Canada: More Changes Coming to the TFW Program


The federal government is looking to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (‘TFWP’) by bringing in new requirements for those employers looking to hire foreign workers.

Employers will be required to do more to recruit Canadians, mainly those who are typically under-represented in the workforce, such as youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities.

The government intends to work with industry sectors that heavily use the program to create Canadian workforce development strategies in partnership with employers, organized labour, and different stakeholders.

“The changes we are making to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will help ensure that Canadians have the first opportunity at available jobs, that vulnerable workers are protected, and that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and thrive,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour.

To meet its commitment to better protect vulnerable foreign workers, the government will also increase on-site inspections of places of work that employ foreign workers. The government will also work with community organizations devoted to protecting vulnerable foreign workers to make certain they are informed of their rights and protections once arriving in Canada.


The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities tabled its report, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which outlined 21 recommendations last September.

At that point, the government took early action to respond to the report by:

  • Preserving the cap on the share of low-wage temporary foreign workers at 20% for employers that accessed the program prior to June 20, 2014, and at 10% for brand new users of the program;
  • Extending the cap for seasonal industries for as much as 180 days up to December 31, 2017;
  • Doing away with the 4-year cumulative duration “4-in, 4-out” rule, effective immediately;
  • Committing to further grow pathways to permanent residency so eligible applicants are able to contribute more fully to Canadian society; and
  • Requiring low-wage employers, where appropriate, to advertise to more than 1, and up to 4, under-represented groups in the workforce (inclusive of youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, and newcomers). Employers will be advised when these changes are to come into effect.

About 79,000 work permits issued by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada became effective in 2016 through the TFWP. This is a reduction of 33.5% over the peak during the past 5 years, consistent with Employment and Social Development Canada.


Supporting Article Research Sources:

Canadian HR Reporter – Employment Law Today and Canadian Newswire