Canada Announces Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Sweeping reforms to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) were announced on April 29, 2013 as part of the government’s Economic Action Plan. The following policy changes will be effective immediately:

  • The temporary suspension of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) process;
  • The removal of the existing wage flexibility for employers, as they are now required to demonstrate that they will pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage rate.

Further legislative, regulatory and administrative changes will be unveiled to:

  • Increase the government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if it is determined that the TFWP is being misused;
  • Introduce questions to the LMO application form to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs;
  • Ensure that employers who are seeking temporary foreign workers have a business plan to transition to a Canadian workforce over time;
  • Increase the application fees for temporary work permits;
  • Introduce fees for LMO applications;
  • Stipulate English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement.

According to the Honourable Diane Finley, Minster of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who jointly announced these changes, the reforms are necessary to ensure the integrity of the TFWP program. Minister Finley explains, “The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to help fill genuine and acute labour needs and we have been reviewing the program to ensure that goal is met and Canadian workers are never displaced.”

It is important to note that among the reforms introduced, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and other primary agricultural occupations will only be subject to the government’s increased authority to suspend and revoke LMOs and Work Permits. These programs will not be affected by the other reforms as acute labour shortages have already been proven in these fields.

Further reforms may be rolled out in the coming months, as the Harper government also pledged to hold cross-Canada consultations with businesses, industry and trade organizations, unions and others to further evaluate and review the TFWP.

For additional information, please contact Green and Spiegel U.S.