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U.S. & Canada Immigration Blog


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The temporary foreign worker program in Canada has been in question and debated on for the last several months, if not the last few years.  While large and small companies in Canada were able to employ foreign workers to fill labour shortages, the program has come under major scrutiny as there have been major allegations against large employers who have taken advantage of, and abused the program.  For this reason, the Canadian government has made major change to overhaul the temporary foreign worker program.

Effective immediately, the temporary foreign worker program has been reorganized into two major groups;

  1. Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and
  2. International Mobility Program

Employment and Social Development Canada has phased out the Labour Market Opinion application, and will now be calling the application a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).  To better protect Canadians, and to give Canadians and permanent residents the first opportunity to fill available positions, ESDC will assess an employers’ application on the basis of the median wage in the province, and the unemployment rate in the area for which the job is offered.

Labour Market Impact Assessment Fee

As part of the significant changes, the Labour Market Impact Assessment application fee has increased significantly to $1000, from the previous $275.  Employers will be required to pay this fee per position offered.  Between 1973 and 2013 there was no fee for employers applying.  In July of 2013 a fee of $275 was imposed.  It is possible that more fees will be levied on the program, which Canada believes will ensure that employers will not be taking advantage of the program.

Using wages to determine whether an employer should be approved

The Canadian government believes that it would be more accurate to assess whether an employer should be allowed to hire a foreign worker, and not base the determination on the job or skill level itself.  Therefore, temporary workers who will be paid more than the median wage in the specific province or territory will be considered in the ‘low-wage’ category, and those paid higher than the median wage will be considered in the ‘high-wage’ category.

[toggle title=”Click Here for Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory”]

Province/Territory Wage ($/hr)
Newfoundland and Labrador $ 20.19
Prince Edward Island $ 17.26
Nova Scotia $ 18.00
New Brunswick $ 17.79
Quebec $ 20.00
Ontario $ 21.00
Manitoba $ 19.00
Saskatchewan $ 21.63
Alberta $ 24.23
British Columbia $ 21.79
Yukon $ 27.93
Northwest Territories $ 32.53
Nunavut $ 29.96


Primary Categories under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program


These are positions at or above the provincial/territorial median wage.  This would be similar to the skilled worker category previously.  These include managerial, scientific, professional and technical positions as well as the skilled trades.


These are positions below the provincial/territorial median wage.  This would be similar to the previous low skilled category.  Includes general labourers, food counter attendants, and sales and service personnel.

Primary Agricultural Stream

These include positions related to on-farm primary agriculture such as general farm workers, nursery and greenhouse workers, feed lot workers and harvesting labourers, including under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, which enables the entry of foreign workers from Mexico and a number of Caribbean countries to meet the temporary, seasonal needs of agricultural producers.

Highest-demand, highest-paid or shortest-duration

This includes in-demand occupations (skilled trades), highly paid occupations (top 10%) or short-duration (120 days or less).  Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) applications for this category are to be processed within 10 business days.

Live-in Caregiver Program

No change.  This program allows qualified employers to hire caregivers to provide unsupervised and full-time care for children, seniors or people with disabilities in the private residence of those employers.

International Mobility Program

Unlike the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the International Mobility Program (IMP) is not based on employer demand.  It is rather based largely on the multilateral and bilateral agreements with other countries (ie;  NAFTA, GATS).

Just as it was previously, employers are not required to obtain an approval to employ the foreign worker, and therefore are not subject the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).