Education & Training
Ontario removing work barriers for skilled immigrants
May 23, 2023 By Don Horne
Queen’s Park is helping internationally-trained immigrants work in the fields they’ve studied in by introducing historic legislation that would no longer ban regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in more than 30 occupations, with the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) the first association to remove it from their application criteria.
According to Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, this has the potential to help thousands of otherwise-qualified professionals pursue their dreams over the coming years, all while maintaining Ontario’s world-class licensing and exam requirements.
“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. “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.”
Roughly 300,000 jobs continue to go unfilled across the province every day, including thousands in engineering, costing billions in lost productivity. At the same time, studies have shown only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions they trained for. Currently, even if a newcomer has the skills and technical ability to pass their profession’s licensing exams, they may still be barred from registering in their profession without Canadian work experience – even if that work occurs in an unrelated sector, such as retail.
“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. “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. PEO will continue to ensure all professional engineers meet rigorous qualifications for licensing and that only properly qualified individuals practice engineering through a competency-based assessment model and other methods for evaluation.”
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
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