Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – What Businesses Need to Know

The objective of recent reforms is to provide greater transparency and to safeguard the “Canadians first” policy, ensuring that Canadians receive priority in filling the labour market. With the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”), previously referred to as “Labour Market Opinions” or “LMOs”, comes a new process with onerous and daunting requirements. Here is an overview of the most significant changes:


Under the new scheme, wage is a determining factor in the classification of a position. Positions that are paid lower than a provincial or territorial median wage will be considered “low-wage” while those being paid at or above the provincial median will be classified as “high-wage.” High-wage occupations are given priority while restrictions and caps on the number of low-skill positions now apply. In some cases low-wage positions are completely excluded from the TFWP. Examples of restricted low-wage positions include food counter attendants, cashiers, grocery clerks, cleaners, security guards and construction trade labourers. As of April 30, 2015, the TFWP has started using the latest provincial median wages based on the results published by the 2014 Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. Further, employers hiring low-wage employees who offer less than the median hourly wage will be subject to a cap on the number of foreign workers they may hire.


The application fee for an LMIA is $1,000 per applicant compared to the previous fee of $275. Just a couple of years ago, there was no application fee for LMOs.

Evaluation Criteria

In evaluating an LMIA, Service Canada now places more emphasis on the precise reasons why Canadians are not available for the job and the employer’s transition plan. The plan must demonstrate focused efforts on hiring more Canadians and creating more employment positions for Canadians as a result of the foreign worker. Recent changes also require an employer to advertise for a minimum of four weeks on Canada’s national job bank plus two other sources and the advertisement must remain in place until the LMIA is issued.

Processing Time

LMIAs for high-demand occupations including skilled trades and positions falling into the ten percent of highest-paid jobs in Canada receive priority processing of a ten business day turnaround. Work permits requesting shorter durations are also given priority processing.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Service Canada have announced that the number of random employer inspections by the Canadian government will increase and employer violators will be subject to fines of up to $100,000 for failure to comply with TFWP rules.


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