Earlier in May, the Canadian government decided to increase the median hourly wage for the 2020 Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Canada.

The new adjusted median hourly wage is being used in a bid to keep the Canadian economy going and to help Canadian employers find workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Currently, the Canadian government has decided to continue it’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to support Canadian industries such as agriculture, agri-food, and food processing. 

What Is Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

The TFWP is a program that allows Canadian employers who are facing labor shortages to recruit foreign workers after the businesses have made certain that Canadian residents and permanent residents were given the opportunity first to apply for said open positions. 

Typically, to ensure that Canadian residents or permanent residents are considered for these positions first, employers are given a cap on how many low-wage temporary foreign workers they can employ. 

In addition to employers offering a wage that satisfies LMIA requirements, other demands include the following:

  • Pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker
  • Ensure affordable housing is available
  • Pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  • Register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board
  • Provide an employer-employee contract

Lastly, unlike other counties, Canadian businesses must receive permission from the government before they can hire or employ temporary foreign workers.

How Does The Median Hourly Wage Increase Affect Canadian Employers Who Are Participating In The Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

The new median hourly wage requirement for temporary foreign workers determines if Canadian employers will need to apply for Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) under the high wage or low wage streams. 

Canadian employers who are looking to hire temporary foreign workers will need to use the provincial and territorial median hourly wage to know what TFWP requirements they must satisfy.

 The Updated Median Hourly Wage For Temporary Foreign Workers In Canada

The new median hourly wage increase went into effect on May 11, 2020. 

Province/TerritoriesMedian Hourly Wages Before May 11, 2020Median Hourly Wages After May 11, 2020
Alberta$26.67$27.28
British Columbia$23.98$25.00
Manitoba$21.00$21.60
New Brunswick$20.00$20.12
Newfoundland and Labrador$22.00$23.00
Northwest Territories$34.00$34.36
Nova Scotia$20.00$20.00
Nunavut$30.00$32.00
Ontario$23.08$24.04
Prince Edward Island$19.49$20.00
Quebec$22.00$23.08
Saskatchewan$24.52$24.55
Yukon$30.00$30.00

The Canadian Government Focuses On Helping Employers And Temporary Workers Amid The Pandemic

While the Canadian government is still working to help employers navigate the challenges of hiring temporary foreign workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) has applied the following measures to both new and existing LMIA applications. 

The new ESDC measures include:

  • Employers do not need to submit minor administrative changes to the LMIA that would not change the terms and condition
  • Recruitment requirements for LMIAs in agriculture and agri-food sectors are being waived until October 31, 2020
  • LMIAs for occupations in the agriculture and agri-food sectors are being prioritized
  • The maximum duration of employment under LMIAs has increased from one to two years for employers of workers in the low-wage stream as part of a three-year pilot
  • Employers applying under the Agricultural stream or Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program can submit a previously valid Housing Inspection Report
  • The name change process has been expedited for employers who need to put a different person’s name on the LMIA for reasons related to COVID-19

In addition to these new measures, Canada is also offering employers resources to help make their operations safer for new and existing temporary foreign workers, including a $50 million initiative which will allow workers to complete the mandatory self-isolation period after arriving in Canada. 

The Government of Canada will provide employers with up to $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to ensure that public health requirements are being fully met. The government funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the 14-day self-quarantine protocols or any other additional public health orders. This program will be available to employers as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the self-isolating protocol is followed.  

Temporary workers who are being hired from abroad will only be allowed to cross the border if they are coming for what the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) deems as an essential reason. For example, if a foreign national is coming to work in an occupation that supports the critical infrastructure of the country, they will be likely admitted on the basis that they can prove that their position requires them to be physically present in Canada to complete their job and that they have an adequate coronavirus self-isolation period plan. 

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