Canada Tightens Restrictions On Hiring Foreign Workers

Canadian Government Tightens Rules, Raises Fees For Hiring Foreign Workers

Temporary Worker ProgramHoping to repair the badly damaged image of its Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, the Canadian government has announced a major overhaul of the laws governing the hiring of foreign workers.

After weeks of screaming headlines about alleged abuse of foreign workers, and debate within and outside of parliament regarding the TFW program, the Conservative government has announced substantial changes to the guidelines for hiring temporary foreign workers.

Calling the changes to the TFW program “bold, broad, ambitious and balanced”, Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced that, in light of the new TFW law, he was lifting the current freeze on the hiring of foreign workers by the food service sector.

However, along with the lifting of the hiring ban, came several measures that will further restrict Canadian employers’ ability to hire temporary foreign workers.

The most significant changes to the TFW program include:


  • Barring employers from hiring foreign workers in regions with high unemployment
  • Placing a cap on the number of foreign workers an employer can hire under the TFW program
  • A more stringent screening process requiring employers prove they need to hire foreign workers over Canadians
  • Increasing the number of unannounced workplace exams by federal officials to ensure compliance with TFW rules; and substantial increases in the fees levied for those found to be in breach of the TFW regulations

The structure of the TFW program is also changing, and will now be divided into two different programs. The first will retain the TFW program name, and will require employers prove their need to hire foreign workers; the second program, titled The International Mobility Program, will not have the same requirement of proof of the need to hire foreign workers.

Details of the reforms of the TFW program include:

  • Restricting the hiring of foreign workers to areas with unemployment of 6 percent or more
  • By 2016, a cap of 10 percent on the number of foreign workers hired at any given work site; the cap will be phased in, with an immediate 30 percent limit on foreign workers, and a 20 percent limit as of July 1, 2015
  • Hiring of 20 additional federal workplace inspectors, with the goal of inspecting one in four workplaces with foreign workers each year
  • Starting this fall, fines of up to $100,000 for employers found to be abusing the TFW program
  • Posting the names of employers granted permission to hire foreign workers
  • Making public the number of positions hired through the program, on a quarterly basis


In addition, perhaps the two most contentious changes to the TFW program will be a whopping hike in the TFW hiring fee, from the current $275 to $1,000 per application; the government is also reducing the amount of time TFW workers can be employed in Canada, from the current four years to only two years.

The overhaul of the TFW program comes amid the government’s acknowledgement of how deeply flawed the current program has become.

In announcing the TFW reforms, Employment Minister Kenney confirmed the government has received over 1,000 complaints of TFW worker abuse through a tip line established by his ministry in April.