In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first receive government approval before the hiring can take place.

This comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.

Generally speaking, all Canadian employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance to government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.

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High-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. High-wage workers are those earning above the median hourly wage for a given occupation in specified region.

The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the program. This entails that they are using the program as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.

Certain occupations in Quebec are "facilitated", meaning that local recruitment efforts do not need to be performed by employers as part of their applications to hire temporary foreign workers for any of the facilitated occupations. Learn more about work permits in Quebec and which occupations are facilitated in Quebec.

 

Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

Province/TerritoryWage ($/hr) prior to April 29, 2016Wage ($/hr) as of April 29, 2016

Alberta

$25.00

$25.38

British Columbia

$22.00

$22.60

Manitoba

$19.50

$20.00

New Brunswick

$18.00

$18.50

Newfoundland and Labrador

$21.12

$20.91

Northwest Territories

$30.00

$31.25

Nova Scotia

$18.85

$19.00

Nunavut

$29.00

$28.92

Ontario

$21.15

$22.00

Prince Edward Island

$17.49

$18.00

Quebec

$20.00

$20.60

Saskatchewan

$22.00

$22.80

Yukon

$27.50

$28.51

The above figures are correct as of April, 2016.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey

 

Low-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.

To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be phased in over 2015 and 2016 in order to provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust accordingly.

Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:

  • pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
  • ensure affordable housing is available;
  • pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  • register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
  • provide an employer-employee contract.

As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector. LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.

Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.

Province/TerritoryEconomic RegionUnemployment Rate (%)Above/At Or Below 6%
Newfoundland & Labrador Avalon Peninsula 8.9 Above
  South Coast-Burin Peninsula and Notre Dame-Central Bonavista Bay 18.0 Above
  West Coast - Northern Peninsula - Labrador 17.6 Above
Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island 10.4 Above
Nova Scotia Cape Breton 15.0 Above
  North Coast 9.2 Above
  Annapolis Valley 8.4 Above
  Southern 11.0 Above
  Halifax 6.3 Above
New Brunswick Campbellton - Miramichi 15.2 Above
  Moncton - Richibucto 8.5 Above
  Saint John - St. Stephen 8.6 Above
  Fredericton - Oromocto 8.5 Above
  Edmundston - Woodstock 9.7 Above
Quebec Gaspésie - Îles-de-la-Madeleine 14.7 Above
  Bas-Saint-Laurent 8.0 Above
  Capitale-Nationale 4.7 Below
  Chaudière-Appalaches 5.0 Below
  Estrie 6.5 Above
  Centre du Québec 6.7 Above
  Montérégie 5.9 Below
  Montreal 10.5 Above
  Laval 8.0 Above
  Lanaudière 8.4 Above
  Laurentides 6.1 Above
  Outaouais 7.4 Above
  Abitibi-Témiscamingue 7.0 Above
  Mauricie 7.9 Above
  Saguenay - Lac-Saint-Jean 8.3 Above
  Côte-Nord 9.8 Above
  Nord-du-Québec 8.8 Above
Ontario Ottawa 6.5 Above
  Kingston - Pembroke 7.2 Above
  Muskoka - Kawarthas 7.8 Above
  Toronto 7.1 Above
  Kitchener - Waterloo - Barrie 5.4 Below
  Hamilton - Niagara Peninsula 6.0 Above/At
  London 5.9 Below
  Windsor - Sarnia 8.5 Above
  Stratford - Bruce Peninsula 5.7 Below
  Northeast 7.7 Above
  Northwest 5.9 Below
Manitoba Southeast 5.4 Below
  South Central 4.0 Below
  Southwest 4.0 Below
  North Central 3.8 Below
  Winnipeg 6.2 Above
  Interlake 4.9 Below
  Parklands and Northern 6.0 Above/At
Saskatchewan Regina - Moose Mountain 4.2 Below
  Swift Current - Moose Jaw 3.8 Below
  Saskatoon – Biggar 5.4 Below
  Yorkton – Melville 4.3 Below
  Prince Albert and Northern 6.7 Above
Alberta Lethbridge - Medicine Hat 5.0 Below
  Camrose - Drumheller 4.5 Below
  Calgary 6.3 Above
  Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River 5.9 Below
  Red Deer 6.2 Above
  Edmonton 5.9 Below
  Wood Buffalo - Cold Lake 7.9 Above
British Columbia Vancouver Island and Coast 6.3 Above
  Lower Mainland - Southwest 6.0 Above/At
  Thompson - Okanagan 6.4 Above
  Kootenay 7.4 Above
  Cariboo 7.0 Above
  North Coast and Nechako 8.0 Above
  Northeast 5.9 Below
Yukon Yukon 6.3 Above
Northwest Territories Northwest Territories 8.3 Above
Nunavut Nunavut 15.9 Above

