The entry of foreign performers, film and entertainment workers is critical to entertainment production and events in Canada. In June 2014, the Canadian government made changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), which has affected the ways in which Canadian employers hire international workers.
Several changes were specifically made to increase the efficiency and accessibility for Temporary Foreign Workers in the Film, TV and Music industries to work or perform in Canada. However, there is disagreement as to whether the changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program are more harmful or helpful for Canada’s entertainment industry. Before the June 2014 changes to the TFWP, foreign performing artists hired to perform at a bar or restaurant, where the primary purpose of the establishment is to serve food and drinks, required a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) approval and a work permit. Employers of foreign performing artists were required to pay $275 for each person’s LMIA application. This discouraged employers and foreign performers from joining entertainment projects in Canada. As a matter of fact, it encouraged “under the table” performances, whereby artists would enter Canada as a tourist and perform for cash. The changes to the TFWP were created in order to standardizing and simplifying the process for foreign performers and Canadian employers.
Accordingly, foreign performers and entertainment crews hired to perform for a limited time in a Canadian establishment where the primary purpose is to sell food and drinks are now eligible for LMIA exemption. This means that the LMIA application and fee, which has increased from $275 to $1000, will not be required by some of the foreign performers coming to Canada. Other positions exempt from LMIA also include: producers of film, television, video and documentary projects funded entirely from outside of Canada; adjudicators at music and dance festival; and performing artists and their essential crew if they are entering Canada to perform for time-limited engagements, not being hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group that has contracted them, and not involved in making a movie, television or radio broadcast. These changes are expected to encourage international performers to come to Canada and decrease the number of under the table performance projects.
However, LMIAs are still required for many foreign performing artists. Foreign performing artists who are on the production of film, television or radio broadcast that is funded from inside Canada, not performing in a time-limited engagement, or are in an “employment relationship” with the organization or business in Canada that is contracting for their services still require LMIAs to work in Canada. Without exemption from LMIA, employers must pay the substantially larger $1000 LMIA fee per foreign worker and wait 15 days for approval before the foreign worker may enter Canada. Film and entertainment executives are concerned that this will make Canada a less competitive destination for entertainment production and foreign performers.
For more information on Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, or to see if you are eligible to work temporarily or employ a foreign worker in Canada, please visit: http://cinet.wpengine.com/work-permit/temporary-foreign-worker-program.html