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Good News For Canadian Employers: ESDC Announces Facilitative Measures to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

As Canada’s unemployment rate has now dropped to 5.5% – its lowest level since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – the number of job openings available has been steadily outpacing the ability of employers to find and hire workers. To help employers meet their labour needs in the current job market, ESDC has committed to improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by implementing the following 5 policy changes to benefit employers:

Effective as of April 4, 2022:

  • The cap on the number of foreign workers that can be hired to fill seasonal fish and seafood plant worker or seasonal fish and seafood processing labourer positions has been removed. Additionally the maximum duration for which these foreign workers can be hired per season has been increased from 180 days to 270 days per year;
  • Newly issued LMIAs will be valid for 18 months (up from 9 months); and
  • The maximum employment duration that can be requested in High-Wage and Global Talent Stream LMIA applications has been extended from 2 years to 3 years;

Effective as of April 30, 2022:

  • The cap on the proportion of foreign workers that can be hired in low-wage positions at a specific work location will be increased from 10% to 20%. In certain sectors with demonstrated labour shortages, such as Accommodation and Food Services, the cap will be increased to 30%; and
  • LMIA applications for low-wage positions in the Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade sectors in regions with an unemployment rate of over 6% will no longer be automatically refused.

ESDC has also made a commitment to improving stakeholder experience for employers and foreign workers by increasing staffing in all regions to reduce processing times. They will also be rebuilding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program compliance regime to better protect foreign workers, targeting higher-risk employers by strengthening foreign worker inspections, leveraging the tip line service, and consulting with consulates to identify concerns on the ground.

These policy changes will make it easier for employers to hire and retain foreign workers in high-wage and low-wage industries alike, and will particularly benefit the sectors currently facing the most serious labour shortages such the food services, retail, and fisheries sectors.