Temporary Foreign Worker Program Overhaul: What Workers Need to Know

On June 20, 2014 the Government of Canada announced major changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). These changes have significant repercussions for Canadian employers across the country as well as current and future foreign workers.

The recent TFWP overhaul affects Canadian employers. Of course, many of these changes also have a significant impact on how foreign workers obtain their work permits, as well as what will happen during and after arrival in Canada.
Following is detail of the most important changes and what they mean for current and future foreign workers in Canada.

Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs)

In most cases, Canadian employers need to obtain government approval before hiring a foreign worker. This approval comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
In the eyes of the government, the responsibility for securing an LMIA rests solely with the employer in Canada. The LMIA process assesses whether the employer is eligible to hire from abroad.
If you are a foreign worker who has received a job offer in Canada, especially from a small or medium sized employer, you should be prepared for the employer to possibly question whether they want to go through this process at all.

LMIA-Based Work Permit Restrictions

In addition to increased LMIA requirements, there are now new time limits placed on work permits that require LMIAs. Individuals whose Canadian job offers are considered ‘low-wage’ under the new LMIA system (that is, individuals who will be paid less than the provincial median wage) will be issued work permits valid for no longer than one year in length. In addition, low-wage applications that were submitted before June 20, 2014 will not be processed. They will be returned with a refund of government processing fees. Employers are welcome to re-apply following the new rules for low-wage LMIAs.
The government has also implied that the maximum work permit length for ‘high-wage’ workers, who are paid a salary that meets or exceeds provincial median wages, will also be reduced. It has been reported that the maximum length will be cut to two years, although this has yet to be formally implemented.
Options remain in place to renew work permits that are set to expire, as well as to transition from temporary worker status to permanent resident status.
Moratorium Lifted for Food Service Work Permits
On April 24, 2014, the government announced a moratorium on LMIA and work permit issuances for certain occupations in the food services sector. As ofJune 20, this moratorium has been lifted and workers in the food sector may once again apply for work authorization.

LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

Work permits that do not require LMIA approval are now known as ‘International Mobility Programs’.
Certain work permits are LMIA-exempt but remain tied to a specific employer. These sorts of permits most commonly pertain to individuals applying under the NAFTA Program and the Intra-Company Transfer Program.
Currently, individuals are able to apply for their LMIA-exempt work permit once they obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer. In the future (date unknown), Canadian employers will be required to submit their job offers for approval to Citizenship and Immigration Canada before the foreign worker can apply for the work permit. Employers will be required to pay a $230 processing fee to have their job offer evaluated.
The foreign worker must still pay the standard $155 work permit application fee when submitting an application.

Open Work Permit Fees

In the future (date unknown), recipients of Open Work Permits will be required to pay a $100 ‘privilege fee’ in addition to the standard application fee of $155. Individuals who are eligible for open work permits include the spouses of foreign workers and students in Canada as well as participants in certain work exchange programs.
All new fees will help to cover government services such as work permit processing and employer compliance inspections.

Working in Canada Today

It is important to note that individuals who are currently in Canada on a work permit will not see any changes made to their current permits. However, any requests to renew or extend their work permits will be subject to the new rules. ——————————————————————————————-
One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.
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Big changes to the Canadian Foreign Worker Program – In Detail

navigating-temp-foreign-worker-programImproving Clarity, Transparency and Accountability of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

To offer greater clarity and transparency, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is being re-organized into two distinct programs (TFWP and IMP). This will reduce confusion and better reflect the major differences between the various streams.

On Friday, June 20, 2014 a significant overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program was announced at a lengthy media conference with both Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney and CIC Minister Chris Alexander presiding.

Background to Changes

The Ministers’ announcements come after what has been a long and grueling controversy surrounding the Program and its administration. In particular, there have been noted employers in the news as of late whose employment practices have been called into question. Stories of replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers to employer abuses in terms of promises of wages and accommodation for their foreign workers have plagued the evening news.

