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Canada Implements Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), effective May 1, 2024.

These modifications aim to ensure the program prioritizes filling genuine labour shortages while addressing concerns about housing, healthcare, and broader labour market pressures.

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Key Changes

IRCC recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program system (effective May 1, 2024). These modifications aim to address labour shortages while prioritizing worker protections and streamlining the program.

1. Shorter LMIA Validity

The validity period of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) has been reduced from 12 months to 6 months. This means foreign workers will have a shorter window to apply for a work permit after a positive LMIA is issued.

2. Lower Cap for Low-Wage Workers

The maximum percentage of low-wage temporary foreign workers allowed in specific sectors has decreased from 30% to 20%. This change excludes healthcare and construction, which will retain the 30% cap.

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Proposed Changes (Coming in 2025)

In addition to the aforementioned adjustments set to come into force on May 1st, Canada has further proposed a change to its Temporary Foreign Worker Program, anticipated to be implemented in the following year.

1. Expanded Coverage

The new program will encompass a wider range of permanent positions in agriculture and food processing, sectors facing critical labour shortages.

2. Increased Worker Mobility

Migrant workers will gain the flexibility to switch employers within their designated industry. This move aims to empower workers and potentially shield them from exploitative work environments.

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3. Simplified Streamlining

The existing four worker streams will be consolidated into two more manageable categories. One stream will cater to workers covered by bilateral agreements between Canada and their home countries. The other “open-source” category will focus on applicants from countries without such official agreements.

Why These Changes Matter

These adjustments may impact employers who rely on the TFWP to fill positions. The shorter LMIA validity period could lead to tighter timelines for recruiting and hiring foreign workers. Similarly, the decreased cap on low-wage workers necessitates a stronger focus on attracting and retaining Canadian talent for these roles.

Understanding the TFWP

Canada Express Entry Draw

The TFWP facilitates work permits for foreign nationals with skills that address labour shortages in Canada. Employers seeking to hire foreign workers through this program must obtain a positive LMIA, demonstrating a genuine effort to recruit qualified Canadians or permanent residents before turning to foreign candidates.

Context of the Changes

These modifications come amidst Canada’s review of its immigration policies. Rising challenges in housing, healthcare, and the broader labour market have prompted the government to ensure the TFWP remains a targeted program for filling essential roles where Canadians are unavailable.

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Looking Ahead

Employers utilizing the TFWP should adapt their recruitment strategies to accommodate the shorter LMIA window and the lower cap on low-wage foreign workers. Additionally, exploring alternative recruitment methods to attract domestic talent might become increasingly important.

As Canada refines its immigration policies, staying informed about these changes will be crucial for businesses that rely on the TFWP to fill their workforce needs.


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