Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander have recently announced significant changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). These reforms have been implemented to ensure that the program is used only as it is intended: as a last resort to fill certain labor shortages on a temporary basis when there are no qualified Canadians available to fill the positions.

As the first reform to the TFWP, the program will be split into two separate groups. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (previously known as the Labour Market Opinion process) is the first group, which will be administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The second group is the International Mobility Program, which will be administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Ensuring that Canadian Workers are Given First Priority for Available Jobs

  • Wage levels in each province or territory are to replace National Occupational Classification (NOC) as the main criterion for administering the TFWP, which will distinguish between “high-” and “low-” wage workers. More information can be found at the ESDC site.
  • The Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will replace the Labour Market Opinion (LMO). The LMIA is a more rigorous screening mechanism for employers that are seeking to hire temporary foreign workers. The LMIA requires additional information from employers: the number of Canadians that applied for that particular job, the number of Canadians that the employer interviewed, and an explanation if Canadian applicants were not hired for the position. Additionally, employers are to attest that they are aware of the following rule: employers are not allowed to lay-off or reduce the hours of Canadian workers if temporary foreign workers are employed at that worksite. Employers should also note that the LMIA fee has significantly increased from the LMO fee to $1,000 CAD.
  • A 10% cap on the proportion of the workforce that may consist of low-rage temporary foreign workers will be implemented for employers with ten or more employees applying for a new LIMA. For more information about the cap, please see the News Release made by the Government of Canada.
  • For the full list of reforms made to ensure that the domestic labor force is given priority, see the News Release.

Tightening of the Labour Market Assessment

  • The Government of Canada has created an improved Job Matching Service. This will permit Canadians to apply directly through the Job Bank for jobs that are aligned with their qualifications and experience. This service will also provide information to officers about how many Canadians applied for the position when reviewing the employer’s LIMA application.
  • Two new surveys will be used by Statistics Canada:
    • New quarterly Job Vacancy Survey- Larger sample size; data will be available by local areas and will include data on occupations and skill levels
    • New annual National Wage Survey – Larger sample size; data will be available by region
  • Better use of existing government data

Tougher Enforcement and Harsher Penalties for Noncompliance

  • Number and scope of inspections to be significantly increased; program requirements that may be reviewed has increased
  • Improvement of the TFWP Tip Line; addition of a “Complaints” website
  • Introduction of significant monetary fines of up to $100,000 CAD
  • For the full list of reforms regarding enforcement and penalties, see theNews Release.

The International Mobility Program

The International Mobility Program includes the foreign workers who are not subject to an LMIA. Additionally, this program includes the Intracompany Transferee category and entry processes issued under free trade agreements. The International Mobility Program requires that employers include job offers in their applications and is subject to a new compliance monitoring program, which will be supported by the addition of a $230 CAD work permit fee. “Open” work permits will be subject to an extra $100 CAD fee. Previously announced changes to intracompany transferee processing standards will apply to this program.

For full details regarding these reforms, see the News Release released by the Government of Canada.

A timeline of the measures going into effect is available on the ESDC site.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.