With the new changes that have been made, the Government hopes to strike the right balance between ensuring that the TFWP is flexible enough to respond to Canada’s labour shortages while also protecting the rights of both temporary foreign workers and Canadian citizens.

TFWP Going Forward

The TFWP will now refer to only those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The new International Mobility Programs (IMP) will include those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA, and whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest, rather than filling particular jobs. These new categories will improve accountability, with Employment and Social Development Canada being the lead department for the TFWP, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada the lead department for the IMP.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Objective:
Last resort for employers to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available

International Mobility Programs Objective:
To advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest

Based on employer demand to fill specific jobs Not based on employer demand
Unilateral and discretionary Base largely on multilateral/bilateral agreements with other countries (e.g. NAFTA, GATS)
Employer must pass Labour Market Impact Assessment (formerly LMO) No Labour Market Impact Assessment required
Lead department ESDC Lead department CIC
No reciprocity Based largely on reciprocity
Employer-specific work permits (TFWs tied to one employer) Generally open permits (participants have greater mobility)
Majority are low-skilled (e.g. farm workers) Majority are high skill / high wage
Last and limited resort because no Canadians are available Workers & reciprocity are deemed to be in the national economic and cultural interest
Main source countries are developing countries Main source countries are highly developed

In the interest of greater transparency and accountability, data for the TFWP and IMP have been re-organized so that statistics on the two distinct programs can be accurately tracked going back 10 years. Of the 221,273 foreign nationals entering Canada in 2013, 62 percent (137,533) came in under the IMP, the other 38 percent, or (83,740), came in under the TFWP.

Using Wage Instead of National Occupation Codes

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will now be administered based on wage instead of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The Government has found that Wage is a more objective and accurate reflection of skill level and labour need in a given area. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage will be considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above will be considered high-wage.

Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

Province/Territory

Wage ($/hr)

Newfoundland and Labrador $ 20.19
Prince Edward Island $ 17.26
Nova Scotia $ 18.00
New Brunswick $ 17.79
Quebec $ 20.00
Ontario $ 21.00
Manitoba $ 19.00
Saskatchewan $ 21.63
Alberta $ 24.23
British Columbia $ 21.79
Yukon $ 27.93
Northwest Territories $ 32.53
Nunavut $ 29.96

Source: Labour Force Survey, 2013

The primary categories under the new TFWP

Under the new TFWP, there will be a priority focus on the following occupational streams:

High-wage:positions at or above the provincial/territorial median wage; examples of high-wage occupations include managerial, scientific, professional and technical positions as well as the skilled trades.

Low-wage:positions below the provincial/territorial median wage; examples of low-wage occupations include general labourers, food counter attendants, and sales and service personnel.

Primary Agricultural Streamincludes positions related to on-farm primary agriculture such as general farm workers, nursery and greenhouse workers, feed lot workers and harvesting labourers, including under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, which enables the entry of foreign workers from Mexico and a number of Caribbean countries to meet the temporary, seasonal needs of agricultural producers.

Highest-demand, highest-paid or shortest-duration: Labour Market Impact Assessments for in-demand occupations (skilled trades), highly paid occupations (top 10%) or short-duration (120 days or less) entries will be provided within a 10 business day service standard. As for all requests to hire temporary foreign workers, LMIAs would only be granted after a rigorous review of all of the elements of the employer’s application in each of these cases.

Live-in Caregiver Programno change.

New Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Snapshot

The labour market test that allows employers to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada is being transformed from a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) to a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a process that is more comprehensive and rigorous. Employers must provide additional information, including the number of Canadians that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed, and explain why those Canadians were not hired. Employers must now also attest they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid-off or have their hours reduced at a worksite that employs temporary foreign workers.

New and better sources of labour market information will be used to determine if there are Canadians who could fill these positions.

LMIAs are conducted and processed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC will refuse to process applications when there are concerns that temporary foreign workers may or will have a significant negative effect on the Canadian labour market.

