Sweeping changes to the rules on work permit issuance were introduced on Friday 20 June. While details are still emerging, we can provide some further information at this time.

The following changes appear to be effective immediately:

  • Work permit rules are split into two main classes: those that require advance employer authorization and those which do not; the former will be called the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) which will be overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) while the latter will be called the International Mobility Program (IMP) and will be overseen by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
  • The TFWP is further divided into high-wage and low-wage categories. Previously, high-skilled and low-skilled occupations were determined by the code assigned by the National Occupation Code (NOC). Now, wages will replace skill level as the main criteria for distinguishing occupations, as determined by the provincial median wage
  • For the TFWP, Labour Market Opinions have been replaced with a more rigorous Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The application for an LMIA is much more in-depth than previous applications, and allows for greater scrutiny.
  • The employer fee for an LMIA is set at $1,000 per worker, per application. Previously, a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) cost $275 to be processed.
  • Employers with 10 or more employees in low-skilled occupations are capped at 10% of their workforce being TFWs.
  • Most employers of high-wage TFWs are now required to submit a plan to transition to a Canadian workforce, along with any LMIA application
  • Expedited LMIA processing for certain high-wage occupations
  • Complete bar on LMIA issuance for some occupations in areas of high unemployment, regardless of individual employer conditions
  • Maximum one-year LMIAs for low-wage positions (there is contradictory information on when this comes into force)
  • Reduction of overall cap for LMIAs in low-wage positions (same as above)
  • End to the moratorium on LMIAs in the food services industry, however, areas with high unemployment will be unable to pursue an application

The following changes appear set to be introduced over the coming months and years:

  • Reduction of the ratio of low-wage TFWs to 10% of workforce, with possible elimination of the low-wage program after 2-3 years
  • Increased inspections (estimated 1 in 4 employers of TFWs will be audited by government each year)
  • Additional work permit fees, both for employers and employees
  • Possible elimination of some LMIA-exempt categories
  • Expanded fines for employers who violate the rules
  • Requirement for employers in the IMP to provide copies of job offers to Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Publication of names of employers who use the TFWP, along with how many positions they have been approved for

Additionally, for those individuals impacted by the moratorium on the Food Service Industry, ESDC has published guidelines on how process these cases.