The Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables employers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages when Canadians or permanent residents are not readily available. It is jointly managed by CIC and HRSDC under the authorities of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Regulations (IRPR). Provinces and territories also have a role to play in selecting some of the immigrants and temporary foreign workers that arrive in their province/territory.
In order to hire a temporary foreign worker, an employer generally must obtain authorization from HRSDC/Service Canada through a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) before a temporary foreign worker may apply to CIC for a work permit. To obtain this authorization, employers must demonstrate that their job offer is genuine and that no Canadians or permanent residents are readily available for the job.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has grown considerably in the last decade. In 2010, 182,276 temporary foreign workers entered Canada compared to 110,861 in 2002. The majority of the temporary foreign workers who come to Canada enter to work in professional, managerial or trade occupations. In 2010 more than 67,500 temporary foreign workers came to work in high-skilled occupations (National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A, and B). However, a growing number of temporary foreign workers are also filling shortages in lower skilled occupations (NOC C and D). In 2010 over 50,500 foreign workers came to Canada to work in low-skilled occupations, which is an increase of about 74% over the 2002 numbers.