Current numbers and statistics show that the TFWP is no longer being used as it was intended to be used — as a last and limited resort to allow employers to bring foreign workers to Canada on a temporary basis to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available. The reforms are being implemented to end the growing practice of employers building their business model on access to the TFWP.

Accordingly, the Government of Canada is introducing a cap to limit the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. The cap will significantly restrict access to the TFWP, while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, reducing employer reliance on the program and increasing wages offered to Canadians. It is expected that this measure alone will nearly cut in half the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers once fully implemented.

Employers with 10 or more employees will be subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be applied per worksite of an employer and is based on total hours worked at that worksite. To provide employers time to transition and adjust to this new cap, it will be phased in over the next couple of years.

Effective immediately, employers that are applying for a new LMIA will be limited at 30 percent or frozen at their current level, whichever is lower. This transition measure will be further reduced to 20 percent beginning July 1, 2015 and reduced again to 10 percent on July 1, 2016. The Government may consider lowering the cap further in the future. Temporary foreign workers currently working at work sites over the cap will be allowed to continue working at those sites until their existing work permits expire.

The caps will ensures that large employers with multiple locations cannot be over their limit for low-wage temporary foreign workers at any one of their locations. For example, a large employer with an overall national workforce comprised of 5 percent temporary foreign workers cannot justify bringing in larger volumes of foreign workers at specific locations and having the temporary foreign worker staff at those locations exceed the cap.

The cap sends an important message—temporary foreign workers cannot be used as a business model and employers must do more to recruit, hire and train Canadians. This measure will help drive down the overall number of low-wage temporary foreign workers in Canada and end the distortion in the labour market caused by their prevalence in some sectors and regions.

Refusing Applications in Areas of High Unemployment

Effective immediately, the Government will begin the process of refusal of certain Labour Market Impact Assessment applications in the Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Trade sectors. Specifically, any applications for positions that require little or no education or training will not be processed in economic regions with an unemployment rate at or above 6%.

Reducing the Duration of Work Permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments

Effective immediately, the duration of work permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be limited to a maximum of one year for all low-wage positions, rather than the 2 year duration that existed previously. Employers of low-wage temporary foreign workers must reapply every year for an LMIA, better-accommodating for changes in labour market conditions that might have occurred.

Reducing the Length of Time a Temporary Foreign Worker can Work in Canada

The TFWP is to be used as a last and limited resort, and to encourage employers to make even greater efforts to ensure foreign workers are coming in on a truly temporary basis and that Employers are encouraged to hire and train Canadian workers before seeking temporary foreign workers. In order to facilitate this transition, the Government will reduce how long a temporary foreign worker in the low-wage stream can work in Canada. This measure will not apply to temporary foreign workers currently in Canada on valid work permits.

Changing the Provincial/Territorial Temporary Foreign Worker Annexes

Five provincial/territorial governments (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Yukon) currently have annexes to their immigration agreements with the Government that establish Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions in their jurisdiction. In these cases, the provinces and territories may propose LMIA exemptions for certain occupations and pilot projects involving exemptions to the LMIA process can be initiated.

Transition Plans for High-Wage Positions

Employers who want to hire temporary foreign workers in high-wage occupations will be required (with limited exceptions) to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. This underscores the purpose of the program — which is to operate as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.

Highest-Demand, Highest-Paid and Shortest-Duration Occupations

LMIAs for highest-demand occupations (skilled trades), highest-paid (top 10 percent) occupations or short-duration work periods (120 days or less) will now be provided within a 10-business-day service standard. As is the case for all requests to hire temporary foreign workers, LMIAs would only be granted after a rigorous review of all of the elements of the employer’s application in each of these cases. This service standard will be met by processing these applications first, not by reducing the thoroughness of these LMIAs.

Labour Market Impact Assessment Fee of $1,000

As with the proposed changes and the more rigorous measures to be implemented in the new Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), this will substantially increase the cost of delivering the program. The costs for administering the TFWP, including all of the reforms outlined above, will be borne entirely by employers who use the program, and not by Canadian citizens and tax payers. As a result, the LMIA fee is increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.

