June 22, 2014

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Changed, Moratorium on Employer Access Lifted

Posted by admin - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On 20 June 2014, Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that effectively immediately, the moratorium on the food service sector’s access to the TFWP has ended. They also unveiled highly anticipated changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The TFWP is now split into two branches: (1) Reformed TFWP and (2) International Mobility Program (IMP). We highlight key details of the changes below.

Highlights of Changes

Reformed Temporary Foreign Worker Program

  • Will be overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
  • Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will replace previous Labour Market Opinion
  • LMIA will require employers to disclose information including the number of Canadians who applied for the available position, were interviewed and the reasons for which they were rejected
  • LMIA fee increased to $1000 for each temporary foreign worker position
  • Wages will be used (instead of National Occupation Code) as the main criteria for administrating the TFWP
  • Wages  that are paid at or above provincial/territorial median wage levels will be deemed as “high wage” positions and those paid below provincial/territorial median wage levels will be deemed as “low wage” positions
  • Cap will be imposed on employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA consisting of 10% of workforce at every worksite, determined by the total hours worked.
  • Transitional provisions, effective immediately, will permit employers who currently exceed the cap to benefit from a higher cap of 30%, which will be reduced to 20% on 1 July 2015 and eventually to 10% on 1 July 2016
  • LMIAs for employers within Accommodation, Food Service or Retail Sales industries in regions with annual unemployment rates exceeding 6%
  • Duration of work permits will be reduced to one-year
  • Transition plans will be required for high-wage positions whereby employers must demonstrate increased efforts to hire Canadians
  • 10-day processing times for highest-demand, highest paid and shortest duration occupations, i.e. skilled trades within top 10% of pay bracket for positions that are less than 120 days
  • Government will inspect 1 in 4 employers using the TFWP
  • Fines for non-compliance will be increased to $100,000, effective fall 2014
  • On-Farm Primary Agriculture and Live-in Caregiver programs exempted from many of these new changes

New International Mobility Program

  • Will be overseen by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
  • Program to facilitate foreign workers arriving through reciprocal agreements with other countries which benefit Canada (ex. free-trade agreements like NAFTA and GATS or youth exchange programs)
  • Employers utilizing the IMP will be LMIA exempt
  • New requirements will be imposed on employers to submit a foreign national’s job offer details to CIC
  • New fees
  • Increased monitoring and inspections

These changes greatly impact Canadian businesses hiring temporary foreign workers. Please contact us with any questions about the program or to discuss your options.

Click here to read  “TFW program creating headaches all over”  an article featuring Sindura Dar; associate at Bellissimo Law Group.