In the face of major changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC) are retiring the old Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process in favour of a new, more rigid procedure.
At a press conference on June 20, CIC Minister Chris Alexander and ESDC Minister Jason Kenney introduced the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to replace the LMO effective immediately.
While few details are available about the new LMIA process as of yet, Kenney and Alexander made it clear that the LMIA would be much austere than its predecessor, as Kenney described the new LMIA as “more comprehensive and rigorous.”
Instead of using the National Occupation Classification to distinguish jobs as the LMO process did, the LMIA process will be based on wages. Under the LMIA, occupations will be categorized as either high wage or low wage based on if the wage falls above or below the median hourly wage in that province or territory. As a result, whether a job is considered high or low wage could vary between provinces, as median hourly wage ranges from a low $17.26 in Prince Edward Island to a high $32.53 in Northwest Territories.
Employers will be subject to different regulations and application processes based upon the employees’ categorization as high wage or low wage. Low wage employers will be subject to a cap on the number of foreign workers they can employ, as companies with 10 or more employees are prohibited from hiring temporary foreign workers as more than 10% of their workforce. While high wage employers are not subject to caps on the number of foreign workers they can employe, they will be required to submit a detailed transition plan as part of their LMIA application, detailing their efforts to transition over time to Canadian employees. The transition plans can take a variety of forms, including explaining how the employer is investing in training, taking on apprentices, or helping their temporary foreign worker to become a Canadian permanent resident.
The new LMIA application also requires far more detail than was required for the old LMO process. Employers will be required to go into detail about their recruiting efforts to confirm that no Canadian is available to perform the job functions, including listing on the LMIA application the number of Canadians who applied for the job, the number of Canadians who were interviewed, and including detailed descriptions of why each interviewed Canadian was not qualified for the position. Additionally, employers will be required to attest to their knowledge of a number of rules and regulations, including attesting their awareness of the fact that they are prohibited from laying off or reducing the hours of Canadian workers in favour of foreign workers.
Employers looking to bring temporary foreign workers to work in Canada using the LMIA process will also see their costs increase significantly, with the per-worker fee rising from $275 to $1,000 as of June 2014. There is also a possibility that employers could have to pay an additional $100 privilege fee for using the program.
Certain employers will be restricted from obtaining an LMIA to ensure the integrity of the program and to prevent Canadians losing job opportunities to foreign workers. Employers hoping to recruit for low skilled (NOC skill level D) occupations in Accommodations, Food Services and Retail in economic areas with unemployment higher than 6% will not be permitted to obtain an LMIA under any circumstances.
While the new LMIA process will be more onerous than the LMO was, there is the added benefit of increased processing times for some applications. LMIA applications for individuals in high skilled occupations (such as a skilled trade), highly paid individuals (who are earning a salary in the top 10% of salaries in that province), and for short term applications of less than 120 days, LMIAs will be processed in 10 business days or less. Currently no information on the expected processing times for LMIAs that fall outside of these categories is available.
For more information on the new LMIA applications and to determine whether or not you may need one, click here.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.