The following chart illustrates the increase of the fee over the past few years:

 Year

 Assessment Fee

1973 – 2013

 $0

July 2013

 $275

June 2014

$1,000

The fee will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and necessary adjustments will be made to ensure that it continues to fully cover the costs of the TFWP.

Additionally, the Ministry of Employment and Social Development will be seeking the authority to impose an estimated $100 privilege fee on employers applying for LMIAs to offset the costs of Government of Canada investments in skills and job training.

Better and More Labour Market Information

The new Labour Market Impact Assessment will be made more effective with the introduction of more and better labour market information. As part of this structure, a new enhanced Job Matching Service will allow Canadians to apply directly through the Canada Job Bank for jobs that match their skills and experience. As employers applying for temporary foreign workers must post their jobs on the Job Bank website, the new Job Matching Service will be able to match unemployed Canadians with employers offering available jobs that match their skills in their region. Furthermore, program officers will be better aware of the number of potential applicants and how closely their skills align with the available job, which will allow for more rigorous assessment of LMIA applications.

Increasing the Number and Scope of Inspections

Given concerns over abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the Government is making a significant investment in its TFWP inspection regime.

Beginning in fall 2014, the Government will impose fines of up to $100,000 (depending on the severity of the offence) on employers who break the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). As part of the Government’s efforts to improve the transparency and accountability of the TFWP, the Government will publicly disclose the names of employers who have been fined and the amount of that fine on the Blacklist.

In Conclusion

The changes to the TFWP serve to increase the commitment of the Canadian employer to train an already available Canadian labour force while resorting to a smaller avenue where they could hire a temporary foreign worker as a last resort, if needed, after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Employers will see that the system is set up still to facilitate a foreign worker immigration process, should it be the genuine requirement of their business. As well, there are many other streams for immigration that are available to the Employer should the TFWP not fit with their hiring goals. There still remains within the system great flexibility within the current immigration program offerings across Canada.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.
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Canada to Encourage Irish Immigration at Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork

A street in Dublin, Ireland. Thousands of Irish job seekers are expected at the job expos being held in Dublin and Cork on September 6, 7 and 10 (Jean Housen)

At least seven Canadian companies will have a presence at this year’s Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork, where they will promote the country as an ideal destination for Ireland’s skilled workers to find work and to settle.

The job expo, which is scheduled for Friday September 6th and Saturday 7th in Dublin, and Tuesday September 10th in Cork, will attract thousands from across Ireland seeking to assess the employment opportunities being offered. Dozens of companies from around the world will be manning booths at the event.

With Ireland now back in recession, immigration to Canada is becoming an increasingly attractive option for the country’s workers, whose skills, including English fluency and many with skilled trades qualifications, are well matched for Canada’s economy.

Among Canadian firms present at the expo will be CICS Immigration Consulting, which will be holding seminars on immigration to Canada in Dublin on Friday September 6th from 3pm – 3.45pm and in Cork on Tuesday September 10th from 5pm – 5.45pm.

Canadian immigration consultant and CICS principal Alex Khadempour will detail the main routes through which Irish workers can obtain work permits and permanent residency in Canada and provide a layout of the Canadian labour market and what immigrants might expect to encounter when they arrive in the country.

The job expo will run from 11am to 4pm in the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin and from 12pm to 6pm in the Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork.

Changes Made to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program

HRSDC Minister Diane Finley speaking in the House of Commons last September. New rules and increased fees for work permit applications were announced by Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday (Government of Canada)

Amid controversy and criticism over a series of incidents involving temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in recent months, including a story that emerged last month of Canadian workers losing their jobs to foreign workers at the Royal Canadian Bank, the federal government has announced several immediate and upcoming changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

These changes are:

  • An employer is required to guarantee to pay a TFW prevailing wages for that foreign worker to be eligible for a work permit, effective immediately. The rule allowing companies to pay TFWs 15 percent less than prevailing wages for high-skilled positions, and 5 percent less for low skilled ones has been repealed.
  •  

  • The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) has been suspended, effective immediately.
  •  

  • The federal government is seeking the authority to suspend a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) if new information emerges showing that it negatively affects the Canadian economy and Canadian workers, and revoke work permits that were authorized by that LMO.
  •  

  • Fees employers pay for work permit and LMO applications will increase so that a portion of the cost of processing them will no longer have to be paid out of general taxes.
  •  

  • Job requirements for positions that use TFWs can only have English or French as required languages, unless an employer receives a special exemption after having shown Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) why the foreign language is necessary for the position.

