Canada earlier this month announced a Temporary Foreign Worker Program Workforce Solutions Road Map as part of an ongoing effort to ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continues to meet the country’s labor market needs. The roadmap comprises five key policy changes, three of which are effective immediately and two that go into effect April 30.

“As the needs of Canada’s workforce change, we are adjusting the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to meet them,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough. “Our Workforce Solutions Road Map builds on our progress so far to renew, modernize and improve this program for employers and workers alike. We’ll continue to work with provinces, territories, and other partners to build the strong, skilled workforce Canada needs to support our growing economy.”

Effective immediately:

Seasonal cap exemption. Employers in seasonal industries, such as fish and seafood processing, no longer have a limit on the number of positions they can fill through the TFW program, making permanent an exemption that has been in place since 2015. In addition, the maximum duration of these positions has increased to 270 days per year from 180 days.

LMIA validity. Labor Market Impact Assessments are now valid for 18 months, an increase from nine months. An LMIA is a document employers apply for that indicates the need for a foreign worker to fill the job and shows that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job.

High-wage worker tenure. The maximum duration of employment for High-Wage and Global Talent Streams workers will be extended to three years from two years. This extension will help workers access pathways to qualify for permanent residency.

Effective April 30:

Workforce cap. For seven sectors with demonstrated labor shortages, such as accommodation and food services, employers will be allowed to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions for one year.  All other employers will be allowed to hire up to 20% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions until further notice, an increase from the former 10% cap for many employers.

LMIA refusal policy. The government will no longer automatically refuse LMIA applications for low-wage occupations in the accommodation and food services and retail trade sectors in regions with an unemployment rate of 6% or higher.

Business groups welcomed the news. The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada praised the measures as positive steps towards filling “desperately needed positions” at construction sites across Canada.

The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, which represents manufacturing and global business in Canada, lauded the news, while indicating more work is to come. “CME had long called for the improvement of TFW, and we thank to the government for taking the immediate and necessary actions,” said Dennis Darby, CME president and CEO. “While this is a positive trajectory for Canadian manufacturers, we still have work to do.”