Canada’s Employers Must Meet New Temporary Foreign Worker Wage Requirements

Canada’s Employers Must Meet New Temporary Foreign Worker Wage Requirements
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Canada employers need to meet prevailing wage requirements for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) when hiring through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“For LMIA applications submitted as of Jan. 1, 2024, employers are required to update the wages of temporary foreign workers to reflect changes to the prevailing wage, at the start of and throughout their period of employment, to comply with TFWP requirements,” notes Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“Job Bank wages are updated every year in the fall. The 2023 update took place on Nov. 29, 2023.”

Under Canadian immigration rules, most employers need an LMIA, which confirms there is a need for a temporary foreign worker and no Canadian or permanent resident is available to do the job before they can hire a temporary foreign worker.

But some employers are exempt from the LMIA requirement and that list of exemptions and the codes to represent them was last updated a little over a year ago, on Dec. 15, 2022.

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The three kinds of jobs that are exempt from the LMIA requirement are:

  • those included in an international trade accord;
  • those included in an accord between the federal government and a provincial/territorial government, and;
  • those deemed in the best interests of Canada.

Although it is a national database, Job Bank does recognize the median wages of workers vary from one province to another so that while, for example, a truck driver, National Occupation Code (NOC) 73300 might have a median hourly wage of $34.25 in one region of British Columbia, the same worker will have a median hourly wage of only $19.23 in a region of New Brunswick.

Across the country, the median hourly wage for a truck driver is $25.

According to Job Bank, the median hourly wage for a registered nurse (NOC 31301) across the country is $40.39 while a software engineer (NOC 21231) can expect $51.64 and a cook (NOC 63200) usually gets $16.

Due to on-going labour shortages across the country, Canada is eager to attract foreign workers and boost its economy.

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has pegged the loss to Canadian businesses due to a lack of workers at up to $38 billion in contracts and sales.

In its latest report, Small Businesses in Canada Hit Hard: The Big Financial Toll of Labour Shortages, the 97,000-strong organization representing small and medium-sized businesses in Canada claims a lack of workers is hitting business hard – and warns the situation could get even worse in the future.

“Challenging demographics and a failure to truly rise to the moment from governments also mean the current situation could deteriorate further in the future,” notes the CFIB in that report.

The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) agrees.

“Immigration is critical to addressing labour shortages, attracting new investment, and supporting Canada’s economic growth,” said Jeremy Harrison, the FMRI provincial-territorial co-chair, late last year.

Canada Protects Temporary Foreign Workers’ Rights

“Provinces and territories play a key role in ensuring that immigration is responsive to employers’ labour needs and benefits all regions of the country. Several provinces and territories are also taking steps to improve foreign qualification recognition to ensure newcomers can work in occupations aligned with their skills and experience.”

In Canada, temporary foreign workers rights are protected by law, giving these workers the same rights and protections granted to Canadians and permanent residents.

Employers hiring temporary foreign workers must:

  • give them information about their rights;
  • give them signed copies of their employment agreements on or before their first day of work;
  • pay them for their work as stated in the employment agreement, including overtime work;
  • make reasonable efforts to provide them with a workplace free of abuse, including reprisals;
  • follow the employment and recruitment standards of the province or territory where they work;
  • get and pay for private health insurance that covers their emergency medical care until they are eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance coverage;
  • make reasonable efforts to give them access to healthcare services if they are injured or become ill at the work.

Employers are prohibited from:

  • forcing temporary foreign workers from performing unsafe work or work that their employment agreement doesn’t authorize them to do;
  • force them to work if they are sick or injured;
  • pressure or force them to work overtime not included in their employment agreement;
  • punish them for reporting mistreatment, unsafe work, inadequate housing or for cooperating with an inspection by a government employee;
  • take their passport or work permit away from them;
  • deport them from Canada or change their immigration status, or;
  • make them reimburse recruitment-related fees the employer may have paid to hire them.
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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.