The recovery of Canada’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic is well established. Canada added 337,000 jobs in February 2022, lowering our unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent, the lowest since the pandemic emerged. In addition, Canada’s economic growth exceeds many employers’ opportunities to fill vacancies. The Government of Canada focuses on developing a robust and sustainable workforce in all industries to support Canada’s continuing economic growth.
As a result, Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, announced the Workforce Solutions Road Map for the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program on April 4, 2022. This effort is the next phase in a long-term effort to adapt and strengthen the TFW Program to continue to fulfil the needs of today’s labour market. Addressing labour shortages, improving worker safety, and developing a more vital workforce for today and tomorrow, primarily through pathways to permanent residency, are essential aspects.
As part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Workforce Solutions Road Map, five significant policy amendments will be introduced within the next weeks to address current labour and skills shortages. With immediate effect:
- Employers in seasonal industries, such as fish and seafood processing, would no longer be limited in the number of low-wage employees they can hire through the TFW Program to meet seasonal peaks.
- The Seasonal Cap Exemption, which has been in existence since 2015, is now permanent. Additionally, the annual total duration of these jobs will be expanded from 180 to 270 days.
- LMIAs (Labor Market Impact Assessments) will now be valid for 18 months, up from 9 months previously. (Before COVID-19, LMIAs were only good for six months.)
- Workers in the High-Wage and Global Talent Streams will increase their maximum employment period from two to three years. This increase will assist workers in gaining access to pathways to permanent residency, allowing them to continue contributing to our workforce in the long term.
As of April 30th,
- Employers in seven sectors with demonstrable labour shortages, such as Accommodation and Food Services, will be able to hire up to 30% of their employees for low-wage jobs for a year through the TFW Program. Until further notice, all other employers will be able to recruit up to 20% of their workforce under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for low-wage jobs, an increase from the previous 10% cap for many employers.
- The government is eliminating its policy of automatically refusing LMIA applications for low-paying occupations in the hospitality, catering, and retail industries in areas where unemployment is at least 6%.
The federal government encourages efforts to develop a strong Canadian workforce for today and tomorrow. TFWs made up less than 0.4 per cent of the Canadian workforce in 2020, and with these modifications, they will continue to make up a low percentage of our workforce. The government will closely monitor and assess policy implementation to ensure that it is addressing actual labour shortages without affecting Canadian workers. This contains significant investments in jobs and skills training and improvements to working conditions and worker safeguards.
Service Canada recently introduced a series of initiatives to improve capacity and speed the processing of LMIA online application to ensure that employers across the country may hire TFWs in a timely way. In all regions, including Quebec, this involves raising staffing resources. Employers are requested to submit their applications online to speed up the process. The intensive checks carried out throughout the process to keep workers safe and protect labour market conditions will not be affected by these modifications.
The Government of Canada committed to improving this area as part of a “What We Heard Report” announced in December 2021 to address immediate health and safety concerns. These improvements are combined with the government’s continuous efforts to improve worker rights. Minister Qualtrough also announced today that in June 2022, she would conduct the first TFW Program Ministerial Consultative Roundtable to hear directly from worker representatives and other stakeholders on strengthening and improving the programme for workers, companies, and communities. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity for safe and adequate employer-provided housing for TFWs, the first Roundtable will focus on housing accommodations. This Roundtable adds to the current working group conversations on this topic involving federal, provincial, and territorial officials.
To effectively secure TFWs, ESDC is also trying to reform the TFW compliance regime. ESDC is now engaged in the following activities to strengthen its risk-based approach to targeting higher-risk employers:
- Developing TFW inspection tools and demanding required training.
- Utilising its tip line service, which allows employees to report any instances of programme abuse or exploitation; and
- Increasing its collaboration with consulates to identify issues that require prompt action
Through the new Migrant Worker Support Program, announced in Budget 2021, the government will invest $49.5 million over three years, initiating in 2021-22, to assist community-based organisations in providing migrant worker-centric programmes and services, such as on-arrival orientation and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations.
The government pre-published new proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette Part I in July 2021 to help prevent mistreatment or exploitation of temporary foreign employees while in Canada and strengthen programme integrity.
The government pre-published new proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette Part I in July 2021 to help prevent the mistreatment or exploitation of temporary foreign employees in Canada and strengthen programme integrity. The 14 regulation adjustments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Temporary Foreign Workers) are now being finalised, with final publication in the Canada Gazette Part II expected later this summer.