On April 29, 2013, the Government of Canada announced that numerous changes were being made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, particularly the Labour Market Opinion (“LMO“) program. While most of the changes will be phased in, some of them, including the suspension of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (“ALMO“) program, took effect immediately.
Just over one week later, on May 10, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) announced that the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program (the “P&G Sponsorship Program“) would reopen in 2014 and accept 5,000 applications in its first year. Several changes have been made to the program.
Finally, CIC also announced that it would soon reduce the age of dependency for all immigration programs from 22 to 18. In other words, only children under the age of 19 will be able to accompany their parents when they immigrate to Canada.
Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
There are numerous, significant changes being made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. All of the changes appear aimed at making LMOs more difficult to obtain.
- Effective April 29, 2013, the ALMO has been temporarily suspended pending review.
- Effective April 29, 2013, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (“Service Canada”) ended the Variation to the Prevailing Wage Rate. In the past, employers had the flexibility to pay temporary foreign worker wages up to 15% below the prevailing wage for a higher-skilled occupation, and 5% below the prevailing wage for a lower-skilled occupation, if the lower wage was the same as that being paid to their Canadian employees in the same job and in the same location. Accordingly, as the Variation of the Prevailing Wage Rate has been cancelled, to obtain a LMO employers must pay their foreign workers the prevailing wage rate regardless of what their Canadian employees make.
- The Government of Canada has introduced legislation which would increase its ability to suspend and revoke work permits and LMOs if it feels they are being misused. Service Canada will be able to suspend, revoke or refuse to process a request for an LMO if, for example, new information becomes available indicating that the entry of a temporary foreign worker would have a negative impact on the labour market, or if it is determined that the LMO was fraudulently obtained. Once a LMO is revoked, then CIC will have the ability to revoke work permits issued pursuant to it.
- Questions are being added to LMO application forms to ensure that the program is not being used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.
- Employers who employ foreign workers will soon be required to have a plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time. The requirements of the transition plan will vary depending on whether the employer is seeking to fill a lower- or higher-skilled position, the type and size of the industry and the regional unemployment rate, as well as the particular job being advertised. The employer will have to submit the transition plan to Service Canada as part of its LMO application. A review of the employer’s progress against the transition plan will occur if the employer applies for a future LMO.
- The Government of Canada will be increasing the cost of work permit applications, and introducing fees to LMO applications. The exact amounts have not yet been announced.
- Employers will be prohibited from identifying a language other than English or French as being a job requirement during recruitment. Exemptions will only be given in specialized cases where a foreign language is an essential job requirement. In these cases, the onus will be on the employer to explain why a foreign language is a requirement of the job. Although this change has not yet officially taken affect, the Service Canada Job Bank is reportedly refusing to post job advertisements which contain a language other than English or French.
Changes to the P&G Sponsorship Program
In 2011, CIC suspended the P&G Sponsorship Program. It will reopen in 2014, and CIC will accept 5,000 applications to the program that year.
People who were previously considering sponsoring their parents or grandparents to immigrate to Canada should be aware of the following changes to the program:
- The length of the sponsorship undertaking is being increased from 10 years to 20 years. This means that sponsors will be responsible for repaying any provincial social assistance benefits paid to their parents or grandparents for the first 20 years after they immigrate to Canada.
- The minimum necessary income for sponsoring parents and grandparents is being increased by 30%. The amount of income a sponsor will require will depend on the number of persons who the sponsor will be supporting. For example, a sponsor with a spouse and two children who intends on sponsoring two parents will be required to earn approximately $72,000.
- Prospective sponsors will need to show that they have met the income requirement for the three years prior to submitting the sponsorship application, rather than one.
- Evidence of income will be confined to documents issued by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Reducing the Age of Accompanying Dependants
Currently, the children of immigrants may immigrate to Canada with their parents if they are under the age of 22. As well, young adults over the age of 22 who have been continuous full-time students since turning 22 may also accompany their parents.
This will soon change. The maximum age of dependants will be reduced to 18 years of age for all immigration programs. There will be no exception for full-time post-secondary students. The only exception will be for those who are financially dependent on their parents due to a mental or physical disability.
More information about the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program can be found here.
More information about the changes to the P&G Sponsorship Program can be found here.
More information about the changes to the age of dependency can be found here.