Canada Unveils Extended Special Measures to Boost Hiring of Temporary Foreign Workers


Today, in a significant development, Canada's Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, unveiled a series of revisions to the Temporary Foreign Workforce Solutions Road Map. This roadmap has been revamped to provide critical support to employers grappling with labor shortages by harnessing the power of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).


The Temporary Foreign Workforce Solutions Road Map serves as an adaptive strategy, empowering employers to respond dynamically to the ever-evolving labor and economic landscape in Canada by adjusting the TFWP as needed.


The latest announcement introduces and sustains the following alterations to the Temporary Foreign Workforce Solutions Road Map:


In seven select sectors, namely Food Manufacturing, Wood Product Manufacturing, Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing, Accommodation and Food Services, Construction, Hospitals, and Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, employers can continue to hire up to 30% of their workforce in low-wage positions through the TFWP.


An employment duration cap of two years will be upheld for positions paid at or below the provincial or territorial minimum wage.


Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will now have a reduced validity, decreasing from the previous 18-month maximum to a 12-month maximum.


Effective January 1st, 2024, employers will be mandated to conduct annual reviews of their temporary foreign workers' wages to ensure they align with prevailing wage rates for their specific occupation and work region.


These extended measures are set to remain in effect until August 30th, 2024, with the flexibility to adjust them as per the evolving labor market and economic conditions.


Despite Canada's considerable strides in addressing historical labor shortages stemming from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain sectors, such as those mentioned earlier, continue to grapple with persistent workforce deficits. This situation necessitates the nation's reliance on foreign labor, as domestic solutions fall short. Notably, Canada's unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5% in September for three consecutive months, despite record levels of immigration. The demand for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has surged by approximately 40% compared to the same period last year, underscoring the lingering job vacancies.


What is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)?


The TFWP, one of Canada's two primary work permit programs, serves as Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC's) instrumental tool for addressing domestic labor shortages through immigration channels.


Under this multifaceted program, which encompasses agriculture streams, live-in caregiver streams, and high and low-wage foreign worker streams, foreign nationals can be employed by Canadian companies to work within the nation's borders. However, employers are required to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), an official approval process and document that scrutinizes whether a Canadian permanent resident or citizen could have been hired for the same position. A positive or neutral LMIA decision allows for the employment of a foreign worker, while a negative decision results in the rejection of the work permit application. LMIA-backed work permits are closely tied to a specific employer and industry.


Ensuring employer compliance is a pivotal aspect of the program. The Canadian government maintains an online record of employers found non-compliant with TFWP standards, including aspects related to wages, working conditions, and workers' rights. Furthermore, a safeguarding program has been instituted to protect vulnerable workers participating in the program. To streamline LMIA procedures for trustworthy employers with a stellar track record, IRCC has introduced the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP), further highlighting the critical role these workers play in filling persistent job vacancies.