Individuals wishing to work in Canada, as well as Canadian employers, have likely heard of the importance of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs). In most cases, employers must secure an LMO before they can hire and pursue a work permit for one or more temporary foreign workers. In this article, CIC News provides its readership – both Canadian employers and foreign workers alike – with a brief primer on LMOs, their importance in the employment process, and what must be done to secure one.
The Importance of the LMO in Canada
Every year, Canada welcomes more than 200,000 temporary foreign workers to its shores. These workers are a vital part of Canada’s workforce, contributing to a wide range of skilled, semi-, and low-skilled jobs.
While maintaining high levels of foreign workers is important to Canada’s economy, so too is ensuring that workers rights are maintained, government regulations are followed, and that the Canadian labour market is not undercut by foreign labour. Requiring employers to receive a positive Labour Market Opinion before hiring a foreign worker helps make certain that such important standards will be upheld. By going through the process of obtaining an LMO, employers are required to demonstrate that they cannot find a suitable Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position(s) being offered, and are held accountable to treat their employees in a manner consistent with Canadian labour standards.
What is an LMO?
A positive LMO is a document which states that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the local Canadian labour market. It is issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), which oversees the country’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
All temporary job offers in Canada require an LMO unless the foreign worker or the job being offered in Canada can be classified as exempt from this requirement. An LMO is specific to one employer and one type of job. Once in Canada, if a foreign worker wishes to perform work for a different employer, or their position changes, they will usually have to apply for and receive a new LMO-based work permit.
An LMO is required to perform work in any Canadian province. Temporary Foreign Workers in the Province of Quebec are required to secure a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) in addition to an LMO.
Securing an LMO
Because no two workers or organizations are quite the same, the process of applying for an LMO can vary greatly. HRSDC states that when assessing an LMO application, officers take a number of factors into account, including:
- The occupation that the foreign worker will be employed in;
- The wages and working conditions being offered by the employer;
- The employer’s advertisement and recruitment efforts;
- The impact of the foreign worker on the Canadian labour market;
- Consultations made, if any, with appropriate Canadian unions;
- Whether or not the entry of a foreign worker will affect the settlement of a labour dispute
Jobs in Canada are expected to match a job description listed in the National Occupation Classification. The wages and working conditions should meet or exceed the regional average for the job. Recently, the Government of Canada announced that in some circumstances, a foreign worker may be paid up to 15% less than the local median income in a position.
Different procedures are in place for securing an LMO for high, semi-, and low-skilled workers. For instance, employers who hire low-skilled workers are required to pay for their employee’s transportation to and from Canada, while employers of high skilled workers are not required to do so.
Expediting an LMO
There are some cases in which an LMO application can be expedited. While most applications require an advertising component, certain cases arise where advertising is not required. A common example of an advertising-exempt LMO is when an international student on a post-graduate work permit is offered a job that will last beyond the time period of their post-graduate work permit. In the Province of Quebec, certain targeted occupations are similarly exempt from the requirement to advertise.
In an effort to streamline processing times, HRSDC recently revealed a new program called the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO). Through the ALMO, eligible employers will receive an LMO within 10 business days of submission.
Receiving an Exemption from an LMO
There are a number of scenarios in which an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure an LMO. These include:
- Workers covered by international agreements such as NAFTA;
- Intra-Company transferees;
- Entrepreneurs and Self-employed candidates;
- Workers covered by international exchange agreements such as International Experience Canada
The LMO process can be intimidating to those who are navigating its many options for the first time. However, it serves an important purpose by ensuring that Canada continues to maintain a high level of transparency and fairness in the international work environment.
If you or your employer require a Labour Market Opinion, please contact Campbell Cohen today.
To find out if you are qualified for one of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment form.