The new rules attempt to close some of the major loopholes that critics have identified in the program that they say allow Canadian companies to use foreign workers instead of available Canadian workers.

The changes were jointly announced by HRSDC Minister Diane Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday.

Illegal Immigration in Canada Expected to Surge in 2015

temporary foreign worker

Over 190,000 temporary foreign workers entered Canada last year. Many of those whose work permits are set to expire in April 2015 are expected to remain in Canada illegally (CICS News)

The number of people in Canada illegally is expected to increase substantially in April 2015, when a large contingent of foreign workers see their work permits expire.

Their work permits will expire on April 1st 2015 because of a rule enacted on April 1st, 2011, that created a four year limit on cumulative time a foreign national can spend in Canada as a temporary foreign worker.

The rule change was made to reduce the perceived over-dependence of Canadian employers on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to meet their permanent labour needs.

The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has increased from approximately 100,000 in 2002, to over 300,000 today, which some have criticized as a subsidy for business at the expense of Canadian workers.

Setting limits on how long a temporary foreign worker can work in Canada was seen as a way to limit the use of the TFWP to its intended role: to temporarily meet labour shortages until a permanent solution could be found.

People familiar with visa and immigration controls expect a significant percentage of those whose permits will expire on April 1st 2015 to over-stay their visa and reside in Canada illegally, leaving Canada with a problem that Americans are more familiar with: a sizeable illegal immigrant population.

The immigrant magnets of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are expected to host the majority of those illegal migrants, which will likely put pressure on their infrastructure, public transit and policing resources, which are already being strained by rapid population growth.

Costs vs Generosity

Canadians are a generally generous people, who don’t like deporting individuals whose only crime is to stay in a country that affords them a better quality of life, but that generosity has to contend with the reality that unskilled foreign workers represent an economic cost for Canada.

Each additional person living in Canada comes with additional set costs in government spending, that can only be compensated if the person pays taxes that are at the Canadian average – something low-wage unskilled workers do not.

Allowing any of the literally hundreds of millions of people who would choose to immigrate and work in Canada if they could, to do so, would, in real terms, result in skyrocketing government spending levels and lower wages / higher unemployment rates for less skilled Canadians who would have to compete with the entrants in the labour market.

This means that immigration controls, and their integrity, are important for the economic well-being of Canada. Nevertheless, an extensive policing campaign that deports thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them living as families in Canada, would spark public outrage and would also be logistically difficult.

How Canada deals with the surge in the illegal immigrant population in 2015 remains to be seen.

Canadian Government Proposes Limiting Student Visas to Attendees of Provincially Recognized Schools

International students in Vancouver, Canada. International students are estimated to contribute nearly $6 billion to the Canadian economy annually (CICS News)

In an effort to stop abuse of the International Student Program by those seeking to work illegally in Canada and stem the growth of a student-visa mill industry that harms the reputation of Canadian educational institutions, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Friday proposed to parliament new regulations that would limit student visas to enrollees of institutions recognized by provinces and territories.

In announcing the measures, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney extolled the benefits of international students for Canada and his department’s intention to maintain the high educational standards of Canadian post-secondary institutions.

“Attracting the best and brightest young minds from around the world is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy and long-term prosperity,” said Kenney.

“But there are too many stories of international students who pay a lot of money and leave their families back home to study in Canada, only to find out they have been misled. These changes will help us better protect international students and the reputation of Canada’s post-secondary education system by making sure that international students are coming to quality institutions that comply with basic standards of accountability.”

