Quebec’s 2022 Immigration Plan: welcome flexibility for employers in the manufacturing sector

This article first appeared in French in the December 2021 issue of the Journal des Parcs industriels of the Corporation des parcs industriels du Québec (the Quebec Industrial Parks Corporation).

The pandemic has not made recruiting either local or international workers easy for companies in the region.1 Many employers who initially relied on temporary foreign workers to fill their human resources needs have faced numerous obstacles before their recruits can join their work teams—difficulties partly related to the considerable lengthening of processing times by government authorities.

On November 2, during the presentation of Quebec’s 2022 Immigration Plan, Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity and Minister of Immigration, Francization and Integration, announced several new measures designed to facilitate the hiring of temporary foreign workers. These are intended to stimulate the Quebec labour market by allowing employers to hire more qualified personnel from abroad and adding several manufacturing occupations to the list of positions eligible for simplified processing.

 

A summary of the plan

Since the labour shortage is affecting certain occupations, various adjustments have been proposed to ease the recruitment process for companies and then facilitate the hiring of foreign workers for these critical positions. For example, occupations that require specific manual skills that are particularly difficult to find are now eligible for streamlined processing of Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) applications with Service Canada. Compared with the regular process, the streamlined process is less complex. The positions targeted for the more flexible arrangements are the following:

  • material handler;
  • transport truck driver, bus driver, heavy equipment operator and public maintenance machinery operator;
  • chainsaw and logging vehicle operator, operator of metal processing machines, machining tools, plastics processing machines, and machinery and industrial processing of food, beverages and related products;
  • logging worker, foundry worker, fish and seafood processing worker;
  • Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers;
  • plastic products assembler, finisher and inspector;
  • industrial painter, coater and metal finishing process operator.

For each of these occupations, employers will benefit from simplified processing of their applications and a faster review of their LMIA file, compared to occupations not on the list.

Quebec’s 2022 Immigration Plan will also allow employers in specific target sectors to recruit up to 20% temporary foreign workers for a single workplace, compared to the 10% threshold for all other employers. The increased limit is aimed at integrating more immigrant resources to fill vacancies in sectors experiencing significant labour shortages, such as:

  • retail (cashier, clerk, specialized cleaner);
  • food and lodging (cashier, waiter, housekeeping attendant);
  • food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing (food processing labourer);
  • management of companies and enterprises (housekeeping attendant, specialized cleaner, janitor, building superintendent and landscaping labourer);
  • health care (housekeeping attendant);
  • forestry labour;
  • rubber and plastic products manufacturing labour;
  • wood, pulp and paper processing labour.

In addition, the government is offering financial assistance to support companies who choose to pursue international recruitment. Up to 50% of the costs incurred for an eligible international recruitment activity may be reimbursed to the employer, up to $1,200. This provision mainly affects companies that require professional services during their recruitment process. The funding will enable employers in targeted sectors to recruit talent abroad at a lower cost.

In the current employment environment, hiring temporary foreign workers should be considered within an organization’s overall human resources plan. For companies targeted by the more flexible policies, this form of recruitment could certainly be an interesting solution—at first temporary but potentially permanent—to address their staffing shortages and pursue their growth.

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1 According to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Quebec had the third highest job vacancy rate in Canada, at 4.2%, with 146,865 vacancies to fill in the first quarter of 2021, https://www.mtess.gouv.qc.ca/grands-dossiers/action_maindoeuvre/index.asp.

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