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Canadian Employers Can Now Hire More Foreign Workers

Published on: April 5th, 2022

In response to a labour shortage across the country, Canada recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to make it easier for Canadian employers to hire more overseas workers.

The latest updates to the TFWP will allow Canadian employers to hire more foreign employees, with fewer restrictions. The changes will also make it easier for some foreign workers to transition to permanent status.

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On April 4, 2022, the Canadian government announced the following changes to the TFWP, effective immediately:

  • Making permanent the ‘Season Cap Exemption’, which removes the limit of low-wage positions that employers in seasonal industries can fill through the TFWP. Canada also increased the maximum duration of these positions from 180 days to 270 days per year;
  • Extending the validity of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from 9 months to 18 months;
  • Extending the maximum duration of employment for High-Wage and Global Talent Stream workers from two years to three years. By doing so, these workers will have a stronger chance of being eligible for Canadian permanent residency programs.

In addition, beginning April 30th, employers in all sectors can hire up to 20% of their workforce through the TFWP. For employers in one of seven in-demand sectors, up to 30% of their employees can be hired through the TFWP for low-wage positions for one year.  This is a significant increase from the previous 10% limit for many Canadian employers.

Changes met with a mixed response

The latest changes made to the TFWP have been met with a mixed response. While many employers applaud the changes, labour advocates warn that it will result in a higher number of precarious workers in Canada.

Canada’s agriculture sector has long been one of the main recipients of temporary foreign workers. The sector is also criticized for often providing poor working and living conditions to migrant workers. Since the TFWP largely ties an employee’s status to their employer, workers often fear speaking out for fear of being deported.

While Canada’s recent announcement will help employers fill vacancies, and high-skilled workers transition to permanent status, low-wage temporary foreign workers will continue to have limited opportunities. Canada’s economic permanent residence programs largely favour applicants with ‘high-skilled’ work experience, with few options for low-wage, ‘low-skilled’ workers in Canada.

Record-high job vacancies

Statistic Canada’s latest Job Vacancy report showed the number of unfilled roles peaked at 915,500 in the fourth quarter of 2021. Canada’s strong post-pandemic economic recovery and growth have outpaced the ability of many employers to find workers.

The Canadian government increasingly looks to foreign workers as the solution to the country’s labour shortage. Canadian immigration minister, Sean Fraser, credits Canada’s successful post-pandemic economic recovery to high immigration levels. The Liberal government has continued to increase immigration levels to record-breaking highs, a majority of which will come from economic immigrants.

A large portion of economic immigrants from Canada’s 2022 immigration levels will come from the TR to PR pathway. Introduced in April 2021, the TR to PR pathway invited a limited number of candidates currently working in Canada in ‘essential occupations’ to apply for permanent status. This provided a pathway to permanent residence for many low-wage workers in Canada, many of which would have otherwise been ineligible to apply. The program closed in November 2021; the Canadian government has not announced whether they will re-open a similar program.


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