The proposed rules would require that a student visa holder’s primary intent in Canada is to study, and would grant CIC the authority to request evidence from study visa holders to prove they are complying with this condition and revoke their student visas if they fail to do so.

The proposed rules would enact recommendations of a 2011 review of the International Student Program.

Bridging Visa Introduced For Temporary Residents Applying for Permanent Residence in Canada

In an effort to reduce regulatory barriers for foreign workers in Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced a bridging open work permit for those applying for permanent residence under economic class immigration streams (Jarek Tuszynski)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced the ‘Bridging Open Work Permit’ for temporary residents who are working in Canada and are awaiting a final decision on their application for permanent residence through an economic class immigration program.

The new work permit will save foreign workers from having to discontinue their work in Canada and leave the country while they wait for permanent residence.

A similar bridging open work permit already exists for temporary foreign workers with pending applications in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) and spousal or common-law immigration streams.

Temporary residents with pending applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will be eligible for the bridging visa.

CIC has made several changes in recent months to make it easier for foreign nationals in Canada on temporary work or study assignments to transition to permanent residence.

Canadian Unions Seeking Roll Back of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Two major Canadian unions have asked a federal court for an injunction to prevent the federal government from granting work permits for the Murray River project until their case has been heard (Markus Schweiss)

Two trade unions have filed an application in federal court to force the federal government to reverse its decision to grant some 200 work permits to temporary foreign workers from China that a Canadian company wants to hire to run a new mine in British Columbia.

The International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, which together represent the majority of workers employed in Canadian mines, are asking for a judicial review to over-turn the Canadian government’s grant of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to HD Mining International, the operator of the Murray River project near Tumbler Ridge, BC, near the Alberta border.

The unions argue that the decision harms Canadian wage-earners and does not meet HRSDC’s own standards for receiving approval to hire temporary foreign workers.

Under Canadian immigration law, a company wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker is required to apply to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for a LMO, which HRSDC approves if it meets five main conditions:

  • the wages and working conditions offered are consistent with prevailing norms for the occupation in Canada;
  • the foreign worker would fill a pressing labour shortage;
  • there is no labour dispute between a union and the employer in progress;
  • the employer made a significant effort to recruit or train Canadians or permanent residents for the position that the temporary foreign worker will fill;
  • the foreign worker will result in a net benefit to the Canadian economy and workers

According to an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday by Brian Cochrane, a business manager for Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the unions have succeeded in forcing the federal government to disclose internal documents relating to HD Mining’s application for the LMOs:

We have been successful in court so far. We have been granted standing by the court to challenge the federal government on these LMOs, and we have succeeded in forcing them to release more than 85 pages of secret documents, despite their strong objections. We are now continuing to seek a full judicial review of the temporary foreign workers program.

HD Mining’s transition plan

Included among the documents disclosed is a transition plan that HD Mining International submitted to HRSDC in its LMO application, which outlines how it said it will replace its temporary foreign workforce with Canadians over a period of 14 years.

The transition plan calls for the first Canadian workers to begin working at the mine in four years, and for 10 percent of the foreign workforce to be replaced by Canadians every year for the next 10 years afterwards, as they are trained.

To demonstrate its intention of following through with its plan and eventually hiring Canadians, HD Mining recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Northern Lights College to develop an underground mining education program that will train Canadians for positions in the mine.

The transition plan is touted by the mining company as evidence that the use of foreign workers will be temporary, while the unions and other critics of the foreign worker decision say that the 14 year length of the transition period shows the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is being mis-used for long term labour needs.

Wider questions about Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The unions’ court challenge of the HRSDC’s LMO decision on HD Mining and the subsequent media attention it received spurred the federal government to announce a review of the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to determine if it was too lenient in granting work permits.

The review comes amid a steadily increasing temporary foreign worker population, from approximately 100,000 in 2002 to over 300,000 today, which has drawn criticism from a diverse coalition that includes labour union advocates and free-market economists.

