May 9, 2014 – It's been two weeks since the Minister
of Employment and Social Development Canada imposed a moratorium on
the Food Services Sector's access to the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program in response to allegations that the program was
being abused in order to displace Canadian workers. At the same
time the Minister announced a comprehensive review of the program
and indicated that the moratorium would remain in effect until the
review is complete.
That announcement immediately prompted questions about the
breadth of the moratorium and its implications for employers and
workers across Canada. Below you will find answers to some of
the more common questions about the moratorium and what it means
Which establishments are affected?
All establishments whose primary purpose is to serve food and
drink are covered by the moratorium. This includes all restaurants,
bars, food preparation operations and caterers. The moratorium
covers all food service staff including servers, bartenders,
kitchen staff, cleaners, security personnel, as well as management
and supervisor roles.
Does this include hotels?
No. Hotels that operate Food Service Establishments are
not affected by the moratorium. That said, any Food Service
Establishment operated by a third party on leased premises inside a
hotel is covered by the moratorium.
What does this mean for outstanding Labour Market Opinions
All outstanding Labour Market Opinions for positions that have
not yet been filled are suspended. No new Labour Market
Opinions for the Food Services Sector will be processed or
All Labour Market Opinions for jobs for which a work permit has
already been issued are unaffected.
What does this mean for workers coming to Canada on
LMO-related work permits?
Foreign Nationals already holding valid work permits in
connection with a positive Labour Market Opinion are not affected
by the moratorium.
No new work permits will be issued in connection with
outstanding Labour Market Opinions in the Food Services
Sector. If you are a foreign national who has not yet
received your work permit in connection with a positive Labour
Market Opinion, your work permit application will not be processed
and no work permit will be issued until the moratorium is
What happens when my work permit expires?
Because a valid Labour Market Opinion is required in order to
issue a work permit, all applications for work permit extensions in
connection with impacted Labour Market Opinions are also
If you are currently in Canada on a valid work permit in
connection with a positive Labour Market Opinion in the Food
Services Sector it is imperative that you seek informed guidance on
your options prior to the expiry of your work permit. In some
circumstances, individuals who apply for a work permit
extension prior to the expiry of their present work permit may
have implied status and may be able to remain in Canada until such
a time as a decision is made on their work permit extension
How long will the moratorium be in effect?
The Minister has indicated that the moratorium will be in effect
until the review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is
complete. Even after the program review is complete, the Food
Services Sector may continue to be impacted by program
restrictions, and other sectors may face new restrictions, based on
the outcome of the review.
What should employers do?
Employers that hire Temporary Foreign Workers should begin
assessing their options now prior to the expiry of any work permits
and resulting suspension of any positive Labour Market
Opinions. While the moratorium is temporary – pending
the outcome of the review – there is no guarantee that access
to the program will be fully restored. Modified access or
further restrictions may continue to affect the Food Services
Sector and may be expanded to cover other sectors. Careful
planning now will go a long way towards mitigating any labour
What should work permit holders do?
Foreign nationals currently in Canada on work permits in
connection with positive Labour Market Opinions should seek
qualified assistance in reviewing their options prior to the expiry
of their work permit. In some cases, it may be possible to take
steps that will allow an individual to maintain their status.
Further, qualified individuals should consider their options for
permanent residency as this will prevent them from being impacted
by further program restrictions in future.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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