Government of Canada strengthens Temporary Foreign Worker Program through Budget 2017

News Release

April 10, 2017            Gatineau, Quebec             Government of Canada

Budget 2017 is the next step in the Government of Canada's long-term plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class. As part of its plan to grow the Canadian economy, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that the Government will improve the Temporary Foreign Worker program by bringing in new requirements for employers seeking to hire foreign workers.

To ensure that Canadians always have the first opportunity at available jobs, the Government will take two new, key steps. Employers will be required to do more to recruit Canadians, particularly those who are typically under-represented in our workforce, like youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities. And, the Government will work with industry sectors that are heavy users of the Program, to create Canadian workforce development strategies in partnership with employers, organized labour, and other stakeholders.

To fulfill its commitment to better protect vulnerable foreign workers, the Government will increase onsite inspections of workplaces that employ foreign workers. It will also work with community organizations devoted to the protecting vulnerable foreign workers to ensure workers are informed of their rights and protections when they arrive in Canada.

Because collaboration will help enhance worker protections and employer compliance, the Government of Canada will also continue to pursue information-sharing agreements with the provinces and territories.

Budget 2017 provides an investment of $279.8 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $49.8 million per year thereafter, to support the continued delivery and improvement of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

For more information, please review:

Backgrounder: The path forward plan for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program


“The changes we are making to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will help ensure that Canadians have the first opportunity at available jobs, that vulnerable workers are protected, and that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and thrive. This is an example of how our government is creating conditions that will help families in the middle class, and those working hard to join it.” 
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

From improving Express Entry to launching the Global Skills Strategy to dropping the four-year rule for temporary workers, the Government has taken action on many of the recommendations that the Standing Committee put forward in fall 2016. We are committed to delivering an immigration system that helps grow our economy while strengthening our society, and the investments made in Budget 2017 will allow us to do that.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick Facts

  • The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities tabled its report, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which outlined 21 recommendations, on September 19.

  • In fall 2016 the Government of Canada took early action to respond to the report by:

    • eliminating the four-year cumulative duration “four-in, four-out” rule, effective immediately;
    • maintaining the cap on the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers at 20 percent for employers who accessed the Program prior to June 20, 2014, and at 10 percent for new users of the Program;
    • extending the cap for seasonal industries for up to 180 days until December 31, 2017;
    • committing to further develop pathways to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society;
    • requiring low-wage employers, where appropriate, to advertise to more than one, and up to four, under-represented groups in the workforce (e.g. youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and newcomers). Employers will be advised when these changes are to come into effect.   
  • About 79,000 work permits issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada became effective in 2016 through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This is a reduction of 33.5% over the peak in the past five years; demonstrating the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensure Canadians and permanent residents are considered first for available opportunities.

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Matt Pascuzzo
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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Bernie Derible 
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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