The starting point for a work permit in Canada is typically an application by an employer for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”).
TFWP policy is set by a government agency called Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”), and administered through another government agency called Service Canada (“SC”).
The LMIA process requires that an employer substantiate an inability to find a suitable Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the position before bringing a foreign worker to Canada. An LMIA application requires various recruitment requirements, salary commitments, etc.
[Exceptions to the need for an LMIA include various ‘International Mobility Program’ (“IMP”) categories such as intra-company transfers, various professional categories under free trade agreements, and ‘Reciprocal Benefit’, to name a few.] However, readers should be aware that ESDC restricts the issuance of LMIA issuance in certain cases.
In some cases, ESDC indicates that there is no authority to issue LMIAs. These situations include those where an employer:
Further, ESDC/SC may refuse to issue LMIAs based on public policy considerations, which may include:
Further details of the restrictions can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/refusal.html#2.1-h3.2.
Restrictions in Alberta
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and presumably therefore heightened unemployment rates, the Province of Alberta and ESDC have agreed that LMIAs will not be issued for positions in Alberta, unless the relevant occupation is on a specific list of exempted occupations.
The full exemption list is found at the web site noted above, but some of the key exemptions would include:
In addition to the specific occupational exemptions, there are a few other situations where LMIAs in Alberta may still be granted.
As such, employers seeking to bring/send foreign workers to Canada requiring an LMIA should be aware of the restrictions and consult appropriate immigration advisor to consider the feasibility of an LMIA application in Alberta.
Please recognize that the considerations herein do not apply to IMP programs – but there may be other issues/restrictions/considerations in those cases which should be checked, given the fluidity of COVID-based regulations, and differences based on the point of origin of the foreign worker.
The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.