Changes will fast track the process for employers seeking temporary workers for high-skilled and skilled-trades positions and allow them to pay up to 15 per cent below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region.
Nisku, Alberta — The federal government is realigning the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better meet labour market demands and support the economic recovery, Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced on Wednesday.
“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That’s why we are taking action to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program supports our economic recovery and effectively responds to local labour market demands,” said Minister Finley.
“Our government is looking at ways to make sure businesses recruit from the domestic workforce before hiring temporary foreign workers, while also reducing the paper burden and speeding up the processing time for employers that have short-term skilled labour needs.”
Accelerated-Labour Market Opinions
Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which is jointly administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will make the program more responsive to skills and labour shortages, reduce red tape for employers and provide temporary foreign workers with enhanced protections.
Employers with a strong track record will receive an Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) within 10 business days to hire temporary foreign workers in high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades.
The A-LMO model, which launched on April 25, will feature:
- a simplified, online application process;
- faster and timelier processing for employers with a good history;
- risk-based and random in-depth compliance reviews of employers after LMOs are issued;
- enhanced automation to reduce paperwork, and improve capacity to track compliance and share information; and
- call-centre support for employers.
Employers will have to consent to post-LMO reviews to verify compliance with the TFWP requirements (e.g. all reasonable efforts to recruit from the domestic labour force, providing wages and working conditions that are consistent with Canadian standards). HRSDC will closely monitor employer compliance and take action when necessary to protect temporary foreign workers.
A new wage structure will also be introduced to provide employers with greater flexibility. Wages that are up to 15 per cent below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region will be accepted, however, employers must clearly demonstrate that the wage is consistent with that of Canadian workers based on Statistics Canada data.
The A-LMO will cover high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades, and will be open to employers across Canada. Through a tested and measured implementation, the A-LMO may gradually be expanded to include risk-based processing for all occupations and components of the TFWP.
“This improvement is a direct result of consultations that were held with employers to discuss concerns with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and seek ideas on improving it. Going forward, our government will consider additional measures to strengthen and improve the program, so employers can get skilled workers when no Canadians are available,” said Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
“A fast and flexible economic immigration system combined with a strong Temporary Foreign Worker Program will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future.”
Alberta Business Supports Changes
The success of Advance Engineered Products Ltd. relies on the availability of highly skilled tradespeople, particularly welders and trailer mechanics, said Ron Buchhorn, the company’s Vice-President of Human Resources.
“We have been unable to recruit and train enough Canadians for our manufacturing and service facilities throughout western Canada because of the current highly competitive labour market. We strongly support this government initiative to expedite the hiring of skilled workers from other countries,” said Mr. Buchhorn.
Ron Genereux, chair of the Association for Construction Workforce Acquisition, also supports the changes.
“Today’s announcement by the federal government is welcomed news. This plan addresses industry’s immediate needs for skilled labour, but more importantly, by enabling projects to proceed, it fosters economic recovery and growth, while also creating permanent jobs for Canadians for decades to come,” he said.