Although there are more than a few Canadians who would deny that it exists, our business leaders are convinced that Canada is experiencing a massive labour shortage.
In February, our federal government responded by announcing a number of changes to our foreign worker program. Although welcome, these changes do not include any new programs or changes in philosophy. Rather, they are quite ‘conservative’ and amount to little more than a minor tinkering with the process.
According to immigration minister Diane Finley, some of these changes will speed up the process of bringing foreign workers to Canada. Also, the time that foreign workers can stay here may be extended in certain cases in order to provide Canadian employers with more security and stability.
These changes are effective immediately.
Historically, employers had to complete the process of applying for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from HRSDC before their prospective foreign worker could submit his/her application for a work permit. Now, if the worker prefers, the LMO and the work permit can be processed concurrently. This could speed up the process by several weeks. Under the Low Skill Pilot Project (now clumsily renamed), Canadian employers could bring foreign workers here for 12 months provided that the worker remains outside of Canada for at least 4 months before applying for another work permit under this program. Now, many non-seasonal workers can remain here for up to 24 months before having to leave the country. Employers of those seeking extensions of their work permits will have to obtain an updated LMO from HRSDC to ensure that the continued employment does not create a negative impact on Canada's labour market.
Similarly, employers looking to hire a foreign nanny under the Live-in Caregiver Program will be entitled to apply for an LMO lasting 3 years and 3 months rather than for one year. Their prospective nannies will be eligible for work permits for the same duration thereby avoiding the hazards and costs of applying for annual extensions.
As of April 1, LMO applications can be filed online. Also, tracking numbers will now be issued. Since a “Declaration of Employer” and all supporting documents will still need to be submitted on paper, it is questionable how much faster this “online” process will actually be.
These improvements are not likely to have any significant impact on our national human resources shortage. However, they do suggest that our government is listening to our industry leaders and that the process of recruiting foreign workers will become a bit smoother.
That is a welcome thing.
Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org