Home Immigration Ottawa revises Temporary Foreign Worker program amid changing market conditions

Ottawa revises Temporary Foreign Worker program amid changing market conditions

by HR Law Canada

In light of evolving economic circumstances, the Canadian government has made significant modifications to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program to better align with the country’s labour market needs.

Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Official Languages, announced the rollback of certain temporary measures introduced in 2022 to address labour shortages during post-pandemic economic recovery.

LMIAs valid for 6 months now

Effective May 1, 2024, Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will now be valid for only six months, reduced from the previous 12-month period. This change aims to ensure that employment opportunities reflect current labour market conditions more accurately.

Additionally, restrictions will tighten for employers under the low-wage stream of the TFW Program, who will see the allowable percentage of their total workforce consisting of temporary foreign workers decreased from 30% to 20%. Exceptions will be made for sectors deemed critical, such as construction and healthcare.

Pursuing domestic labour options

Moreover, employers are now mandated to pursue all domestic labour options, including recruiting asylum seekers holding valid work permits, before applying for an LMIA. This requirement underscores the government’s commitment to prioritizing the Canadian workforce while maintaining protection for foreign workers’ rights.

Since Jan. 1, 2024, there has also been a requirement for employers to conduct annual wage reviews for temporary foreign workers, ensuring their pay remains at par with the prevailing rates for their occupations and regions. This measure is anticipated to predominantly lead to wage increases, safeguarding the financial well-being of temporary workers in Canada.

“These changes reflect our intention to reduce Canada’s reliance on temporary foreign workers by encouraging employers to hire domestically. While the measures introduced in 2022 were essential at the time, it’s important that our policies evolve with our economic landscape,” said Boissonnault.

Balancing national market with local workforce

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, also commented on the policy adjustments, highlighting the necessity to balance the needs of the national labour market with the availability of local workforce, especially in critical sectors such as construction, education, and healthcare.

The TFW Program continues to be a flexible response to labour market fluctuations, aiding Canadian employers in filling vacancies when local talent is unavailable. These latest changes are part of broader governmental efforts to ensure that the rights of temporary foreign workers are upheld while addressing the needs of Canada’s labour market.

Additionally, economic indicators such as a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 5.8% and a consecutive decline in job vacancies suggest a shifting economic environment, further justifying the program’s adjustments. These policy changes align with ongoing governmental commitments to support both Canadian and temporary foreign workers, reflecting a balanced approach to addressing the nation’s employment challenges.

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