VICTORY! Foreign Worker Permits Extended in Alberta

The federal government has answered our call for transition measures for foreign workers. As of Feb. 1, selected foreign workers who applied for permanent residency through the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) before July 1, 2014, will gain a one-year bridging work permit. In the meantime, the Alberta government can process their applications.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will also exempt these workers from being counted under the cap on low-wage positions, provided employers meet strict criteria. This one-time exemption allows employers to apply for renewed Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA), while their existing foreign workers pursue permanent immigration.

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Our action
Restaurants Canada took our concerns about the April deadline to the federal and Alberta governments last fall. Many workers’ permits would expire on April 1, 2015, due to the four-year cumulative work rule. We argued that already short-staffed employers would lose valued long-time employees. Also, foreign workers with strong roots in their communities would be sent home before their permanent resident applications are processed. We are pleased both governments listened to us, and came up with ways to avoid leaving our members and their employees in a bind.

Next steps
Restaurants Canada is pushing for permit extensions in all provinces with a PNP processing backlog, especially British Columbia. B.C.’s backlog is far less severe than Alberta’s, but processing times have grown since the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) changes. The federal government is open to a similar arrangement with British Columbia. Restaurants Canada is working with the B.C. government to extend permits.