Sunday, August 4, 2013

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Now in Effect

Earlier today, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) announced important changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These changes are effective beginning July 31, 2013.
In general, when a Canadian employer wants to hire a foreign worker, they must first apply for and receive a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada. The following changes that were announced today will affect how Canadian employers apply for an LMO:
Processing Fee
 Prior to today, Canadian employers were able to apply for an LMO without having to pay a processing fee. Beginning today, employers will be required to submit a $275 processing fee for each position requested for the LMO. For example, if a Canadian employer wants to hire three foreign workers to work as chefs at their restaurant, they will be required to pay a total of $875 in processing fees. It is important to note that the processing fees are not refundable in the event that the LMO is refused.
 Language Restriction
When applying for an LMO, Canadian employers can only require that an applicant be proficient in English and/or French. If they indicate that another language is required, the employer must be able to demonstrate that the foreign language is essential for the position. If a Service Canada officer determines that the foreign language is not essential for the position, they can refuse the LMO application.
 Advertising
One of the essential parts of an LMO application is the advertising process. In general, Canadian employers are required to conduct advertising withinCanadabefore they are able to hire a foreign worker. The employer must demonstrate to a Service Canada officer that they have actively tried to hire Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents before offering the position to a foreign worker.
In the past, employers were required to advertise the position inCanadafor a period of 2 weeks. Starting August 28, 2013, employers will be required to advertise the position for 4 weeks.  The advertising must be done in the three months preceding the LMO application. Employers will also be required to use more methods when advertising for the position.
 Employers who want to hire a worker for a high-skilled position (NOC Skill Level A or B) will be required to advertise on the National Job Bank website or an equivalent provincial website, such as Emploi Quebec. They will also be required to use two or more additional sources for advertising; one that is national in scope and one that is consistent within the practice (eg. Workopolis.com, Monster.ca). Advertisements for high-skilled positions must now include the salary being offered, whereas employers were previously exempt from advertising the salary for high-skilled positions.
Employers looking to hire a worker for a low-skilled position (NOC Skill Level C or D) will be required to advertise on the National Job Bank website or an equivalent provincial website and use two or more additional sources for advertising. Unlike the high-skilled positions, employers looking to hire for a low-skilled position must also target underrepresented groups, such as Aboriginals, people with disabilities, and new immigrants.
Questions regarding the impact on Canadian job market
New questions have been added to the LMO application form. Employers will now be required to explain whether hiring a foreign worker for a position will positively or negatively impact the labour market. For example, certain questions are focused on whether hiring a foreign worker will lead to job losses for Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents through outsourcing or offshoring practices.
As part of the new form, employers will also have to explain what efforts were made in the past two years to hire and/or train Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents for the position.
 The above changes in processing fees, language restrictions, and advertising requirements do not impact employers hiring foreign workers in certain agricultural positions under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program or the Agricultural Stream.
“These new changes mean it’s becoming more difficult for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers,” says Attorney David Cohen. “Especially considering the addition of processing fees, it’s important for employers to get the LMO application right the first time.”
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