On April 25, 2012, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (“Service Canada”) launched two initiatives that will significantly change the process by which Canadian employers interested in hiring foreign workers apply for Labour Market Opinions (“LMO”). These are the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion Initiative (“A-LMO”) and the introduction of online applications.
The purpose of the A-LMO is to reduce LMO processing times. Service Canada has indicated that their objective is that A-LMO applications will be processed in 10 business days, a significant reduction from the current average LMO processing time of 2-4 months.
In addition to reduced processing times, the A-LMO will also feature:
- A reduction in the amount of documentation that employers have to submit to Service Canada when they apply for their A-LMO. Significantly, employers will no longer have to submit proof of recruitment.
- Flexibility on the prevailing wage. A wage of up to 15% less than the prevailing wage for an occupation will be accepted provided that the employer pays similar wages to Canadians and permanent residents employed in the same occupation.
- A waiver of the mandatory in-depth interview.
To be eligible to participate in the A-LMO, an employer must:
- Have been issued at least 1 positive LMO within the last 2 years;
- Have a clean record of compliance with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program within the last 2 years;
- Not have been the subject of an investigation, infraction, or a serious complaint; and
- Not have any unresolved violations or contraventions under provincial laws governing employment and recruitment.
Eligible employers can only apply under the A-LMO if they are trying to fill a high-skilled position classified under the National Occupational Classification skill type 0, A, and B. These positions are generally occupations which are management, professional, or technical in nature.
Applications to fill positions in film, entertainment, and agriculture are specifically not eligible for the A-LMO.
Although employers will no longer have to submit proof of recruitment and undergo an interview, they will have to attest that they complied with Service Canada’s requirements for hiring of foreign workers, including that the employer:
- provided wages, working conditions, and an occupation to the foreign worker that was substantially the same as those offered in the A-LMO application;
- provided wages and working conditions to the foreign worker that were the same as those offered to Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the same occupation and work location;
- performed the minimum recruitment efforts;
- filled a labour shortage;
- ‘s employment of the foreign national did not adversely affect the settlement of a labour dispute; and
- abided by the relevant federal/provincial/territorial laws that regulate employment and recruitment.
In order to ensure compliance, Service Canada will conduct compliance reviews on approximately 18% of A-LMOs.
Service Canada has specifically indicated that employers that pay less than the prevailing wage will likely be subjected to compliance reviews.
Service Canada has also instructed employers that they should retain all documents related to their A-LMO applications for up to 6 years, and that failure to do so will result in their future ineligibility to participate in the A-LMO initiative.
Employers found non-compliant will:
- be ineligible to use the A-LMO initiative in the future;
- face the possible revocation of LMOs where Work Permits have not been issued;
- have their breach shared with other branches of government; and
- face greater scrutiny on any pending or subsequent LMO applications.