Employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers are now able to manage their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application through an online portal.
The new pilot project comes after many calls from Canadian business leaders to improve the current LMIA process for employers.
The online pilot will allow Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) employers to register for online access to manage their accounts, conduct transactions and correspond with Service Canada, the government’s website says.
The portal will be accessible using the same login credentials employers use to access the Job Bank for Employers. It will include an electronic questionnaire guiding the user through the completion of the LMIA application and tracking its progress. Users will be able to upload supporting documents, return to their saved LMIA application at any time and view Service Canada decision letters.
For years the Canadian business community has been calling for the government to reduce red tape and processing times around hiring temporary foreign workers. Business development groups like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), have put forth numerous recommendations for improvements.
One of the first changes the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommended to the federal government in 2017 was to modernize LMIA applications by “increasing the use of online applications with streamlined forms.”
This past month the CFIB released its own report on the concerns of small to medium-sized businesses with hiring foreign talent through the current TFWP process.
Corinne Pohlmann with CFIB described the process as “lengthy, complicated, and expensive.” She told CIC News that there are still many improvements to be made but the online system is some “good news.”
“I think this will be an improvement to what is in place, and hopefully we’ll get some clarity and answers in a much better way,” Pohlmann said.
Without the online system employers are not able to track the applications, and wait times are on average anywhere from three to twelve months. Many business owners find it difficult to get answers to their questions.
The LMIA is required in most cases where an employer wants to hire foreign workers. It proves the business tried recruiting Canadian workers before looking abroad for talent. It costs over $1,000 to submit the application for each position that needs to be filled, a fee that is not refundable even if the application is denied. Employers are often not informed of the reasons for the rejection and therefore cannot assess whether or not it is worthwhile to re-apply.
For Pohlmann, reducing wait times and improving communication are some of the most important revisions the government needs to implement.
“We’re calling for a full review of the LMIA process to understand: where the bottlenecks lie…reduce the complexity of the application, as well as make sure the government’s service is better in terms of replying and feedback,” Pohlmann said.
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