Temporary Foreign Worker Program: 2016 update

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is designed to help businesses fill job openings when willing and able Canadian workers cannot be found. 

A few companies were accused of misusing the program, resulting in the Government of Canada introducing sweeping changes to the TFWP that came into effect in June 2014. Hiring a temporary foreign worker is now a lot more difficult and in some cases virtually impossible.  

However, CFIB is pleased the federal government announced in June 2016 that a previously-announced 10% cap on the number of TFWs permitted as a ratio of a business' total staff will not be implemented.


The federal government announced that businesses can continue to have up to 20% of their staff as TFWs.

  • A previously-announced cap of 10% was supposed to come into effect as of July 1, 2016
  • Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada announced on June 23, 2016 that the cap will "temporarily" remain at 20% (or at the employer's current level, whichever is lower) for businesses that have been using the program for more than two years
  • Note: the cap is not defined by the number of employees but by total number of hours at a specified worksite. TFWs cannot take more than 20% of the total working hours allotted to employees at a worksite.

It is not yet clear when or if the cap will be lowered further, but the government is continuing its review of the program.

To get the latest details, please contact a Business Counsellor at cfib@cfib.ca or 1-888-234-2232.


Beginning April 30th, 2015, some new requirements take effect for all employers:

  • New application streams and median hourly wage chart
  • New application forms (See “New Forms”)
    • New simplified method for calculating caps
    • New employment rates to determine 6% application eligibility

Beginning April 30th, 2015, employers in Québec will also be subject to most of the changes to the TFWP announced in June 2014 (see below). For up-to-date information, please contact a Business Counsellor at cfib@cfib.ca or 1-888-234-2232.


In June 2014, the Government of Canada announced many changes to the TFWP that make it increasingly more difficult for employers to use program:

  • Applications for low skilled workers in the accommodation, food services and retail trade sectors in economic regions with an unemployment rate at or above six percent will no longer be accepted. 
  • Many sectors and regions completely excluded access to TFWP
  • The Labour Market Opinion (LMO) has been replaced with the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  • LMIA applications for certain low skilled positions will no longer be accepted.
  • Low skilled workers are no longer classified by their occupation and skill level required, but by the hourly wage the job pays.
  • Workers that are paid below the provincial median wage are now classified as low wage workers.

Significantly higher costs to access TFWP:

  • The LMIA application fee increased from $275 to $1000. There will also be an additional $100 privilege fee on employers charged by Employment and Social Development Canada.
  • This fee is non-refundable, even if the LMIA is rejected.

Increased paperwork and regulations surrounding TFWs:

  • Employers who wish to hire a TFW must first have gone through an extensive process to search for Canadians able to do the job as advertised in a public medium such as newspapers, job posting Internet site, bulletin boards, etc. There is a detailed advertising process employers must meet before they are eligible to hire a TFW.
  • Employers who apply to a new LMIA assessment must provide significant more additional information to what is currently required.  
  • Certain positions are exempted from some of the new requirements including on-farm primary agriculture workers, seasonal agriculture workers and live-in caregivers. 

Questions? Contact a Business Counsellor at cfib@cfib.ca or 1-888-234-2232.