ARCHIVED – Canada-Ontario agreement on foreign workers

Electronic Version
Original signed June 17, 2015

Between

Her majesty the queen in right of Canada,
as represented by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”), and the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”)

and

Her Majesty the queen in right of the province of ontario,
as represented by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade (“MCIIT”)

1. Preamble

1.1. Pursuant to the Department of Employment and Social Development Act (“the DESDA”) the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of ESDC extend to all matters relating to human resources and skills development in Canada or the social development of Canada over which Parliament has jurisdiction and which are not by law assigned to any other Minister, department, board or agency of the Government of Canada; and whereas the Minister of ESDC is authorized, pursuant to section 10 of the DESDA to enter into agreements with provinces or territories for the purposes of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of programs and policies related to the powers, duties and functions conferred by that Act. Pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“the IRPA”) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“the IRPR”) ESDC provides Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIAs”) to employers and to CIC in respect of offers of employment to foreign nationals.

1.2. Whereas subsection 8(1) of the IRPA and 5(1) of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act (“the DCIA”) authorizes the Minister of CIC, with the approval of the Governor in Council, to enter into agreements with provinces for the purpose of the IRPA and for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation – including the collection, use and disclosure of information – of policies and programs for which the Minister is responsible; and whereas paragraph 204(c) of the IRPR authorizes the issuance of work permits under section 200 of the IRPR to foreign nationals who intend to perform work pursuant to an agreement entered into by the Minister of CIC with a province; this Agreement constitutes an agreement in accordance with subsection 5(1) of the DCIA, subsection 8(1) of the IRPA and section 204(c) of the IRPR.

1.3. For the purposes of this Agreement “Canada” means Canada as represented by the Minister of ESDC and the Minister of CIC unless otherwise indicated. “Ontario” means Ontario as represented by the Minister of MCIIT.

2. Purpose and Objectives

2.1 The overarching purpose of this Agreement is to allow CIC, ESDC and Ontario to better work together to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) and the International Mobility Program (“IMP”) operate in the national interest while supporting provincial priorities, and that employers consider Canadians and permanent residents first for available jobs, where applicable.

2.2 More specifically, the objectives of this Agreement are to:

  • 2.2.1 Outline the roles and responsibilities of CIC, ESDC and Ontario in support of the TFWP and the IMP;
  • 2.2.2 Provide a mechanism for Ontario to recommend LMIA exemptions in accordance with this Agreement, or any Appendix to this Agreement, and recommend occupations eligible to receive priority LMIA processing in accordance with section 8 of this Agreement; and
  • 2.2.3 Increase federal-provincial collaboration in the administration of the TFWP and the IMP through the implementation of common principles with respect to the protection of Foreign Workers.

3. Shared Principles

3.1 Canada and Ontario agree that:

  • 3.1.1 The key objectives of the TFWP and the IMP are to enable Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration and to ensure that the work performed by Foreign Workers continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interests;
  • 3.1.2 Collaboration is required to support Ontario’s key provincial economic development priorities and address Ontario’s unique labour market needs in a manner that is consistent with the overall national objectives of the TFWP and IMP;
  • 3.1.3 Enhanced cooperation and coordination between Canada and Ontario will support the common goals of improving the operation and integrity of the TFWP and the IMP in Ontario and advancing Ontario’s economic interests and priorities;
  • 3.1.4 Measures to strengthen the LMIA process are required to ensure the robustness and integrity of the TFWP;
  • 3.1.5 Proactive communication between Canada and Ontario should be undertaken, when possible, on any changes to the TFWP or IMP that will impact Ontario’s economy;
  • 3.1.6 An enhanced role for Ontario to recommend occupations for priority LMIA processing will help support regional economic goals;
  • 3.1.7 Increased protection of Foreign Workers is essential to their successful participation in workplaces and communities and to maintaining the integrity of TFWP and the IMP; and
  • 3.1.8 Information-sharing between Canada and Ontario is required to administer, enforce, and maintain the integrity of the TFWP and the IMP.

