Help announced for bringing foreign workers to Ontario, Canada

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Improvements to the delivery of the Foreign Worker Program in Ontario were announced on 08 December by Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, and Michael Colle, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. A Regional List of Occupations Under Pressure for Ontario will make the process easier, faster, and less expensive for Canadian employers in the province to hire foreign workers where there are no qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents available to fill the position.

Regional Lists of Occupations Under Pressure were also introduced in Alberta and British Colombia, where similar shortages in high demand positions occur. Other regions affected by labor pressures also have lists in development.

"Improvements to the Foreign Worker Program are just one way this Government is helping Canadian employers meet their labor demands," said Minister Finley. "The creation of a list for Ontario will make it easier and two-to-four weeks faster for employers to hire temporary foreign workers. This measure will effectively help employers having difficulty finding Canadian workers to fill their human resources needs, while continuing to protect the access of Canadian workers to the labor market."

"We are pleased to continue working with the federal government to ensure that the immigration system matches Ontario's labor market needs," said Mike Colle, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "This is an opportunity that will benefit Ontario's employers and our economy."

To develop a list of occupations for each region, Human Resources and Social Development Canada/Service Canada (HRSDC/SC) use both quantitative and qualitative labor market information specific to each region to determine occupations under pressure. Once the lists are developed they are reviewed every six months to ensure accuracy and continue to reflect current trends in the labor market.

As well as the creation and development of Regional Lists of Occupations Under Pressure, a comprehensive step-by-step guide has been developed for employers with a need to hire temporary workers.

Employers will still be required to first advertise for Canadian workers to ensure that Canadians and permanent residents are given the opportunity to apply for available positions. However, employers will only need to advertise on the Job Bank, Canada's national job website for at least seven days, or conduct similar recruitment activities. For certain low-skilled occupations, employers have to satisfy both conditions.

In order to develop occupational lists, regional HRSDC/SC Labor Market information officials use both quantitative data and qualitative information specific to a region to determine if an occupation is potentially under pressure. Once a list is developed, it will be updated at least once a year or as shifts in the labor market dictate.

An employer seeking to hire a temporary foreign worker for an occupation which appears on a regional occupations list is still required to obtain a Labor Market Opinion (LMO) which describes the impact the entry of a temporary foreign worker would have on the Canadian labor market. They will also still need to satisfy all other Foreign Worker Program criteria (e.g. wages and working conditions) in order to receive a positive LMO (i.e. confirmation).


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