Canada, a land of diverse opportunities, has long been a magnet for skilled immigrants worldwide. However, despite their qualifications and expertise in engineering and medicine, many face significant challenges when practicing their professions in the country.
Recent Ontario legislation has banned regulated professions from mandating Canadian work experience in over 30 occupations. Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has emerged as the first association to eliminate this requirement from their application criteria. This landmark decision has the potential to unlock countless opportunities for thousands of qualified professionals, enabling them to pursue their dreams while upholding Ontario’s licensing and examination standards.
Each day, a staggering 300,000 job vacancies remain unfilled across the province of Ontario, encompassing numerous positions in the field of engineering alone. The economic ramifications of this labour shortage amount to billions of dollars in lost productivity. Simultaneously, studies reveal that merely a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario find employment in the regulated professions they were trained for. These findings underscore the urgent need to address the barriers that prevent skilled immigrants from fully utilizing their talents and expertise in their chosen fields.
Even if a newcomer possesses the requisite skills and technical aptitude to pass their profession’s licensing examinations, they may still encounter obstacles when seeking registration without prior Canadian work experience. This restriction applies even if the individual has gained relevant work experience in an unrelated sector, such as retail. The consequences are profound: qualified professionals are impeded from contributing their valuable knowledge and skills to the Canadian workforce while their career aspirations remain unfulfilled.
Ontario’s proactive stance sets a precedent for becoming the first province to prohibit unfair and discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements, thereby enabling newcomers to pursue careers in the professions they are trained for. Starting December 2023, all unjustifiable demands for Canadian work experience will be automatically nullified unless specific exemptions are granted by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development based on public health and safety considerations.
The significance of this transformative shift cannot be overstated. By dismantling the barriers that hinder internationally-trained professionals from practicing in their respective fields, Ontario can harness the talents of its immigrant population. This new initiative strengthens the province’s workforce but also bolsters its economic growth and competitiveness on a global scale.
Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, expresses his support for this progressive initiative, stating, “It is all too common to encounter skilled newcomers, such as engineers, doctors, or accountants, toiling in low-wage jobs that bear no resemblance to their chosen professions. Our government is committed to building a stronger Ontario that benefits everyone, and we aim to achieve this by unleashing the talent that resides within our borders. I commend Professional Engineers Ontario for taking this historic stride in alignment with our mission.”
President of PEO, Roydon Fraser, highlights the significant impact of removing the requirement for Canadian work experience in engineering licensing applications. Fraser emphasizes that PEO’s decision will facilitate a more expedited licensing process for qualified international applicants, enabling them to contribute to the economy as engineers actively. It is important to note that PEO remains committed to ensuring stringent qualifications for licensing, employing a competency-based assessment model, and other comprehensive evaluation methods to guarantee that only suitably qualified individuals practice engineering.
As part of the quest for a fair and inclusive society, individuals must be able to harness their abilities, pursue their aspirations, and contribute to their adopted home. It’s imperative to facilitate immigrant professionals in practicing their trained professions in Canada is an urgent matter. By acknowledging the skills of qualified immigrants in their professional field of work, Ontario opens the doors for other provinces to follow suit, unlocking the vast potential of immigrant professionals and driving economic growth.