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High-Wage and Low-Wage Streams

High-Wage and Low-Wage Streams

Difference Between High-wage and Low-wage Streams

There have been several changes with regards to job offers for high-wage and low-wage streams in the past year. These are two different streams that fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In most cases under the TFW program, Canadian employers must also receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The TFW program essentially allows these Canadian employers to hire foreign national workers to fill intended job positions in Canada, all while ensuring that there are no Canadian or permanent residents that can fill the intended job. In this article, I will address the changes of the median hourly wages and as a result the high-wage stream and low-wage stream.

Responsibilities of the Canadian Employer

In almost all cases of hiring a foreign national worker, Canadian employers must receive a posititve Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) prior to hiring a foreign worker. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is a useful tool for Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill labour shortages in Canada. The TFWP is administered and run by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

As of April 29, 2016, the median hourly wages by province/territory table have been updated with new wage requirements. This is an extremely essential change to be considered by Canadian employers as they must keep this in mind when hiring foreign national workers. Specifically, this is created to be in accordance with provincial and territorial standards of the designated wage that the foreign national worker will be receiving. Additionally, the annual unemployment rates by economic region have been updated as well.

The changes to the median hourly wages by province and territory will help the Canadian employer to know which TFWP requirements they must meet. The Canadian employer is required to determine the specific wage that will be offered and the location for the position, which will ultimately allow them to know whether they will need to apply for a LMIA. Furthermore, this will also help determine which stream they should apply for, whether it is through the high-wage or low-wage streams. Both streams have specific requirements that must be abided by.

In other words, if the Canadian employer is offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage, then they will need to abide by the requirements of the low-wage stream. On the other hand, if the Canadian employer is offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker that is at or above the provincial/territorial median hourly wage, then they will need to abide by the requirements of the high-wage stream. In order to determine whether the wage of a temporary foreign worker is below, at or above the median hourly wage, they must analyze the median hourly wage by province and/or territory.

High-Wage Stream

Canadian employers that are looking to hire high-wage workers must provide transition plans with their LMIA application to make certain that they are taking the appropriate steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers. It is important to note that high-wage workers are individuals who are earning above the median hourly wage for a specific occupation in a specific region. Moreover, the transition plans have been created to guarantee that Canadian employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers are abiding by and fulfilling the purpose of the program. Canadian employers must use this program as a last resort to fill their labour needs. It must also only be used on a temporary basis. Additionally, this option is only used when qualified Canadians are not available for the intended position.

The way in which TFWP determines the prevailing wage and the appropriate job requirements and duties for the specific intended job is by utilizing the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes. Once the Canadian employer has determined that they will be hiring a temporary foreign worker for a high-wage position, they must make sure that all of the requirements are completed for the stream. One of the most important aspects to the requirements for this specific stream is meeting the wage requirement. If you do not meet the wage requirements, then unfortunately the application can be dismissed.

Low-Wage Stream

Low-wage workers are individuals who are earning a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage where the intended job in located. This allows for Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers for full-time positions where the wage is lower. Similar to the high-wage stream, in order to determine the appropriate job requirements and duties for the intended job, along with the prevailing wage, the low-wage stream also uses the NOC codes.

It is extremely important to note that the TFWP has been refusing to process LMIA applications for 10 low-wage/lower-skilled occupations from specific employers. The employers that fall under these refusals are in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail trade sector in economic regions across Canada. Additionally, these employers must also have an unemployment rate of 6% or higher.

Important Information to Note

Whenever applying for any stream within the TFWP, it is always important to pay attention to detail and to make sure that all of the required documentation and information is provided. This must be done prior to hiring any temporary foreign workers. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when applying through these streams, such as median hourly wages and local unemployment rates. Along with these factors, other factors such as transition plans, compliance reviews, advertising requirements, and much more should be considered before hiring. Therefore, in order to have a successful application and acquire a temporary foreign worker, all of these considerations must be complied with in order to successfully gain your employee. Additionally, for your reference, the median hourly wages by province/territory, in dollars per hour, have been included below.


Wage prior to April 29, 2016

Wage as of April 29, 2016






British Columbia








New Brunswick








North West Territories




Nova Scotia












Prince Edward Island

















Contact Akrami & Associates

If you’d like to hire a temporary foreign worker in either the high-wage stream or the low-wage stream, we can help you with this process. Applying for an LMIA can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with how Immigration applications work. Moreover, any Immigration application can become overwhelming if done alone; therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to apply. Additionally, it is extremely important that you take into consideration the aforementioned information prior to submitting your application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients apply for an LMIA and hire temporary foreign workers. If you believe that you might be eligible for an LMIA, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advise.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!

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