Canada: More Changes To The Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Last Updated: September 29 2014
Article by Jessica Young

This spring, the Government of Canada announced significant changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Employers will recall that just last year the Federal Government made changes to the program, including increasing the advertising requirements, new wage rate requirements and imposing new application fees. Click here to read our past Stringer Update on those changes.

The Temporary Foreign Worker program continues to be under fire in the media, and the Government has released some new and significant changes. Employers should pay careful attention as some of these changes are effective immediately.

Two Programs

The Government is dividing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program into two distinct programs, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP") and the new International Mobility Program. The TFWP will refer only to foreign workers that require a positive Labour Market Opinion, or what is now called a Labour Market Impact Assessment ("LMIA"). The International Mobility Program will encompass those foreign nationals entering Canada who are LMIA exempt.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Labour Market Impact Assessment

The Labour Market Opinion process is being replaced by the new Labour Market Impact Assessment process, which is more rigorous than its predecessor. For instance, the Labour Market Impact Assessment form contains new and more detailed questions regarding the employer's advertising and recruitment efforts.

New advertising requirements were imposed last year. Most notably, employers must advertise the position for 4 weeks, instead of 2 weeks prior to submitting the application. However, the Labour Market Opinion application did not require any in-depth explanation by the employer of their advertising efforts. Employers were required to show proof that the advertisement had been posted for at least 4 weeks, but did not have to provide any details regarding the recruitment efforts.

The new LMIA application form requires employers to provide detailed information regarding recruitment efforts, including the number of applications received, the number of applicants interviewed, the number of applicants offered the position, the number of individuals hired, the number of job offers declined, and the number of individuals who were not qualified to do the job. Where the employer deems an applicant to be unsuitable, it must provide an explanation as to why the applicant did not meet the requirements of the position.  Employers should ensure that detailed notes are kept as to why an applicant did not meet the requirements, as they may have to prove to Service Canada that the applicant did not have the necessary skills to perform the job.

In addition, a new Job Matching Service is being implemented so that Canadian applicants can apply directly through the Canada Job Bank for positions that match their skills and experience level. This will also allow Service Canada Officers to be more aware of the number of potential Canadian applicants as well as how closely their skills and expertise align with the position.

 High-Wage vs. Low-Wage Categories replaces NOC Code Classification

Under the former program, the primary categories in the TWFP were High-Skilled Workers and Low-Skilled Workers. This was based on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) Code for the position. Under the new program, positions will be categorized based on the prevailing wage rate, not the NOC Code. The prevailing wage rate is the median average wage, it varies by geographic region. The prevailing wage rates can be found here.

A position will be considered High-Wage if the prevailing wage rate for the position is at or above the median hourly wage for the province, and a position will be considered Low-Wage if the prevailing wage rate for the position is below the provincial median hourly wage. The median hourly wage rate varies from $17.79 to $32.53 depending on the Province/Territory. The median hourly wage rate is $21.00 in Ontario.

 New Cap on Low-Wage Temporary Foreign Workers

The Government is putting a cap on the number of foreign workers that an employer may employ in the Low-Wage category. Employers with at least 10 employees will now only be allowed to have Low-Wage foreign workers comprise 10% of their workforce. For current employers who are above the 10% limit, the Government will allow a transition period over the next couple of years, commencing at 30%, or their current level, whichever is lower, and then reducing to 20% beginning July 1, 2015 and 10% beginning July 1, 2016.

 Additional Restrictions for LMIA's for Low-Wage Positions

In regions of Canada where unemployment is over 6%, Service Canada will refuse applications in specific occupations in the Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Sectors. These are positions that require little or no education or training.  The government estimates that this will reduce the number of temporary foreign workers by around 1,000 per year.

The Government has also reduced the duration for work permits in all Low-Wage LMIAs from two years to one year. This applies to all Low-Wage LMIA applications effective immediately.

Transition Plan Requirements for High-Wage Positions

Employers that are applying for an LMIA in the High-Wage classification will now have to submit a Transition Plan which will outline the steps the employer will take to reduce their reliance on temporary workers. The purpose of the Transition Plan is to illustrate that the employer has a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce. Through the Transition Plan, the employer must select three distinct activities geared toward recruiting and/or training Canadians or permanent residents for the position.  Employers must also select one activity targeted at underrepresented groups. Employers also have the option in the Transition Plan of facilitating the permanent residency of the foreign worker. 

The Transition Plan requirements are in addition to the pre-existing advertising and recruitment requirements. Examples of strategies an employer may use to recruit and retain Canadians and permanent residents include: employee referral incentive programs, offering flexible or part-time hours, attending job fairs, offering apprenticeships, hiring head-hunters and offering financial support for relocation.

