Labour Market Impact Assessments: Increased Median Wages for 2020 Temporary Foreign Worker Program and COVID-19 Measures in Canada

When Canadian employers hire workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), they are required to meet certain standards. To ensure that they have a skill gap that cannot be filled by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they have to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The specific list of requirements that they have to follow depends on whether they are applying to an LMIA through the stream for high-wage positions or the stream for low-wage positions. 

To help employers determine which stream to apply under, each province and territory has a median hourly wage. If the position they are offering is at or above the median wage for their region, they need to apply under the stream for high-wage positions. If the position they are offering is below the median wage, they need to apply under the stream for low-wage positions. 

As of May 11, 2020, the median hourly wage has increased in most provinces and territories. 

  • Alberta increased from $26.67 to $27.28
  • British Columbia increased from $23.98 to $25.00
  • Manitoba increased from $21.00 to $21.60
  • New Brunswick increased from $20.00 to $20.12
  • Newfoundland and Labrador increased from $22.00 to $23.00
  • Northwest Territories increased from $34.00 to $34.36
  • Nova Scotia stayed the same at $20.00
  • Nunavut increased from $30.00 to $32.00
  • Ontario increased from $23.08 to $24.04
  • Prince Edward Island increased from $19.49 to $20.00
  • Quebec increased from $22.00 to $23.08
  • Saskatchewan increased from $24.52 to $24.55
  • Yukon stayed the same at $30.00

The Canadian government is currently still processing LMIAs despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of the important role temporary foreign workers play in several critical industries, many qualify for exemptions to the current travel restrictions. The government is working with employers and workers to make this process as safe as possible. 

As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has also put new measures in place for the TFWP to make it more flexible and decrease the administrative burden for employers. These measures apply to all existing and new LMIA applications. 

The processes for employers that need to change the name of an already identified foreign worker on their LMIA because of COVID-19 have been expedited and employers do not need to submit minor administrative changes to the LMIA if they don’t change the terms and conditions. Employers applying under the Agricultural stream or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program will be able to submit a previously valid Housing Inspection Report (HIR).   

Additionally, the recruitment requirements for LMIAs in occupations in the agriculture and agri-food sectors are waived until October 31, 2020, and these LMIAs will be prioritized for processing. 

The maximum duration of employment under LMIAs has also been increased from one to two years in the LMIA stream for low-wage positions. This is part of a three-year pilot.  

These new measures are designed to help the TFWP flow smoothly so that Canada can continue to welcome the skilled workers it needs to support food security and the economy.

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