Alberta Government Implements Tighter Restrictions for Temporary Foreign Workers

Authors: Scott Bell, Jean Torrens, Kaitlin Ward

The Government of Alberta announced its plan to limit the number of temporary foreign workers in the province on June 29, 2020 and finalized the program on November 2, 2020. The province has now restricted most occupations in which employers can hire temporary foreign workers under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (the “TFWP”), purportedly as part of its larger Recovery Plan.

Prior to COVID-19, the Government of Alberta had already identified 24 occupational categories under its TFWP “Refusal to Process List”. If an Alberta employer sought to secure a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) in relation to one of those listed occupations, the application would be refused for processing.

On November 2, 2020, the Government of Alberta added 475 occupations to The “Refusal to Process List”. It is now so extensive that the Government of Alberta has only identified those occupations that are exempt from the restrictions. Only occupations on Alberta’s “Processing Exemption List” will be processed.

The Government of Alberta’s purported intention for this action is to ensure more employment opportunities for Albertans. While protecting Canadian employment is important in the current landscape, certain industries in Alberta that rely heavily on temporary foreign workers will be particularly impacted.

Employers can continue to access the TFWP for the following 27 exempt occupations:

Management occupations:

  1. Computer and information systems manager
  2. Fire chiefs and senior firefighting officers
  3. Managers in agriculture

Natural and applied sciences-related occupations:

  1. Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
  2. Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries
  3. Information systems analysts and consultants
  4. Database analysts and data administrators
  5. Software engineers and designers
  6. Computer programmer and interactive media developers
  7. Web designers and developers
  8. Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors
  9. Computer network technicians
  10. Information systems testing technicians

Health occupations:

  1. Specialist physicians
  2. General practitioners and family physicians

Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services:

  1. University professors and lecturers
  2. Firefighters
  3. Homer child care providers
  4. Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations

Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport

  1. Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations
  2. Graphic designers and illustrators

Trade, transport and equipment operators and related occupations

  1. Crane operators (only All-Terrain Crane Operators)

Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations

  1. Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  2. General farm workers
  3. Nursery and greenhouse workers
  4. Harvesting labourers

Occupations in manufacturing and utilities

  1. Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers

If you are concerned about losing access to the TFWP, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our immigration or labour and employment team to discuss your options.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.