Employers should take care in creating their Transition Plans and ensure that they can fulfill its terms. If the employer wishes to make a change to the Transition Plan after it has been approved, it will need to make a request to Service Canada, the plan cannot be amended unilaterally by the employer.

Employers will need to keep records of proof that the activities outlined in their Transition Plans were carried out. All documents pertaining to the activities in the Transition Plan should be retained, for instance, invoices from job fairs, job advertisements etc. Proof of compliance with the Transition Plan may be requested by Service Canada during an inspection.

Exceptions for Certain Positions

Employers may recall that the Accelerated LMO process was canceled last year. Under that process, employers requesting an LMO in high-skilled occupations could receive an LMO within 10 days if they had received a positive LMO in the past two years.

The Government has not reinstituted this process. However, it has created an accelerated process that can be used in specific circumstances focusing on the highest-demand, highest-paid and shortest duration occupations. When specific criteria is met, an LMIA will be issued within 10 business days.

With respect to high-demand occupations, the program will initially be limited to skilled-trade jobs where the wages offered are at or above the provincial or territorial median wage rate as determined by Service Canada.

This program will also be available to employers requesting LMIAs in the highest-paid occupations, which it has indicated are those with a prevailing wage rate that is at or above the top 10 % of wages earned in a given province or territory.

In addition, this fast tracked program will be available for LMIAs where the employer is seeking the foreign worker for a short duration of 120 days or less. Service Canada will not allow for the renewal of LMIAs that have been approved on the basis of short duration unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Application Fee

Commencing last year, a $275 application fee was imposed on employers applying for an LMO. With these new changes, the application fee has been increased to $1,000.


The Government will be increasing the number of inspections that are conducted. It is anticipated that one in four employers employing workers through the TFWP will be subjected to an inspection each year. An employer may be subject to an inspection through a random audit, through a tip regarding non-compliance or if the employer is deemed to be high-risk.

Employers may recall that the scope of authority to inspect was increased significantly last year. The inspectors' powers are now similar to those of a Ministry of Labour inspector. The inspectors will be able to enter the employer's premises without notice or warrant and examine any and all things on the premises.  Inspectors may also question foreign workers and other employees with their consent. The Government has also implemented a new Confidential Tip Line that allows individuals to report abuse of the TFWP, as well as a new Complaints webpage.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, employers could face a fine of up to $100,000 for failure to follow the rules of the TFWP.  The other potential sanctions for breaking the rules include: suspension of an LMIA, revocation of  an LMIA, publication on the Government's blacklist, and a ban from the use of the TFWP. In addition, the Government will publically disclose the names of employers that have been fined and the amount of the fine on the Government's blacklist.

The Government is also intending to increase the use of criminal investigations in relation to violations of the TFWP. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, an employer could face charges for employing a foreign national that is not authorized to work in Canada, for counselling any person directly or indirectly to make a misrepresentation and for making misrepresentations.  Employers who employ person not legally authorized to work in Canada could be fined up to $50,000 and face imprisonment for up to 2 years. Employers who intentionally misrepresent or withhold information or provide false information could face a fine of $100,000 and a prison term of up to five years.

We will be providing more information on these changes to the TFWP at our 28th Annual Employers' Conference (attendees receive 6 CPD Credit Hours toward HRPA Recertification and this may apply toward 6 substantive CPD hours with LSUC). To review our complete agenda or to register click here.

 Implications for Employers

It is now more difficult than ever before to bring foreign workers to Canada. Employers intending to use the new LMIA process must plan ahead. The preparation of the application will be time consuming, as the new application form is more detailed, for instance, with respect to recruitment efforts and the creation of a Transition Plan (for employers applying in the High-Paid stream).

In addition, even if the employer meets the minimum advertising and recruitment requirements and provides a detailed Transition Plan, the application could still be rejected. Service Canada has the discretion to deny the application on the basis that the employer should have recruited differently, or if Service Canada's data suggests there is no labour shortage for the specific position, despite the fact that the employer was unable to recruit a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Jessica Young
Events from this Firm
25 Oct 2016, Other, Toronto, Canada

The new Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Bill 132) imposes a range of new duties in regard to workplace harassment. These include requiring employers to amend their programs to implement workplace harassment policies and establish new rules for the investigation of workplace harassment incidents or complaints.

Receive expert guidance from experienced employment lawyers as to how your organization can comply with this new law painlessly and address workplace harassment effectively

16 Nov 2016, Conference, Toronto, Canada

This past year has been marked with significant changes to employment legislation, and watershed decisions that will affect employers for years to come. We've designed this year's conference to deliver a practical and digestible review of what you need to know to manage your employees effectively.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.