New Process Allows Temporary Workers to Get Back to Work Quickly
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting almost every sector in Canada, temporary foreign workers and their employers are confronted by new challenges in a rapidly changing job market.
Many temporary workers with employer-specific work permits lost their jobs this spring. While some have left Canada, others are unable to leave due to international travel restrictions or the reduction in flights available. Under existing rules, to change jobs they need to apply and wait for a new work permit to be issued before starting to work at their new job.
At the same time, 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.
That is why the Government is announcing, effective immediately, a new, temporary policy that will drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job.
While this policy is in place, a worker who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer, typically backed by a labour market test, can get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. This will cut what can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less.
As part of Canada’s whole-of-government approach, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will continue to look for ways to support the economy and protect the health and safety of Canadians during the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Canadian labour market and while Canadians are encouraged to fill job vacancies in critical sectors, a lack of workers in agriculture, food processing or health care could harm Canada’s food security and health-care service capacity.
To be eligible, workers must be in Canada with valid status have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program
The work permit applicant must then submit a request to IRCC. The request will be reviewed within 10 days, and if approved, authorization for the worker to start working in their new job will be sent to them by email.
There is no change to the role of the employer in the process for hiring foreign workers. An employer needs to have, or obtain, 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. For an employer-specific, LMIA-exempt situation, the employer needs to submit an offer of employment through the International Mobility Program Employer Portal.
In 2019, almost 190,000 employer-specific work permits were issued to foreign nationals.
Minister of Labour Provides Update on Work to Keep Canadian Workers Safe
On May 21, 2020, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, issued the following statement:
"Governments in Canada have taken wide-ranging steps to support businesses, protect workers from the impact of COVID‑19, and ensure the economy continues to stay as strong as possible through and beyond the pandemic.
"Canadians have been steadfast in our efforts to flatten the curve. As parts of our economy gradually reopen, workers' health and safety remains a top priority. Whether in times of crisis or in regular times, everyone deserves a safe workplace.
"The Government of Canada recognizes that strong and continued collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, as well as with stakeholders in labour and industry, is key to protecting Canadians and the economy. During my recent engagements with these partners, we discussed the steps the federal government, provinces and territories are taking within their jurisdictions to promote the safety of workers. We also discussed the importance of coordination on occupational health and safety guidance across the country as some workplaces reopen and more workers begin to go back. Partners discussed how high-quality, consistent occupational health and safety guidance can help ensure workers feel confident about their own safety, and support employers in their efforts to minimize risks.
"I also took the opportunity to speak to colleagues about the critical role played by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
. The CCOHS provides a range of evidence-based tools and resources, developed in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, to help workplaces operate safely during this pandemic. This important work is helping employers to jointly develop with their employees' plans, processes and resources adapted to their specific needs in order to ensure the safety of their workplaces.
"Governments along with key partners underscored their commitment to continued collaboration, and to take the necessary steps to support workers, businesses and our economy during this unprecedented time."
Minister of Labour Recognizes Outstanding Employment Equity Employers
The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, announced the 2019 annual Employment Equity Achievement Award winners. These awards recognize federally regulated private-sector employers and federal contractors for their outstanding achievements in employment equity and their commitment to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces.
The awards highlight the Government’s commitment to continuing to work with employers to improve working conditions and the lives of all Canadians. They are also an opportunity to highlight employers for achieving greater workplace inclusion and employment equity for the four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.
This year, 14 employers from across the country are recognized for outstanding commitment to employment equity, innovation and sector distinction. Three employers are recognized in the employment equity champion category for demonstrating their outstanding commitment to employment equity and for their overall contribution to diversity and inclusiveness in their workplace. Over the last three years, award recipients have been recognized during the Employment Equity Achievement Awards ceremony. Unfortunately, this year’s awards ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the full list of winners is now available online.
The purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to achieve equality so that no one is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and to correct conditions of disadvantage experienced by members of the four designated groups.
There are two legislated programs under the Act: the Legislated Employment Equity Program and the Federal Contractors Program. The Legislated Program applies to over 500 federally regulated private-sector employers that have 100 or more employees with a combined workforce of approximately 720,000 employees. The Federal Contractors Program applies to employers who receive contracts with the Government of Canada valued at $1 million or more (including applicable taxes)
and who have a workforce of 100 employees or more.
Under the Act, employers must report annually on the representation of the four designated groups in their workplaces and on the steps they have taken to improve employment equity in their workplace. The Act also requires the Minister of Labour to table an annual report in Parliament consisting of the consolidation and analysis of the reports filed by federally regulated private-sector employers, federal Crown corporations and other federal government business enterprises. The most recent report, Employment Equity Act: Annual Report is available online.
Federal Support Program for Large Employers Open for Applications
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 outbreak.
On May 20, 2020, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains, announced the opening of the application process for the government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
. The program will support Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing. LEEFF will help successful applicants keep their operations going.
The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic challenges, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support will not be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis.
The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF will allow Canada’s largest businesses and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery.
The government’s support for large employers through LEEFF will be delivered by a subsidiary of the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV)
, in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
and the Department of Finance.
Additional information on the application process is available on the CDEV website. Broader sectoral dynamics for LEEFF applicants will be considered through processes led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
These measures are part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which has helped protect Canadian jobs, and committed billions in support to Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. The government will continue to monitor and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, and take additional actions as needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and stabilize the economy.
