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Temporary Moratorium on Certain Work Permit Issuances

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The Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, recently announced that a temporary moratorium has been placed on the issuance of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to employers seeking to hire workers in the food service industry.

The decision to institute a moratorium came as the result of recent widespread allegations of fraud in the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program. Most recently, McDonald’s Canada announced that it would be suspending recruitment of temporary foreign workers in response to a government investigation.

The Decision

Effective April 25, 2014, LMOs will no longer be processed for a wide range of occupations. The occupations largely fall within the fields of food service and hospitality. In order to be ineligible for an LMO, the intended employee must fall under one of the following occupations and intend to work in the food service industry. The occupations are as follows:

Minister Kenney has expressed that the moratorium will remain in place at least until the department that oversees foreign workers, Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC), is able to finish an investigation into alleged abuses.

In recent months, a number of public allegations have been levied against certain Canadian employers in the food service industry. These employers have been accused of various offenses, such as replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers, hiring abroad instead of within Canada, and mistreating foreign workers in their employ.

One story that made national headlines centered on a restaurant in Saskatchewan. A long-time waitress claimed that she and many of her fellow employees were let go after years of service, while their foreign colleagues retained their jobs. This accusation prompted a special investigation from ESDC, and served to highlight challenges that Canada’s temporary work program is facing throughout the country.

“Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker program will not be tolerated,” said Minister Kenney. “Our government will continue to pursue significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker program to ensure that employers make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians and that it is only used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.”

Controversy over the Moratorium

Some employers and provincial officials have already spoken out against the temporary moratorium. Many claim that Canada’s food industry, which relies heavily on foreign workers, will be unfairly affected by the ban.

Some restaurant managers have expressed difficulty in finding the workers they need within Canada. Amine Kanai, the manager of a sushi restaurant in Calgary, is one such manager. His restaurant has been forced to shut down one day a week because he is unable to bring qualified employees from abroad.

Advice for Applicants

While ESDC has not indicated when the moratorium will be lifted, it has stated that this measure is intended to be temporary.

“The Canadian government is trying to find the delicate balance between growing its economy and protecting its citizens and permanent residents,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Unfortunately, it seems that bringing the Temporary Foreign Worker program in line has required drastic measures to be taken.”

Employers affected by the moratorium have little choice but to wait to hear what ESDC plans to do next. At present, it is unknown whether the department’s investigation will result in new measures or requirements being placed on the temporary foreign worker program.

“The past several months have seen the work permit application process become more stringent and complex,” said Attorney Cohen. “More than ever, Canadian employers looking to bring in workers from abroad would be well served to seek help in navigating this intricate process.”

If you are a Canadian employer looking to hire abroad, or a foreign worker looking to come to Canada, please contact Campbell Cohen today to determine your eligibility. 



10 thoughts on “Temporary Moratorium on Certain Work Permit Issuances

  1. Avatar

    I came here as a permanent resident, started to work at a fastfood restaurant as full time. The hours are good until I got pregnant. I worked until my 37th weeks of pregnancy. Took my maternity leave and come back to work after a few months. But to my surprise I was never given enough hours and their reason was because they don’t need anymore staff so I was just given schedules if there’s a day that no one can work. The worst part is they are still hiring foreign workers and yet they gave me a reason that they don’t need staff. I worked for 3 years for the company before I took my maternity leave. I am not against temporary workers but I know how it feels to be taken out of the equation even though you are a resident and as a resident you should be the first priority to have the opportunity to work.

  2. Avatar
    Bipin Mistry

    I am from India, I used to work as a shift manager in kfc UK, I have received LMO from Canadian employer and I came back India to apply for work visa for Canada. Now because of suspension on LMO my file has been stuck and waiting for clearance from CIC and I have got unemployed. I hope Canadian government will take quick decision on lifting ban on LMO and I will get visa to start my new life again,

  3. Avatar

    Is this restriction applied to PR applications and people having permanent Job offers as well?

  4. Avatar
    Russel Ahmed

    Is this restriction applied to PR applications and people having permanent Job offers as well?

  5. Avatar

    angel what are you talking about? Two cases? My wife (not a temporary foreign worker) worked at Tim Hortons for 5 years. She never had any problems and the store management was satisfied with her and her work attitude. She was never late for work and never missed a day. Their store have won almost all of the competitions in Alberta and she had always been the member of the winning team. She had been recognized by receiving gifts and bonuses from the management, as well as they have raised her salary every year. The management had never complained about her or her work ethic/attitude. Then the store management changed, and the head office put a Filipino temporary worker in charge of the store. The company was continuously hiring employees, mostly temporary foreign workers from the Philippines. I believe that at least the 75% of the full time employees were from the Philippines and most of the supervisors/trainers were Filipinos. My wife informed them about her pregnancy, then suddenly she received a letter saying that her hours will be cut back from 40 hours per week to 21 hours per week without giving her a reason. She was the only full time worker (not Temporary Foreign Worker) in the store who had hours cut back drastically, while other workers got paid overtime on a regular basis and the company kept on hiring temporary foreign workers at the same time. The reason was obvious: They tried to make her quit because the Filipino store management wanted to replace her with their relatives from the Philippines and they needed her spot. I decided to phone Human Rights and Citizenship Comission and told them about what was happening at that store. After a couple a weeks she got her regular full time hours back…interesting, eh?

  6. Avatar

    Does it mean that all currently working will not be able to continue their work? I mean, all would have to leave on the same day their work permit expires? Can they still apply PNP under thise occupation ? Can someone clarify this

  7. Avatar

    That’s so wrong, wat if sum one works hard to be a supervisor of food company like timhorton there is no fraud.. going in hea… just seeing 2 cases government should not reach to their desicion! that’s so very wrong!

  8. Avatar

    Everyone knows this is political grandstanding at it’s finest. The minister and government are reacting to what is a popular with a small but vocal group of Canadians; that ‘foreign workers are taking all our jobs and the big government has to protect us’. My company employees 2600 people across 3 provinces. Out of that total we have about 125 foreign workers – hardly what I would consider abuse of the program. Most of these workers are in small rural towns where all the young people have all left. It’s ridiculous to think we could fill these positions with young Canadians willing to work in fast food – they are just not there!
    I believe this will pass once the ‘investigation’ reveals that the abuses are minimal and blown way out of proportion.

  9. Avatar

    Does it mean that all currently working will not be able to continue their work? I mean, all would have to leave on the same day their work permit expires? Can someone clarify this because I am lost to whether we are talking about everyone or yet bringing new people. “… of the following occupations and intend to work in the food service industry” – ‘intended to work’ – sounds like for new ppl but CIC is a master of making things not clear so more applications can get screwed up. “Minister Kenney has expressed that the moratorium will remain in place at least until the department that oversees …” – not a clear cut date. Given that thousands of permits expire every month it’s a very bold decision.

  10. Avatar

    I am affected of that moratoriom now i need to leave canada next month, i been here for 5 yrs and yet i cant apply my resident because of my income, my question is do you think i can come back here and work again or i can apply my resident so i can bring my family here because that is my dream to give my children a better future and i believe canada is the best country for start a new life.

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