Mine fines show importance of LMIA compliance

By Staff

A record penalty for a Nova Scotia mine owner shows the importance of strict compliance with Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman tells

According to a CBC News report, the mine operator was fined $54,000 following a Service Canada investigation that found the firm was paying U.S. workers considerably more than when the same jobs were advertised to Canadians as part of the LMIA process.

The company was also banned from using Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) altogether for one year and was named and shamed on its website for violators, although the business has appealed the decision to the Federal Court.

Seligman, principal of the immigration law boutique Seligman Law, says the ruling may seem unusual to some observers who assume such regulatory action is reserved for maltreatment or underpayment of foreign workers.

“What this ruling highlights in the importance of strict compliance with an LMIA. You can get in serious trouble for paying workers too much as well as too little,” she says.

Seligman, who assists businesses with TFWP compliance, explains that LMIAs are intended to demonstrate that there are not enough Canadian citizens or permanent residents to meet the demand for specified jobs in particular locations. Part of the process for obtaining a positive LMIA involves first advertising for the positions in Canada.

To meet the requirements of the TFWP, job offers to foreign workers must then be made on the same terms as those advertised to Canadians.

“You can’t say that the labour market has been tested properly if foreign workers are offered more money to do the same work than Canadians,” Seligman notes. “Canadian citizens or permanent residents may have made themselves available at those higher wages.”

However, CBC reports that the Canadian mine company offered its American employees between 60 and 120 per cent more in salaries, as well as up to 60 per cent more in overtime and a number of other cash bonuses and benefits — none of which appeared in ads directed to Canadians.

“Employers must review the terms of their LMIAs which support work permits to ensure they match the terms on which their foreign workers are employed,” Seligman says.

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