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April 1 2024

Chamber Explainer: Federal announcement on Temporary Immigration and Temporary Foreign Workers

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Last month, Immigration Minister Marc Miller and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault announced the federal government’s plan to reduce the temporary residents annual target by five per cent over the next three years. This includes a reduction of allowed Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) from 30 per cent to 20 per cent under the low-wage stream, effective May 1, 2024. While agriculture, construction, healthcare and seasonal workers are exempt from this change until at least August 31 of this year, other sectors including the accommodations and food services and production and manufacturing may be impacted earlier. Additionally, Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), which are required to be completed by an employer before hiring a TFW, will soon only be valid for six months, a decrease from the current 12 months.

What is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

To address labour shortages, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) is designed to allow employers to hire foreign workers when Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not readily available. Before hiring a TFW, employers must meet specific criteria and obtain government approval to ensure responsible and equitable access to employment. The program is widely used by businesses of all sizes, particularly in the hospitality industry, to meet labour needs.

Why the reduction?

The federal government is looking at ways to address housing pressures and issues with the student visa system and hopes that reducing temporary immigration targets by five per cent will alleviate some consternation. Government expectations for Canadian businesses is to prioritize Canadian workers through the promotion of opportunities for equity deserving groups, reserving the TFWP as a tool of last resort. Initially, the threshold to hire TFW was raised from 10 per cent to up to 30 per cent in the low-wage stream to support labour shortages during the pandemic. As such, the most recent reduction will still lead to higher thresholds than in 2021.

How will this affect business?

Recent data from Statistics Canada and The Canadian Chamber of Commerce shows labour-related challenges remain a significant concern, with 38.3 per cent of Calgary businesses highlighting labour as a challenge to their business. This is felt across all sizes of business and sectors, but most acutely in hospitality (91.2%). As we monitor the implications of these changes on business, it is evident that businesses affected may need to advance strategies to increase workforce development to mitigate labour market challenges. We also anticipate increased scrutiny and compliance with the TFWP which has the potential to place increased administrative burden on businesses.

What is next?

Minister Miller will convene meetings with provinces and territories in May to discuss how the temporary resident targets will be set. We encourage the government to actively engage with the business community to ensure these changes do not cause any unintended impacts on their ability to attract and retain talent.

To learn more, visit:

Hire a temporary foreign worker with a Labour Market Impact Assessment -


The Calgary Chamber exists to help businesses reach their potential. As the convenor and catalyst for a vibrant, inclusive and prosperous business community, the Chamber works to build strength and resilience among its members and position Calgary as a magnet for talent, diversification and opportunity. As an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1891, we build on our history to serve and advocate for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors across the city.