Pity the Canadian Small Business Owner Trying to Hire a Foreign Worker

July 2014

On June 20, 2014, the Canadian government announced major changes to the application process Canadian employers must use in order to hire a foreign worker.   The changes affect the process to hire a foreign worker on both a temporary and a permanent basis.


The changes were made in response to negative media publicity over the past few months.  Canadians who said they lost their jobs because of the hiring of foreign workers appeared in tears on national TV.  It was a media firestorm and the government had to respond.

The changes included the introduction of a new 10-page form called the “Employer Transition Plan.”  In this form, the employer must detail how they plan to transition to a “Canadian workforce.”  This is an addition to the current 13-page application form and its half-dozen required supporting documents. 

The government also increased the requirements for advertising.  Before, the employer had to advertise using three different methods in order to find a Canadian for the job.  Now, the employer must also complete an “additional distinct activity to engage an organization serving underrepresented groups to identify potential candidates for recruitment or training (e.g. immigrant settlement offices, Aboriginal, youth, or provincial/territorial unemployment centres.)”

I am currently assisting two Canadian small businesses who want to hire a foreign worker.  Together, their situations illustrate challenges with the new requirements.

Employer #1 sells specialized equipment.  One year ago, he hired a UK national who was present in Canada on a working holiday visa.  The employee was trained for six months, and is now an irreplaceable asset to the company.  The employee and his Canadian common-law spouse will be submitting a spousal sponsorship application later this month.  I see no reason why their application will be denied, as they fulfil all of the requirements for the spousal sponsorship process.  The employee will have permanent residence status in less than two years.

Why should this employer be required to complete a transition plan to a Canadian workforce when the foreign worker is already qualified to immigrate to Canada through the spousal sponsorship program?   

Employer #2 has an IT firm that has just secured a large contract to develop a very specialized product.  The employer has searched far and wide to find someone who can do the work required.  Previous advertising efforts led nowhere.  Finally, he got a lead through a contact.   He found an Indian national with experience in the programming language of the product. 

Why should this employer be required to advertise at the local unemployment office?  There is just no possible way that someone with the required skills will be searching for a job there.

Not only do these employers have to pay my legal fees, but they also have to pay a new government application fee of $1,000 (just increased from $275).  In addition, they have to work with me to complete the forms and get their staff and/or accountants to collect all of the documents required for the application.  

The money and time involved is unduly burdensome for a small business.

I support the government’s attempt to ensure that Canadians are hired first for Canadian positions.  However, making the application process to hire foreign workers onerous for small businesses hurts business – which in turn hurts the Canadian economy. 

If you would like to read more about the changes to the temporary foreign worker program, here are some links:

CBC Article about Government’s response: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/temporary-foreign-worker-overhaul-imposes-limits-hikes-inspections-1.2682209

CTV Article: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/kenney-defends-top-to-bottom-overhaul-of-temporary-foreign-worker-program-1.1880699

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/06/25/ jason_kenney_vows_to_push_ahead_with_overhaul_of_ temporary_foreign_worker_program.html

Ottawa Citizen: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/government-unveils-reforms-to-temporary-foreign-workers-program

News Bulletin from Government Website: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=859859