Federal and Provincial Business Immigration Programs are Showing Improvements, But There’s Still Work to Do
Immigration lawyers say there have been improvements over recent years for businesses looking to hire immigrants on a temporary basis. The federal and provincial governments in Canada seem to be listening to the concerns of business owners, but challenges still remain in Canada for businesses hiring temporary foreign workers. The government must show greater clarity and make adjustments to policy to give businesses the tools they need to hire appropriate, skilled labour.
How does the Temporary Foreign Worker program work?
Canadian business looking to hire temporary foreign workers can apply either through the temporary foreign worker program or the international mobility program. Employers using the temporary foreign worker program need to prove that they cannot fill the skilled position with a qualified Canadian first before applying for an immigrant worker. A labour market impact assessment needs to be filled out through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to determine if there is a need for foreign labour.
Canadian immigration lawyers say this process suffers from a lack of transparency. The ESDC offices across Canada all handle these impact assessments differently and officials use too much of their own discretion. A unified federal policy would help to create consistency across Canada.
What is a Labour Market Assessment?
- The employer must advertise the position for a month;
- If there are applicants, the employer must explain to the ESDC why those candidates are not qualified;
- The employer must show that they will be paying and providing work conditions that meet Canadian industry standards;
- The process can take between three to five months;
- Some applications can take even longer than six months.
The Global Skills Strategy
The federal government announced in 2016 and then rolled out in 2017 the Global Skills Strategy to expedite the process for employers looking to hire foreign workers. Employers who qualify must complete a labour market benefits plan to show that the employer is creating jobs for Canadians or investing in skills and training of Canadians and permanent residents of Canada. The federal government promises a two-week processing time for labour market assessments through the Global Skills Strategy.
The International Mobility Program
The International Mobility Program is for those immigrants exempt from the labour market assessment process looking to work in Canada. Workers who may fall under this program include occupations specified in international agreements such as trade deals, workers with skills considered a significant benefit to Canadian interests, refugees and destitute students.
The number of temporary foreign workers approved by ESDC has declined from 199,218 in 2012 to 90,211 in 2015. Challenges remain for employers who are subject to random audits and must follow increasingly strict compliance regimes. Some Canadian immigration lawyers believe Canadian businesses would benefit from a more unified federal policy.