The above rates are effective as of April 1, 2016.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey

 

Expediting a LMIA

LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:

  • Highest-demand occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.

NOCOCCUPATION TITLE
7202 Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
7204 Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
7205 Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
7271 Carpenters
7301 Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
7302 Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
8211 Supervisors, logging and forestry
8221 Supervisors, mining and quarrying
8222 Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services
8241 Logging machinery operators
8252 Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
9211 Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
9212 Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
9214 Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
9231 Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
9241 Power engineers and power systems operators
9243 Water and waste treatment plant operators
7231 Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
7233 Sheet metal workers
7235 Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters
7236 Ironworkers
7237 Welders and related machine operators
7241 Electricians (except industrial and power system)
7242 Industrial electricians
7243 Power system electricians
7244 Electrical power line and cable workers
7245 Telecommunications line and cable workers
7246 Telecommunications installation and repair workers
7251 Plumbers
7252 Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
7253 Gas fitters
7311 Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
7312 Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
7313 Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
7314 Railway carmen/women
7315 Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
7318 Elevator constructors and mechanics
7371 Crane operators
7372 Drillers and blasters - surface, mining, quarrying and construction
7373 Water well drillers
8231 Underground production and development miners
8232 Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
9232 Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators
  • Highest-paid occupations ­

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicated that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.

Province/TerritoryWages effective April 30, 2015 ($/hour)
Newfoundland and Labrador $42.53
Prince Edward Island $35.00
Nova Scotia $38.00
New Brunswick $36.06
Quebec $38.71
Ontario $43.75
Manitoba $38.46
Saskatchewan $43.17
Alberta $47.60
British Columbia $40.38
Yukon $43.59
Northwest Territories $55.00
Nunavut $53.85
  • Shortest-duration occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranting work.

After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer should send a copy to their identified foreign worker. The positive LMIA must be included in the worker’s application for a Temporary Work Permit.

A single LMIA can be issued for one or multiple employees. In the case of multiple employees, the LMIA will only be issued to employees who will be filling identical positions as identified by the Canadian National Occupation Classification.

There are several instances where an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure a LMIA. For more information on LMIA Exemptions, please click here.

To find out if you or your business is eligible to apply for a LMIA, please contact us today.

 

Advertising Requirements

Employers wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker to Canada must pay a processing fee of CDN $1,000 for each request for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. There is also be an additional $100 privilege fee on employers charged by Employment and Social Development Canada.

English and French are the only languages that can be determined as job requirements, both for LMIAs and for job vacancy advertisements, unless the employer can prove that another language is otherwise required for the position.

In addtion, employers must advertise all job vacancies across the Canadian job market for at least four weeks before applying for a LMIA. Towards this end, employers are required to prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods in addition to having posted an advertisement on the Canada Job Bank. Employers must focus advertising efforts on groups of Canadians who are under-represented, such as First Nations or persons with disabilities.

Employers are also required to submit a transition plan to ESDC, along with the application for a LMIA, for high-wage positions. This transition plan should indicate how the company plans to reduce its reliance on temporary foreign workers in the future. Proof of investment in skills training or hiring Canadian apprentices are examples of how employers can prove this. Alternatively, employers can demonstrate how they are assisting their high-skilled temporary foreign worker(s) in becoming Canadian permanent residents. If the employer is chosen for an inspection, or if they apply to renew their LMIA, they will be required to report on the progress of the transition plan that they have submitted.

Employers are required to attest to their awareness that they are prohibited from laying off or cutting the hours of Canadian workers working in the same postion(s) as the temporary foreign worker(s) working at the company.

There are a number of variations to the aforementioned advertising requirements. Click here to learn more.

 

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