Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions

Credit to Author: Steven Meurrens| Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2020 15:22:22 +0000

Does your profession or occupation feature in this list?

Generally, in order to hire a worker from abroad, a Canadian company will have to first demonstrate that there is a labour shortage for the position.  To do this, the company will need to recruit for four weeks in prescribed locations with specific information in the job advertisements, invite potentially qualified Canadian candidates to apply for the position, and provide a spreadsheet to the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada demonstrating that no qualified Canadians applied for the position.  Afterwards, they will be interviewed by the government to confirm why they could not recruit any qualified Canadians.

The process, called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), can be cumbersome, and it is a deterrent for many employers from hiring foreign workers.

There are many exemptions to the LMIA process including in the case of international graduates, youth exchanges, Francophone employees, provincial nominees, people who qualify under free trade agreements and spouses of skilled workers.  As well, certain professions and occupations are exempt from the LMIA.  Here are a few.

Religious Workers

Religious workers do not need LMIAs to work in Canada.  In order to qualify, a foreign national must be providing religious instruction, promoting a particular faith, advancing the spiritual teachings of a religious faith or maintaining the doctrines and spiritual observances on which those teachings are based.

Simply being employed by a Canadian religious organization is not sufficient. For example, a church accountant or gardener would not qualify for a LMIA exemption. However, a Kosher chef or Gatka instructor would.

Charitable Workers

The charitable worker category is somewhat broader than the religious worker category, although it is less well known.  To qualify, the work that a foreign national will perform in Canada must be of a charitable nature.  While being a Canada Revenue Agency registered charity is not a requirement, it is helpful, and being a not-for-profit organization is typically a must.

Work that is of a charitable nature or purpose is work which contributes to the relief of poverty, advancement of education, advancement of religion or other certain purposes that benefit the community. Examples of the latter include the promotion of health, advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts, protecting the environment, promoting the welfare of animals, reliving conditions attributable to being aged, relieving conditions associated with disability, providing public amenities, protecting and preserving significant heritage sites and promoting commerce or industry.

It is common for employers of workers performing the above charitable workers to apply for LMIAs.  However, it is also completely unnecessary.

Television and film production worker

 Another category that is surprisingly under-utilized is television and film production workers.  This category is not limited to actors and actresses.  Anyone whose work is essential to the making of a film or television production in Canada can qualify, including camerapersons, graphic designers, set designers, etc.

Significant benefit

 Finally, anyone whose work would result in a significant benefit can get a work permit without a LMIA.  This is a highly discretionary category, and such permits are typically issued where the balance of practical considerations argues for the issuance of a work permit in a time frame shorter than would be necessary to obtain a LMIA.  To qualify, a person must show that the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of issuing the work permit are so clear and compelling that the importance of the LMIA can be overcome.

It is always frustrating to meet individuals whose ability to work in Canada has been delayed or cancelled because of LMIA issues when those individuals never needed a LMIA in the first place.  All companies should consider whether they qualify for an exemption before starting the LMIA process.