Articles & Media

Labour Market Impact Assessment Changes Effective April 30, 2015


By Lori Brienza

Employment and Social Development Canada ("ESDC") has announced that the following changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP") will be effective immediately.

Implementation of new High and Low-wage Streams
ESDC will only compare the wages offered by employers to the provincial/territorial median hourly wage when identifying the specific requirements employers must meet under the TFWP. Employers offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker ("TFW") that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage will need to meet the requirements of the Stream for Low-wage Positions. Employers offering a wage at or above median hourly wage will be required to meet the requirements of the Stream for High-wage Positions.

The latest provincial/territorial median hourly wages based on the 2014 Labour Force Survey results will be used by the TFWP. The updated Alberta hourly median wage is $25.00 per hour (up from $24.23 per hour based on 2013 data). The top 10% of wages earned by Canadians or permanent residents in Alberta is $47.60 per hour and above (down from $48.08 per hour in 2013).

Increasing Worker Protections
The protections that were in place for the Low-skill Stream will now be applied to the new Stream for Low-wage Positions, increasing the number of positions impacted. This means that employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage ($25.00 in Alberta) must:

  • Pay for round-trip transportation for the TFW;
  • Ensure affordable housing is available;
  • Pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  • Register the TFW with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
  • Provide an employer-employee contract.

Modifying the Method for Calculating the Cap on Low-wage Positions
As a result of feedback from employers, a new simplified way to calculate the cap will be introduced. The cap will be based on the number of full-time and part-time positions at a specific work location (instead of the total number of hours worked).

Updating Regions of Refusal to Process
The 2014 Labour Force Survey results will be used to assess unemployment rates. Employers in economic regions that have an unemployment rate of 6% or higher will continue to be ineligible to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments ("LMIAs") for low-wage occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade sectors. Currently, Alberta remains below the 6% unemployment rate. Given its unique labour market conditions, an exception will be made for positions in these sectors located in Yellowknife, notwithstanding the 7.9% unemployment rate for the region.

Employers Hiring for Positions Located in Quebec
The reforms to the TFWP that were announced in June 2014, will now be implemented for employers hiring TFWs for positions located in Québec.

LMIA Application Forms
It should be noted that effective April 30, 2015, new LMIA application forms have been implemented in order to reflect the changes to the TFWP highlighted above.

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