Despite travel restrictions announced for air and land/border since the COVID-19 outbreak, Temporary Foreign Work permits continue to be approved and TFW continue to travel to Canada to promote the food supply chain and other critical infrastructure. New measures are continuously being implemented by the Government to remove the administrative burden for employers hiring foreign workers.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has launched a new online LMIA pilot program so employers can submit electronic LMIA’s. This will streamline the LMIA process and decrease processing time. Existing and new LMIA applications are being facilitated for approval. Some of these measures include:

  1. Changes to LMIA not required if terms and conditions remain the same
  2. Waiver of LMIA in 10 key agriculture and agri-food sectors till October 2020
  3. Priority processing of LMIA’s in agriculture or agri-food sectors
  4. LMIA duration increased from 1-2 years for low wage stream pilot program
  5. Employers hiring on the Agricultural stream may submit previously validated Housing Inspection Report
  6. Name changes expedited

At the same time, the Canadian Government has a duty to protect Canadians from the spread of COVID-19.  In a joint letter between the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, the Government of Canada has outlined its requirements of employers who are continuing to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada.

Since the Quarantine Act came into force on March 25, 2020, making mandatory self-isolation a requirement for all persons entering Canada limit the spread of COVID-19, both temporary foreign workers and their employers are unclear about whether or not the temporary foreign worker may start work immediately, or be subject to a 14-day isolation. -isolation period and that they will be paid during this period.

Most temporary foreign workers will be subject to the 14-day mandatory self-isolation process, unless their occupation is exempted by the enclosed Emergency Order or is “essential” to maintain the health and welfare of Canadians.

The ONLY Categories of Exempted Workers are:

  1. make necessary medical deliveries;
  2. work in the trade and transportation sector to move goods and people;
  3. cross the border regularly to go to work in Canada, including in the healthcare sector or critical infrastructure workers; and
  4. cross the border to provide or receive essential services, including emergency responders and personnel providing essential services to Canadians related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Essential services test performed by the province or territory is not applicable here as they are not exemptions and not a part of the requirements related to the federal Quarantine act.

Employers of temporary foreign workers are also responsible for self-isolating employees at work and any housing provided, pursuant to public health requirements, including:

  • providing adequate space in accommodations to allow for social distancing (remain 2 metres apart at all times);
  • ensuring those who are in self-isolation are separated from other individuals who are not in self-isolation;
  • keeping self-isolated workers away from older adults and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing serious illness; and,
  • providing materials that enable workers to practice adequate sanitation (i.e. soap).

Canada recognizes that Temporary Foreign Workers are important to the economy and are able to perform jobs for which Canadians or Permanent Residents are not available. Foreign nationals requiring a work permit, whether they are visa required or not, will not be allowed to board a plane departing from any country other than the United States if they don’t have the work permit or approval letter.

Foreign nationals will not be able to apply for a work permit at the POE (unless entering from the U.S. and allowed to do so)