In one example, SFU economist and senior fellow at the free-market-leaning Fraser Institute Herbert Grubel last month called the TFWP a subsidy for business that comes at the expense of lower Canadian wages, a statement that is virtually indistinguishable from many that are coming from much more left-leaning labour unions.

Much of public opinion is also cool to the foreign worker program, with a CBC/Nanos survey this month showing that 68 percent of respondents said they were against allowing temporary foreign workers into the country if there were Canadians looking for work who are qualified for the same jobs.

Despite the opposition, there is no sign that the demand for temporary foreign workers from Canadian businesses will slow down soon, as companies in the resources sectors find it difficult to meet their labour needs in often inhospitable locations, and various occupations that are undesirable to Canada’s workers for the wages offered face labour shortages.

Nationals of 29 Countries to Require Biometrics to Enter Canada

A new biometric chip containing a cryptographically signed digital encoding of the applicant’s photo and fingerprints will be embedded in the Canadian visas and work permits of nationals of 29 designated countries (Government of Canada)

Starting in January 2013, the federal government will require individuals from selected countries wishing to visit or immigrate to Canada to have their biometric information registered and checked before entering the country.

The new rules will apply to nationals of 29 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Subject nationals applying for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at the time of application. Foreign nationals who are Canadian permanent residents or citizens will be exempt from the new rules.

The biometric identification requirement is similar to United States Homeland Security’s biometric registration which applies to all visitors to the U.S. Other countries that use biometrics for border security or immigration control include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Friday extolled the advantages of the security measure: “Biometrics will strengthen and modernize Canada’s immigration system. Our doors are open to legitimate travellers and, through the use of biometrics, we will also be able to protect the safety and security of Canadians.”

The implementation of the new rules will correspond with the roll-out of the new Canadian ePassport, which will begin being issued on January 1st, 2013, and will include the biometric information of the passport holder.

Federal government officials say that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the federal agencies responsible for administering the new biometric program, will work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to protect the personal personal information of applicants in accordance with Canada’s Privacy Act.

Immigrating to Canada to Escape American Election Results

Resource hubs like northern Alberta's oil sands offer prospective immigrants numerous jobs, which can be the best first step to immigrating to Canada

When Americans look for a country to flee to in the event of their favoured candidate losing the presidential elections, they inevitably look to Canada, their (mostly) English speaking cousin to the North.

For the past three decades, it has been predominantly supporters of Democratic candidates that have made the immigration ultimatum, as Canada has been perceived to align with their party on foreign policy, income redistribution, and cultural issues.

This election season though, the warnings of immigrating to Canada have taken on a more bi-partisan quality, as Canada’s lower government debt levels, stronger economy, tighter control over illegal immigration, more reserved culture, and what many perceive as overall more functional governance, appeals to many conservative-leaning voters.

The growing appeal of Canada to American conservatives also stems from a strong personal dislike that many of them have for Obama, for reasons both ridiculous/bigoted – e.g. conspiracy theories of Obama being a secret Muslim – and ideological.

Whatever the appeal, the number of Americans who actually follow through with their threats and make the move is few. There is no statistically significant spike in immigration levels from the U.S. following presidential elections.

The length and complexity of the Canadian immigration process requires a significant investment of time and a long-term commitment that political passions typically do not motivate.

Immigration Pointers

If you are an American and, having read all of this, still intend to move to Canada, keep these points in mind:

  • Getting a job in Canada is the most practical way for Americans to become landed immigrants. Having Canadian work experience confers significant advantages for foreign nationals applying for Canadian permanent residency through several immigration programs.
  • Occupations not traditionally viewed as prestigious, like heavy duty mechanics and welding, can give you the best opportunity of getting a job offer and a work permit in Canada, which will start your process of becoming a Canadian.
  • Less populated provinces with booming resource-industries, like Alberta, have better job markets and easier paths to immigration than the immigrant magnets of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

As an American, you can take comfort in the fact that you will likely have an easier time immigrating than the nationals of many other countries, as proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages (English and French), is one of the most important criteria in Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s assessment of a permanent residence application.