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Fast-Track Option Expanded for Foreign Workers

the CanadaVisa Team - 24 January, 2008

With a pressing need for skilled workers, Canada's Western provinces continue to implement new initiatives to help foreign workers get to Canada and start contributing to the labour force quickly. Human Resources and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is rolling out the welcome mat to temporary foreign workers, making the transition into the workforce easier, faster and with more protection.

ESDC's Expedited Labour Market Opinion (E-LMO) pilot project has been expanded to cover nearly three times the number of qualifying occupations. It will now be much faster for Alberta and British Columbia (BC) employers to hire temporary foreign workers for 33 select occupations in the health care, hospitality, construction, manufacturing, engineering, maintenance, and sales and services sectors. Whereas the current processing time for LMO applications is five months, for occupations that fall under the E-LMO, applications will be processed within five days.

In order to hire a temporary foreign worker, Canadian employers must first apply to ESDC for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). The LMO is an assessment of the current Canadian labour market, which ensures that there are no Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents available to fill the positions, before employers are granted permission hire foreign workers. For the 33 occupations now covered by the expanded pilot project, it has already been established that employers have been struggling to find new employees for open positions. With the need for temporary foreign workers in these occupations already predetermined, extensive LMO assessments are no longer necessary.

"We anticipate needing to attract 30,000 workers with specific skills to British Columbia each year to meet our labour and skill shortage challenges," noted Colin Hansen, BC Minister of Economic Development. "By expanding the numbers of occupations included in this pilot project, more employers will now benefit from having better and faster access to the temporary foreign workers they need."

The Canadian Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Monte Solberg, highlighted the benefit of the expansion."The 33 occupations now included in this pilot represent 50 per cent of the total volume of labour market opinion applications from employers in B.C. and Alberta." A dedicated team of temporary foreign worker officers have been established in Alberta and BC to process the greater volume of E-LMO's. The pilot project will run in BC and Alberta until September 2008.

The Alberta government has also stepped up its efforts to protect foreign workers by establishing special advisory offices in Edmonton and Calgary. Foreign workers can obtain help from inspectors and employment standards officers in resolving employment standards and occupational health and safety issues. The inspectors and officers will also carry out inspections of companies to ensure that temporary foreign workers receive the wages, overtime, general holiday, and vacation pay to which they are entitled.

Complete List of Occupations Included in the E-LMO Pilot Project

Work Employer British Columbia Alberta