Temporary foreign worker program
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Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Policy-Research Seminar on Temporary Migration March 12, 2008. Overview. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) regulates the entry of all temporary foreign workers into Canada.

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program

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Temporary foreign worker program

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Policy-Research Seminar on Temporary Migration

March 12, 2008



  • The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) regulates the entry of all temporary foreign workers into Canada.

  • TFWP is jointly managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Human Resources and Social Development Canada/Service Canada (HRSDC/SC):

    • HRSDC/SC’srole is to review employer applications for foreign workers and issue an opinion on the likely impact on the Canadian labour market (LMO);

    • CIC’s role is to review applications from foreign workers and issue work permits

  • The entry of foreign workers in Canada is driven by employer demand:

    • Process generally starts when HRSDC/SC receives a request to hire a temporary foreign worker from an employer;

    • Almost half of work permits are issued by CIC without HRSDC/SC involvement (e.g. under international agreements, intra-company transferees)

    • No numerical limits/quotas;

    • Employers from any sector may hire foreign workers in any occupation provided that job offer meets program requirements (outlined in IRPA and its Regulations)

TFWP facilitates the entry of TFWs to address short-term/regional labour and skill shortages….

Temporary foreign worker program

Roles of HRSD/Service Canada

  • Under IRPA regulations, employers need to demonstrate to HRSDC that:

    • Wages and working conditions offered to TFWs are consistent with Canadian standards for the occupation;

    • Employers have conducted reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadians; and

    • The entry of TFWs will not affect a labour dispute at the workplace.

  • In addition, HRSDC also considers potential benefits and assesses whether the entry of the foreign workers is likely to:

    • Result in direct job creation or job retention for Canadians;

    • Transfer skills and knowledge to Canadians; and

    • Fill a labour shortage.

  • Once a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) has been issued by HRSDC, the foreign national can then apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for a work permit.

HRSDC/SC provide a labour market opinion to employers…

…to ensure that the entry of temporary foreign workers will have a neutral or positive impact on Canada’s labour market.

Key components of the tfwp

Key Components of the TFWP

  • Skilled Occupations: When an occupation falls under the National Occupational Classification skill level 0, A or B (managerial, professional, technical/trades), an officer will assess the job offer using the factors listed under the IRPA regulations.

  • Lower Skilled Occupations: in addition to the factors listed under IRPA regulations, officers will examine additional requirements employers must meet such as: employment contracts, payment of return airfare, medical insurance, suitable accommodations and registration under provincial workers’ compensation regime.

  • Seasonal Agriculture Workers: A program which allows the organized entry of foreign workers to work in agricultural labourer occupations in Canada. It has been developed in cooperation and multilateral agreement between HRSD/Service Canada, CIC, the government of Mexico, and several governments in the Caribbean Commonwealth.

  • Live-in Caregivers: A program thatassists Canadians in need of someone to live and work in their homes, to take care of children, the elderly or persons with disabilities.

Numbers and countries of origin

Numbers and countries of origin

Number and countries of origin

  • The number of TFW requests (LMOs) processed by HRSDC/SC has increased from 79,000 (2000) to 150,000 (2006), an increase of roughly 90% over 6 years.

  • The annual flow of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Canada has increased in recent years:

    • From 69,000 (1995) to over 110,000 (2006);

    • There was a slight decrease in 2002 and 2003 due to a slowdown in Canada's economy.

  • Currently, the United States is the top source country for TFWs to Canada. Following the USA are Mexico, France, and the Philippines

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada

What skills do temporary foreign workers bring

What skills do temporary foreign workers bring?

What skills do temporary foreign workers bring?

  • TFWs in managerial, professional, and technical/trade occupations:

    • Represent 52% of TFWs with known occupations;

    • Such occupations include academics, engineers, and tradespersons.

  • TFWs in occupations requiring lower levels of training:

    • Represent 48% of the total number of TFWs where the occupation is known;

    • Such occupations include agricultureworkers, caregivers, and construction labourers.

*only accounts for foreign workers where the skill level was stated

Temporary foreign worker program

Challenges and Program Responses

  • Rapidly increasing demand from employers, longer processing times and the growth of backlogs in Alberta and BC prevent the Program from responding promptly to employers’ immediate skills and labour market needs (early estimates for 2007 put the demand for foreign workers at over 236 000 foreign workers requested, resulting in a 57% increase in foreign workers requests compared to 2006).

  • HRSDC has no regulatory authority currently to monitor employer compliance with program requirements. Work is underway to develop measures to ensure TFWs have the same rights and protections as Canadian workers.

  • Advantage Canada (November 2006) committed to making improvements to the TFWP to respond to employer needs. Budget 2007 announced $50.5 million over two years to support “a series of improvements to the TFWP designed to reduce processing delays and more effectively respond to regional labour and skills shortages”.

  • Administrative enhancements have been introduced since November 2006 and changes to the IRPA regulations are being considered.

Temporary foreign worker program

TFWP Enhancements

  • Expedited Labour Market Opinion (ELMO) Pilot Project

  • Regional Lists of Occupations under Pressure

  • The duration of a labour market opinion under the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (NOC C & D) has been increased from a maximum of 12 months to 24 months and extended from 12 months to a maximum of 39 months for Live-in Caregivers.

  • In cooperation with CIC, the production of a step-by-step Guide for employers who need to hire temporary foreign workers and outreach to employers to provide them with information about the program.

  • Online-application forms

  • Federal/provincial working groups in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

  • Concurrent Processing of work permits and labour market opinions for skilled occupations

  • Temporary Foreign Worker Units in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Moncton

Temporary foreign worker program

Future Direction

  • Program Integrity

    • Joint work with CIC on monitoring and compliance measures, and the associated regulatory changes

      • Targeted policy work: (Accommodations, Health Insurance, Airfare)

      • LOUs on information sharing with provincial governments to increase worker protections

  • Linkages with other GoC priorities:

    -Work/Study to Residence Stream (Canadian Experience Class) will facilitate the transition of TFWs, at the 0, A and B skill levels, and Canadian-educated foreign students into permanent residents;

    -Provision of Arrangement Employment Opinions to employers supporting permanent resident applications of foreign workers.

  • Assessments of Pilot Projects (E-LMO and Lower-level of formal training)

  • Labour Market Working Group with Mexico

    • Under Canada-Mexico Partnership

    • Three pilot projects under discussion

  • Canada-Provinces Immigration Agreement Annexes

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