Two out of three TFWs brought in without proving need for temporary labour

Two of every three temporary foreign workers in Canada in 2013 came with permits that did not require the employers to prove there was a need for labour from outside the country. The number of workers entering this way has nearly doubled in the last five years, according to the latest numbers released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

One of the moves announced by the government on June 20 split the old TFW program into two parts. The temporary foreign workers whose entry required a Labour Market Impact Assessment* (LMIA) remained under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program 1 Temporary foreign workers whose entry did not require an LMIA were moved into the new International Mobility Programs (IMP)1.

Since the IMP does not require an LMIA, employers are not officially required to prove that they were unable to find suitable Canadian talent.

Of the 386,000 temporary foreign workers present in Canada on Dec.1 2013, 260,000 or 67% entered under the unregulated IMPs 2   3 This is an increase of 88% from the 138,000 present on the same day in 2009. 2

127,000 of the temporary foreign workers present had entered through the LMIA-requiring ‘new’ Temporary Foreign Worker Program, an increase from 2011 and ’12, but still down 10.6% from 2009 (uses figures rounded to nearest thousand). 3



84,000 temporary foreign workers  entered through the ‘new’ TFW program in 20134. 138,000 entered under the LMIA-exempt IMP program, or 62%5 .

“This isn’t even pretending to be good policy. In response to massive outcry over an abuse and scandal plagued program, their response is to open the floodgates and not even check who is coming in or why,” NTFW.CA advisor and journeyman electrician Michael Thomas said. “If the goal is to simply make this so ridiculous that the public doesn’t even believe it could be true then they’re on the right track.”

Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced a series of measures to overhaul the scandal-plagued Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), including carving out IMP to be a separate program coming under Minister Alexander’s purview.

“There was a time when government had to be accountable enough that when they helped their corporate backers get to the feeding trough it was in a limited way and usually disguised as a somewhat helpful public program,” Thomas added. “What this appears to be is a feeding frenzy, as though they realize they won’t be held accountable no matter what they do. The hurt this will cause – particularly to skilled workers who support the entire Canadian economy at present – is incalculable.

“This policy is pure ideology,” Thomas pointed out. “They believe less regulation is good, so deregulate everything and never mind the consequences.”

The reforms themselves, however, have done little to quell public anger towards the program. This became more pronounced when it emerged that the changes not only made it easier for businesses to obtain TFWs for higher-skilled jobs, but also did nothing to limit the hiring of foreign workers under the IMP.

“We need a government who may be guided by their ideology but who governs by accountable measurable criteria and sound reason,” Thomas concluded. “Faith in a concept is no guarantee that it will work out, and it might be time for an election to make that abundantly clear to the current regime.”

*(formerly called Labour Market Opinion)


1. Government of Canada Overhauls Temporary Foreign Worker Program June 20, 2014

2. Canada – International Mobility Program Work Permit Holders Present on December 1st by Province/Territory and Urban Area, 2009-2013

3. Canada – Temporary Foreign Worker work permit holders present on December 1st by province or territory and urban area, 2009-2013

4. Canada – Total Entries of Temporary Foreign Worker Work Permit Holders by Province/Territory and Urban Area, 2009-2013

5. Canada – Total Entries of International Mobility Program Work Permit Holders by Province/Territory and Urban Area, 2009-2013

Photo Credit: Evan Leeson

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Comments (5)

  1. They’ve known since 2008 that this was a problem yet in 2013 they allowed a 15% reduction in pay for the TFW. Obviously that led to a feeding frenzy for employers, and inevitably job losses and wage suppression for workers. I appreciate your advisors views about ideology gone wrong but I personally believe the TFWS program under the Cons does exactly what it was intended to do, bust labour and suppress wages.
    An econometric study based on data through 2007 published last year in Canadian Public Policy concludes, “The expansion [of the Temporary Foreign Worker program] in Canada to all low-skill occupations without limit has had an adverse effect on the Canadian labour market.”

  2. The IMP is mainly white European countries and Kenney increased the number dramatically for his favorites, the Irish over the past year. Its now 11,000 Irish coming this year when in previous years its been 5,000 or so. They don’t need an LMO/LMIA and can work for any employer. Their first batch of 4,000 spots this year went in 11 minutes.

    This is supposed to be a reciprocal arrangement but 11,000 Canadians are never going to go to Ireland as the opportunities aren’t really there. Same as the UK and some of the other European countries which have been hit by the recession. The only good places on that list of countries are the Aussies, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Europe has nothing to offer to Canadians now and the number of Canadians going there is really low. The allocation to Ireland, UK, Spain, Poland, Croatia etc should be reduced in line with how many Canadians actually go there.

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