Canada announces changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better address labour market needs

Immigration Minister Marc Miller and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault have announced changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

During the pandemic, Canada unleashed a series of temporary measures to help ease labour market conditions. Now, however, Canada has begun to undo these temporary measures.

“We are now in a different economic picture. With the gap between unemployment and job vacancies closing, a tightening labour market… some of these measures are no longer needed” said Minister Boissonault.

The TFWP was designed to issue work permits to foreign nationals who can help fill labour market gaps in Canada. Businesses in Canada that wish to hire foreign nationals through the TFWP must support their application with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that demonstrates there were no qualified Canadians or permanent residents to fill the role.

During the pandemic, to help ease labour market conditions, Canada temporarily increased the validity period of an LMIA to 12 months. As of May 1st, 2024, the validity period of an LMIA will now return to 6 months. Note, employers part of the Recognised Employer Pilot program will not be impacted by this change.

Low-wage workers that applied through the TFWP must comprise no more than 20% of a Canadian business’ workforce. In 2022, as a temporary measure and only for certain sectors, Canada increased that cap to 30%. As of May 1st 2024, only the construction and health care sectors will be allowed to have up to 30% of their workforce on low-wage TFWP work permits.

Note, the cap exemption for agriculture sector and seasonal employers will remain unchanged.

These changes come as Canada is attempting to strengthen the integrity of its immigration system, which plays a central role in Canada’s economy. Canada has recently announced a cap on study permits and changes to its Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program in response to a rapid and unsustainable increase in international students.

“Recently Canada’s temporary resident volume has increased significantly now reaching up to 2.5 million, or 6.2% of our population in 2023… We are targeting a decrease in our temporary resident population to 5% over the next 3 years,” said Immigration Minister Marc Miller. “We want every new family and resident to be set up for success and be able to access the services they need. Our ultimate goal is to ensure a well-managed, sustainable immigration system based on needs.”

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