Improving Clarity

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Overhauling the
Temporary Foreign Worker
Program

Putting Canadians First

Improving Clarity, Transparency and Accountability of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

To offer greater clarity and transparency, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is being re-organized into two distinct programs. This will reduce confusion and better reflect the major differences between the various streams.

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The TFWP will now refer to only those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The new International Mobility Programs (IMP) will include those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA, and whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest, rather than filling particular jobs. These new categories will improve accountability, with Employment and Social Development Canada being the lead department for the TFWP, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada the lead department for the IMP.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Objective:
Last resort for employers to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available
International Mobility Programs Objective:
To advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest
Based on employer demand to fill specific jobs Not based on employer demand
Unilateral and discretionary Base largely on multilateral/bilateral agreements with other countries (e.g. NAFTA, GATS)
Employer must pass Labour Market Impact Assessment (formerly LMO) No Labour Market Impact Assessment required
Lead department ESDC Lead department CIC
No reciprocity Based largely on reciprocity
Employer-specific work permits (TFWs tied to one employer) Generally open permits (participants have greater mobility)
Majority are low-skilled (e.g. farm workers) Majority are high skill / high wage
Last and limited resort because no Canadians are available Workers & reciprocity are deemed to be in the national economic and cultural interest
Main source countries are developing countries Main source countries are highly developed

In the interest of greater transparency and accountability, data for the TFWP and IMP have been re-organized so that Canadians can accurately compare statistics on the two distinct programs going back 10 years. Of the 221,273 foreign nationals entering Canada in 2013, 62 percent (137,533) came in under the IMP, the other 38 percent, or (83,740), came in under the TFWP.

The following table provides historical data (2003–2013) on overall numbers of foreign nationals working in Canada by program stream.

Canada - Entries* of Temporary residents** not subject to Labour Market Impact Assessment by sub-status 2002-2013***
Yearly sub-status 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
International Mobility Program
NAFTA 13,422 11,680 11,517 11,877 13,359 14,083 15,567 14,986 17,500 18,557 19,868 19,806
Other FTA 385 265 288 308 357 375 517 469 507 657 735 777
International agreements 2,829 3,189 4,871 1,461 1,698 2,108 2,681 2,312 1,313 972 841 776
Provincial agreements 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 359 1,571 2,519 4,353 6,429
GATS 1,684 617 502 434 521 636 602 370 358 326 282 285
Workers - International arrangements subtotal 18,320 15,751 17,178 14,080 15,935 17,202 19,367 18,496 21,249 23,031 26,079 28,073
Reciprocal employment 19,100 20,944 24,790 31,413 34,173 35,964 44,623 48,944 54,275 59,208 63,586 58,939
Employment benefit 7,643 7,882 7,841 8,173 9,951 10,113 10,850 10,074 13,405 14,514 15,453 15,730
Spouse/common law partner 2,804 3,491 4,389 5,194 6,314 8,158 9,856 9,249 9,130 10,776 12,253 15,251
Research and studies related 3,465 3,373 3,460 3,650 4,017 5,171 6,221 6,626 7,022 9,712 11,294 15,791
Other Canadian interests1 4,716 1,311 1,135 1,778 1,624 1,486 1,436 1,536 1,808 1,959 2,231 2,145
Workers - Canadian interests subtotal 37,728 37,001 41,615 50,208 56,079 60,892 72,986 76,429 85,640 96,169 104,817 107,856
Other work permit holders without LMO subtotal2 4,734 985 1,064 886 945 1,302 1,149 1,344 1,025 875 1,522 1,604
International Mobility Programs Total 60,782 53,737 59,857 65,174 72,959 79,396 93,502 96,269 107,914 120,075 132,418 137,533
International students Total 76,290 69,215 65,512 67,404 71,379 73,770 79,264 84,870 95,257 98,394 104,829 111,841
Humanitarian population Total 34,696 32,607 26,138 20,427 23,798 29,592 37,953 34,194 24,965 26,547 21,417 10,992
Total 171,768 155,559 151,507 153,005 168,136 182,758 210,719 215,333 228,136 245,016 258,664 260,366

1 Persons in the Canadian Interests category are temporary residents with work permits without LMO. The term “Canadian interests” is used to describe certain categories of workers who are deemed to provide a social, cultural or economic benefit to Canada.

2 Data group under this category includes Permanent resident applicants in Canada. This category includes an increasing number of individuals with open work permits awaiting final PR approval through the LCP category and Bridging Open Work Permits.

