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Temporary Foreign Worker Update: ESDC Updates Median Wage Tables

On April 30, 2015 the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will begin using the latest provincial/territorial median wages based on the 2014 Labour Force Survey results. Changes to the median wage tables will affect the wage-stream of future LMIA applications as well as threshold used to determine eligibility for 10-day expedited processing.


In June 2014, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program underwent a series of significant reforms. As part of this reform package a procedural test of the labour market, the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) was introduced. The LMIA is part of the approval process for hiring foreign nationals through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The median wage is used to delineate between “high-wage” and “low-wage” occupations as part of the LMIA approval process as well as determine the threshold for 10-day expedited processing.

Provincial/Territorial Median Wages

The median wage has seen a small increase overall across Canada. Nunavut saw the largest increase of $4/hr while Quebec and the Northwest Territories saw no change to their median wage. In Ontario, the median wage increased to $21.15/hr from $21.00/hr while in Alberta, the wage increased from $24.23/hr to $25.00/hr. For the full median wage table, please visit the ESDC website here.

High-Wage Stream

Employers offering a wage above the provincial/territorial median wage are required to prepare transition plans as part of their LMIA application.

Low-Wage Stream

Employers offering a wage below the provincial/territorial median face a cap on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers they may employ at any given work place. As of July 1, 2014 a cap of 30% was imposed on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers at any given workplace. On July 1, 2015 the cap is reduced to 20%, and on July 1, 2016 the cap is reduced to 10%.

In addition, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will not approve any LMIAs for low-wage occupations in the Accommodation, Food Services or Retail Trade sectors in regions with unemployment at-or-above 6%.

Ten-Day Processing

10-day expedited processing is available for LMIA applications where the wage offered is at-or-above the top 10% of wages in that province or territory. As of April 30, 2015 ESDC will begin using the new tables in order to determine the threshold for 10-day expedited processing. For the top 10% of wages by province or territory, please see the ESDC table here.

What Employers Need To Know

As of April 30, 2015, all new LMIA applications will be streamed as “high-wage” or “low-wage” based on the new provincial/territorial median wage table.

As part of their annual reviews, employers should review the wages of all temporary foreign workers to ensure that they are compliant with the terms of their LMIAs. This means ensuring not only that they continue to offer at least the prevailing wage, by occupation for that region, as determined by ESDC, but also that the wages offered are consistent with the wage-stream of their LMIA.

In addition, employers should be aware that as of July 1, 2015 only 20% of employees at any given workplace may be low-wage temporary foreign workers.


For the provincial/territorial median wage, please see the ESDC median wage table here.

For 10-day processing thresholds, please see the ESDC top 10% of wages table here.

For the prevailing wage by occupation, please visit the Working in Canada website here.

For more information about these changes or to speak with an immigration lawyer please contact Green and Spiegel LLP.