More Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program


Help wanted noticeSince the foreign worker scandals at RBC and at HD Mining in BC,  the federal government has been scrambling to make changes to the program and eliminate so-called “loopholes” in the previous program that have garnered so much media attention.

So as of July 31, 2013, the federal government has implemented a $275 processing fee for each temporary foreign worker position for which a Labour Market Opinion is requested.  As you may know, a positive (or neutral) Labour Market Opinion is required in order for an employer to hire a foreign worker.

In essence, the opinion is an analysis of the employer’s efforts to find a Canadian to do the job, as well as an analysis of the employment market in Canada for that position.  If the government agrees that it would be difficult (or impossible) to find a Canadian to do the job, then a positive Labour Market Opinion is granted, and the employer can hire the foreign worker.

In past, these applications were free-of-charge.  That was a reasonable approach.  A foreign worker brought into the country to do a job for which no Canadian was available would provide the government thousands of tax dollars.  The government claims that the new fee will offset costs from employers who seek an opinion but don’t ultimately hire a foreign worker.

However, the tax revenue from even one foreign worker would pay for hundreds of Labour Market Opinion applications.  This fee is meant to discourage employers from applying unless they are certain they will hire a foreign worker.  If that’s the case, then I would suggest refunding the fee once a worker is hired.  This would accomplish the goal of ensuring employers are serious about hiring a foreign worker, without unduly burdening employers who are forced to hire many foreign workers due to Canada’s labour shortages in certain industries.

Alas, there is no refund policy in sight.

As well, the federal government has provided that only English and French can be identified as a job requirement in advertisements for jobs (which are part of the Labour Market Opinion application process).  Rare exceptions will be made for specialized positions like translators and tour operators.

But what if an employer does nearly all of its business with Ukraine?  And the employer needs a logistics professional who speaks Ukrainian?  Sorry, out of luck under the new language rules.  In a truly global economy where we want Canadian companies to expand and succeed, this rule makes absolutely no sense to me.  All sorts of specialists with specific language requirements are needed, but that will no longer be an option for Canadian employers seeking to hire foreign workers.

The federal government has doubled the length of time employers need to advertise positions, and they have to advertise more broadly.  Employers will also be asked pointed questions to ensure the foreign worker program is not being used to outsource Canadian jobs.

I can agree with the advertising requirements.  However, the reality is that – in certain industries – you either outsource portions of the work or you simply can’t compete on the open market.  Outsourcing some jobs to save a company is preferable to the entire company shutting down (taking Canadian jobs with it) or having it move to another country altogether.

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About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile