April 12, 2017 – Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will undergo further changes to ensure Canadians get the first chance at jobs and to protect foreigners who work in Canada. The program is an important driver for Canadian employers recruiting temporary foreign workers to Canada.
Canada’s 2017 federal budget, announced in March, will see nearly $280 million spent over five years on delivering and improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.
A further $49.8 million per year will be spent on the two programs thereafter.
The federal government has announced the latest changes in response to Standing Committee recommendations made in September 2016.
Key Temporary Foreign Worker Program Changes
- Employers required to do more to hire Canadians. Special emphasis will be on youth, new permanent residents, women, indigenous people and the disabled.
- Users of TFWP to help government transition Canadians into the workforce through more use of outreach and training programs.
- Plan to eliminate Labour Market Impact Assessment fee for:
- Families seeking caregivers for persons with high medical needs.
- Families earning less than $150,000 seeking childcare.
- Increased compliance inspections of firms employing temporary workers.
- Making sure workers know their rights and protections on arrival.
- Improved communication with provinces and territories.
Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, outlined the aims behind the new ideas. “The changes we are making to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will help ensure that Canadians have the first opportunity at available jobs, that vulnerable workers are protected, and that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and thrive”, she said.
The federal government rejected a key section of the Standing Committee report, calling for an end to employer-specific Canada work permits.
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The Standing Committee said this would help combat abuse by reducing the power an employer held over a worker.
But the government response argued it would undermine the LMIA process.
“The LMIA is by design linked to an employer who has demonstrated that efforts to hire Canadians have failed,” the government report reads.
“Eliminating the employer-specific work permit could undermine this basic program premise.”
Changes Already Announced
Several changes have already been announced in response to the Standing Committee recommendations.
The government moved in December 2016 to abolished the cumulative duration (or four-in, four-out) rule. This had limited to four years the length of time a temporary worker could stay in Canada under the program.
December also saw the introduction of a workforce cap of 10 per cent for employers who began using the TFWP after June 20, 2014. Those who have been using the program since before then were capped at 20 per cent.
An exemption on this cap for seasonal industries seeking temporary foreign workers for up to 180 days in a calendar year was extended until December 31, 2017.
A further major change to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is the launch of the Global Talent Stream, expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2017.
This came in response to both outcry from the technology industry on bringing in highly skilled foreign talent, and recommendations made by the Standing Committee.
Key Features of Global Talent Stream
- Two-week standard for processing Canada work permit applications (and Canada visa applications when applicable) for highly skilled talent.
- Dedicated service for companies looking to make significant job-creating investments in Canada.
- Dropping of the work permit requirement for short-term highly skilled work (30 days or less in a 12-month period), and brief academic stays.
- Companies applying for workers through the Global Talent Stream will have access to the new streamlined application process that will provide:
- Client-focused service to help guide eligible employers through the application process and the development of the Labour Market Benefits Plan, with a service standard of 10 business days.
- Eligibility for workers to have their work permit applications processed in 10 business days.
“From improving Express Entry to launching the Global Skills Strategy to dropping the four-year rule for temporary workers, the government has taken action on many of the recommendations that the Standing Committee put forward in fall 2016,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
“We are committed to delivering an immigration system that helps grow our economy while strengthening our society, and the investments made in Budget 2017 will allow us to do that.”
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