With more large-scale projects breaking ground, employers in the construction sector are facing labour shortages. In these situations, foreign workers can be the perfect complement to your workforce. Moreover, obtaining short-term work permits for tradespersons and low-skilled labourers is not necessarily as challenging as you might think.
Labour Market Opinion needed
Foreign nationals, that is, persons who are not Canadian citizens or residents, require a work permit (issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada) to live and work in Canada. With some limited exceptions, applications for work permits must be accompanied by a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (Service Canada). The LMO assesses the impact hiring foreign workers will have on the Canadian job market.
Recently, Service Canada has established a pilot project that permits employers to hire foreign workers for up to 24 months in occupations that require lower levels of formal training. Positions that would qualify include construction trades helpers and labourers, among others. Before Service Canada will issue a positive LMO to support a work permit application, an employer has to demonstrate that there is a shortage of Canadian residents to fill the position.
Checking the Canadian labour market first
The minimum recruitment efforts required to achieve this end include:
• Advertising on the national Job Bank for a minimum of 14 days in the three months prior to applying for the LMO.
• Advertising for a minimum of 14 days in a medium that is typically used within the employer’s industry, such as local papers, community bulletin boards or well-accepted internet job sites.
Job advertisements must include the employer’s name, the location of the work, a description of the position, and the job duties. Most importantly, the wage rate offered must be the prevailing rate for the position, based on British Columbia labour statistics.
Additionally, Service Canada expects an employer seeking to hire foreign workers to:
• offer a wage rate comparable to the wages received by Canadians for the same occupation
• assist them with finding suitable and affordable accommodation
• pay their round-trip transportation costs
• prepare and sign employment contracts
• provide them with health insurance
• register them with WorkSafeBC.
Employers of unionized workers must offer foreign nationals the same wage rate and benefits received by the union members on site.
Timing your application
An LMO application typically takes 4-6 weeks to process. Consequently, if you foresee a local labour shortage for your future construction project, plan on recruiting early in order to get your workforce established in time.
Read other articles from the Fall 2011 Letter of the Law
Delaying Disclosure Has Consequences for Strata Developers
by Mark Thompson and Mitch Dermer
Court SLAPPs Lay Litigant with Special Costs
by Scott Brearley and Carmen Hamilton
Collecting a Judgment
by Mark Stacey and Mitch Dermer
A Settlement Agreement Successfully Defended
by Ian Jones
Hiring Foreign Workers for Your Construction Projects by Melanie Samuels and Carmen Hamilton
The Rules Have Changed But Litigation Remains the Same by Stephen Berezowskyj and Daniel Barber
Disclose Out-of-Court Agreements Immediately – Or Else! by Scott Brearley
Editor’s Note by David Perry
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