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Canada and Quebec reach agreement to increase the number of temporary foreign workers

Alexandra Miekus - 10 August, 2021

News Quebec Canada Agreement
News Quebec Canada Agreement

A new Canada-Quebec agreement will increase the quota of temporary foreign workers that employers can hire for low-wage jobs.

Within this new framework, the Quebec government has also succeeded in obtaining from the federal government a series of changes that will benefit Quebec employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

After many months of negotiations between the two levels of government and calls from various Quebec labour market stakeholders, Quebec employers have been granted measures to facilitate and speed up the hiring process of temporary foreign workers.

The first measure is to increase the maximum number of temporary foreign workers that can be hired by companies in certain sectors of the economy from 10 to 20 per cent. It will also be easier to hire workers for low-skilled jobs under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), as the list of occupations eligible for facilitated processing is being expanded to include C-level occupations and certain D-level occupations, which will also be exempt from advertising and recruitment requirements.  

Before a foreign national can work legally for the Canadian employer through the TFWP they usually need to obtain a LMIA and a work permit. An LMIA is a document that serves as proof that there will be a positive or neutral impact to the Canadian labour market if the employer hires the foreign worker. The government of Quebec has provisions to simplify the hiring of temporary foreign workers who hold a valid Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ). These provisions include an exemption from the requirement to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

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Secondly, the government is introducing a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) for skilled workers awaiting permanent residence, which many of them and their representatives have been advocating for many years. The BOWP will be available to CSQ holders and will no longer be based on a job offer but will now allow foreign workers to change employers while awaiting permanent residence. 

Finally, a new stream is being created under the International Mobility Program (IMP) which will target permanent immigration applicants who hold a CSQ but are abroad. Some 7,000 of them will be able to arrive more quickly if they are able to fill a job vacancy.

According to a press release issued by the Government of Canada, these measures are being put in place as a pilot project that will run until December 31, 2023, after which they will be reassessed and “inform future decisions.”

These measures are intended to respond to requests made to the federal government by the province of Quebec, which is currently experiencing a severe labour shortage. In June 2021, the unemployment rate in Quebec was 6.3%, the lowest in Canada at the time.

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