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New rules for work permits

The basic rule is that if you want to work in Canada, you have to be a citizen or a permanent resident or have a work permit. There are, however, a few exceptions. 

There have been recent controversies over who gets work permits and in what circumstances and perhaps, more to the point, how the rules with respect to work permits are enforced. 

After all, an unenforced rule becomes no rule at all. 

As a result, the Canadian government has made changes in the way work permits will be issued and how employers and workers will be monitored by government.

I am contacted every day by people wanting to work in Canada. If Canada relaxed the rules with respect to foreign workers there would be no shortage of applicants. 

That is not necessarily a bad thing, Canada wants workers and immigrants to help keep our economy and our society strong.

The magic trick the government tries to conjure is to allow enough workers into Canada to keep businesses happy without letting in so many that Canadian workers will fear that wages and salaries and benefits are being forced down. 

This is a clumsy exercise. There is a lot of temptation for Canadian employers and foreign workers to abuse the process, as can often be seen when foreign workers and Canadian employers are willing to conspire to pay and to accept lower wages.

The basic rule is that if you want to work in Canada you have to be a citizen or a permanent resident or have a work permit. 

There are a few exceptions, under Canada’s various free trade agreements for example, but that is the basic rule.

Foreign workers will only be issued permits to work in Canada if the Canadian government believes there is a shortage of the relevant workers in Canada and that the economy (usually that means businesses) is being harmed or limited as a result.

So government tries to monitor, investigate, and to punish when abuse is found. 

It does this by requiring employers who want to hire foreign workers to apply for permission to do so, in the form of what is called a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) which says, in effect, that there is a shortage of such workers in the relevant region of Canada.

To get the positive LMO the employer has to show that serious efforts made to find a Canadian employee for the position were unsuccessful. 

Without an approved LMO it is, in most situations, illegal for the employer to hire a foreign worker.

The Canadian government is now extending its power to investigate how employers are using or abusing LMOs.

Government officials will now have additional powers to investigate and conduct inspections to make sure employers are complying with the agreements.

Officials will be allowed to conduct investigations into employers’ conduct for up to two years after an employment relationship has ended, to ban noncompliant employers from applying for another LMO for two years, to publish a list of noncompliant employers, and to refuse applications or revoke LMOs and work permits where they determine it is appropriate.

I have seen many cases where, obviously, the employer and the worker both knew that the wage the worker was receiving was lower than what was promised when the employer applied for the LMO. Neither of them was going to complain. The employer was happy to be paying less than would have been paid to a Canadian worker and the foreign worker had a bigger objective, to take care of a family outside of Canada or to get Canadian permanent residency, and did not want to put that at risk.

Whether these additional powers will enable government to enforce the rules or they are simply a distraction remains to be seen. But the protection of both foreign workers and of Canadian workers is obviously a serious objective.

Those who may be eligible to apply for immigration to Canada, based on their work experience, include chemical engineers, geological engineers, land surveyors, audiologists, etc.
This short list is just a sample. Experience in one of a number of other professions and skilled trades might also qualify you or someone you know for permanent residence. For an assessment form and a free preliminary assessment contact us at cc@GregoryJamesLaw.com.      

                                                                                                                                                            – Gregory James

Posted: Apr 1, 2014

February 2020

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