New Restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP)

As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program has placed caps on the number of low-wage workers an employer can hire. As previously announced in June 2014, wages offered by employers to Temporary Foreign Workers will be compared to the prevailing median hourly wage in the province/territory where the employer is located. Any job with a wage below the median wage is now classified as a low-wage job – as we previously announced – and will now have to meet the new requirements as of April 30, 2015.

Fast Food Worker by

Fast Food Worker by JasonWoodhead23 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The goal is to ensure that employers use the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) as intended: as a last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available to fill the jobs. Surveys have shown that some employers have used Temporary Foreign Workers to fill a large percentage of the positions at their company. In 2013 the survey showed that:

% of Jobs Held by TFWs Number of Employers using the TFWP
All 12,162
50% or More 1,123
30% or More 2,578
10% or More 6,097

The employers surveyed excluded the following: primary agriculture, live-in caregivers, and employers with a workforce of less than 10 workers.


The Cap on low-wage TFWs

To ensure that employers use the TFWP as intended, a cap is in place for those who hire Low-Wage (below the median provincial/territorial wage) Temporary Foreign Workers. The cap is based on:

  • The number of full-time and part-time positions filled by TWFs at a specific work location;
  • The cap is calculated as the lesser of:
    • The current percentage of TFW’s in low-wage positions, OR
    • 30% as of June 20, 2014;
    • 20% as of July 1, 2015;
    • 10% as of July 1, 2016.
  • Employers should use revised Form: Schedule E – Cap for Low Wage Positions to see if and when to include the following exemptions to the cap:
    • LMIA-exempt foreign workers under CIC’s International Mobility Program (IMP);
    • Foreign workers who have received a nomination certificate from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or letter of support from the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP).

For up-to-date wage information, please use Job bank.

The following table gives the median hourly wages to be used in classifying jobs as low-wage or high-wage:

Province/Territory Wage effective April 30, 2015 Wage prior to April 30, 2015
Alberta $25.00 $24.23
British Columbia $22.00 $21.79
Manitoba $19.50 $19.00
New Brunswick $18.00 $17.79
Newfoundland and Labrador $21.12 $20.19
Northwest Territories $30.00 $30.00
Nova Scotia $18.85 $18.00
Nunavut $29.00 $25.00
Ontario $21.15 $21.00
Prince Edward Island $17.49 $17.26
Quebec $20.00 $20.00
Saskatchewan $22.00 $21.63
Yukon $27.50 $27.06

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2013 & 2014.


Unemployment Rates by Region and LMIA applications


Quebec Employers

Quebec employers will also abide by these new regulations with the exception of TFWs in one of the 42 approved occupations through Quebec’s streamlined LMIA process. These workers will be considered under the stream for High-Wage workers.


Worker Protections

The worker protections that were in place for Low-Skill occupations will now be applied to the Low-Wage worker stream. These are:

  • Employer must pay for round-trip transportation for the TFW;
  • Employer must ensure affordable housing is available;
  • Employer must pay for private health insurance until the TFW is eligible for provincial/territorial health coverage;
  • Employer must register the TFW with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board
  • Employer must provide an employee-employer contract.



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