Quebec announces deals to help hire and retain temporary foreign workers

Alexandra Miekus
Published: August 6, 2021

Canada's government is implementing measures to make it easier to hire temporary workers in Quebec, the province announced today.

After months of negotiations, Quebec has reached an agreement with the Canadian federal government to implement three new measures to help employers and businesses facing labour shortages. Quebec becomes the first province to reach such an agreement with Ottawa to solve its current workforce crisis. Labour shortages, which existed in Quebec prior to the pandemic, have worsened in recent months with the economy rebounding.

The three new measures that will be implemented in the coming weeks are as follows:

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Currently, companies wishing to hire foreign workers can do so at a rate of 10 per cent of their workforce. This percentage will now be increased to 20 per cent.

The increase in the limit of temporary foreign workers per place of employment will be implemented for certain sectors of activity and will include certain low-skilled, high-demand occupations in the list of occupations eligible for facilitated processing. The Quebec government will work with the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail (a provincial consultation body bringing together labour market stakeholders) to identify the sectors of activity that will benefit from this measure, the government said in today's press release.

Open Work Permit for Permanent Residence Applicants

Quebec's request to implement a measure that will allow certain temporary foreign workers the opportunity to work in Quebec in a job of their choice while waiting to obtain permanent residence was also approved by Ottawa.

Temporary foreign workers can obtain a bridging open work permit to continue working while awaiting a decision on their application for permanent residence. But workers who applied through the province of Quebec did not qualify for this permit.

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Beginning August 31, 2021, workers who hold a CSQ in the skilled worker category and have a receipt confirming that their application for permanent residence has been received by the federal government will be able to benefit from an open work permit.

The duration of the work permit will be for an initial period of 24 months and may be renewed for an additional 12 months. It will include a restriction that the place of employment remains in Quebec.

The partner or spouse of the principal applicant will also be able to obtain an open work permit, regardless of the level of employment held by the principal applicant.

International Mobility Program Plus

Quebec and the federal government have further agreed to implement a new pathway under the International Mobility Program (IMP) to be called IMP+, which would see an annual issuance of 7,000 work permits exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to some CSQ holders who are still abroad. The IMP+ will allow these individuals to accelerate their arrival in Quebec to take up employment and meet labour needs in certain key sectors of the Quebec economy.

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