The last few years has seen some major changes to the rules governing the ability of Canadian employers to bring temporary foreign workers into Canada. Recently the government introduced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program which oversees and administers the issuance of opinions(previously called LMO’s or Labour market Opinions) which form the legal basis for work permit eligibility for many temporary foreign workers.
The Labour Market Opinion has now been renamed the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and is overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada. One of the more significant changes to the system is the reclassification of high-skilled and low-skilled workers. A position that pays more than the average wage will be considered a high-skilled position and a position that pays less than the provincial average wage will be considered low-skilled. There is also further requirement that a transition plan be filled with applications for high-skilled workers, with certain exceptions.
There is also now a cap of 10% of the workforce for low-skilled occupations, and companies who presently employ more than 10% have been given deadlines to phase out excess workers. Additionally geographical areas of the country with an employment rate of 6% or more will be ineligible to employ workers in the service industry.
These changes have led to a short term dramatic drop of 74 percent in the number of LMIA applications filed by employers, according to government statistics and are detrimentally impacting companies who want to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada. This along with other changes to LMIA exempt categories and a greater emphasis on enforcement of business travellers at the border by Canada Border Services agency make it a very challenging time for employers. Companies should seek instructions from an experienced immigration lawyer to help facilitate the issuance of work permits for foreign nationals seeking to work in Canada.