The LEEFF program will be open to large for-profit businesses—with the exception of those in the financial sector—as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with annual revenues generally in the order of $300 million or higher. To qualify for LEEFF support, eligible businesses must be seeking financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada, and not be involved in active insolvency proceedings.
The LEEFF program will be designed to protect the interests of taxpayers and will require the cooperation of applicants’ private sector lenders, to ensure government financing is focused on sustaining operations.
In addition, recipient companies would be required to commit to publish annual climate-related disclosure reports consistent with the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, including how their future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
Fed. Gov’t. Extends Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
helps businesses keep employees on the payroll and encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and better positions businesses to bounce back following the crisis.
On May 15, 2020, Finance Minister Bill Morneau today announced that the Government of Canada will extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Extending the program will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need during these difficult times. The Government will consult with key business and labour representatives over the next month on potential adjustments to the program to incent jobs and growth, including the 30% revenue decline threshold. Any potential changes following the consultation will have as key objectives to maximize employment, ensure the CEWS reflects the immediate needs of businesses, and support the post-crisis economic recovery.
In addition, Minister Morneau also announced the approval of regulations to extend eligibility for the CEWS to ensure that it continues to support those employers and workers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and protects the jobs Canadians depend on. These regulations extend eligibility for the CEWS to the following groups:
Partnerships that are up to 50-per-cent owned by non-eligible members;
Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations;
Registered Journalism Organizations; and
Non-public colleges and schools, including institutions that offer specialized services, such as arts schools, driving schools, language schools or flight schools.
The Government also intends to propose legislative amendments to ensure that the CEWS continues to meet its objectives. These proposed amendments would:
Provide flexibility for employers of existing employees who were not regularly employed in early 2020, such as seasonal employees;
Ensure that the CEWS applies appropriately to corporations formed on the amalgamation of two predecessor corporations and
Better align the treatment of trusts and corporations for the purpose of determining CEWS eligibility.
The CEWS is a key measure in the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, a comprehensive plan to help ensure that Canadians can pay for essentials like mortgages, rent and groceries, and to help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty. Since its introduction, the wage subsidy has helped nearly 2 million Canadians keep or return to their jobs.
The government continues to assess and respond to the impact of COVID-19, and stands ready to take additional actions as needed to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
The government has taken action to support Canadian businesses through the outbreak of COVID-19, with targeted new initiatives that:
Extend the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program, from 38 weeks to 76 weeks, for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
Introduce, in the second half of May, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
for small businesses to provide a forgivable loan to eligible commercial property owners, who in turn give a rent reduction of at least 75% for April (retroactive)
, May, and June to impacted small business tenants who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
Launch the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy calculator to support employers as they prepare to apply for the CEWS. On April 27, 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency launched the application process for the CEWS.
Provide support to businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
and Export Development Canada (EDC)
under the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
. As part of this program, EDC and BDC will provide direct lending and other types of financial support at market rates to otherwise viable businesses and organizations whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted. By working in close cooperation with financial institutions, this program is filling gaps in market access and leveraging additional lending by private sector institutions.
Employers with a total payroll of $20,000 to $1.5 million in 2019 will also be eligible to access the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses, including not-for-profits.
Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST)
payments, as well as customs duty payments owed for imports, until June. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
Defer the payment of income taxes. The government is allowing taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief, amounting to $55 billion in liquidity support, would apply to new balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Canada Summer Jobs Start Rolling out to Keep Young People Working during COVID-19
A strong workforce includes good job opportunities for youth. That is why the Government is working with employers across the country during this unprecedented time to make sure that young Canadians stay connected to the job market with safe and secure summer employment opportunities.
On May 15, 2020, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, kicked off the hiring period for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ)
2020. Starting today, thousands of opportunities are being posted to the Job Bank website for jobs available across the country. Thousands more will be posted over the coming weeks and months, with a target of approximately 70,000 placements.
Temporary changes to CSJ were announced by the Prime Minister on April 8, 2020 that were aimed at helping young people who are struggling to find summer work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flexibilities introduced this year include allowing employers to offer part-time positions, and an extension of the hiring period to the end of February 2021.
In the current COVID-19 economic climate, this year CSJ job placements will respond to both local and national priorities within the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors as well as jobs supporting the delivery of critical service in their community. Job placements could range from tele mental health support lines for youth, to delivering remote education services, to job placements in community services that focus on delivering supports to vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All youth are encouraged to search for CSJ-funded jobs in their communities by visiting jobbank.gc.ca or by downloading the free Job Bank app. Job seekers should keep checking Job Bank for updates on placements available in their communities, including Canada Emergency Student Benefit applicants who are able to work and are required to verify that they are looking for work as part of the eligibility process.
The CSJ program provides paid opportunities for all youth between the ages of 15 and 30 to develop and improve their skills within the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors. The program also supports the delivery of key community services to Canadians.
The changes to the CSJ program this year will help small businesses hire and keep the workers they need so they can continue to deliver essential services. Temporary changes to the program for this year include: an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee (employers in the not-for-profit sector are already eligible for 100% wage subsidy)
an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services; and allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
As part of these temporary flexibilities, the Government of Canada called on Members of Parliament for their support to help identify organizations that both support the delivery of essential services in the community and could hire youth for positions but did not apply for the CSJ program in 2020.
These changes to CSJ 2020 are in addition to the Government of Canada’s $9-billion package of comprehensive supports for youth announced by the Prime Minister on April 22, 2020, which included a target of 76,000 job opportunities for youth through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.
Today’s announcement is part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $146 billion in support to Canadians and businesses through these unprecedented times.