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Canada’s Occupation Specific Work Permit- Features and Benefits

Posted on January 16, 2020
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Canada Work Permit

At present work permits in Canada fall under two categories-employer specific and open work permits. An open work permit basically allows you to work for any employer. This visa is not job-specific, so applicants do not require the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an offer letter from an employer who has paid the compliance fee.

With an open work permit, you can work for any employer in Canada except for a few restrictions. However, you can obtain an open work permit only under limited circumstances.

The employer-specific work permit as the name suggests is a permit that allows you to work for a specific employer. This permit comes with its inherent restrictions. Employers will not have the flexibility to alter the work of their employees, nor will employees be able to move on to new roles within their organization.

To overcome the limitations of these existing work permits, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is looking at creating a third category of work permit: an occupation-specific work permit. The motive behind introducing this work permit is to help foreign workers leave one employer and move to another job under the same occupation or under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) without having to apply for a new work permit each time.

This post has more details on this work permit.

Features of the occupation-specific work permit:

The work permit will initially be applicable for the primary agriculture and low-wage stream.

Workers who have an occupation-specific work permit will be able to apply only to those companies that have vacant positions and approved  Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) from Employment and Social Development Canada (Service Canada). This is to ensure employers will comply with rules for wages and working conditions when employing foreign workers.

 This proposed occupation-specific work permit is expected to complement the open work permit for vulnerable workers launched in June last year. This work permit was launched to help foreign workers with an employer-specific work permit who are facing abuse from their employers to leave the job and look for another job in any occupation.

 Benefits and drawbacks of the occupation-specific work permit:

The proposed work permit will allow foreign employees working in Canada to leave an abusive employer and look for other options. It can create competitive working conditions for both foreign and domestic workers. But for every job offer that a foreign worker is willing to accept, it requires an approved LMIA to ensure the protection of the local labor market.

The current rules require that a foreign worker in order to change his job must obtain a new employer-specific work permit from the IRCC. This restricts their freedom to work for any employer other than what is mentioned in the work permit.

The time, effort and cost of finding a new job and getting a new work permit discourage them from changing jobs even though they have the option.

Foreigners who come to work under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program can work in the country for up to one year. With the proposed work permit foreign workers can arrive at a new job after working for another employer with only a few months left in their work permit before it expires.

The proposed work permit makes it easy for foreign workers to change jobs, but this option can have certain drawbacks. With the permit making it easy to change jobs, there is the possibility that foreign workers will change jobs in the shortest time once they arrive in Canada. The Canadian employers make a lot of effort in hiring these workers and if these workers leave their jobs within a few months, then it will be a waste of effort. To avoid this, a rule to work for a mandatory period under a single employer is required.

With the proposal to remove the requirement of a new work permit with each job offer, there will be no way to identify employers that hire foreign workers. The employer-specific work permit helps to keep employers accountable for providing the right working conditions. So, this will require discovering new ways to track employment relationships.

If the proposed occupation-specific work permit comes into force, it will prove beneficial to international workers working in Canada. At the same time, certain checks and balances are required to ensure that the work permit requirements are not misused.

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