4. Definitions

The following definitions apply to the terms of this Agreement:

  1. Agreement means this Agreement and the Appendices attached to it;
  2. Dispute means a conflict or disagreement respecting the interpretation, application or implementation of this Agreement, or a breach or anticipated breach of this Agreement;
  3. Exceptional and Unforeseen Event is a temporary situation during or following an event that poses a significant risk to people’s lives, health, general safety, property and/or the environment;
  4. Highly Mobile Capital is uncommitted corporate funds that can easily move across provincial, territorial and/or national boundaries and is subject to a corporate positive investment decision;
  5. High Wage Occupation means a position at or above the Ontario median wage;
  6. In-Demand Occupation means High Wage Occupations, recommended by Ontario and approved by ESDC, and which have been identified using the methodology developed as per section 8.3 of this Agreement;
  7. International Mobility Program or IMP means the functions under the IRPA and the IRPR that allow Canada to authorize foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada without the requirement for an LMIA;
  8. Labour Market Impact Assessment or LMIA is the opinion provided by ESDC to employers or CIC in accordance with section 203 of the IRPR. In assessing requests for an LMIA, ESDC considers whether the employment of a Foreign Worker is likely to have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. An LMIA is used to support the application of a Foreign National for a work permit when required under the IRPR;
  9. Significant Investment Project means a new endeavour in an existing firm’s operations, or the entrance of a firm that is beginning operations in Ontario, that will result in a substantial improvement to the provincial or territorial labour market or economy without displacing jobs for Canadians;
  10. Foreign Worker means a foreign national who has been authorized to work temporarily in Canada under the IRPA and the IRPR; and
  11. Temporary Foreign Worker Program or TFWP refers to the streams under which an employer who wishes to hire a Foreign Worker must obtain an LMIA from ESDC.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

CIC is responsible for:

  • 5.1 Administering the IMP and issuing work permits under the TFWP in accordance with the IRPA and the IRPR and any amendments thereto; and
  • 5.2 Assessing and rendering decisions on proposals by Ontario for Significant Investment Projects or Exceptional and Unforeseen Events in accordance with the criteria outlined in sections 6 and 7 of this Agreement.

ESDC is responsible for:

  • 5.3 Administering and enforcing the TFWP in accordance with the IRPA and the IRPR and any amendments thereto;
  • 5.4 Supporting the assessment of recommendations by Ontario for LMIA exemptions under Significant Investment Projects and/or Exceptional and Unforeseen Events as outlined in sections 6 and 7 of this Agreement; and
  • 5.5 Assessing and rendering decisions on recommendations by Ontario for occupations to be eligible for priority LMIA processing and reviewing the list of occupations as outlined in section 8 of this Agreement.

Ontario is responsible for:

  • 5.6 Submitting proposals with recommendations for LMIA exemptions for Significant Investment Projects in accordance with identified criteria in section 6 of this Agreement;
  • 5.7 Recommending LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs not already provided for under the IRPR, on a temporary basis, as a result of an Exceptional and Unforeseen Event, in accordance with identified criteria in section 7 of this Agreement;
  • 5.8 Recommending High Wage, In-Demand Occupations that would be eligible for priority LMIA processing, in accordance with identified criteria in section 8 of this Agreement;
  • 5.9 Reviewing and proposing updates to the list of occupations eligible for priority LMIA processing on at least an annual basis in accordance with section 8 of this Agreement; and
  • 5.10 Identifying and communicating policy and program considerations to Canada that address gaps in the design and regional operation of the TFWP and IMP impacting Ontario’s economy.

6. Significant Investment Projects

6.1 A Significant Investment Project must involve a situation that is not well-suited to the LMIA process and is not captured by existing LMIA exemptions and/or work permit exemptions under the IRPR.

