Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker program explained

LANGLEY, B.C. — The B.C. Trucking Association held a free Webinar today, to explain how changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program will affect the province’s carriers. The Webinar also looked at the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), another method carriers can use to fast-track the permanent residency of eligible long-haul truck drivers.

Michael Patterson of Pro-Hire Solutions tackled the TFW program changes – and there were many to discuss. The program has come under fire in recent months because of alleged abuse.

One of the biggest changes is the formerly required Labour Market Opinion (LMO) has been replaced with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMO took into account only the prevailing wage rate, however the LMIA also considers the provincial wage rate.

The number of temporary foreign workers a company can hire is capped unless they pay more than the prevailing and provincial wage rates. The provincial wage rate in Alberta is $24.23 per hour and in B.C. it’s $21.69. The prevailing wage rate in B.C. is $23 per hour and in Alberta it ranges from $25/hour in Edmonton to $22 in Calgary. Employers must pay more than both the provincial wage and the prevailing wage if they want to avoid the cap, which limits the number of TFWs they can employ. (The cap aims to limit the percentage of workers employed under the TFW program to 10% by 2016). All provinces other than B.C. and Alberta are considered to pay truckers a low wage and so employers there will be subjected to the cap.

Another big change to the TFW involves the cost, which has increased 360% to $1,000 per applicant, even of the application is rejected. Drivers who are being paid wages that exceed the provincial and prevailing rates can stay in Canada for two years under the program, but low-wage earners can stay for only one year.

For high-wage earners, employers will have to complete an 11-page transition plan, which demonstrates the steps taken by a company to assist their TFWs in becoming permanent residents. The LMIA is also 11 pages in length, meaning some applicants must submit 22 pages of paperwork for each TFW.

“The transition plan is not as onerous as they make it out to be,” Patterson said. “It’s actually things good employers are already doing.”

However, those transition plans will be subject to audits and carriers will have to prove they’ve followed through on everything they outlined in the plan.

“You will be audited on the promises you made in the transition plans,” Patterson warned, noting auditors will want to see how many TFWs were successfully transitioned to permanent residents.

TFW program auditors will also be looking for proof employers have advertised the positions through appropriate channels within Canada. Employers will have to show proof of their targeted recruitment advertising, including the number of Canadians who applied and why they weren’t hired.

Canadian applicants from out of province will have to be extended the same courtesies as temporary foreign workers, Patterson warned. For example, if a Nova Scotia resident applies for a driving job in Alberta, the carrier must assist with housing and/or relocation costs if they offer such benefits to temporary foreign workers. Ignoring Canadian applicants from out of province could get a carrier in trouble under the program; auditors will want to see proof you’ve followed up with these applicants and didn’t chuck their applications into the trash bin just because they lived in another province.

“They expect you to have on-hand resumes and you need to provide proof you did reach out to these people,” Patterson explained.

On-site audits can be conducted with as little as 48 hours’ notice, and all documentation must be ready for scrutiny.

And once temporary foreign workers have been brought in, auditors will also be looking to ensure they’re not given preferential treatment over Canadian drivers. For example, if layoffs are necessary, Canadian drivers shouldn’t be the first to go.

“If there is certain work that is available within your business and it pays more or has added benefits, you must have a policy as to how that work is doled out,” Patterson advised. “If Canadians are disenfranchised because you are giving more or better paid work to temporary foreign workers, those things will be looked at. They’re looking also at how you are treating Canadians in your workplace. If there’s a shortage of hours, who gets them first? If there’s a layoff situation, who do you lay off first? If you keep the temporary foreign workers and lay off the Canadians, you’re going to have a problem with your audit.”

Another pitfall to avoid is the payment of cash advances to TFWs to help them get settled, without a written deduction agreement in place. Without a deduction agreement, carriers may have to pay back the money they later deducted from the TFW’s paycheque.

About one in four employers using temporary foreign workers can expect to be audited. Documents must be kept for at least six years.

David Chow of B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, spoke of the B.C. PNP, another option for carriers looking to find long-haul truck drivers. This program is intended for foreign drivers already in the province on a work permit, who’d like to become permanent residents.

The employer and the driver jointly file an application and if eligible, the driver may then be able to fast-track – with the helpf of the federal government – their permanent residency status. The program applies only to long-haul truck drivers; local drivers need not apply.

To qualify for the program, drivers must have been employed for nine months prior to submitting their application, must maintain their employment through the PNP process, must meet language requirements and have completed secondary school, must be legally working here and must demonstrate that they’re economically established. These drivers must also already hold a B.C. Class 1 licence and air brake endorsement and have a minimum of two years’ experience as a long-haul truck driver within the three years. There’s a $550 fee. More information on this program can be found at

More information on Pro Hire Solutions can be found at And for further information on the Temporary Foreign Worker program, go here.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • The temporary foreign worker program is a great program and also a much needed program. The Long Haul sector of the trucking world is unique and has its own set of problems. We struggle to keep drivers in the seat because of the nature of the business. This also will become even more trying as the population ages. The new set of rules does not work the way they have implemented the wage structure we pay higher than the minimum wage but because of our address we are penalized not a fair situation. I do believe the the high wage category would be more suited for the long haul industry not only for the wages but also the level of knowledge should not be classified as low wage. Hope to have changes or we will be short more drivers in an all ready competitive market for drivers .

