Data shows surge in LMIA applications from employers

In one territory, the numbers increased by more than 500 per cent

Data shows surge in LMIA applications from employers

Canadian employers seemed to have turned their focus to hiring foreign workers in the past year.

The number of employers applying for the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in the country surged by 84.03 per cent year-over-year by Nov. 5, 2023, according to a CBC report, citing data from Employment and Social Development Canada.

Among provinces and territories, Nunavut recorded the largest surge in LMIA applications at a rate of 535.7 per cent. The figures also more than doubled in Northwest Territories (+115.6 per cent), Manitoba (+103.3 per cent) and Saskatchewan (+103.2 per cent).

LMIA employer application numbers also rose for Alberta (+80.4 per cent), British Columbia (+46 per cent), Nova Scotia (+36.3 per cent), Ontario (25.4 per cent), Quebec (+23.5 per cent), New Brunswick (+23.3 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+17.7 per cent). The increase is significantly lower in Prince Edward Island (+6.5 per cent). 

Yukon (-0.9 per cent) is the only one that recorded a decrease in LMIA application numbers, though the decrease in not even one per cent.

Finding local staff has simply become harder the past few years, said entrepreneur Jodi Willoughby, who co-owns Crave Cupcakes in Calgary, AB, in the CBC report.

Job seekers from outside Canada have shown far greater interest in coming to work in the country, according to a previous Indeed report.

Longer LMIA process time, a problem

One problem employers are facing in their quest to hire foreign workers is the waiting game, according to the CBC report.

On average, Canadian employers have had to wait 35.25 business days for their LMIA applications to be processed.

Among provinces and territories, Alberta has the longest waiting time at 54.2 days. That's because the province has a smaller share of applications in priority processing streams, one expert told CBC.

For example, only four per cent of LMIA applications in Alberta are in the agriculture and seasonal agricultural worker program streams, compared to 11 per cent for Ontario and 18 per cent for Quebec.

"As a result, the average processing time for Alberta is higher than for provinces with a greater share of priority-stream files," Maja Stefanovska, a spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada, told CBC via email.

That, however, is a problem for employers, according to another expert.

"Everyone wants the process to go quicker and businesses lose money if they don't get their people on the ground when they need them," Rowan Fisher, a lawyer with Fisher Law in Calgary, said in the report.

LMIA processing time is also above the Canadian average in Manitoba (53 days), Northwest Territories (50.3 days), British Columbia (49.1 days), Saskatchewan (46.7 days) and Quebec (38.5 days).

Meanwhile, the waiting time is below the national average in Yukon (11.6 days), Newfoundland and Labrador (18.8 days), Nunavut (20.7 days), Prince Edward Island (26 days), Nova Scotia (26.8 days), New Brunswick (31 days) and Ontario (31.6 days).

Speeding up LMIA application processing

Amid the current situation, Ottawa is working on a number of modernization initiatives under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program to speed up the processing of LMIA applications.

For example, files are now being distributed across the entire national network, which allows applications from high-demand provinces to be processed elsewhere, said Stefanovska.

The program also has been moving away from paper applications, which reduces data-entry work for Service Canada, according to the CBC report.

In August, the federal government launched the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) under the TFW program. Under the pilot, Ottawa is investing $29.3 million over three years to address labour shortages and reduce the administrative burden for repeat employers participating in the TFW program that have a history of complying with program requirements.

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