October 21, 2023

Updated hourly median wage for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2023

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) serves as a crucial solution to address labour shortages in Canada. Employers throughout the country heavily rely on this program to hire foreign nationals when there is a lack of available Canadian workers. An essential factor in determining the requirements for the TFWP is the provincial and territorial median hourly wage. Effective from May 31, 2023, the median hourly wages have been adjusted in all provinces and territories, except for Nunavut. This comprehensive article aims to provide a detailed understanding of the implications of these changes and offer an overview of the TFWP.


Understanding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

The TFWP is designed to allow Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals when qualified Canadian workers are not available to meet their labor demands. Before hiring a foreign worker through the TFWP, employers are required to complete the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA serves as a labor market test conducted by the Canadian government to ensure that the employment of a foreign worker will either have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labor market.


The Role of Median Hourly Wage

The provincial and territorial median hourly wage plays a crucial role in determining whether an employer needs to apply for a high-wage or low-wage LMIA. High-wage positions refer to those offering wages at or above the median, while low-wage positions are characterized by wages below the median. Each category comes with its own set of requirements for obtaining an LMIA.

Increase in Median Hourly Wages

Effective as of May 31st, 2023, the median hourly wages have been increased in all provinces and territories, except for Nunavut. This adjustment is a reflection of the dynamic changes in the labor market and aims to ensure fair compensation for temporary foreign workers. The specific wage rates are subject to variation depending on the province or territory, and employers must adhere to the new rates when applying for an LMIA.


Province/territory Median hourly wages prior to May 31, 2023 Median hourly wages as of May 31, 2023
Alberta $28.85 $28.85
British Columbia $26.44 $27.50
Manitoba $23.00 $23.94
New Brunswick $21.79 $23.00
Newfoundland and Labrador $24.29 $25.00
Northwest Territories $37.30 $38.00
Nova Scotia $22.00 $22.97
Nunavut $36.00 $35.90
Ontario $26.06 $27.00
Prince Edward Island $21.63 $22.50
Quebec $25.00 $26.00
Saskatchewan $25.96 $26.22
Yukon $32.00 $35.00


High-Wage Positions and Transition Plans

For employers seeking to hire high-wage workers, additional requirements come into play. Alongside the LMIA application, they must submit transition plans outlining their commitment to reducing reliance on foreign workers over time. This demonstrates the employer's efforts to prioritize qualified Canadians for available job opportunities and gradually minimize the need for foreign workers.


Low-Wage Positions and Access Restrictions

In contrast, employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit a transition plan along with the LMIA. However, the Canadian government imposes a cap on the number of low-wage workers that a business can employ. This measure is implemented to restrict access to the TFWP and encourage employers to prioritize the hiring of Canadian workers for these positions.


Requirements for Employers Offering Below Median Wages

If an employer offers a wage below the provincial or territorial median, they must fulfill certain obligations to safeguard the rights and well-being of temporary foreign workers. These obligations include providing round-trip transportation for the worker, ensuring affordable housing is available, covering private health insurance until workers become eligible for provincial health coverage, registering the worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board, and providing an employer-employee contract. These requirements are put in place to create a fair and supportive work environment for temporary foreign workers.


ESDC Review Process

Once an employer submits the LMIA application, it undergoes a thorough review by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). During this process, ESDC officials meticulously examine the application to ensure that qualified Canadians are not being overlooked in favor of foreign workers. The aim is to strike a balance between addressing labor shortages and prioritizing domestic workers.


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