Canada operates the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) as a means to supplement its work force when there is no qualified worker in Canada to do a job. An employer looking to hire a foreign worker in Canada often needs to submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to the Canadian government. The Canadian government employee reviewing the application must determine that the hiring of the foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.
The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above the median wage are considered high-wage.
Generally speaking, all employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance with government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.
Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their LMIA application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. Proof of investment in skills training or hiring Canadian apprentices are examples of how employers can prove this. Alternatively, employers can demonstrate how they are assisting their high-skilled temporary foreign worker(s) in becoming Canadian permanent residents. If the employer is chosen for an inspection, or if they apply to renew their LMIA, they will be required to report on the progress of the transition plan that they have submitted.
The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This entails that they are using the TFWP as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.
Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application. They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.
Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:
To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers.
- pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
- ensure affordable housing is available;
- pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
- register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
- provide an employer-employee contract.
The TFWP uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector.
LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.
Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.
Expediting an LMIA
LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:
- Highest-demand occupations