In an attempt to prevent foreign workers from displacing Canadian workers, the government is making some big changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These changes will give Canadian citizens and permanent residents first shot at filling a position once it becomes available. Additionally, “these reforms will require that greater efforts be made to recruit and train Canadians to fill available jobs.” (Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism).
The main purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to fill positions which Canadian employers are unable to fill due to lack of education, training, or experience on the part of the Canadian workers; or perhaps the lack of Canadians interested in working in certain fields. Temporary foreign workers are brought in to do the jobs that Canadians are unable or unwilling to do. There are major shortages in some of Canada’s necessary occupations and temporary foreign workers are needed to fill these gaps. However, in order to prevent misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the government has decided to implement changes to the program which may make it more difficult for Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers from here on out.
Following is a list of updates to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Some of these changes have already been put into effect, while a few of them will be put into effect soon:
- Employers must pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage. There will no longer be any flexibility in the wages of temporary foreign workers. This will prevent employers from seeking temporary foreign workers as a way to cut costs.
- The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) process has been put on hold indefinitely. Further review will assess whether the A-LMO process is beneficial to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and to the Canadian economy. The A-LMO allowed Canada employers who received a positive LMO in the past to apply for expedited processing of any additional LMOs, thus allowing them to hire more temporary foreign workers in a shorter period of time. With the suspension of the A-LMO process, employers must now wait months instead of days to receive an LMO each and every time they apply for one.
- The government will now have more authority to suspend and revoke work permits and LMOs if they believe that the employers and/or temporary foreign workers are misusing the program.
- Employers will now be required to pay a fee for processing an LMO; in the past, employers did not pay for LMO processing. Additionally, the fees for work permits will increase, making it more difficult for temporary foreign workers to find employment and obtain a work permit. Employers may be less likely to seek temporary foreign workers now that they will have to pay for the LMO and in many cases, employers who were willing to cover the costs for the temporary foreign worker to obtain a work permit may not want to pay the increased work permit fees on top of the LMO fee. This will ensure employers will try harder to find Canadians to fill the positions in their company instead of rushing into hiring temporary foreign workers.
- LMO applications will be updated to include more questions that will help prevent the misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by Canadian employers and their workers.
- English and French will be the only languages allowed to be used as a job requirement for temporary foreign workers.
The government asserts that these new regulations will strengthen and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and prevent its misuse. As stated, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was designed to temporarily fill the gaps in positions which could not be filled by Canadians and to help Canadian businesses train and eventually hire Canadians for these positions. By design, this program is only meant to employ temporary foreign workers for a finite period of time (as is implied by the name of the program). So temporary foreign workers who come to work in Canada must be willing to return to their home country once they have finished doing the temporary job that they came here to do. At the end of the day, what this all boils down to is preventing temporary foreign workers taking jobs away from Canadians.
Some Canadian workers may be thrilled by this news, but it could mean disaster for Canadian employers as well as temporary foreign workers who are in Canada or wishing to enter Canada on a work permit.
Canadian employers will need to make stronger efforts to hire Canadians before being allowed to hire temporary foreign workers, making the decision to hire temporary foreign workers much more difficult. And they must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have made the utmost efforts to recruit Canadian workers, that the temporary foreign worker is absolutely necessary for the success of the company, and that these temporary foreign workers will eventually lead to more jobs opening up for Canadians. Additionally, they must show that the temporary foreign worker is really being brought in to fill a temporary position and that they will leave Canada once this task has been completed. The decision to hire a temporary foreign worker is intended to be a last resort for employers. The changes made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program should prevent Canadian employers from choosing a temporary foreign worker when there are Canadians willing and qualified to do the job.
Further changes will continue to be made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program based on ongoing reviews by the government and the input provided by Canadians regarding this program. The changes being made are intended to strengthen the economy and help Canadian workers and businesses be successful.
If you are a temporary foreign worker or someone who wishes to apply for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, this news may be frightening to you. We urge you to share your thoughts and concerns with us here on our blog or by calling our office at 416-665-3939 (toll free at 1-888-808-7338).
Additionally, if you are wondering whether you are at risk of losing your work permit; or if you are waiting to get a response on an LMO application; or even if you just have questions about the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program, please contact our office to speak with an immigration consultant. Canadian businesses who rely on foreign workers should also contact us to discuss these changes and how they may affect your business.
Whether you are a Canadian citizen, a temporary foreign worker, a Canadian employer, or any person interested in Canada immigration laws; we would love to hear your opinions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program changes. If you have questions, your answers are just a mouse click or phone call away. We look forward to speaking with you soon.