Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) Program: Creating Efficiencies in LMIA Processing
There is an old expression that time is money. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Service Canada seem to have taken this expression to heart and are currently launching a program to help expedite the processing of Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and have foreign national employees arrive in Canada faster and with less administrative burden.
In addition to digitizing the LMIA process earlier this year, ESDC is introducing the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP). This will be a three-year pilot program in which employers can apply for and obtain designation as a recognized employer which provides the following benefits:
- A simplified application process - this will ease administrative burdens for the employer
- Faster LMIA application processing - Service Canada officers will have less to process when reviewing LMIA applications; and
- A visible Job Bank designation - when employers post positions on the job bank, potential candidates will be aware of their Recognized Employer status.
Note that acceptance in REP program will not modify the underlying requirements required by the LMIA process. Proof of advertising will still be required unless otherwise specifically exempted, through another policy measure.
In order to receive this designation with the TFWP, employers must:
- Have received at minimum of three positive LMIAs for the same occupation within the last five-year period.
- The position for which the LMIA is sought must be designated as being in short supply in the Canadian job market as per the Canada Occupational Projection System (COPS).
- The employer must have a history of regular use with the TFWP and of being in good compliance and providing a work environment free of abuse.
Eligible positions under the COPS can be found here.
The TFWP will be actively contacting employers which they think will be eligible for the program, but employers who believe that they qualify for the program can also apply without an invitation. Making the application is as simple as advising the TFWP that the business would like to be considered for the designation at the time of making a new LMIA application. This is done by clicking the appropriate box on the LMIA application form.
The application for the initial work permit with the REP request will be more vigorously vetted, with the end result being more simplified applications going forward. Should an employer not be approved for the pilot program, it will not affect the decision of the LMIA request associated with the REP request and an employer may receive a negative decision on the REP request but a positive decision on the LMIA.
The roll out for the program will be in two phases. Phase 1 will start in September 2023 and focus on Agriculturally based occupations. Phase 2 will commence in January 2024 and includes a variety of occupations in STEM, Healthcare, Service, Trades and Manufacturing. Eligibility for employers to join the pilot program will end in September 2024.
This program specifically does not include occupations in the IT sector as these occupations already receive expedited service through the Global Talent Stream (GTS) program. It also cannot be used in conjunction with the Facilitated Processing program in Québec.
One of the key aspects of this program is the emphasis on immigration compliance and safe work environments. This is a significant policy change by ESDC as it uses incentives to encourage to policy compliance instead of disciplinary action, favouring carrots over sticks.
This program is geared towards employers who have repeat requests for specific positions for which they require sizable work forces. The focus seems to be to support essential service industries who struggled to keep up with demand during the COVID pandemic and who are still struggling to recover in light of increased and lingering labour shortages.
If you are an employer as described above, or you have questions about this program and its suitability for your business, feel free to contact us. We are happy to help.