In a major move that will benefit thousands of Indian professionals and other foreigners in Canada, the North American country will expand its work permit eligibility to the family members of Open Work Permit (OWP) holders from next year to address acute labour shortages.

The OWP allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for any employer and any job.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser on Friday announced that his department is extending work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers.

"Canada is expanding work permits for family members! Starting in 2023, spouses and children of a principal applicant will be eligible to work in Canada," Fraser tweeted.

"Expanding the eligibility for work permits to family members accompanying the principal applicant to Canada will help address labour shortages by assisting employers in finding the workers they need," he said in a press statement.

Employers across the country continue to identify a lack of workers as their biggest obstacle, Fraser said.

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The new measure, he said, 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.

Prior to this announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation.

Temporary measure

The new measure aims to improve the emotional well-being, physical health and financial stability of workers by keeping families together. As a result, it is expected that the worker will better integrate into their overall work environment and community, Fraser said.

Starting in January 2023, through a temporary two-year measure, Canada will expand eligibility to work in the country to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at all skill levels, the statement said.

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The measure will be implemented in 3 phases to ensure its successful implementation.