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Feds seek industry input on TFW program

Feds seek industry input on TFW program

Here’s what to do to submit yours


By Jonathan Martin
Staff Writer

The federal government is looking for comments from “all interested parties” on its plan to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

The amendments will allow temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to apply for work permits that specify the job they’re able to do rather than the employer for whom they are allowed to work.

Presently, a TFW must apply for a new work permit if he or she wants to move between jobs in the same occupation. Advocate groups say this system restricts workers’ mobility, locks them into low-paying positions and makes it hard for them to leave abusive workplaces.

“We still have some strong concerns and are quite critical of the announcement,” Chris Ramsaroop, a workers’ rights advocate and labour organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers, told

Ramsaroop doesn’t think the proposal goes far enough.

“The amendment does not address the core issues,” he said.“The power imbalance exists because workers are tied, whether it’s an industry or an employer-driven work permit.

“The way the announcement is worded, it’s not clear if all primary agricultural workers are included or not, “ he said. “Will seasonal agricultural workers also be included in this?”

Right now, businesses can only offer jobs to TFWs if filling the position with a foreign worker doesn't disrupt the Canadian labour market. Each job offer, with a specified occupation, location and employer is evaluated under the labour market impact assessment and given a grade. If the job receives a passing grade, the employer can offer the job to a TFW, who, if approved, gets a license allowing him or her to work for that employer.

The new system would still require businesses to pass the labour market impact assessment to hire TFWs, but a foreign worker can apply to any job within his or her profession with an employer who has received a passing grade.

The changes might complicate an already challenging human resources (HR) landscape, though, Andrea Degroot, Ontario Pork Council’s (OPIC’s) managing director, told OPIC helps producers handle HR issues.

“I understand the reasoning behind the decision to make these changes,” she told “The downside is that employers may not see the stability they did before. There are sometimes some big one-time costs associated with bringing on TFWs. The employees a producer invests in thinking they would stay for the full 24-month contract might leave after a short period, which adds a new risk.”

The government is not yet ready to implement the program. The feds “recognize that a number of program design elements would have to be put in place before an occupation-specific work permit could be implemented,” so it’s looking for members of affected industries to offer suggestions. The government has provided writing prompts for those looking to comment.

The following prompts are relevant to the ag industry

·        What positive or negative impacts would this work permit have for employers and Canadian and permanent resident workers in Canada?

·        Should there be a designated period when foreign workers are not permitted to change jobs?

·        With greater mobility of foreign workers, what kind of mechanisms should the departments consider to track foreign workers and their new employers for compliance purposes?

·        Is there a need to clarify or amend the responsibilities of employers and foreign workers in light of this new work permit?

·        Are there particular considerations for specific TFW program streams that need to be taken into account when designing an occupation-specific work permit?

The government will be accepting industry input until July 22.

All submissions must be addressed to

Uttara Chauhan
Director, Policy and Program Design, Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage

Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0J9


Jordan Thompson

Acting Director, Temporary Resident Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
365 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

Submissions must also cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, published June 22, 2019.


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