Canada launches second phase of Recognized Employer Pilot Program

Edana Robitaille
Published: January 11, 2024

More employers in Canada are now eligible to apply for the Recognized Employer Pilot Program (REP).

REP is designed to facilitate faster processing for Canadian employers who have shown to be compliant with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Under the REP, qualifying employers will benefit from Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) with longer validity periods, and, after the initial assessment, simplified LMIA applications.

An employer may be eligible to participate in the REP if they have obtained at least three positive LMIAs over the past five years and are hiring Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) for positions on the list of occupations designated as being ‘in-shortage’ according to data from the Canadian Occupations Projection System (COPS).

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Through the TFWP, employers can hire foreign nationals who fill an urgent need in Canada’s workforce. The LMIA that an employer submits to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) confirms that no Canadians or permanent residents are able to do the job.

Generally, LMIA work permit applications are valid for 18 months, but those eligible for the REP will receive LMIAs valid for up to 36 months. Employers will also have the advantage of simplified LMIA applications in future.

ESDC says eligible employers can also expect:

  • A simplified application process for future LMIA applications for positions on the COPS list;
  • Fewer points of contact between participating employers and ESDC during the pilot due to simplified LMIA forms that enable employers to hire additional Temporary Foreign Workers for genuine job offers during REP; and
  • A Job Bank designation that shows their recognized status to improve interest from prospective workers.

Employers can expect a more thorough than average initial assessment to ensure that only reputable employers are selected to participate in the program. ESDC notes that employers can apply for the REP when they submit an LMIA, and no additional information is required. Those who do not qualify for the REP will still get a decision on their LMIA.

More eligible occupations in Phase 2

The first phase of the REP was rolled out in September 2023 for employers hiring employees in the primary agriculture sector. It included just four occupations:

  • Livestock labourers
  • Harvesting labourers
  • Specialized livestock workers and farm machinery operators
  • Nursery and greenhouse labourers

Phase 2 is a significant expansion with more than 80 in-demand occupations from a wide range of sectors now eligible for the REP.

EDSC notes that occupations listed as eligible for work permits through the Global Talent Stream are not included on the list because they are already eligible for expedited processing.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canadian employers who plan to hire an applicant through the TFWP must submit an LMIA to ESDC. The department reviews the application to decide if hiring foreign workers will have a positive, negative, or neutral (no) impact on Canada’s labour market and economy. If ESDC decides the impact will be neutral or positive, the employer will likely be able to hire foreign workers.

Employees who are hired through the TFWP are given closed work permits, meaning they are not allowed to work for another employer in Canada.

ESDC will check for employer compliance with several conditions. Some examples are compliance with provincial and territorial laws that regulate employment, that they are paying the wages agreed upon in the employment contract, and providing safe working conditions that are free of abuse.

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