What is the change? Applications for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are down 75 percent in the past two months in Canada following the implementation of reforms aimed at forcing companies to hire more Canadian citizens or permanent resident workers, a top government official says.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  • Who is affected: Canadian employers hiring foreign workers.
  • Business impact: New policies have made it much more difficult and more costly for Canadian companies to hire temporary foreign workers.
  • Next steps: Employment Minister Jason Kenney has indicated that the Canadian government will continue to vigorously enforce the new rules.

Background: Reforms aimed at limiting the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada took effect in June. Employers are now required to attest that they have knowledge of rules prohibiting companies from laying off or reducing the hours of Canadian employees at worksites employing temporary foreign workers. They are also required to pay a higher Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee–it increased from $275 to $1,000–for requesting temporary foreign workers. According to media reports, Kenney told the House of Commons on Sept. 16 that applications for the program have dropped 75 percent in the last two months compared to the same period in 2012.

BAL Analysis: The drop in applications reflects the current political climate in Canada toward temporary foreign workers. Changes in immigration polices not only affect employers looking to hire workers under the LMIA Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but also those looking to hire LMIA-exempt foreign workers. Among other changes, the Canadian government has established a compliance fee of $230 to more closely monitor LMIA-exempt employees. It is also establishing new rules for intra-company transfers of LMIA-exempt employees and conducting a review of LMIA-exempt workers to determine if some of them should be reclassified as LMIA workers.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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