Employers fume as Ottawa tightens foreign worker rules

May 1, 2013

Note: The following is an excerpt from the same-name article on Global and Mail. As the articles suggests, the changes, if implemented, represent the biggest “overhaul” of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and the consequence will be far-reaching. Jeff Li Law Office will provide frequent updates on the foreign worker program and its changes.


The federal government has reversed course on its temporary foreign worker program, upsetting business groups – and Alberta – with measures to make it tougher, and less economically attractive, to import short-term labour.

Calling it the biggest change to the program in over a decade, Ottawa announced several measures aimed at addressing criticism that the program is suppressing wages and allows employers to skip over Canadians in favour of foreign workers. But labour groups say the changes don’t go far enough.


Changes announced Monday to the federal government’s temporary foreign workers program include:

–  Employers must now pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage, rather than up to 15 per cent less than the average for the same job;

– The “accelerated labour market opinion” process, which fast-tracked the ability of some companies to bring in workers from outside Canada, has been temporarily suspended;

–  The government has more authority to suspend and revoke work permits and labour market opinions (LMOs) if the program is being abused;

– Specific questions will be asked of employers that are applying for LMOs to ensure the program is not being used to facilitate outsourcing;

– Requiring employers who rely on temporary foreign workers to have a “firm plan” in place to transition to a Canadian work force over time;

– Introducing new fees for employers for LMOs, and increasing the existing fees for work permits;

– Allowing only English and French as languages that can be used as a job requirement.

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