High-Skilled Workers

The “Global Talent Stream” of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was launched as a two-year pilot program on June 12, 2017. This new stream established a two-week processing standard for certain high-skilled work permit applications. This is designed to help fill in-demand occupations requiring highly skilled talent, with a demonstrated gap in the Canadian Labour market. Work permit requirements will be dropped for brief academic stays or employment terms less than 30 days. The program targets high-growth Canadian companies that benefit the labour market, or global companies making large investments in, or relocating to, Canada to create new jobs.

For up-to-date information on what applications will be accepted under the Global Talent Stream, please see the following links:

- Global Talent Stream’s Applicant Guide

- Global Talent Occupations List for Category B of the Global Talent Stream

Employment Program – Employer Requirements

Since August 28, 2017, employers have been required to use “Job Match,” a rating system which matches job positions and job seekers. Potential hires who meet a threshold of compatibility with the job posting must be invited to apply to the position advertised.

TFWP Marine Employment Program Requirements

Beginning on September 11, 2018, all foreign vessel operators or Canadian charterers obtaining a Coasting Trade Waiver for more than 30 days must obtain a letter of occurrence or objection from the Seafarers International Union (SIU) of Canada. These requirements ensure that SIU-qualified members or other Canadian seafarers receive priority over foreign seafarers. This also protects foreign workers against exploitation as charterers will no longer be able to use the TFWP as a way to undermine the Canadian Maritime industry.

Biometric Responsibilities for TWFP Members

Beginning on December 31, 2018, all foreign workers will be required to provide biometrics information to obtain entry into Canada. This includes providing fingerprints and a facial photograph at an official biometrics collection service location. Biometrics remain valid for 10 years, after which foreign workers will have to resubmit them.

This information is being collected as a reliable and accurate tool for establishing identity. With this information, the Government of Canada can manage identity information and facilitate the processing of applications, while simplifying entry for travelers with legitimate identities. It also helps to detect and deter those who pose a risk to the health, safety, and security of Canadians.

All information is stored by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on the National Repository. Sharing agreements exist with the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. This system allows the Canadian Border Services Agency to quickly and accurately confirm whether an individual’s identity is legitimate.

Applicants must pay $85.00 CAD for each individual registration, up to a total of $170.00 CAD for families applying together at the same time. Groups of performing artists of three (3) or more, including their staff, have a maximum total fee of $250.00 CAD.

All Temporary Foreign Workers must still meet the Entry Requirements into Canada.

Please see the following government links for up-to-date information on the Biometrics Program:

- How to give your fingerprint and photo

- Where to give your fingerprints and photo

2017 Budget Investments for TWFP Compliance

Included in the 2017 Budget, the Canadian Government plans to invest $279.8 million over the next five year period, hoping to provide further improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Some of this money was earmarked for helping to monitor employers’ compliance with the regulations and ensuring workplace safety.

Budget 2018 added a commitment of $33.19 million per year for the five years to fund unannounced inspections of employers using the TFWP to ensure that workers are aware of their rights and protected from abuse. The government also proposes to invest $3.4 million over the next two years to establish a pilot network of support organizations to assist in cases of potential abuses by employers. Unannounced inspections began in the spring of 2018.

2018 Adjustments to Agricultural Stream of the TFWP

As of August 2018, the Federal Government is conducting consultations for the Primary Agriculture Review to obtain stakeholder input to reform the agricultural steam of the TFWP.

Additionally, beginning January 1, 2018, housing inspection reports must be submitted to the department which are fewer than eight months old, and indicate the maximum number of people that the housing can accommodate. Any listed issues from the inspection report must be fully addressed before an employer is allowed to hire foreign workers.

Changes to the Employment Standards Code for TFWP

Effective January 1, 2018, employers can now be imposed fines under administrative penalties ranging from $50 to $6000 under the Employment Standards Code. Previously, fines could only occur after prosecution in a court of law.

Workplace Inspections

In December 2017 Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) announced pilot funding for a migrant worker support group in British Columbia. If successful, it will be implemented federally. ESDC has published an online information sheet on migrant workers’ rights, available in English and French, available here:

Changes to the Caregiver Program

On February 9, 2018, the federal government announced that it will end the pathway for permanent residence for foreign caregivers in 2019. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada made the announcement that by November 29, 2019, caregivers who have not accrued two years of experience in Canada will not be eligible for permanent residence. This five year pilot program is coming to an end and the government has made no firm commitment on future programming.

Enhanced Protection for Farm & Ranch Workers Act in Alberta

The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act in Alberta has increased protections for farm and ranch workers, including migrant workers. Specifically, the Act affects waged, non-family workers. Effective December 1, 2018, enhanced Occupational Health and Safety rules will provide more comprehensive support these workers. The Act extended Worker’s Compensation Board insurance coverage to these workers, as well, and added Employment Standards rules and exemptions effective January 1, 2018.  

It also provided Labour Relations coverage so that waged, non-family workers now have the right, effective January 1, 2018, to form unions, bargain collectively, and take legal job action. The Act brought these protections and compensations in line with legislation in other provinces, which have yielded significant improvement for the working conditions of farm and ranch workers. For example, in the province of British Columbia, the farm fatality rate decreased 68%, the farm injury rate decreased 52% and the serious injury rate decreased 41%. For further information, please see here:

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) added a new application stream to qualify for the program: the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS). The AOS replaced the Employer-Driven Stream and Strategic Recruitment Stream, which are both now closed.

The AOS also expanded the occupations and skill levels accepted into the program. The Alberta Government has streamlined the processes by reducing wait times and improving fair access for workers wishing to establish lives in Alberta. However, these changes increase requirements for language, education, and income, which some critics claim make it more difficult for low-skilled migrant workers to become eligible for the program. (See e.g. Canadian Council for Refugees, Evaluating Migrant Worker’s Rights in Canada, 2018: Alberta). While Alberta has issued around 5,500 certificates yearly under the (AINP) in the last several years, the proportion that it issues to the Semi-Skilled Worker category has decreased from 25% in 2014 to 3.5% in 2017. (Canadian Council for Refugees, Evaluating Migrant Worker’s Rights in Canada, 2018: Alberta).

Starting on June 14, 2019, the new language requirement for the AINP requires applicants to meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 5, up from level 4 previously. To be eligible for the Alberta Opportunity Stream, applicants must now show that they have completed a minimum of a high school education in their country of origin and that their diploma meets Alberta’s high school education standards, effective January 1, 2021. This new standard may require applicants to obtain an assessment through the International Qualifications Assessment Service or similar assessment services, which cost approximately $200 per program assessment (see https://www.alberta.ca/iqas-immigration.aspx), plus a $15 courier fee. Additionally, from June 14, 2018, to December 31, 2019, AINP applicants must demonstrate a gross annual income level of $21,833 for a single applicant, which equates to 70% of Alberta Low Income Measure (LIM). Effective January 1, 2020, however, this threshold will increase to $23,392.50, or 75% of the Alberta LIM, and then to 80% of the LIM, effective January 1, 2021.

For more information about the AINP, please visit:

Additional 2018 Changes

ESDC announced the Government’s pilot program to provide up to five additional weeks of Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits to eligible seasonal workers in 13 targeted EI regions if certain requirements are met. The pilot program will run from August 5, 2018 through May 30, 2020. For more details, check here.