6.2 Proposals for LMIA exemptions for Significant Investment Projects must be submitted in writing by Ontario to the CIC and ESDC Designated Representatives identified in section 14 of this Agreement.

6.3 Proposals for LMIA exemptions for Significant Investment Projects must address the elements outlined in Appendix A to this Agreement.

6.4 Proposals for Significant Investment Projects and any amendments thereto will be approved at the Assistant Deputy Minister level for CIC and Ontario in as timely manner as possible as to not negatively impact time-sensitive projects.

6.5 The review of Significant Investment Projects approved pursuant to this Agreement will take place no more than one year after the date of implementation of the project, and every two years thereafter for long-term projects, or as per the schedule agreed to by Ontario and CIC.

7. Exceptional and Unforeseen Events

7.1 Ontario may recommend LMIA exemptions that are not otherwise covered under existing LMIA exemptions or work permit exemptions in the IRPR to address urgent labour needs, on a truly temporary basis, as a result of an Exceptional and Unforeseen Event.

7.2 Requests for LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs must be provided in writing by Ontario to the CIC and ESDC Designated Representatives identified in section 14 of this Agreement.

7.3 Requests for LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs must include the elements described in Appendix B to this Agreement.

7.4 Requests for LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs will be assessed by Canada in accordance with Appendix B to this Agreement and will be subject to bilateral discussion between Canada and Ontario.

7.5 Requests for LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs, and any amendments thereto will be approved at the Assistant Deputy Minister level for CIC and Ontario.

8. Provincial Involvement in the Labour Market Impact Assessment Process

8.1 A process to allow Ontario to recommend High Wage, In-Demand Occupations for priority LMIA processing (10-day processing service standard) may be developed within six months of this Agreement coming into force.

8.2 Under this process, Ontario agrees to respect federal TFWP principles and objectives and Canada’s responsibility in delivering the TFWP pursuant to the IRPA and the IRPR.

8.3 Ontario and ESDC will jointly establish an evidence-based methodology to support the identification of a list of In-Demand Occupations for priority LMIA processing. The methodology must include the following criteria:

  • 8.3.1 Available provincial and/or federal information that provides evidence of labour market shortages for the occupation; and
  • 8.3.2 Wage offered for the occupation is above the Ontario median wage for all occupations as established by the annual Labour Force Survey.

8.4 Requests for recommended occupations eligible for priority LMIA processing will be provided in writing by Ontario to the ESDC Designated Representatives identified in section 14 of this Agreement.

8.5 ESDC reserves the right to limit the number of occupations on the list of In-Demand Occupations based on its operational ability to meet the 10-day processing service standard.

8.6 ESDC and Ontario will meet at least once annually to review recommended updates to the list of occupations for priority LMIA processing.

8.7 The list of occupations for priority LMIA processing will be approved at least once annually at the Director General level for ESDC and Director level for Ontario.

8.8 All approved High Wage, In-Demand Occupations for Ontario will be posted on ESDC’s website.

9. Foreign Worker Protection

9.1 Canada and Ontario agree to collaborate on programs and initiatives to enhance the knowledge of, and access to, provincial services for Foreign Workers in Ontario.

9.2 Canada and Ontario agree to collaborate to inform employers hiring Foreign Workers about their obligations under the applicable federal and provincial laws, including those that regulate employment and recruitment of employees.

9.3 Canada and Ontario agree to collaborate to inform Foreign Workers about their rights under applicable federal and provincial laws, including those that regulate employment and recruitment in Ontario.

9.4 Canada and Ontario will jointly identify and assess current challenges and best practices with respect to Foreign Worker protection and will collaborate in the development of principles, measures, and mechanisms to increase Foreign Worker protection.

9.5 If Canada or Ontario determines that there is a real and substantial risk to a Foreign Worker as a result of an employer not complying with federal or provincial laws, Canada and Ontario will jointly undertake actions to mitigate such risk, including, where appropriate, issuing a new LMIA through the priority LMIA process, or issuing a new work permit without the need for an LMIA provided that that the Foreign Worker meets all other requirements of the IRPR.

