TORONTO — In a move intended to boost the ability of immigrant professionals to work in their chosen fields, Queen’s Park has introduced legislation banning regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience as part of eligibility requirements.
The government immediately recognized Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) as the first association to remove the condition from its application criteria.
Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said the legislation has the potential to help thousands of immigrating professionals practise in Ontario.
“It’s an all-too-common experience: meeting a skilled newcomer trained as an engineer, doctor or accountant, working in a low-wage job that has nothing to do with their profession,” said McNaughton in a May 23 statement. “Our government has a plan to build a stronger Ontario that works for everyone, and we’re going to do it by unleashing the talent we have right here at home.
“I congratulate Professional Engineers Ontario for taking this historic step to support our mission.” The government says there are thousands of engineering job vacancies that are currently unfilled.
Meanwhile, studies have shown only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions they trained for. One of the barriers that has prevented the professionals from registering in their profession has been Canadian work experience.
“Each year, up to 60 per cent of the engineering licence applications that PEO receives are from internationally trained engineers,” said Roydon Fraser, president of PEO, in a statement. “By no longer requiring proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering licence, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified, international applicants can be licensed more quickly, so they can actively contribute to the economy as engineers.”
Ontario is the first province in Canada to ban unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements to help newcomers work in the professions they trained for. In December 2023, all unfair requirements for Canadian experience will be automatically voided unless an exemption is granted by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for public health and safety.
As part of Working for Workers Act, 2023, introduced in March, regulatory reforms would help ensure that regulated professions assess competency in a way that is non-discriminatory.