Canada relaxes temporary foreign worker program rules to address labour shortages

22Apr

In fact, Canada’s economic recovery is outpacing the ability of many employers to find workers. To support Canada’s continued economic growth, the Government of Canada is focused on building a strong, resilient workforce in all sectors.

That is why today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map. This initiative marks the next step in an ongoing effort to adjust and improve the TFW Program to ensure it continues to meet the labour market needs of today. 

With the relaxation and updation of the TFWP, Canada plans to – 

  • Address labour shortages,
  • Enhance worker protections, and 
  • Build a stronger workforce for today as well as tomorrow. The Canadian workforce is to be built through pathways to Canadian permanent residency

There are five major changes coming for the TFWP:

Starting immediately: –

  • Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be valid for 18 months, up from nine. LMIAs are documents that demonstrate to the Canadian government that a foreign worker employed in Canada will have no negative effect on the labour market. Before the pandemic, LMIAs were only valid for six months.
  • Also, the maximum duration of employment for High-Wage and Global Talent Stream workers will be extended from two years to three. This extension will help workers qualify for more pathways to permanent residency, enabling them to contribute to the Canadian workforce in the long term.
  • In addition to these measures, the Seasonal Cap Exemption, which has been in place since 2015, will become permanent. There will no longer be a limit to the number of low-wage positions that employers in seasonal industries can fill through the TFWP. The maximum duration of these positions will be increased from 180 days to 270 days per year.

Then effective April 30:

  • Employers of sectors with demonstrated labour shortages will be allowed to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFWP for low-wage positions for one year. The seven eligible sectors include: food manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, furniture and related product manufacturing, accommodation and food services, construction, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities. All other employers will be allowed to hire up to 20% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions until further notice, an increase from the former 10% cap for many employers.
  • Finally, Canada will end the current policy that automatically refuses LMIA applications for low-wage occupations in the accommodation and food services and retail trade sectors in regions with an unemployment rate of 6% or higher.

Canada’s labour market is even tighter than before the pandemic. The job vacancy rate reached a historic peak in the third quarter of 2021. Much of the unmet demand for labour is in low-wage occupations. In November 2021, the following sectors faced the highest number of vacancies according to Statistics Canada:

  • Accommodation and Food Services – 130,070 vacancies
  • Health Care and Social Assistance – 119,590 vacancies
  • Retail Trade – 103,990 vacancies
  • Manufacturing – 81,775 vacancies

As the needs of Canada’s workforce change, the TFWP is being accordingly adjusted to meet them. The Workforce Solutions Road Map builds on the progress made so far to renew, modernize, and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for employers and workers alike.

 

 

 

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