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March 25, 2024

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program experienced a surge in demand due to the post-pandemic economy, low unemployment rates, and record-high job vacancy rates in 2022. To address those labour shortages, the Program adopted a series of policy changes. With changing labour market conditions and declining job vacancies, the Government is adjusting the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure the program continues to be used only in cases where there are no workers here in Canada that can fill the necessary role.

The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, has announced that some time-limited measures under the TFW Program Workforce Solutions Road Map will not be renewed and will end, earlier than planned, this spring.

Effective May 1, 2024:


-  New Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be valid for six months (a decrease from 12 months) to ensure accurate labour market needs.


-  All employers identified in the 2022 Workforce Solutions Road Map will have a reduction from 30% to 20% of their total workforce that can come in through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, under the low wage stream, with an exception for the construction and health care sectors.


-  Employers will need to explore every option before applying for an LMIA — including recruiting asylum seekers with valid work permits here in Canada.


In addition, as of January 1, 2024, employers are required to annually review the wages of temporary foreign workers to ensure they reflect increases to prevailing wage rates for their given occupation and region of work. Through wage increases, these reviews will ensure that employers continue to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage level throughout their period of employment. For the vast majority of cases, when wages are reviewed, they are increased for the workers. If not, they remain the same and cannot go down upon review.


The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association has contacted ESDC to clarify the scope and impact of the announcement about the TFW program.  The current understanding is that the main aspect of the announcement i.e. the change in allowed percentages of the workforce only applies to several sectors outside of agriculture.  SAWP and Ag Stream are not affected by this change.  



Note that the shortening of the LMIA validity period doesn’t affect the actual length of the work permits associated with the individuals listed in an LMIA.  I.e. if an LMIA is approved for 20 SAWP workers and an LMIA is approved for 20 Ag Stream workers, the maximum work permit length for the approved SAWP workers is still eight months and for the Ag Stream workers is still two years.


Source: Employment and Social Development Canada March 21, 2024 news release




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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 25 March 2024