Labour Market Impact Assessment

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA, is a step that Canadian employers have to take in order to hire foreign workers. The objective of the LMIA is to ensure that Canadian citizens and permanent residents take priority over job applicants from other countries. Additionally, the LMIA determines that the foreign worker, if hired, will be paid a salary and benefits that are commensurate with federal and provincial standards.

Although some exceptions apply, almost all Canadian employers who are attempting to hire workers from other countries must demonstrate that they have attempted to fill the position locally.

How does the LMIA process work?

The process of obtaining an LMIA is slightly different for high-wage earners (those who are earning more than the median hourly wage for their occupation in the region where they will be working) and for low-wage earners.

High-wage workers

Employers who intend to hire high-wage candidates from other countries are required to submit a transition plan detailing the steps they are taking to reduce their reliance on foreign workers. This requirement is in place to ensure that foreign hiring only takes place after the employer has made unsuccessful attempts to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with the right attributes for the position being filled.

Low-wage workers

Although transition plans are not required in the case of low-wage workers, the government has introduced limits to the number of low-wage workers that employers can bring in from other countries. This cap varies from one employer to the next, but the general rule is that a business with more than ten employees cannot have foreign workers making up more than ten percent of its total workforce. Some low-wage occupations are deemed ineligible for LMIAs due to the number of qualified Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are able to do those jobs.

Moreover, businesses that are employing low-wage foreign workers are required to do the following:

  • Pay for round-trip transportation for the foreign worker they are hiring
  • Ensure that the foreign worker will be able to find affordable accommodation
  • Ensure that the foreign worker has health care coverage until he or she becomes eligible for provincial health coverage
  • If applicable, register the foreign worker with the appropriate workplace safety board
  • Provide a formal contract of employment

How can employers ensure that no Canadian workers are available?

Before employers can hire foreign workers, they are required to advertise the position in such a way that qualified job-seekers in Canada are likely to see the posting and be able to respond to it. The advertising requirements include the following:

  • Employers must advertise the position on the Canadian job bank, and use at least two additional recruitment methods, for a minimum of four weeks before applying for an LMIA.
  • The employer must post advertising aimed at under-represented segments of the population, such as the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and people with disabilities.
  • The only required languages for the position can be French and English, unless the employer can demonstrate why another language is needed.

Other criteria that the employer must meet include the following:

  • A transition plan is required for high-wage positions, showing how the employer is either reducing its reliance on temporary foreign workers (for example, by providing training for local workers), or assisting its foreign workers in their applications to become permanent residents.
  • Employers must indicate that they are aware that they cannot terminate or cut the hours of a Canadian worker in the same occupation.

What happens after the LMIA has been issued?

When the employer has received a positive LMIA, this should be provided to the foreign worker for inclusion in his or her application for a work permit. Note that a single LMIA may be issued for multiple workers in the same occupation.

Expedited LMIAs

LMIAs can be issued within ten business days for the following categories:

  • Highest-demand occupations: this only applies to high-wage earning positions that are considered essential to infrastructure development, or the extraction of natural resources.
  • Highest-paid occupations: applies to occupations that pay wages in the top ten percent in the province of territory where the job will be performed. These wages are typically limited to the highest-qualified workers whose skills are difficult to find locally.
  • Shortest-duration occupations: applies to short-term positions lasting 120 days or less, in high-wage occupations. Examples include jobs related to manufacturing, repairs and warranty work.

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