Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program announced

Employers required to focus more under-represented groups; on-site inspections to increase

Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program announced
Canada's Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Jan. 31. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The federal government is looking to improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) by bringing in new requirements for employers seeking to hire foreign workers.

Employers will be required to do more to recruit Canadians, particularly those who are typically under-represented in the workforce, such as youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

And the government will work with industry sectors that are heavy users of the program to create Canadian workforce development strategies in partnership with employers, organized labour and other stakeholders.

"The changes we are making to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will help ensure that Canadians have the first opportunity at available jobs, that vulnerable workers are protected, and that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and thrive,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour.

To fulfill its commitment to better protect vulnerable foreign workers, the government will also increase on-site inspections of workplaces that employ foreign workers. It will also work with community organizations devoted to the protecting vulnerable foreign workers to ensure they are informed of their rights and protections when they arrive in Canada.


The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities tabled its report, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which outlined 21 recommendations, in September 2016.

At that time, the government took early action to respond to the report by:

•eliminating the four-year cumulative duration "four-in, four-out" rule, effective immediately

•maintaining the cap on the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers at 20 per cent for employers that accessed the program prior to June 20, 2014, and at 10 per cent for new users of the program

•extending the cap for seasonal industries for up to 180 days until Dec. 31, 2017

•committing to further develop pathways to permanent residency so eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society

•requiring low-wage employers, where appropriate, to advertise to more than one, and up to four, under-represented groups in the workforce (such as youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and newcomers). Employers will be advised when these changes are to come into effect.

About 79,000 work permits issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada became effective in 2016 through the TFWP. This is a reduction of 33.5 per cent over the peak in the past five years, according Employment and Social Development Canada.

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