February 8, 2023
Work permits extended to TFW families

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced Canada is extending work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers. This temporary, two year measure expands the eligibility for work permits to family members accompanying the principal applicant to Canada, which the federal government says.

“Everywhere I go, employers across the country continue to identify a lack of workers as their biggest obstacle,” said Fraser. “Today’s announcement will help employers find the workers they need to fill their labour gaps by expanding work permits to family members at all skill levels, resulting in family members of over 200,000 foreign workers being able to work in Canada."

Before the announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation. This temporary measure aims to improve the emotional well-being, physical health and financial stability of workers by keeping families together.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the eligibility to work in Canada expanded to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at all skill levels. As a result of this new approach, it is estimated that family members of more than 200,000 foreign workers could begin working in Canada, offering a greater opportunity for both foreign workers seeking to work in Canada and for employers addressing their labour needs. The temporary measure will be implemented in three phases to ensure its successful rollout:

Phase one will enable family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP) to apply for an open work permit. Phase two aims to expand the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the TWFP, following consultations. Phase three will include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to assess operational feasibility for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers.

The federal government issued over 645,000 work permits between January and October 2022 — nearly four times more than the 163,000 issued over the same period in 2021.