08/07/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 10/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Temporary Foreign Worker Program changes now in effect

Changes to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program came into effect on July 31, says Jason Kenney, the minister of employment and social development.

A higher user fee for employers applying for labour market opinions (LMO) along with new language and advertising requirements are some of the changes now in effect.

The changes, first announced in April, follow a CBC Go Public story that aired in April on the use of foreign workers by the Royal Bank of Canada.

The federal government defended the program at first, but after sustained public outrage promised to reform it.

"The reforms announced today and in recent months further strengthen the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers,” Kenney said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“These improvements help ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is only used as intended: to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis.”

Effective as of July 31:

- The processing fee employers will have to pay for each temporary foreign worker position they request through a LMO will rise to $275 from $150.

- While exceptions can be made in rare cases, English and French are now the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement.

- New advertising requirements will ensure employers make greater efforts to hire Canadians before they can apply to hire temporary foreign workers.

- Employers will have to answer additional questions to ensure that temporary foreign workers are not used to outsource Canadian jobs.

As part of the federal government's ongoing reform to the temporary foreign workers program, the federal government is also working on introducing further changes such as:

- Increasing the government’s authority to revoke work permits.

- Suspend, revoke and refuse to process LMOs.

- Ensure employers who rely on temporary foreign workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce.

The current changes do not apply to on-farm primary agriculture occupations, such as those under the seasonal agricultural worker program.