In June 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada ("ESDC") implemented a two-year pilot project providing Canadian employers expedited access to unique, specialized and highly-skilled temporary foreign workers: the Global Talent Stream.

By using the Global Talent Stream, employers may apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment ("LMIA") under two categories:

  • Category A if the employer has been referred by one of the Global Talent Stream's Designated Partners and wants to hire an individual with unique and specialized talent; or
  • Category B if the employer is seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations specified on the Global Talent Occupations List.

LMIAs filed under the Global Talent Stream are fast-tracked and simpler: There is no minimum recruitment requirement and the majority of applications are processed in 10 business days instead of the usual 12 week processing delay for regular LMIAs.

Also, under the Global Talent Stream, employers are required to develop a Benefits Plan rather than a Transition Plan which is required in a regular LMIA.

So what's the difference between these two types of plans?

Benefits Plan

The Benefits Plan is used to demonstrate an employer's commitment to activities that will have a lasting and positive impact on the Canadian labour market and to identify and track employers' overall job creation, skills and training investments which will benefit the Canadian economy through the employment of highly-skilled global talent. The Benefits Plan contains mandatory commitments that vary depending on which category of the Global Talent Stream an employer uses and other complementary commitments.

Under a Category A application, employers must commit to creating jobs, either directly or indirectly, for Canadians and permanent residents. Under a Category B application, they must commit to increasing skills and training investments for Canadians and permanent residents. In addition to these mandatory commitments, employers must also commit to two complementary benefits which may include creating jobs, investing in skills and training, transferring knowledge to Canadians and permanent residents, enhancing company performance and implementing best practices or policies.

Transition Plan

Employers who wish to hire temporary workers in high-wage positions by using a regular LMIA are required to submit a Transition Plan along with their application and must undertake to recruit, retain and train Canadians and permanent residents and reduce their reliance on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP"). Therefore, in the Transition Plan, employers must clearly demonstrate how they will transition from a foreign workforce to a Canadian one during the temporary workers' employment.

In order to comply with ESDC's requirements, employers must conduct at least three distinct activities to recruit, retain and/or train Canadians or permanent residents in the occupation specified in the application and one additional activity, to be conducted in collaboration with an organization that serves underrepresented groups (e.g. immigrants, indigenous people, persons with disabilities or youth), that will identify potential candidates for recruitment or training purposes.

Furthermore, rather than conducting these recruitment, retention or training activities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, employers may opt to implement a single activity; that is, facilitating the permanent resident process for the persons who are the subject of the LMIAs by offering them permanent job offers, language training or financial support for their permanent residence application, etc.

Once employers have chosen their activities, they must explain in detail what will be involved, indicate planned dates (dates of job fairs or submit a timeline for the permanent residence application, etc.) and estimate the number of applications it expects to receive for each specific recruitment/training activity.

Employers should also know that they may be exempt from presenting a Transition Plan in some cases (i.e. caregiver or agricultural positions, occupations eligible for Quebec's facilitated LMIA process, positions with limited duration or positions requiring unique skills).

Conclusion

Although there are significant differences between Benefits Plans and Transition Plans, they both aim at increasing the number of Canadians or permanent residents employed in Canada either by creating jobs (directly or indirectly) and increasing skills and training investments for Canadians and permanent residents (Benefits Plan) or by transitioning towards a Canadian workforce by increasing recruitment or training activities or by facilitating the permanent residence process for temporary foreign workers (Transition Plan).