The recent announcements favouring immigration reforms have been welcoming and there are more to come. There are a few remaining concerns with the overall speed and efficiencies required with the Temporary Foreign Workers (TPF) program including delays with many feeder countries. There is also a need for the majority of our industry to understand the program. Lifting the 20 hour per week cap for international Students is a very positive change to support students and employers and most importantly to stop a huge underground economy. Welcoming news is the upcoming Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR to PR) Pathway program. While details have yet to be released we expect the new program will focus on Temporary Foreign Workers and International Students. The overall immigration growth numbers might show year on year growth but with so many sectors experiencing workforce shortfalls there needs to be a much higher number and specifically to fill hospitality occupational needs.
Related to immigration reforms persons who hold a permit under the Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) expiring before Dec 31 2022 may apply for an 18 month extension but if the person’s permit expires after December 31, 2022 they are currently in a state of ‘limbo’.
The government is well aware that workforce shortages are cramping the economy but there are so many factors that determine success over and above the recent 2022 announcements listed below. The immigration system is currently dealing with a backlog ballooned to over 2.6 million people due to staff disruptions. The issue is so slow that thousands of skilled workers are returning back to their country. Another critical issue is the low availability of affordable housing an area where governments are focusing now but this will take time to fix.
Ontario Specific- ORHMA supports the Ontario government's call to immediately double, at a minimum, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) from 9,000 to 18,000 newcomers with specific in-demand skills. The current contract between the two governments on this ends on Nov 24th. It is ORHMA’s expectation that the OINP supports hospitality positions including the ‘Cooks”.
2022 Immigration Announcements
Immigration Growth- In 2021 Canada welcomed over 405,000 newcomers - the most we’ve ever welcomed in a single year. The Government is continuing that ambition by setting targets in the new levels plan of 465,000 permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. The plan also brings an increased focus on attracting newcomers to different regions of the country, including small towns and rural communities.
International Students able to work over 20 hours a week- The change now allows international students already in Canada to work more hours than the previous 20 hour per week cap.This is a temporary change starting on November 15 and ending at the end of 2023.
Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR to PR) Pathway – The government is preparing to create a program that would help to speed up the process of turning newcomers in Canada under temporary permits into permanent residents. It will follow the 2021 similar program listed where 80, 000 applications were received which can be viewed here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/tr-pr-pathway.html
It is expected the new program will focus on Temporary Foreign Workers and International Students and this is all good news.
Federal Government’s budget included: Funding of $29.3mn over three years for a TFW Trusted Employer Model that reduces red tape for regular users of the program. More details to be announced in 2023. In addition $385.7mn over 5 years, with an additional $86.5mn per year ongoing, to facilitate the timely entry of workers and students. Adding tourism as a priority sector with a commitment from government to revisit the Immigration Act to ensure the skills most needed by industries like tourism are valued during the Permanent Residency application process
Amendments to the Temporary Foreign Workers program– announcement singled out hotels and restaurants. Favourable changes included lifting the unemployment criteria, increasing TFW workforce from 10 to 35%, adding additional resources to speed up the LMIA process with a preferred employer program arriving in 2023 (details have yet to be released).
Opening the application window for Temporary Foreign Workers- Positive changes benefiting hospitality operators in many economic regions. The Canadian Government rescinded the Refusal to Process (RTP) Ministerial Directive. This means that the Government announced they will consider TFW/LMIA applications.
Changing the methodology for considering LMIA applications- The Government updated the three-month unemployment rate applicable to LMIA reviews quarterly rather than annually which was the case in the former methodology. The change to the four reviews per year rather than once as formerly done has beneficial consequences for hospitality.
Immigration Growth- The Federal Government tabled an annual immigration levels plan projecting Canada will admit 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, followed approximately by 447,000 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024.