OnBoard Winter 2016 - page 26

After nearly a decade of Conservative leadership, Canada
is entering 2016 with a new government. Many business
leaders are curious about how the Liberal government
will approach immigration policy.
In the nine-and-a-half years of Conservative rule,
governmental changes to immigration were monumental
in nature. The Tories introduced new permanent residence
programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class category
and the Express Entry permanent residence program,
which they envisioned would take in 100,000 of the
180,000 permanent residents who arrive in Canada annually
through economic categories. Also of note were numerous
free trade agreements, intended to facilitate the movement
of labour between the EU, South Korea, and most recently,
with much of Asia, via the Trans Pacific Partnership.
The Conservative government also tightened up
foreign worker programs by revamping the labour
market testing process that governed the sponsorship
of temporary foreign workers. Of particular note were
new compliance measures, which will likely survive
into the Liberal government’s tenure.
Compliance measures for temporary foreign workers were
traditionally limited to employers who obtained approval
of their labour market impact assessments (LMIA) to hire
individuals on work permits. Not only did the government
strengthen this compliance regime by introducing in-
depth audits and unannounced inspections, but they also
began auditing employers who brought in individuals
with LMIA-exempt work permits, such as those under
the widely used NAFTA Professional and intra-company
transfer categories. Given the Liberals’ criticism of the
previous government’s handling of the temporary foreign
worker scandals of 2013 and 2014, businesses should not
expect much change to this more stringent approach.
A key indicator of the new government’s view is Prime
Minister Trudeau’s appointments of John McCallum
as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
and MaryAnn Mihychuk as Minister of Employment,
Workforce Development and Labour. These ministers
will influence not only the content of policies but also
the pace of changes to them. Jason Kenney, Canada’s
immigration minister from 2008–13, introduced a
whirlwind of reforms, many of which are attributed
to his own personal attention to this portfolio.
These Ministers’ prior activities and statements, coupled
with the renaming of the ministries themselves, indicate
their primary focus will likely be on fulfilling campaign
pledges to address the Syrian refugee crisis. Businesses
can also anticipate a re-examination of the temporary
foreign worker program in general, especially with
regard to creating new pathways to permanent residency
for temporary foreign workers.
Businesses should not, however, equate renewed focus
on refugee and family-based priorities with government
complacency on enforcement. Continued vigilance
remains prudent, as the new government will undoubtedly
face similar demands to protect the Canadian labour
market — something Liberal critics demanded often
from the opposite side of the House.
Audrea Golding is a Partner at Fragomen Canada’s
Toronto office. She has expertise in both U.S. and
Canadian temporary immigration matters. Jack Kim
is a Manager at Fragomen Canada’s Toronto office and
specializes in Canadian temporary immigration matters.
They can be reached at 416.504.3838 or by email at
Global Mobility and Business
Immigration Update:
What to Expect from the New Liberal Government
By Audrea Golding, Partner, Fragomen (Canada) Co. &
Jack Kim, Manager, Fragomen (Canada) Co.
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