Canadian Work Permit Levels Remain Steady Despite Pandemic


Number of Work Permits Issued Has Been Consistent Since March

Despite the coronavirus travel restrictions remaining in place since March, recent figures show that Canadian work permit levels have not been affected by the pandemic.

According to CIC News, Canada issued 32,995 work permits in January 2020, but by March, the number dropped by 28 percent to just 19,650. However, the decrease was short-lived, as work permit levels rose back up by April, with 29,900 issued.

Levels dropped again in May, but overall, remained steady at 25,125 work permits.

These numbers include new work permits issued to those who are eligible to work in Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP).

Why Have Levels Remained So Steady?

The most likely reason that work permit levels have remained steady despite the global pandemic and border closure is that early on, Canada offered travel exemptions for foreign workers, allowing them to enter Canada to live and work. The only stipulation is that they must not show symptoms of COVID-19, and must also present a credible quarantine plan and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

The federal government even allocated $50 million in funding to help temporary foreign workers self-isolate after entering Canada.

In May, the federal government launched the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, which provides temporary foreign workers with work experience in the agri-food industry, in an effort to help fill labour shortages in Canada’s food and agriculture sectors. In total, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will accept up to 2,750 principal applicants plus their family members every year until 2023.

About Canada’s Foreign Workers Programs

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) launched in 1973, was created to allow Canadian employers the opportunity to seek out talent and recruit workers from outside the country when unable to find Canadians to fill job vacancies. The TFWP covers multiple sectors, however, seasonal agricultural workers make up the biggest chunk of temporary foreign workers admitted to Canada through this program.

The International Mobility Program (IMP), on the other hand, tends to issue the majority of work permits. This program focuses on recruiting foreign workers to help meet Canada’s broad economic and social needs and includes the Global Talent Stream (GTS), and the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

The GTS is geared towards tech workers who can apply to work for designated companies or be hired in highly skilled occupations.

Meanwhile, the PGWP allows study permit holders to gain up to three years of Canadian work experience, and eventually apply for permanent residence.