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  • Arisnel Mesidor, M.A., RCIC

Temporary foreign worker program to tackle labour shortages in Canada

Updated: Jan 13


In December 2021, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) published a new report arguing that the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) is the main way to solve the labour shortages in the country.

According to the CFIB report, more than half of small Canadian businesses experience labour shortages and have difficulties with hiring, retaining, or getting staff to work the hours needed. In addition, due to the labour shortages, about a third of small businesses abandoned or delayed projects, turning down contracts and sales.

CFIB claims that temporary foreign workers can help tackle the labour shortage problem in agriculture and professional services. The Federation recommended improving the TFWP to invite more workers to Canada.

The CFIB also claims that the international mobility program can hire/bring in foreign workers without needing a labour market impact assessment (LMIA). However, individuals who can access this program are:

  • international students who have graduated from a Canadian school

  • persons permitted to work temporarily in Canada due to free trade agreements (like NAFTA, for example)

  • International Experience Canada participants and

  • some permanent resident applicants

Citizens of the United States and Mexico may enter Canada quickly for temporary business or investment purposes through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) where LMIA is not required.

Foreign students may work up to 20 hours per week for an eligible employer while classes are in session, and full-time during school breaks. Eligible students must:

  • have a valid study permit,

  • be a full-time student,

  • be enrolled at a designated institution at the post-secondary level (vocational program at the secondary level in Quebec),

  • be studying in a program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate and is at least 6 months in duration.

Therefore, employers must ensure the student has a valid study permit. They may also confirm that the student is studying full-time in an eligible program.

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