For the past few years, the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area has faced significant labor shortages. The industry has heavily relied on the underground labor market that comprises of individuals who came to Canada as workers, students, or as visitors with valid immigration status.

In a move aiming at boosting the Canadian construction workforce in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada is providing a chance to 500 out of status immigrants residents who work around the area.

However, their visas have now elapsed, and unfortunately, this leaves them with a higher likelihood of exploitation.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has come out clearly to address this issue. They have come up with a mechanism to give 500 of these construction workers whose visas have expired and their families permanent residence status. This will be done through a coordinated program that in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress. This move focuses on overcoming the labor shortage witnessed in the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area, and to reduce cases of out of status immigrants exploitation in the area.

According to the news released by CLC, these workers have been playing a significant role in filling the labor shortage challenge in the area. Their contribution to the economy of the area is substantial and cannot be ignored. However, due to the expiry of their visas, these people cannot work freely fearing that they might be detected, detained, or deported. Further, the issue has made most workers and their families vulnerable to employer’s exploitation and abuse, and has limited them from accessing social programs.


Foreign nationals interested in the program must have met the following requirements to be eligible for the program:

The foreign nationals must have legally entered Canada as a temporary resident.

For the past five years, they must have been continuously living in Canada.

The prospective candidates must have worked in the construction industry of the Greater Toronto Area, (Durham Region, City of Toronto, York Region, Halton Region, and Peel Region); and accumulated three years of full-time construction work experience within the past five years.

Candidates must provide evidence of CLB level 4 in English or French. Foreign nationals interested in the program should have a Canadian family member, permanent resident or a spouse, common-law partner, or a child in Canada.

Additionally, any candidate interested in the program should have a referral letter signed by the Canadian Labor Congress.

Any interested persons should note that the program is only open for those people who have overstayed their temporary resident status and are working without authorization in Canada.


The following occupations are eligible under the temporary program:

Major Group 72 Trades, Skilled Transport, and Equipment Operators

Major Group 73 in maintenance and equipment operation trades

NOC 7441 – residential and commercial installers and servicers

NOC 7521 – heavy equipment operators (except crane)

NOC 7611 – construction trades helpers and laborers


The Canadian Labour Congress will open applications for the temporary program on its website on September 3, 2019. The will use a first-come, first-served basis to select the applicants.

In the case of a scenario where more than 500 people apply, it is essential to note that those with children in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner in Canada will be given priority.

IRCC will start working on the applications referred to it by the Canadian Labour Congress on January 2, 2020.