Government of Canada takes further action to address labour shortages in Quebec

April 1, 2022              Gatineau, Quebec                       Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway. In February 2022, Canada added 337,000 jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to 5.5%—the lowest since the start of the pandemic. In fact, Canada’s economic recovery is outpacing the ability of many employers to find workers, particularly in Quebec. To support Canada’s continued economic growth, the Government of Canada is focused on building a strong, resilient workforce in all sectors through the implementation of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Quebec Pilot Project, and the introduction of province-restricted open work permits for foreign nationals selected for permanent residence by Quebec.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, announced a planned implementation of the next phase of the pilot project—the inclusion of National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level C occupations (known as intermediate-skilled work) into the Traitement Simplifié. This facilitated process will allow for additional flexibilities for Quebec employers under the TFW Program to address their labour needs. Previously, the Traitement Simplifié included only higher skilled occupations. This measure will be implemented on May 24, 2022, finalizing the implementation of Traitement Simplifié in Quebec.

The introduction of lower-skilled occupations into the Traitement Simplifié will not affect the already established worker protections for those currently under the Program. In addition, these worker protections will now also apply to all low-wage positions — meaning those with wages below the Quebec median wage, applying under Traitement Simplifié, no matter the skill level (0, A, B or C) — in order to further strengthen the protection of TFWs’ rights in Quebec.

Specifically, with regard to worker protections, employers are required to:

  • ensure that an employment contract is signed by both the employer and the TFW;
  • pay for the round-trip transportation costs for TFWs to arrive at their work location in Canada at the beginning of their work period, and to return to their country of residence at the end of their work period;
  • provide or ensure that suitable and affordable housing is available for the TFWs they hire; and
  • ensure that the TFWs being hired in low-wage positions are covered by private or provincial/territorial health insurance from the first day they arrive in Canada. If provincial or territorial health care cannot be provided, then employers must pay for the equivalent private health insurance until the TFWs become eligible for the provincial/territorial plan.

The pilot project for employers in Quebec will run until December 31, 2023. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the outcomes of this pilot project to help evaluate future decisions.

In addition, Canada will move forward with issuing work permits to foreign nationals selected for permanent residence by Quebec. Once implemented, foreign nationals will be able to apply for an open work permit that will allow them to work for nearly any employer in Quebec before submitting their application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

These new measures will allow future permanent residents to move to Quebec right away and begin working and settling into their new home. With a province-restricted open work permit, newcomers will have the flexibility to move quickly between positions in Quebec to grow their careers and gain new work experiences.

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