The spring and summer have been busy ones for Jason Kenney,
Minister for Employment and Social Development. In early
April he announced the first businesses ever to have been
blacklisted for breaching the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program. The media blitzkreig that followed lead within days
to the complete shut down of the program for anyone in the food and
beverage industry. A few weeks later an entirely new
Temporary Foreign Worker Program was introduced changing the rules
of the game completely and severely limiting the foreign worker
program. The changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker
Program (TFWP) are significant and all employers who have a need
for foreign labour need to know the new rules of the game.
The Conservative government has been busy transforming
Canada's immigration program for the past several years.
Concerned about ongoing abuses in the TFWP, in August 2010 they
introduced strict new Compliance measures for employers which took
effect on April 1, 2011. These new provisions included
publicly blacklisting employers who were in breach of their
obligations, cancelling the work permits for any foreign workers
that they currently employed, and denying them access to the
program for a period of two years. It took the government
three years to finally identify their first blacklisted employers
publishing the names of three businesses the first week of April
2014. All three businesses were in the food industry. A
media frenzy ensued and within a matter of days Minister Kenney
froze the TFWP to the food and beverage industry. When he
re-opened the program a few weeks later, he did so by completely
altering the entire program for all businesses in Canada.
Here are some of the key elements of the revised TFWP:
Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) based upon National Occupational
Classification (NOC) descriptions to identify high skilled and low
skilled occupations are eliminated. There are now two
LMIA -The Labour Market Impact assessment replaces the LMO
stream. This program is run by Employment and Social
Development Canada (ESDC) and focuses primarily on labour market
IMP - The International Mobility Program is run by
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and is largely based upon
international agreements such as NAFTA, GATS and international
youth mobility agreements.
The LMIA replaces the LMO and the distinction between high
skilled and lower skilled occupations is now based upon the
provincial or territorial median wage rate rather than a NOC
classification. An employer who pays a wage lower than the
median wage rate falls into the low skilled category which has
greater limitations than high skilled occupations. The
program also limits the use of low skilled workers based upon
regional rates of unemployment - if the unemployment rate is more
than 6% then no LMIAs will be issued for low skilled workers.
Work permits for low skilled workers will only be issued for one
year at a time and there is a limit of two years for low skilled
workers cumulatively in Canada. For higher skilled positions,
employers have to provide transition plans demonstrating their
ongoing efforts to transition Canadian permanent residents or
citizens into the required positions or transitioning their foreign
workers into permanent residents. For employers there is also
increased record keeping, inspections and enforcement and for
breaches of the program there are increased fines and
penalties. Employers are required to maintain all records for six
years and those who are in violation of the program can face up to
$100,000 in fines and up to 5 years in jail. There are also
increased application fees - from $275 per employee to $1000!
The message to employers is very clear - limit your use of
temporary foreign workers and be sure that you are in strict
compliance of all aspects of the program. You can be certain
that with the ongoing scrutiny of this program by the media, the
government will be keen to showcase the effectiveness of these new
September 21st, 2016 - Immigration authorities conducted the 20th round of invitations under Express Entry in 2016 and 43rd overall, inviting 1288 applicants for permanent residence with a lowest CRS score of 483.
Canada received more than 320,000 immigrants in the last 12 months, approaching levels not seen since the early 20th century. The per capital immigration rate at .88%, is consistent with previous Liberal government policies.
October 12th, 2016 - Immigration authorities conducted the 21st round of invitations under Express Entry in 2016 and 44th overall, inviting 1518 applicants for permanent residence with a lowest CRS score of 484.
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