June 12, 2019 – Increased demand for Canada work permits through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is forcing up processing times, new figures show.
Canada has seen a 25 per cent increase in work permit applications so far in 2019, which the federal government is putting down to record low unemployment rates.
It means waiting times for Labour Market Impact Assessments are on the increase – to 102 days for low skilled workers and 95 days for high wage workers.
A positive LMIA is the system of proving there are no Canadians available to fill a vacancy.
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Meanwhile, the promise of two-week processing through the Global Talent Stream, also part of the TFWP, is also adding workload to the system.
Ottawa accepts that employers are struggling to find the workers they need to meet demand due to historically low unemployment.
The volume of LMIA requests is on the increase, and the federal government is looking at how it can improve the way it works to help avoid further delays.
Industries including fish processors in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are facing serious labour shortages.
A recent report concluded the industry would need an extra 2,500 workers over the next five years to plug gaps left by retirees. Already, 1,700 vacancies went unfilled in 2017, according to the most recent figures.
Some plants have had to remain closed, while others are asking office workers to help on the processing floor.
Stakeholders are further frustrated by new biometrics requirements, which they say have only increased delays in bringing in foreign workers.
They say the new requirements have only added ‘red tape’ when the process needed to be streamlined.
Many want to see Ottawa introduce a trusted employer program, giving access to a less onerous processing pathway.
Canada’s federal government recently issued a further notice warning of growing processing delays for LMIAs.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which handles Canada work permit and LMIA requests, publishes average processing times by each Temporary Foreign Worker Program category.
The times range from 10 business days for the Global Talent Stream up to 102 business days for the high wage stream.
Expected LMIA Processing Times
Global Talent Stream
10 business days
36 business days
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program
20 business days
Permanent Residence Stream
39 business days
20 business days
95 business days
102 business days
The federal government is currently in the process of acting on a number of recommendations made in a standing committee report two years ago.
Between now and September 9, 2019, three new measures will be introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to help protect immigrants in different situations:
- Vulnerable workers.
- Newcomers who face family abuse.
- To help newcomers sponsor family members that they did not initially declare.
1) Vulnerable workers
As of June 4, 2019, migrant workers on an employer-specific work permit facing an abusive job situation in Canada are able to apply for an open work permit.
The change allows the worker to leave the abusive employer immediately and find another job without fear of losing their status.
When an application is approved for an open work permit for a vulnerable worker, the employer will also face an inspection.
To date, more than 160 employers have been found non-compliant and received a monetary penalty and/or a ban on hiring foreign workers.
Cases that involve potentially criminal behaviour are referred to Canada Border Services Agency or the appropriate police force.
2) Newcomers who face family abuse
Starting July 26, 2019, newcomers who are victims of family violence can apply for a fee-exempt temporary resident permit to give them legal immigration status in Canada. The status includes a work permit and health care coverage.
IRCC is also expediting the process for those in urgent family violence situations who apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The expedited temporary resident permit process for victims of family violence is only available to foreign nationals in Canada who have not yet obtained their permanent residence and whose status in Canada is dependent on their abusive spouse or partner.
It is not available to foreign nationals outside Canada.
3) To help newcomers sponsor family members that they did not initially declare
When a person applies to immigrate to Canada, they are required to declare all of their family members.
The consequence for failing to declare a family member is a lifetime bar on the principal applicant being able to sponsor that family member in the future.
As of September 9, 2019, a 2-year pilot project will allow certain people to sponsor undeclared immediate family members.
The people who qualify to do this include resettled refugees, those conferred refugee protection in Canada or those sponsored as a spouse, partner or dependent child.
Applications that are already in process will also benefit from this pilot project.
An IRCC statement said: “The government is committed to protecting vulnerable people so they can leave abusive work or family relationships, or reunite with immediate family members.”
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
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