Canada - Entries* of Temporary Foreign Worker work permit holders by sub-status 2002-2013***
Yearly sub-status 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Information Technology Workers 830 1,050 1,298 1,760 2,130 2,971 3,190 2,687 2,867 612 213 29
Other high-skilled workers with LMO3 23,254 21,969 22,453 24,049 26,201 30,042 31,992 26,414 22,471 23,889 28,084 27,643
High-skilled workers Total 24,084 23,019 23,751 25,809 28,331 33,013 35,182 29,101 25,338 24,501 28,297 27,672
Live-in Caregiver Program 4,664 5,007 6,624 7,103 9,050 12,930 11,848 8,740 7,521 5,878 6,242 4,671
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program 18,622 18,698 19,049 20,282 21,253 22,571 24,188 23,386 23,933 24,693 25,710 27,566
Low Skill Pilot Program - Primary agriculture4 123 341 430 877 2,231 3,170 4,513 4,844 5,161 6,209 6,632 7,099
Low Skill Pilot Program - Other 2,145 1,985 2,355 2,892 4,298 12,139 21,147 14,167 8,961 8,763 13,709 16,315
Low Skill Pilot Program subtotal 2,268 2,326 2,785 3,769 6,529 15,309 25,660 19,011 14,122 14,972 20,341 23,414
Other low-skilled workers with LMO5 1 2 0 2 1 6 4 1 3 2 1 0
Low-skilled workers Total 25,555 26,033 28,458 31,156 36,833 50,816 61,700 51,138 45,579 45,545 52,294 55,651
Other Total6 192 142 161 223 323 299 349 225 222 345 373 417
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Total 49,831 49,194 52,370 57,188 65,487 84,128 97,231 80,464 71,139 70,391 80,964 83,740

3 Other high-skilled workers with LMO include some Live-in Caregiver Program and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

4 Intended occupation: NOC 8431, 8432, 8611, 8251, 8252, 8254, 8256

5 Other low-skilled workers with LMO include some Information Technology Workers

6 This group includes workers that do not fall into the high-skill or low-skill occupation categories

Source: Citizenship & Immigration Canada, RDM Preliminary 2013 Data

*Entries includes both initial entries and re-entries

**This chart does not include data on general visitors or on any work-permit exempt foreign nationals who can work in Canada (e.g., business visitors, diplomats, visiting military, clergy, etc.) and who have not been issued a visitor record upon entering Canada.

***Data for 2013 are preliminary estimates and are subject to change. For 2002-2012, these are updated numbers and different from those of Facts and Figures 2012.

A temporary resident who has been granted permanent resident status on or before the observation date (December 1) is excluded from the count from their grant date onwards. Temporary residents are grouped according to the principal reason for residing in Canada during the calendar year.

Canada - Temporary residents* not subject to Labour Market Impact Assessment present** on December 1st by sub-status 2002-2013***
Yearly sub-status 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
International Mobility Programs
NAFTA 11,532 11,161 11,462 12,172 13,224 14,229 15,974 16,318 19,251 21,748 23,927 25,192
Other FTA 341 314 308 356 412 452 603 628 632 786 959 1,059
International agreements 2,014 2,337 3,125 1,828 2,209 3,124 4,053 3,973 2,100 1,417 1,078 1,022
Provincial agreements 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,120 5,417 9,935 11,502 12,985
GATS 2,328 1,219 629 448 448 532 511 414 334 263 246 229
Workers - International arrangements subtotal 16,215 15,031 15,524 14,804 16,293 18,337 21,141 22,453 27,734 34,149 37,712 40,487
Reciprocal employment 16,377 18,635 23,544 28,457 30,854 32,747 40,941 52,837 59,690 64,892 68,121 68,298
Employment benefit 6,563 7,215 8,111 9,122 11,045 11,765 12,709 13,325 15,325 24,494 37,557 48,961
Spouse/common law partner 5,484 8,126 10,544 12,682 14,767 17,974 21,178 23,310 23,520 26,014 29,424 35,647
Research and studies related 5,321 5,838 6,648 7,817 9,625 12,015 15,764 22,835 28,719 36,202 44,761 58,106
Other Canadian interests1 1,882 1,130 1,076 1,190 1,405 1,518 1,429 1,438 1,408 1,490 1,820 1,925
Workers - Canadian interests subtotal 35,627 40,944 49,923 59,268 67,696 76,019 92,021 113,745 128,662 153,092 181,683 212,937
Other work permit holders without LMO subtotal2 735 1,487 1,919 1,962 1,976 2,507 2,149 2,239 2,305 3,551 5,491 6,166
International Mobility Programs Total 52,577 57,462 67,366 76,034 85,965 96,863 115,311 138,437 158,701 190,792 224,886 259,590
International students Total 150,287 159,419 164,506 166,846 169,812 175,642 177,645 195,760 217,882 239,044 265,414 293,503
Humanitarian population Total 120,866 126,231 117,887 102,629 92,601 90,729 103,916 113,087 108,911 103,717 95,875 79,013
Total 323,730 343,112 349,759 345,509 348,378 363,234 396,872 447,284 485,494 533,553 586,175 632,106

1 Persons in the Canadian Interests category are temporary residents with work permits without LMO. The term “Canadian interests” is used to describe certain categories of workers who are deemed to provide a social, cultural or economic benefit to Canada.

