At a Glance

  • The Canadian government updated wage information, creating new prevailing wages for many occupations across the country.
  • Employers should review their foreign employee population in Canada for compliance with the updated wage requirements.
  • Failure to meet the prevailing wage can result in compliance issues for employers of foreign nationals in Canada.

The situation

The Canadian government updated the prevailing wage for many industries, affecting the wage that employers must pay foreign workers under certain immigration applications. The increase varies by region and occupation.

A closer look

The following work permit categories are affected by the prevailing wage increase:

Work Permit Category Application of Prevailing Wage
Intra-Company Transferees (Specialized Knowledge) other than under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and other free trade agreements Prevailing wage is a minimum requirement for new work permits and extensions
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Employers have an obligation to comply with the prevailing wage and to review and adjust the wages of the foreign national, when applicable. This must be done at least annually, to ensure that the foreign national continues to receive the prevailing wage for the occupation and region where they are employed. This may affect ongoing recruitment efforts.
LMIA - Global Talent Stream Same requirements as the main LMIA category. In addition, certain in-demand occupations have minimum wage floors that may differ from the prevailing wage.
Permanent Residence (PR) Many employer-sponsored PR applications under the Provincial Nominee Programs require that employers of foreign nationals comply with the prevailing wage.

Exception. Applications filed under the NAFTA and CETA agreements are exempt from the prevailing wage requirement.


  • Compliance. Since the prevailing wage has increased for many occupation categories, employers should review their foreign employee population in Canada for compliance with the updated wage requirements.
  • Pending applications. For pending applications, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may request that employers adjust the wage offered to a foreign national prior to issuing a work permit. There is also the possibility of a work permit refusal.


  • Prevailing wage purpose. Many work permit categories in Canada require that a foreign national be paid at or above the prevailing wage, which is the median wage as established by ESDC for a particular occupation in a geographic location in Canada. The prevailing wage is determined based on data contained in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and adjusted on a semi-regular basis, generally from September through November of each year. The government uses prevailing wages to protect the labor market by keeping wages high, while also ensuring reasonable access to the labor market for Canadian employers of highly-skilled foreign workers.
  • Prevailing wage assessment step. The prevailing wage is relevant throughout the processing of a work permit application. In an LMIA application, it is assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada and then by IRCC. If the prevailing wage changes during the processing of an application, the employer can be asked to adjust the wage prior to the approval of the work permit.
  • Regional variations. This year's key changes were in the following NOCs:
    • Approximately CAD 10,000 (approximately USD 7,560) decrease for NOC 1122 in Montreal, Quebec
    • Approximately CAD 19,000 (approximately USD 14,364) increase for NOC 0601 in Calgary, Alberta
    • Approximately CAD 20,000 (approximately USD 15,119) increase for NOC 1223 in Regina, Saskatchewan
    • Approximately CAD 12,000 (approximately USD 9,071) increase for NOC 2174 in Kitchener, Ontario
    • Approximately CAD 10,000 (approximately USD 7,560) decrease for NOC 2283 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Looking ahead

Fragomen will report on further changes to the prevailing wage each year as they are announced.

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.