Certain non-Canadian workers in the television (TV) and film industries, as well as those working in dance and theatre, may soon find it easier to work in Canada on a temporary basis. The government of Canada announced on February 3, 2016 that certain job positions in these industries will be added to the list of positions for which foreign nationals may obtain Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt work permits.
In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to do the job. This process and approval comes in the form of a LMIA, formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). However, in instances where the hiring of a foreign worker is deemed to create and maintain significant economic benefits and opportunities for Canadians and permanent residents, exceptions may be made.
As of February 17, 2016, foreign nationals in the TV and film industry whose position or occupation is essential to a TV or film production may be eligible for an exemption from the LMIA requirement.
The employer must submit an Offer of Employment through the Employer Portal before a work permit application is made. The Employer Portal is an online government system that facilitates applications made by Canadian employers to hire LMIA-exempt foreign workers. Canadian officers reviewing the job offer are likely to request both of the following supporting documents (if not already provided by the applicant) in support of work permit applications:
1. a letter of support from the production, which should generally contain specifications such as:
- the name and contact information for the production,
- the working title of the production, the province(s) or territory(ies) in Canada in which the production will take place and the proposed dates of production,
- the name of the work permit applicant for the production,
- a statement confirming that the individual and position are essential to that specific TV or film production,
- details of the significant economic benefit to Canada of the TV or film production, which may include:
- the estimated number of jobs for Canadians created by the production,
- the estimated budgetary spend in Canada at the federal, provincial or territorial level, and
- a statement confirming that the TV or film production satisfies the criteria for federal, provincial or territorial tax credit for TV or film production, or is the recipient of federal, provincial or territorial funding for TV or film production,
- the signature of a senior representative of the production,
- the date of signature; and
2. a letter from the relevant union or guild, which should generally contain specifications such as:
- the description of the union or guild,
- the working title and the relevant location(s) of the TV or film production,
- the name of the work permit applicant,
- a statement for the officer’s consideration indicating that the union or guild is of the view that the work to be performed is subject to a collective agreement and that it has no objection to the foreign national working in the specified position for the specified company,
- the signature of a senior representative of the organization, and
- the date of signature.
In addition, facilitating the entry of foreign nationals working in dance, opera, orchestra, and live theatre offers competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including Canadian performing artists and performing arts organizations. Accordingly, as of February 17, 2016, key creative personnel and talent associated with Canadian, non-profit performing arts companies, and organizations in the orchestral music, opera, live theatre and dance disciplines may also be eligible for an exemption from the LMIA requirement.
“This is welcome news, not only for foreign workers in these industries and companies involved in the creative arts in Canada, but for all Canadians,” says Attorney Daniel Levy of the Campbell Cohen law firm.
“With a weaker Canadian dollar than previously, 2016 is an opportunity for international production companies and artists to use Canada as a base. If this transpires into increased activity in these industries on Canadian soil, it will have the knock-on benefit of economic stimulation across a range of sectors.
“Moreover, it is worth considering how incredible many Canadian locations are for TV and film production. For example, not everyone knows that large portions of Brokeback Mountain, Twilight, and X-Men were filmed in Canada. Relaxing the work permit regulations in these industries at this time is an intelligent move on the government’s part, and they should be commended for it.”
To find out if you are eligible to work temporarily in Canada under an LMIA exemption, or to learn more about bringing a foreign worker to Canada, please send the Campbell Cohen work permit team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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