What are Work Permits, and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?
Work permits enable non-citizens and non-permanent residents of Canada to work in the country. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) provides a pathway for Canadian employers to bring in foreign talent by obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). LMIA-based work permits allow the holder to work for a specific employer in a specific job. However, if the holder loses their job, they must either find a new job within a given timeframe or leave Canada. On the other hand, Open Work Permits (OWP) grant the holder the ability to work for any employer and in any job, without the same conditions as an LMIA-based work permit.
Changes to OWP eligibility
The Canadian government's recent decision to extend Open Work Permit eligibility to the spouses and working-age children of some closed Work Permit holders is a significant move towards attracting more immigrants to work and possibly settle in Canada. This expansion will allow spouses of TFWP work permit holders to apply for an OWP, joining the already eligible spouses of international students and Canadian permanent residents and citizens who can be sponsored by their spouse.
The government expects that this policy change will result in more than 200,000 new work permit applications from families of existing work permit holders. The program is planned to be rolled out in three phases over a two-year period starting in 2023, with the first phase covering high-wage stream spouses of TFWP workers, the second phase addressing spouses of lower wage workers, and the third phase focusing on families of seasonal agriculture workers.
Labor shortage in Canada and why are higher immigration targets needed?
The significance of immigration to the financial, demographic, and societal well-being of Canada has been long acknowledged. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for new immigrants. With the country facing high job vacancies and low unemployment, coupled with a steady stream of retirees, immigration has become a crucial factor in economic recovery following the pandemic-affected 2020 and 2021.
Minister Fraser highlighted in his December 2nd statement that ten years ago, there were approximately seven Canadian workers for each retiree leaving the workforce. Today, the ratio has decreased to three workers per retiree and is projected to fall to two in the next decade to 15 years. This shortage of skilled labor could negatively impact vital industries such as healthcare and education, as well as hamper economic growth and overall well-being.
Hence, policy changes like the expanded eligibility for Open Work Permits are essential to secure the continued prosperity of Canadian society. The Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 has already committed to welcoming over 1.45 million new immigrants by the end of 2025.
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