What is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is a government program administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); to allow companies to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) where there is a need for them in the Canadian labour force, and for foreign workers to seek employment with companies in Canada.
The program allows Canadian employers to hire talent from abroad to meet labour shortages within Canada while ensuring that workers in Canada receive first preference for these roles.
The government offers a multitude of different programs (over 100) by which foreign nationals may work in a Canadian company temporarily – these are classified broadly into either the TFWP or the International Mobility Program (IMP). The main difference (among many) between these two programs is the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the TFWP.
What is an LMIA?
To successfully work under the TFWP as a foreign worker, one needs to obtain a positive or neutral LMIA, in order to receive a Temporary Work Permit.
The LMIA is Canada’s labour market test. Companies are required to submit an LMIA before hiring a foreign worker, to determine whether there will be a positive or neutral impact on Canada’s labour market, should the employer choose to hire said worker.
Employers should be aware of the requirements that follow the application for an LMIA, including wages, advertisement efforts, exceptions to advertising requirements, and the application process and waiting times for an LMIA.
Completing an LMIA is the first step an employer must undergo when they are looking to hire a foreign worker under the TFWP.
Exemptions to the LMIA
There are also exemptions to the need for an LMIA. For example, jobs that do not fall under the purview of the TFWP; as well as offers to foreign nationals that are done through the IMP, do not require an LMIA. There are also Quebec-specific exemptions and variations to the LMIA.
The TFWP also features specialized applications, which employers can apply for, if the TFW’s profession falls under specific categories or if their application/hiring is within the circumstances outlined.
These special professions include:
Specialized applications are additionally relevant in circumstances where TFWs are:
- Applying for permanent residence (with the help of an employer) through Express Entry;
- Hired as part of the Global Talent Stream (for uniquely skilled workers in ICT or STEM fields);
- Applying for positions in Quebec.
Non-compliant Employers and Foreign Worker’s Rights
Employers must observe a large degree of compliance when hiring a temporary foreign worker. If an employer is found to be non-compliant with the required standards, they can be subject to either, or both a:
- Monetary penalty
- A ban from hiring temporary workersx
These non-compliant companies are even listed in a directory on the IRCC website.
Even TFWs are given rights under Canadian law. Among these, an employer must:
- Pay for the work of a TFW
- Ensure the workplace is safe for them
- Give TFWs breaks during the work day, and time off
- Respect the terms of the written contract
Similarly, an employer cannot:
- Force a TFW to perform duties that they were not hired or trained to do
- Force a TFW to work if they are sick or injured
- Take their passport or work permits away from them
- Have a TFW deported from Canada, or change their immigration status
- Make a TFW pay the employer back for fees they paid to hire them
The TFWP provides a pathway for Canadian companies to pick and hire the best and most needed talent from around the world, to help aid and grow their businesses; while simultaneously allowing foreign nationals the opportunity to live, work, and potentially even immigrate fully to Canada.
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