Government Announces Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The ECLC provides assistance to low-income temporary foreign workers (TFWs) with a variety of legal issues, including employment standards, residential tenancy matters, small claims, debt, human rights, and of course, immigration. On June 20, 2014 Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development) and Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration) announced some major changes to the temporary foreign worker program. This post outlines the impact of today’s events on our clients.

Many of the changes introduced today will have an impact on the TFWs we serve, including:

  •  The Food Service Sector moratorium is lifted as of today, but areas of the country with high unemployment (high has been defined as over 6% unemployment) will be barred from bringing in TFWs to fill low skilled/low wage jobs altogether.
  • There is now a 2 year cap on time allowance in Canada for low skilled/low wage workers. It is unclear how this intersects with or if this overrides the current “cumulative duration” regulation of 4 years, and how time in Canada is calculated. Live in Caregivers are exempt from this change to a 2 year cap, as are seasonal agricultural workers.
  • A separate review of the Live in Caregiver Program will commence shortly, with changes to that program expected in the coming months.
  • Labour Market Opinion (LMO) fees jump from $275 to $1000, and it will be more difficult for companies to get LMOs: there will be more stringent advertising requirements and increased assessment criteria.
  • There will be increased monitoring, investigation and enforcement, as well as more scrutiny of employers/companies who hire/use TFWs. There will also be a target to randomly audit 25% of employers/businesses who use TFWs. The justification for the aforementioned increase in the fee to $1000 for LMOs is to offset the costs associated with this increased monitoring of employers who use the program, hiring more officers, etc.
  • There is a new cap on the number of low-wage TFWs that can work per company – no more than 10% of an employer’s work force per worksite can be made up of TFWs. If the business has 10 employees or less they are exempt from this restriction. This cap will be unrolled gradually to give industries time to adjust – the cap will start at 30% and will reduce gradually to be 10% by July 2016.
  • The government expects the changes to reduce the number of entries of low-wage TFWs to 16,278 in 2016 (from 31,099 in 2013), a drop of more than half. The goal is to reduce employer reliance on temporary labour for low skilled/low wage jobs.

The following links provide a comprehensive overview of the changes that were introduced earlier today:

About Robyn Thomas

Robyn Thomas-Heule works at the Edmonton Community Legal Centre as the Manager of Immigration Services. She has a background in the settlement sector, working at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers for a number of years before joining the ECLC in March 2011.
This entry was posted in Agency News, Immigration Law, Public Policy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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