2 Data group under this category includes Permanent resident applicants in Canada. This category includes an increasing number of individuals with open work permits awaiting final PR approval through the LCP category and Bridging Open Work Permits.

Canada - Temporary Foreign Worker work permit holders present** on December 1st by sub-status 2002-2013***
Yearly sub-status 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Information Technology Workers 1,310 1,391 1,652 1,981 2,327 3,064 3,571 3,557 3,889 1,777 761 218
Other high-skilled workers with LMO3 15,018 16,566 17,713 19,552 22,222 29,374 38,199 38,102 29,420 27,383 32,652 41,488
High-skilled workers Total 16,328 17,957 19,365 21,533 24,549 32,438 41,770 41,659 33,309 29,160 33,413 41,706
Live-in Caregiver Program 11,972 13,854 17,372 20,350 24,379 33,675 38,423 39,559 36,364 28,519 23,109 16,927
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program 18,594 18,696 18,909 20,250 21,259 22,454 24,070 23,442 23,969 24,669 25,789 27,889
Low Skill Pilot Program - Primary agriculture4 112 339 422 405 1,075 1,849 2,826 3,414 3,722 4,448 5,430 6,056
Low Skill Pilot Program - Other 1,192 1,239 1,443 1,872 3,232 11,488 26,730 33,813 25,317 21,209 24,539 33,757
Low Skill Pilot Program subtotal 1,304 1,578 1,865 2,277 4,307 13,337 29,556 37,227 29,039 25,657 29,969 39,813
Other low-skilled workers with LMO5 159 12 1 1 0 3 3 3 5 5 2 1
Low-skilled workers Total 32,029 34,140 38,147 42,878 49,945 69,469 92,052 100,231 89,377 78,850 78,869 84,630
Other Total6 152 103 128 199 265 260 334 319 277 303 368 480
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Total 48,509 52,200 57,640 64,610 74,759 102,167 134,156 142,209 122,963 108,313 112,650 126,816

3 Other high-skilled workers with LMO include some Live-in Caregiver Program and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

4 Intended occupation: NOC 8431, 8432, 8611, 8251, 8252, 8254, 8256

5 Other low-skilled workers with LMO include some Information Technology Workers

6 This group includes workers that do not fall into the high-skill or low-skill occupation categories

Source: Citizenship & Immigration Canada, RDM Preliminary 2013 Data

*This chart does not include data on general visitors or on any work-permit exempt foreign nationals who can work in Canada (e.g., business visitors, diplomats, visiting military, clergy, etc.) and who have not been issued a visitor record upon entering Canada.

**Present statistic measures the number of temporary residents with a valid document on December 1st of the observation year.

***Data for 2013 are preliminary estimates and are subject to change. For 2002-2012, these are updated numbers and different from those of Facts and Figures 2012.

A temporary resident who has been granted permanent resident status on or before the observation date (December 1) is excluded from the count from their grant date onwards. Temporary residents are grouped according to the principal reason for residing in Canada during the calendar year.

Table 5: Percentatge or Foreign Workers in Canada's Workforce
Yearly Status % of Canadian workforce (19m)
LMO Exempt
NAFTA 19,806 0.10
Other FTA 777 0.004
International agreements 776 0.004
Provincial agreements 6,429 0.03
GATS 285 0.001
Reciprocal employment 59,939 0.31
Employment benefit 15,730 0.08
Spouse/common law partner 15,251 0.08
Research and studies related 58,791 0.31
Other Canadian interests 2,145 0.01
Other workers without LMO 1,604 0.008
LMO Exempt Worker Total 137,533 0.72
LMO Required
Live-in caregiver program 4,671 0.02
Seasonal agricultural worker program 27,566 0.14
Low skill 23,414 0.12
High skill 27,762-- 0.14
LMO Required Total 83,740 0.44
Foreign workers Total 221,273 1.16

Publicly Reporting More Data

To further increase transparency and accountability beginning in fall 2014, ESDC will publicly post data on the number of temporary foreign workers approved through the TFWP on a quarterly basis and will post the names of corporations that receive positive LMIAs.

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