Laid-off foreign workers may get conditional clearance for other jobs

Workers allowed to start new jobs while permits are processed

File photo of a quality control check on fresh peppers in a Canadian vegetable packing plant. (Jeffbergen/E+Getty Images)

Approved temporary foreign workers (TFWs) whose jobs disappeared before they could begin work in Canada this spring can now get much quicker approval to start at other workplaces, including farms, where the workers are needed.

The federal government said Tuesday it will, effective “immediately,” temporarily waive its rule requiring a TFW to receive federal approval for a new work permit before he or she starts at a different new job.

Up against “new challenges in a rapidly changing job market” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many TFWs with employer-specific work permits lost their jobs this spring, the government said in a release.

Of those, some have already left Canada; others can’t yet leave due to international travel restrictions or unavailability of flights. But under the normal process for a TFW to switch to another eligible job, he or she must first apply for a new work permit, then wait for that permit to be approved and issued before he or she can begin work.

The new temporary policy allows a TFW who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer — “typically backed by a labour market test” — to get approval to start working in the new job, even while the work permit application is being fully processed.

The temporary policy will shorten a process that “can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less,” the government said.

The decision comes as “many employers in sectors that have ongoing labour needs and who provide critical goods and services to Canadians, such as agriculture, agri-food and health care, find themselves with urgent needs for additional employees,” the government said.

“Today’s announcement builds on all the work we have been doing since the moment COVID struck to ensure our agriculture sector, particularly our horticultural producers, can count on their workforce and that they can ensure their safety,” federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Tuesday in a separate statement.

To be eligible for the shortened process, a TFW must be in Canada with valid status and an employer-specific work permit — or must have been working under a work permit exemption — and must have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer, under either the TFW program or the International Mobility Program.

The work permit applicant must then submit a request to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The request will be reviewed “within 10 days,” the government said, and if approved, authorization for the worker to start at the new job will go to the applicant via email.

An employer eligible for the new process still must have or get a valid positive labour market impact assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada, name the worker in a position on the LMIA, and notify Service Canada.

In an “employer-specific, LMIA-exempt” situation, an employer must submit an offer of employment through the International Mobility Program employer portal.

“While there will always be jobs for Canadians who choose to work in these sectors, these changes help support our economy by ensuring that temporary foreign workers already here can contribute during these extraordinary times,” federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said in the government’s release. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.



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