9.6 Canada and Ontario will establish clear and transparent criteria and procedures to assist in meeting the obligations outlined in section 9.5 of this Agreement.

9.7 Canada acknowledges that the development of measures, activities or mechanisms to increase Foreign Worker protection will be subject to/consistent with applicable provincial laws or policies for Ontario.

10. Dispute Management and Resolution Procedures

10.1 Canada and Ontario are committed to working together to implement this Agreement.  Under this partnership, all parties contribute with their respective policies, programs, capacity, and expertise and recognize and respect each party’s different roles and responsibilities under this Agreement.

10.2 In the case of a Dispute under this Agreement, the Designated Representatives identified in section 14 of this Agreement will attempt to resolve the matter through information-sharing, communications and informal discussions.

10.3 In the event that the Designated Representatives are unable to resolve the Dispute expeditiously, it will be referred to Assistant Deputy Ministers accompanied by relevant facts and steps taken to reach resolution. Such procedures will provide equal opportunities for representation by each signatory, establish clear time limits, and ensure clarity for the implementation of final decisions. Further, in the event resolution is not reached within 30 days of being raised with Assistant Deputy Ministers, the parties will jointly determine next steps.

10.4 CIC, ESDC or Ontario may refer the matter to the Deputy Ministers by providing a written notice to the signatories.

10.5 CIC, ESDC and Ontario will exchange all relevant information and engage in bilateral discussions in an attempt to clarify and resolve the Dispute. Deputy Ministers will:

  • 10.5.1 Provide equal opportunities for representation;
  • 10.5.2 Attempt to resolve Disputes within 30 days; and
  • 10.5.3 Ensure clarity for the implementation of final decisions.

10.6 Should the Dispute be resolved, Deputy Ministers will oversee drafting of a short report identifying the issues that have been resolved, along with the specific actions and timelines required to implement the resolution.

10.7 If Deputy Ministers are unable to resolve the Dispute within 30 days from the date of its referral to them, they will determine the appropriate course of action for its resolution, including elevating the Dispute to Ministers.

10.8 Ministers will provide advice and direction to their officials on an appropriate course of action to resolve the Dispute.

10.9 This Dispute management process shall not in any way limit the final authority of the Ministers or the designated officers of CIC or of ESDC respecting the interpretation and administration of the IRPA or the IRPR in accordance with their respective authorities/responsibilities.

11. Exchange of Information

11.1 CIC and ESDC shall develop arrangements or agreements to facilitate information-sharing with Ontario, including the sharing of personal information, as required.

12. Governance

Canada and Ontario agree to:

12.1 Establish a Canada-Ontario Foreign Worker Working Group to meet in support of ongoing discussions with regard to the TFWP and the IMP, as required, and to oversee the implementation of this Agreement.

  • 12.1.1 Terms of Reference for this Working Group will be developed and agreed to by Canada and Ontario.

12.2 Meet annually to review this Agreement. More frequent discussion or consultation regarding this Agreement may take place between the Designated Representatives, or delegates, as needed and as mutually agreed to by Canada and Ontario.

13. Duration and Amendments

13.1 This Agreement will be valid for five (5) years from the date of the Agreement coming into effect.

13.2 This Agreement will take effect on the date that it is signed by the last of the signatories to do so.

13.3 Canada and Ontario agree to review the effectiveness of the Agreement no later than twelve (12) months prior to its expiry.

13.4 Upon the mutual written consent of CIC, ESDC and Ontario, the terms and conditions of this Agreement can be amended or extended at any time prior to its expiry, subject to any required approval or authorization, including the approval of a party’s Governor in Council.

13.5 CIC, ESDC or Ontario may terminate this Agreement at any time by providing at least twelve (12) months’ notice in writing to the other signatories.

