The federal government has recently made it easier to bring temporary foreign workers into Canada.

Foreign workers cannot work in Canada without a work permit.  Most work permits require a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada.  To receive an LMO Canadian employers must prove they attempted to hire Canadians (by posting the position on a job bank for a minimum of three weeks) and that no Canadians were available who could perform the job.  The LMO process can be onerous and Service Canada typically takes four to seven weeks to process LMO applications.

In an effort to address these processing times for Labour Market Opinions (LMOs), the federal government introduced the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) Initiative effective April 25, 2012.  Under the A-LMO program, Canadian employers who meet certain criteria can get an LMO in ten business days or less.  The A-LMO application does not exempt employers from criteria assessed in the regular LMO process; rather, efficiencies are introduced by introducing attestations for specific assessment criteria.

The new A-LMO Initiative only applies to higher skilled positions such as management, professional, and technical occupations.  In addition, it is only available to employers who:

  • have been issued at least one positive LMO in the previous two years;
  • have a clean compliance record with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for the last two years;
  • have agreed to all of the attestations included in the A-LMO application, and consent to participate in a post A-LMO compliance review;
  • have not been the subject of an investigation, infraction, or a serious complaint, and
  • do not have any unresolved violations or contraventions under provincial laws governing employment and recruitment

This new process should be welcomed by any business that employs temporary foreign workers.  While the new A-LMO program is advantageous for employers that previously suffered from long processing times for LMOs and burdensome documentary proof at the application stage, employers must take care to ensure that they comply with all requirements given the high possibility of a post-LMO compliance review and the possibility of penalties for non-compliance.  Penalties for non-compliance could include ineligibility to participate in the A-LMO program, possible revocation of positive LMOs, sharing of review findings with Canadian immigration authorities for further investigation, and greater scrutiny of pending or subsequent LMO applications.