In June of 2014, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced an overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
The reforms cover three key areas:
reorganizing the TFWP to offer greater clarity and transparency
restricting access to the TFWP to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs; and
stronger enforcement and tougher penalties.
National Occupational Classification have been replaced by wage levels as the main criteria for administering the TFWP. Wages are believed to be a more accurate reflection of occupational skill level and local labour market conditions.
The labour market test that allows employers to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada has been transformed from a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process that is more rigorous. Employers must provide additional information, including the number of Canadians that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed, and an explanation as to why those Canadians were not hired.
The LMIA fee has increased from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.
There is now a cap on low-wage Temporary Foreign Workers. Employers with ten or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers.
The duration of work permits has been reduced from the current two-year standard duration to one-year periods.
Employers seeking to hire high-wage temporary foreign workers are now required to submit transition plans to demonstrate how they will increase efforts to hire Canadians, including through higher wages, investments in training and more aggressive recruitment efforts from within Canada.
New Enforcement Tactics
In order to ensure employers adhere to these new policies:
the government has increased the number of inspections so that one in four employers using temporary foreign workers will be inspected each year.
the government will impose fines of up to $100,000 on employers who break the rules of the TFWP.
Employment and Social Development Canada has the authority to suspend or revoke the employer’s LMIA. LMIAs are suspended when an employer is suspected of breaking the rules and LMIAs are revoked when an employer is in fact found to have broken the rules.