13.6 This Agreement may be entered into by each signatory signing a separate copy of this Agreement (including a photocopy, facsimile or electronic submission) and delivering it to the other signatory, each of which when taken together, shall constitute an original Agreement.

13.7 The French and English language versions of the Agreement are equally authoritative.

14. Designated Representatives

14.1 The Designated Representatives for the purpose of communication and notification pursuant to this Agreement are:

  • 14.1.1 For CIC, the Director, Temporary Resident Policy and Programs, Immigration Branch, 365 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1L1;
  • 14.1.2 For ESDC, the Director, Program and Policy Design, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Skills and Employment Branch, 140 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0J9; and
  • 14.1.3 For MCIIT, The Director, Citizenship and Immigration Division, Business Immigration Branch, 400 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1T7.

15. Notices

15.1 The Designated Representatives referenced in section 14 of this Agreement undertake to give one another notice of any change in policy, regulations or legislation relating to their respective programs that is likely to affect this Agreement.

15.2 In addition to those Designated Representatives referenced in section 14 of this Agreement, any notice to be delivered under this Agreement should also be sent to the signatory concerned as follows:

Deputy Minister
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9

Deputy Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 1L1

Deputy Minister
Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
400 University Ave
Toronto, Ontario  M7A 1T7

For the Government of Canada

The Honourable Chris Alexander
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Date

The Honourable Pierre Poilievre
Minister of Employment and Social Development,
Minister for Democratic Reform and
Minister responsible for the National Capital Commission

Date

For the Government of Ontario

The Honourable Michael Chan
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and
International Trade

Date

Appendix A. Proposals for Significant Investment Projects

A proposal for a Significant Investment Project LMIA exemptions must address the following information:

  1. Objectives
  2. Description of the project activities, including a description as to whether and how they meet each of the following criteria:
    1. Involve Highly Mobile Capital  with project labour  being drawn from a global talent pool;
    2. Result in a quantifiable significant investment in Ontario’s economy;
    3. Demonstrate local government support, if applicable;
    4. Limited to High Wage Occupations;
    5. No significant displacement of employment of Canadians and permanent residents;
    6. Employers participating in the project will remain in compliance with any applicable federal or provincial laws; and
    7. Result in knowledge transfer to Canadians and permanent residents (where applicable).
  3. Description of the proposed occupations to be eligible for LMIA exemptions within the Significant Investment Project, the duration of the proposed LMIA exemptions, the anticipated number of positions required, and the specific locations in which Foreign Workers would be hired to work.
  4. Expected Outcomes/Benefits
  5. Implementation Plan
  6. Evaluation Plan

Appendix B. Elements for Exceptional and Unforeseen Events

  1. Canada and Ontario agree that request(s) for LMIA exemptions to address urgent labour needs in the case of an Exceptional and Unforeseen Event must include the following elements:
    1. Purpose/Rationale, including a description of how the LMIA exemptions will demonstrate that:
      1. Foreign Workers are needed for work in response to an Exceptional and Unforeseen Event where restoration/reconstruction of a community or area is required due to significant loss/damage; and
      2. Reasonable efforts have been made to reach out to other provincial or territorial jurisdictions for available workers.
    2. Description of the proposed occupations to be eligible for LMIA exemptions, the anticipated number of positions required, and the specific locations in which Foreign Workers would be hired to work; and
    3. Expected Outcomes.
  2. Work permits issued in response to an Exceptional and Unforeseen Events should generally not exceed 120 days in duration in order to address short-term and urgent labour needs, and should be issued within the first twelve months following the occurrence of the Exceptional and Unforeseen Event.  In rare circumstances under which the response to the Exceptional and Unforeseen Event is ongoing and the LMIA process would hinder restoration/reconstruction efforts, work permits can be renewed according to terms agreed to by CIC and Ontario.
  3. Canada and Ontario will review the use of LMIA exemptions for any Exceptional and Unforeseen Event according to timelines appropriate to the situation.
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