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs, by answering additional questions on their LMO applications;

The announcement also mentions that the changes increase the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if the program is being misused.

The changes also increase the fees for work permit applications.

In addition, the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process (available to Canadian businesses who had received a LMO in last 2 years) is suspended;

These changes are in addition to those recently introduced as a part of Budget Implementation Act and Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013.