The Canadian government is making it easier for select employers to bring temporary foreign workers into the country with the launch of the Recognized Employer Pilot. This program, also known as the “trusted employer model,” aims to streamline the process and reduce the burden on employers who have had previous success with the temporary foreign worker program.
Under the Recognized Employer Pilot, eligible employers will have access to a simplified Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is the document required to prove that a foreign worker is needed and that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job. The assessments will now be valid for three years, instead of the usual 18 months, giving employers more flexibility in their long-term planning and reducing the number of documents they need to submit.
In order to be eligible for the program, an employer must have had a minimum of three positive LMIA assessments in the past five years in a field recognized by Ottawa as having a shortage of workers. These employers will also undergo more rigorous screening prior to being recognized.
Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, emphasized that migrant worker rights are identical to those of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Recognizing that migrant workers may be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, the government has equipped all temporary foreign workers with information about their rights before they start work. Canadian employers are also prohibited from charging recruitment fees or punishing workers for complaining.
Last year, Ottawa cracked down on violations of migrant workers’ rights, conducting over 2,100 employer inspections and taking action against non-compliant employers. This included fines totaling $1.5 million, warnings, and bans from the program.
British Columbia is one of the largest recipients of temporary foreign workers in Canada. In 2021, there were over 32,000 temporary foreign workers in the province, primarily driven by demand in the agriculture sector.
However, not everyone is convinced that the Recognized Employer Pilot will benefit migrant workers. Raul Gatica, a former migrant worker and assistant to the board of directors at the Dignidad Migrante Society, expressed doubts about local employers passing rigorous screening and respecting workers’ rights. He believes that the government should focus on regularizing undocumented workers, increasing inspections, and providing funding for their protection instead of offering financial support to businesses.
The Recognized Employer Pilot will be implemented in two phases, with primary agriculture employers able to apply next month and all other employers in January next year.
Overall, the Canadian government’s effort to streamline the temporary foreign worker process for trusted employers is aimed at supporting the country’s growing economy while ensuring that migrant workers’ rights are protected. However, there are concerns about the effectiveness of the program in practice, and some believe that more focus should be placed on addressing the issues faced by undocumented workers.