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.
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|
|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).
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|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$21.12||$20.19|
|Prince Edward Island||$17.49||$17.26|
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2013 & 2014.
Unemployment Rates by Region and LMIA applications
Any Economic Region that has an unemployment rate of 6% or higher will no longer have their LMIA applications for workers in the Accommodation and Food Services sectors processed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) as of April 30, 2015. The unemployment rates used will be those found in the 2014 Labour Force Survey. An ‘Economic Region’ is an area generally smaller than a province or territory, although it may encompass the entirety of a smaller province like PEI. Most Economic Regions in Canada currently have an unemployment rate above 6%. The exceptions are in the Prairie Provinces and a few isolated regions elsewhere. Go here to see the full table.
As an exception to this, the Northwest Territories will have TFWP applications accepted for jobs in Yellowknife.
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.
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.