The Recent Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Come Into Force
As recently reported by CIC news, the recent changes to the temporary foreign worker program came into effect on April 30, 2015. The changes allow Canadian employers who can’t find a Canadian to fill the position to employ foreign workers on a temporary basis. The hourly wages per occupation chart has also been updated. The chart determines which jobs are “high-wage” and which ones are “low-wage”. These changes will affect future LMIA applications as well as threshold used to determine the who is eligible for the 10-day expedited processing.
The New High and Low-Wage Streams
Before a Canadian work permit is issued to a foreign national, the Canadian employer must first take steps to acquire the correct authorization from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before employing the foreigner. This is called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
“ESDC compares the wages offered by employers with the provincial/territorial median hourly wage when identifying the specific requirements employers must meet in order for an LMIA to be issued under the TFWP. Streaming by occupation skill level is no longer in place.”
Employers that offer a wage to a TFW that is below or above the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must meet the requirements of the stream for low-wage and high-wage.
- High-wage stream: If an employer wants to hire a high-wage worker, they must now submit Transition Plans along with their LMIA application in order to make sure they are taking the right steps to gradually reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers. This is because the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is supposed to be a last resort that can be used to address immediate labour needs.
- Low-wage stream: Although no Transition Plans are required for employers looking to hire low-wage workers, a different set of rules apply. New caps on the amount of low-wage workers permitted will be applied throughout 2015 and 2016. If you’re an employer with 10 or more workers, you’ll be subject to a cap of 10% of the proportion of your workforce. In other words, only 10% of your workforce can be made up of temporary foreign workers.
From now on, all low-wage positions that qualify for LMIA work permits will be limited to no more than the duration of one year. In addition, employers who want to offer an hourly wage that falls below the provincial/territorial median must:
- Pay transportation fees (round-trip) for the temporary foreign worker
- Ensure they will have access to affordable housing
- Pay for private health insurance until workers can access provincial health coverage
- Register the TFW with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board
- Provide a proper working contract for the TFW
Another interesting change that kicked into place on April 30 is that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must now use the most recent Labour Force Survey Results for overall unemployment rates in all regions of Canada. The rates will determine which regions will be eligible for employers to submit LMIAs for low-wage, lower-skilled occupations in the Retail Trade sector, Accommodation and Food Services sector. If unemployment in these sectors is 6% or higher, LMIA applications will not be processed.
Some high-demand and high-paid occupations may be eligible for expedited processing of 10 business days – which is particularly handy if you’re a temporary foreign worker who wants to start work fast.
Temporary Work Permits in Quebec
There is a facilitated process in Quebec, which means that employers looking to hire for certain occupations will not need to make local recruitment efforts as part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program application process.
What If You’re an Employer?
Attorney Daniel Levy had some sound advice for employers that are unsure of the new changes coming into effect. He said: “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. 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.”
He continued: “LMIA applications are comprehensive and require a substantial amount of additional documentation and statistical information, such as a numerical breakdown of the number of Canadian applicants for the position, the number of offers of employment made, the number of unqualified applicants, and more besides. It is important to get it right, and thus negate the possibility that business will be adversely affected by a delayed or rejected application.”
Are You Interested in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?
If you’re interested in the temporary foreign worker program, we may be able to help you with the application. We have helped thousands and thousands of people worldwide successfully enter Canada on a work permit and we are very certain we can help you too.
The first step towards a successful Canadian working visa application is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our FREE immigration assessment form and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and visa options.
About Michael Niren
Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more
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