Ottawa streamlining temporary foreign worker program, making it easier for employers with history of compliance with rules

Migrant workers picking strawberries in a field. Photo: Pixel Digits/Getty Images/Canva

The federal government is introducing a new pilot program — the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) — to safeguard the rights of temporary foreign workers while streamlining the recruitment process for employers.

Announced on Aug. 8 at DC Farms in Ruthven, Ont., by Irek Kusmierczyk, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, the REP will be introduced under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.

Intended as a three-year initiative, the REP will both address workforce shortfalls and alleviate administrative pressures on compliant employers.

As part of the REP, qualified employers can avail of Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) lasting up to 36 months. These employers will also benefit from an expedited LMIA application process for recruiting additional workers within the pilot’s duration. Moreover, a special Job Bank designation will spotlight these recognized employers to potential employees.

To qualify for REP, employers must have received a minimum of three positive LMIAs over the preceding five years for in-demand roles, based on data from the Canadian Occupational Projection System. Such employers will undergo an in-depth initial evaluation, ensuring only those with the most robust recruitment practices benefit from the pilot.

The REP will be launched in two stages: primary agricultural employers can apply starting in September 2023, with all other employers following suit in January 2024. The application window for the REP will conclude in September 2024.

Several officials have commended the REP for its proactive approach to labor challenges. The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, highlighted the pilot’s potential to “cut red tape for eligible employers” and emphasized its importance for Canada’s economy and food security. Similarly, Michael Del Ciancio of DC Farms acknowledged the program’s role in ensuring “reliable, dedicated employees.”

This move is among various measures the government has introduced to revamp the TFW Program, emphasizing the well-being and rights of foreign temporary workers. The TFW program also transitioned to an online portal in April 2023, streamlining the process further.

Additional Information: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program assists Canadian businesses in temporarily addressing labor and skills deficits when local workers are unavailable. The initiative prioritizes the health and safety of foreign temporary workers. In 2022, steps were taken to fortify protections, including mandatory rights education for workers and the prohibition of recruitment fees.