Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris
Alexander today announced significant reforms to the Temporary
Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP"). The TFWP is being
reorganized into two streams: the TFWP administered by Employment
and Social Development Canada ("ESDC") and the
International Mobility Program administered by Citizenship and
Immigration Canada ("CIC"). The changes to the TFWP
reinforce the federal government's position that the TFWP
should be a program of last and limited resort for employers.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The changes to the TFWP include the following:
The Labour Market Opinion process is replaced by a Labour
Market Impact Assessment ("LMIA") process which will
require additional information from employers about their
recruitment efforts. ESDC will refuse to process applications where
temporary foreign workers may have a negative effect on the
Canadian labour market.
Effective immediately, the processing fee for the LMIA will
increase from $275 to $1,000 per position. An additional
"privilege fee" of $100 may also be put into effect to
offset the costs of investments in skills and job training.
The TFWP will be administered based on wage instead of
occupational classification. Temporary foreign workers who are paid
at less than the reported provincial/territorial median wage will
be considered low-wage. For example, the median hourly wage in
British Columbia is $21.79, in Alberta is $24.23 and in the
Northwest Territories is $32.53. Workers paid below the median
rates will be considered to be in low-wage positions.
A cap will be placed on the number of low-wage temporary
foreign workers per worksite location. An employer applying for a
new LMIA who has 10 or more employees will be subject to a
temporary foreign worker cap of 10% of the workforce at a location.
This cap will be phased in until July 2016 for employers who are
currently over the 10% cap.
The moratorium on the food services industry is lifted.
However, effective immediately, ESDC will not process LMIA
applications for specified occupations in the accommodation, food
services and retail trade sectors in economic sectors where the
unemployment rate is at or above 6%.
The maximum duration for a work permit for low-wage positions
will be reduced from two years to one year effective immediately.
The government has also announced that the total duration that a
temporary foreign worker in a low-wage position may remain in
Canada will be reduced from four years but has not yet identified
the new maximum. This change will come into effect in the summer of
For high-wage positions, the employer will be required to
submit a transition plan with the LMIA application to identify
steps to be taken to reduce reliance on temporary foreign workers
LMIA applications for positions in highest demand (skilled
trades) occupations, highest paid occupations (top 10% in a
province or territory), or shortest duration occupations (120
calendar days or less) will be processed within 10 business
Exceptions which were in place for pilots will be
Enforcement activities will be increased. One in four employers
using the TFWP will be inspected each year. Beginning in the fall
2014, fines of up to $100,000 may be imposed on employers who
violate the terms of the TFWP.
There are certain exemptions from the reforms for the on-farm
primary agriculture and live-in caregiver programs.
International Mobility Program
The International Mobility Program (IMP) will include all work
permit applications that are LMIA-exempt, such as work permits
under international agreements such as NAFTA and under working
In the summer of 2015, a compliance fee of $230 will be put
into effect where a work permit is employer specific and
LMIA-exempt in addition to the work permit processing fee. A
"privilege fee" of $100 will be put into effect for open
work permits to allow for improved data collection on the
employment of open work permit holders and to increase awareness of
Canadians of the opportunities to live and work abroad.
The government will undertake a comprehensive review of work
permits which are LMIA-exempt. New and more restrictive guidelines
for intra-company transferees with specialized knowledge have been
put into effect.
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