People who want to work in Canada and Canadian employers who want to hire them are probably aware how important Labour Market Opinions (LMO) are.
Usually, employers need to obtain an LMO prior to hiring and securing a work permit for a temporary foreign worker. This article serves as a handy primer on LMO’s, why they are important and the requirements for securing them.
Why the Need for Labour Market Opinion for Foreign Workers?
There are over 150,000 temporary foreign workers that Canada welcomes into its shores each year. These people are a crucial segment of the country’s workforce, being responsible for a whole range of jobs across the different categories, from low-skilled to semi-skilled to skilled.
Although it is important that high numbers of foreign workers are maintained for the benefit of the Canadian economy, it is also important that these workers’ rights are upheld, government regulations are complied with and that the Canadian labor market is not overpowered by the foreign workforce. By obliging employers to get a positive Labor Market Opinion prior to employing a foreign worker, there is a greater chance of these crucial standards being met.
To obtain an LMO, employers need to prove that there is no suitable Canadian citizen or permanent resident who can possibly fill the offered position(s), and vow to treat any hired foreign workers according to Canadian labor standards.
Labor Market Opinion Explained
When an employer receives a positive LMO, it means that the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), which oversees the Temporary foreign Worker Program and issues LMO’s, has found that the employment of a foreign worker will contribute positively to the local labor market or have a neutral effect.
Unless the job being offered the foreign worker is listed as exempt, all temporary job offers must receive a positive LMO. However, for each job and each employer, a separate LMO must be secured. If the foreign worker has to get another job or be moved to another position, a new LMO and a new work permit must be secured.
All Canadian provinces require that a positive LMO be issued for any position to be filled by any foreign worker. In the province of Quebec, however, temporary foreign workers need to secure a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) aside from an LMO.
Since workers and employers can’t be exactly the same, the process of securing an LMO can vary significantly. However, the following are common factors that will be considered by HRSDC officers when evaluating an applications:
> The job offer;
> The pay and working conditions;
> Efforts undertaken by employer to advertise the position;
> How the foreign worker affects the Canadian labour market;
> Consultations with Canadian unions, if any; and
> Whether or not the settlement of an ongoing labor dispute will be affected by the hiring of a foreign worker.
Offered jobs in Canada must match a description included in the National Occupation Classification, and wages and working conditions are expected to meet or exceed what is set as the regional average for a particular job. However, the government has recently announced that a foreign worker may be paid a maximum of 15% less than the local median income for a particular position under certain circumstances.
There are also different steps to be taken when applying for an LMO, depending on whether the position is high, semi or low-skilled. For example, employers hiring for low-skilled positions must pay for the foreign workers’ transportation, while there is no such requirement for those recruiting high-skilled workers.
How to Speed Up the LMO Application Process
There are instances where processing of an LMO application can be expedited. Although most applications need to include proof of advertisement for the offered position, this is sometimes unnecessary.
One example of a case that is exempt from this requirement is an international student on a post-graduate work permit being offered a job that will outlast the validity of the post-graduate work permit. In Quebec, there are also specific jobs which employers need not advertise as part of the LMO application.
To increase the efficiency of LMO processing, HRSDC has recently launched the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) program where employers found eligible will be able to receive their LMO’s within ten business days from date of submission.
There are certain circumstances where employers need not secure LMO’s when hiring foreign workers, and these include:
> Entrepreneurs/self-employed applicants;
> Applicants covered by NAFTA and other international agreements, including international exchange agreements such as International Experience Canada; and
> Intra-Company workers.
Obtaining an LMO can be intimidating to those who are yet unfamiliar with the process. Nonetheless, the system has proven to be useful in maintaining a productive level of transparency and fairness within Canada’s global workforce.