  • USA is short of around one million long haul truck drivers where drivers earn more than their Canadian counterparts. Days are not far when USA will start poaching Canadian Truck Drivers and most drivers will simply jump on this option because of better road infrastructure, driving conditions, wages etc. To many regulations and intentional hurdles are not answer of skill shortage. No employer will hire a foreign worker if there are Canadian workers. A foreign worker can’t just walk away from job and start with new employer like a Canadian. Above all no country will bring in foreign workers if it has enough working population. Canada is second largest country population merely 33 million and harsh weather conditions, in most cases especially for farm workers remote, isolated and depressing working conditions. The bottom line is at the end of day Canada can not survive without foreign workers. There are most jobs that Canadian will not do at any cost and poor foreign workers have reasons to take those jobs so they can make change in their and families lives. Well Canada can see results by stopping temporary foreign worker for a year then one will see how farm sector, meat plants, hotel and restaurant industry will survive. I have seen people living and working in such isolated conditions because they have no choice or have reason to be there where most Canadian will not for a single day.

  • Did you ever notice that all those foreign workers are always from 3rd world countries?

    That’s because bad companies would prefer to hire slave wage 3rd world country workers than hiring Canadians who demand a decent wage.

    There is a Tim Horton here in Edmonton right across the street from McEwan college. You would think a college right across the street would constitute a good source of eager workers. And when I was a kid, those places survived on student workers who wanted to finance their studies.

    But at that Timmy, right across the McEwan college all the workers are foreigners who can barely speak English.

    If your business can not function in the market you are in without importation of slave wage 3rd world labor, than your business should not exist at all.

  • having been in canada since mid feb 2014 . i can say with hand on heart that i believe that canada will cause its own depression when you choke the golden goose and you hold back its development .ITS known in the transport industry of such shortages for drivers for years yet goverment refuse to use common sence while R T A of canada and U S A dont fight the good fight. ? how one might ask simple ans stop driving for three days and see what the cry will be also say how important drivers are then yes we proffessional that keep 90 percent of life blood flowing in this great country WAKE UP OR IT WILL BE TO LATE WHEN YOU MAY LOOSE THOSE FOREIGN WORKERS WITH BAD PRESS NEWS AND THE WAY THE CAN BE TREATED

  • The thought of coming to Canada in the near future has been passing through my mind for many years. I have gained over 7 years experience driving HGV Class 1 / A in Europe and I’m pretty fed up with the scenery.

    I currently live in Holland, earn a good wage, to the equivalent of c$ 70000 per year, but I’m looking for a new adventure. As a single, 31 year old male with UK & Dutch nationality it should be pretty straight forward to immigrate to Canada, or so you’d think.

    I am not out to steal anyone’s job, undercut anyone or escape a third world country. I know of many Dutch and UK drivers who made the huge step of immigrating to Canada, not out of desperation but out of pure enthusiasm. Many have been sent home due to the recent changes or will be when their permits come to an end. Hopefully this situation will be re-evaluated soon.

  • I was very happy with my family earning good salary in dubai as a driver but like anyone else i was restless…after 7years i finally reached my dream place (BC )on work permit as a long haul truck driver.i started working with the same employer,the owner was a crooked guy i worked 6 months then quit because he was paying me without deducting govt tax that company is out of the business right now then i switched company it was just before the strengthening of LMO rules and now i am qutting second employer they ask me to drive 24 hrs continuely without rest,never paid for all the miles,multiple delivery and pick ups are forgotten i was always last in line because there own people and o/o get load first i was treated differently…recently BC pnp have changed processing time,so after 9 months they take now 13 months to process+18 months to get PR. we are suffering govt knows everything i have not seen my kid for these years,they dont allow visa for family.. no one is doing anything companies misuse foriegn drivers.after almost two years of driving without any ticket,accident i have to now go back ..No LMIA …IS THIS CANADIAN WAY OF TREATING INNOCENT PEOPLE

    • Hey latheef I have been trying to get on with a trucking company in Canada. ….do you mean its that bad.

  • Iam British national now in Canada as visitor,
    I have class1 truck driver license and Iam looking for employer who provide work permit(lmo or lmia) , so if anyone come across please let me know.

    With best regards

  • Just curious to know, if employer hire TFW as Long Haul Truck Driver and he is not yet got his driving license endorsed by BC MVA, do the employer has to pay wages during the transition period till the driver approved to drive in BC