Feds ease restrictions on work permits for foreign workers

The federal government is cutting red tape to allow for temporary foreign workers to change jobs more quickly

Wait time cut from 10 weeks to approximately 10 days

Temporary foreign workers which usually pick asparagus at John Jaques' farm near Thamesville. (Submitted by John Jaques)

The federal government announced Tuesday it is temporarily streamlining the process for a temporary foreign worker to change jobs while in Canada.

The move is designed to allow temporary foreign workers who already have work permits which are tied to specific workplaces to find new jobs more quickly if the jobs they have are cut due to COVID-19 restrictions or other reasons.

Currently, workers have to reapply for a new work permit and wait for that permit to be approved before starting a job in a new workplace.

The government is now allowing workers who meet certain qualifications, to start work as soon as they secure new employment while they wait for their new permit to go through.

That will cut what often can take 10 weeks or more down to 10 days or less, according to a news release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

This will help operators in the greenhouse and agri-food sectors fill empty spaces faster, while also helping many workers who can't go back home due to travel restrictions find work here, the government says.

Immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri applauds the move but says caution also must be taken to ensure the health and safety of the workers.

"It's a bandaid to stop the bleeding," said Kadri. "But we have to make sure that these workers are safe in the plants that they are working or the farms that they are working."

"Not only when they are in quarantine for 14 days but when they are on the jobsite."

"Farmers are very committed to adhering to local health and safety measures," said Justine Taylor, science and government relations manager for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers." So that's their number one priority is keeping their workforce safe."

To be eligible the workers must:

  • be in Canada with valid status
  • have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption
  • have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program.

The IRCC rules state the worker must submit a request to the IRCC, the request will be reviewed within 10 days and then the worker will be notified by email if they can start their new job.

Nothing changes for the employer.



Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is a video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print. He has received a number of awards including an RTDNA regional TV news award and a New York Festivals honourable mention.

with files from Jason Viau