Greenhouse Canada

Temporary Foreign Worker program embraces the honour system

January 4, 2024  By Dan Walton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Jan. 4, 2024 – The federal government has changed the requirements for hiring temporary foreign workers.

Employers in all sectors have to go through the Temporary Foreign Worker program, which requires them to try hire domestically before resorting to international labour markets.

“This policy aims to ensure that employers make reasonable efforts to hire Canadians and permanent residents before seeking to hire temporary foreign workers,” Samuelle Carbonneau, spokesperson for Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada, said in an email.


However, at the start of 2022, minimum advertising requirements are no longer a prerequisite for agricultural workers. An archive of the Ministry’s webpage shows the rules were initially laxed until June 2023, but the webpage now shows it’s been extended by a year.

“This policy suspension is temporary and is set to expire on June 30, 2024,” Carbonneau said. “The Department continuously reviews the TFW program policies to ensure they remain aligned with the latest labour market information and data.”

The feds made it easier to recruit foreign agricultural workers “given documented and severe labour shortages in the sector, longstanding recruitment challenges faced by employers, and low interest from domestic workers in these occupations,” Carbonneau said.

Now it’s an honour system.

“During this policy-suspension period, employers are still expected to continue efforts to recruit Canadians and permanent residents without a requirement to submit such proof ?”

The deregulation comes as Canada is on pace to set a new record for the amount of foreign workers in a single year. Only 2008 had more TFW permit holders than last year with 131,415. In 2022 there were 119,825 (32,225 in B.C). A significant increase from 81,495 in 2021 and 76,405 in 2020. Data from January to September 2023 shows a greater number of TFWs (155,560) last year compared to the same period in 2022 (152,949).

In B.C. agriculture, the number of TFWs hired has grown steadily from 9,363 in 2019 to 11,831 in 2022.

“The Canadian economy is facing unprecedented labour shortages and Canadian employers are looking to fill these labour gaps,” said Carbonneau. “Temporary foreign workers help ensure that Canada’s economy remains resilient.”

The unemployment rate is relatively low in the Thompson-Okanagan. As of October it was 3.2 per cent compared to 5.2 per cent across the province, according to WorkBC. And the national rate is 5.7 per cent, according to StatsCan.

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