Several LMIA Changes Taking Effect April 30, 2015

The Ministry of Employment and Social Development (“ESDC”) has announced that there will be several changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) that will take effect on April 30, 2015.

The changes are:

  • Implementation of new High and Low-wage Streams
  • Updating the Provincial / Territorial Median Hourly Wages
  • Increasing Worker Protections
  • Modifying the Method for Calculating the Cap on Low Wage Positions
  • Implementing the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) system fully in Quebec
  • Updating Regions of Refusal to Process

Implementation of new High and Low-wage Streams

Effective April 30, 2015, the TFWP will now longer be divided into High Skill and Low Skill LMIAs.  Rather, it will be divided into High-wage and Low-wage.  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 Low-wage stream.  Employers offering a wage at or above the provincial/territorial median hourly wage will be required to meet the requirements of the High-wage stream.

The 2006 National Occupational Classification (“NOC“) codes will continue to be used to determine the prevailing wage for the occupation.

New LMIA application forms will be introduced on April 30, 2015. Employers must use these new forms to apply to hire a TFW.  Only applications submitted using the new form will be processed.

Update to Provincial/Territorial Median Hourly Wages

On April 30, 2015, the TFWP will start using the latest provincial/territorial median wages as follows.

Province/Territory Wages effective
April 30, 2015
($/hour)
Wages prior to
April 30, 2015
($/hour)
Alberta $25.00 $24.23
British Columbia $22.00 $21.79
Manitoba $19.50 $19.00
New Brunswick $18.00 $17.79
Newfoundland and Labrador $21.12 $20.19
Northwest Territories $30.00 $30.00
Nova Scotia $18.85 $18.00
Nunavut $29.00 $25.00
Ontario $21.15 $21.00
Prince Edward Island $17.49 $17.26
Quebec $20.00 $20.00
Saskatchewan $22.00 $21.63
Yukon $27.50 $27.06
Increasing Worker Protections

The protections that were previously in place for the Lower-skilled Occupations will be applied to the new Low-wage stream. As a result, employers offering TFWs a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage 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 with the LMIA application.
Modifying the Method for Calculating the Cap on Low Wage Positions
The TFWP will be implementing a simplified way to calculate the cap in the Low-wage stream.  The cap will be based on the number of full-time and part-time positions staffed by an employer at a specific work location, rather than on the total number of hours worked. This simpler method for calculating the cap does not change the established cap. Employers that employ low-wage TFWs are still subject to the cap, which is the lesser of their current percentage of TFWs in low-wage positions, or:

  • 30% as of June 20, 2014;
  • 20% as of July 1, 2015; and
  • 10% as of July 1, 2016.

Implementing the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) system fully in Quebec

The LMIA system will as of April 30, 2015, be implemented for employers hiring TFWs for positions located in Quebec. As a result, these employers will now be subject to all of the changes including the:

  • implementation of the new wage streams for assessing LMIAs;
  • updates to the provincial/territorial median hourly wages;
  • Cap on the number of low-wage TFWs an employer can hire;
  • modifications to the worker protections;
  • implementation of the new application forms;
  • refusal to process applications for specific low-wage / lower-skilled occupations from employers in the Accommodation and Food Services sector, and the Retail Trade sector in economic regions across Canada that have an unemployment rate of 6% or higher;
  • updates to the unemployment rates by economic regions;
  • limit on the duration of employment of TFWs in low-wage positions to a period of 1 year;
  • requirement for employers hiring high-wage TFWs to submit a Transition Plan; and
  • refusal to process applications from employers whose LMIA has been revoked in the past 2 years.

Under the “Protocol d’Entente”, employers applying to hire TFWs in one of the 42 approved occupations through Quebec’s Simplified LMIA Process will continue to be treated differently. These applications will be considered under the Stream for High-wage Positions and will be given significant flexibilities under the requirement for a Transition Plan.

The Province of Quebec is protesting this change.

Update to Unemployment Rates by Economic RegionAs of April 30, 2015, the TFWP will also begin using the latest Labour Force Survey results (2014) for the unemployment rates when it determines which regions are eligible to submit LMIAs for Low-wage occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector.

As a result, the following regions will be removed from the list of regions ineligible to hire certain occupations:

  • Kitchener – Waterloo – Barrie
  • Ontario – Northwest
  • Manitoba – Northern

As requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, the TFWP will now accept applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife.


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