The number of Western Canada employers who want to hire overseas skilled workers for their businesses has risen in 2023.
Statistics provided by Employment and Social Development Canada reveal that as of November 5, there has been a 39 per cent nationwide increase in the number of LMIA applications created, compared to roughly the same time period from 2022.
Western Canada saw an even more pronounced increase of 83 per cent. Yukon, on the other hand, was the only province/territory to see a small application decrease this year, as per CBC News’ Madeleine Cummings.
The year-over-year percentage difference in the number of LMIA applications created by Nunavut was the highest of all provinces or territories, at 535.7. This was followed by Northwest Territories (115.6), Manitoba (103.3), and Saskatchewan (103.2).
Yukon had a -0.9 year-over-year percentage difference in the number of LMIA applications it created, while Prince Edward Island had a small increase of 6.5.
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LMIA processing times have been particularly sluggish. Federal data shows Alberta leads the way for the longest average LMIA processing time in Canada, but a spokesperson asserted that is because the province has a smaller share of applications in priority processing streams.
The average year-to-date processing time for LMIA (in business days) is – after Alberta – highest in Manitoba (53 days), NWT (50.3 days), and Saskatchewan (46.7 days).
CBC News reported that only four percent of Albertan LMIA applications are in agriculture and seasonal agriculture worker program streams, when compared to 11 percent for Ontario and 18 percent for Quebec.
Resultantly, “the average processing time for Alberta is higher than for provinces with a greater share of priority-stream files,” according to Employment and Social Development Canada spokesperson Maja Stefanovska.
However, a multitude of efforts towards modernizing the TFW program have been launched since 2022, Stefanovska added.
Files are being distributed across the entire national network (allowing applications from high-demand provinces such as Alberta to be processed in other provinces).
The program has also witnessed a move away from paper applications, reducing data-entry work for Service Canada.
Repeated employers who have been compliant with the program’s rules have also been able to apply more simply through the Recognized Employer Pilot, which was launched in August.
The Recognized Employer Pilot (REP)
REP is a three-year pilot, wherein the following employers are offered a streamlined approach:
- Those who regularly access the TFWP to fill in-demand positions from the REP occupations list
- Those who meet the highest standards for working and living conditions and worker protection
Recognized employers are able to benefit from validity periods lasting up to 36 months for LMIA applications that receive a positive decision. They can additionally access a simplified LMIA application when hiring more workers.
REP will maintain existing worker protections while also providing:
- Simpler and more predictable access to labor for employers, and
- More flexibility for the Canada labor market
Service Canada conducts a “rigorous, upfront assessment” of an employer’s LMIA application to determine their eligibility for the REP.
Employers may be eligible if:
- They have received at least three positive LMIA decisions in the past five years to hire TFWs for positions on the REP occupations list
- They meet the highest working condition, living condition, and worker protection standards, as demonstrated through their history with the TFWP.
- They agree to adhere to the regular TFWP requirements
REP works in two phases:
- Phase 1: Those looking to fill positions on the Phase 1 occupations list can apply starting in September 2023
- Phase 2: Those aiming at this phase can start applying in January 2023.
Service Canada will cease acceptance of REP applications in September 2024. However, employers enrolled in the REP can continue submitting requests for positions on the REP occupations list using a simplified LMIA.