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How Do I Decide Which Stream is Appropriate?

The interaction between employment and immigration law is significant.  Few areas reflect this more than Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) and their associated rules and regulations. This is because LMIAs are assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which oversees Canada’s labour market, including the associated employment standards. Given the multi-faceted nature of the work, employers should consider engaging the services of an experienced employment lawyer with the necessary complementary skills in immigration law. 

Wage requirements within the LMIA process provide an excellent example of how employment law is central to the successful navigation of temporary immigration matters. For example, the wage offered for the position an employer is hiring for will determine if an employer needs to apply for an LMIA under the stream for high-wage positions or the stream for low-wage positions. This is critical since each category has its own requirements.

If, for example, an employer is offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker that is:

  • at or above the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, they must apply under the stream for high-wage positions;
  • below the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, they must apply under the stream for low-wage positions.

Median wages by province or territory can be found here.

What are the Major Differences Between the Streams?

There are some key differences between the low-wage and high-wage streams:

  • Longer processing times: The processing times for applications will vary depending on what stream the application is submitted under with applications submitted under the low-wage stream typically being subject to longer processing times. At the time of this writing, low-wage applications are processed within 128 business days versus 85 business days for the high-wage stream.
  • Caps: Employers hiring via the low-wage stream are subject to a cap on the proportion of foreign workers they can hire into low wage positions. High-wage applications are not subject to this cap.
  • Recruitment: Under the low-wage stream employers are required to specifically target underrepresented groups as part of their advertising. This is not required as part of the high-wage stream.
  • Job Match: Both the high-wage and low-wage LMIA streams require that employers use the Canada Job Bank’s “Job Match” service to attempt to recruit Canadians/permanent residents to fill the position.
    • The Job Match service allows employers to see anonymous profiles of registered job seekers which correspond to the skills and requirements outlined in the job posting. Each match is rated using a star system of one to five stars. The more stars received by the match, the greater the compatibility between the advertised position and the anonymous job seeker.
    • When seeking to fill a high-wage position, employers are required to invite all job seekers matched within the first 30 days of their job advertisement to apply for the position if they are rated four stars or more.
    • When seeking to fill a low-wage position, employers are required to invite all job seekers matched within the first 30 days of their job advertisement to apply for the position if they are rated two stars or more.
  • Transportation: As part of the low-wage stream, an employer must pay for the round-trip transportation costs for the foreign worker to come to Canada to begin working and to return to their country of residence at the end of their work period. This is not required under the high-wage stream.
  • Housing: As part of the low-wage stream, an employer must provide or ensure that suitable and affordable housing is available for the foreign worker while working in Canada. This is not required under the high wage stream.

Takeaway

While this list is not exhaustive, Canada’s immigration laws (and particularly those relating to foreign workers) reflects the complexity of Canada’s local, regional, and national labour markets. Employers and individuals would, therefore, be wise to secure counsel with necessary cross-disciplinary knowledge (in both employment and immigration law) to ensure an appropriate strategy is followed. If you have questions regarding the above, contact an experienced Toronto employment lawyer at Sultan Lawyers.  Please contact Majella Lahert by telephone at 416-214-5111 or by email at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com


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