Immigration as a Source of New Employees

The Saskatchewan labour market has fundamentally changed in the last five years. Employers accustomed to filling vacancies from a large pool of qualified and experienced candidates now find themselves unable to find qualified candidates for their vacancies.

Addressing this situation has caused employers to change their practices leading to the hiring of older workers, increased on-the-job training, development of programs to hire Aboriginal people and recruitment of foreign workers. The Government of Saskatchewan anticipates that employers will recruit 4,000 workers through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) in 2011/12, a five fold increase from five years previous (Government of Saskatchewan).

While employers in Saskatchewan have gained considerable experience with the immigration through the SINP, the recruitment of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) is a relatively new experience.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is operated by the federal government and allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to meet their labour needs when there are limited qualified Canadian workers or permanent residents available. Employers are required to seek a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada affirming that they are experiencing a labour shortage.

When assessing an application for a LMO, program officers consider the following factors:

  1. Whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to result in direct job creation or job retention for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  2. Whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to result in the creation or transfer of skills and knowledge for the benefit of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  3. Whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to fill a labour shortage.
  4. Whether the wages offered to the foreign worker are consistent with the prevailing wage rate for the occupation and region(s) where the worker will be employed and the working conditions meet generally accepted Canadian standards.
  5. Whether the employer has made, or has agreed to make, reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  6. Whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to adversely affect the settlement of any labour dispute in progress or the employment of any person involved in the dispute.

As part of the program the employer makes an offer of employment to a TFW and provides a guarantee of work and wages to that worker for the duration of his/her work permit. The employer still has the ability to layoff or dismiss the employee if necessary. It is up to the foreign worker to arrange for a work permit to work in Canada. Generally, it is easiest for citizens of the United States to obtain permits to work in Canada.

The TFW Program is best suited for large industrial construction projects where single employers have a demand for a large number of workers, possibly across a variety of trades or skill categories. There is no minimum length of time that a TFW can work in Canada. In highly specialized cases such as the film industry, a TFW can be brought in for as little as a few days.

There are three federal government departments involved in the recruitment of TFWs to Canada: Service Canada/HRSDC, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Service Canada/HRSDC works with employers who want to hire foreign workers.

CIC and CBSA work with foreign workers who want to work in Canada.

If you are interested in using Temporary Foreign Workers to meet your labour market need and want assistance navigating the federal program requirements, DCSM can help.