Labour Market Benefits Plan
Employers who seek fast-track approvals to hire foreign experts must be prepared to answer open-ended questions and predict the future — with precise detail.
The federal government’s new Global Talent Stream process requires employers to file a Labour Market Benefits Plan with each foreign-worker application, detailing how the requested position will enhance Canadian job creation, training and knowledge transfer. Far from checking a box and writing a few sentences about good intentions, lawyers warn, the new LMBP requires employers to say how many Canadians they will be able to hire as a result of bringing in a foreign worker to help expand a business. And there will be a review in about six months to ensure the employer has lived up to commitments.
Chantal Arsenault of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP says the LMBP is similar to the transition plan that is required under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. “It’s a little nerve-wracking for employers to have to predict what’s going to happen,” she says. She adds that a lack of clear guidelines makes it hard to know what the government is expecting. “It’s a challenge that we’ve always had — the manuals with which they [government officials] are working have never been made public. That’s why we try to share experience amongst the legal community.” Over time, she says, lawyers develop a shared perspective on how to meet government requirements.
In addition to hiring plans, lawyers say, the people who process LMBPs want detailed training plans that include: how many people will be trained; what they will learn; when and where training will be delivered; and who the trainees will be. If internships are to be created as a result of foreign-worker hiring, all the same information should be provided. Lawyers say lack of specificity in an LMBP can be the cause of significant delays in approvals that are supposed to be on the fast track.
Caroline Phan, in-house counsel with Bombardier Inc., says Ottawa should definitely provide additional guidance on how Labour Market Benefits Plans should be written. And she advises those filing applications under the new program to be meticulous in documenting every aspect of domestic hiring, training and knowledge transfer attributed to each foreign-worker position.
Jennifer McRae, with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman in Winnipeg, says the Labour Market Benefits Plan is new and employers are unsure how to approach it. “Nobody’s sure how they [federal administrators] are going to use all the information and how you’re going to be reviewed on it.”