Ontario is leading the charge in creating a more inclusive and equitable workforce by removing unfair work barriers for internationally-trained immigrants.
With the introduction of groundbreaking legislation that prohibits regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in over 30 occupations, the province is empowering skilled newcomers to pursue their chosen fields.
These 30 occupations include certain regulated professions and trades such as law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical and plumbing.
Following provincial legislation, Professional Engineers Ontario(PEO) became the first regulated profession to eliminate the requirement for Canadian experience.
This significant development has the potential to unlock countless opportunities for qualified professionals while upholding Ontario‘s high standards for licensing and examination requirements.
A Struggle for Skilled Newcomers
The difficulties faced by internationally-trained immigrants in Ontario are all too common.
Many highly skilled individuals, such as engineers, doctors, and accountants, work in low-wage jobs unrelated to their profession.
This situation not only underutilizes their expertise but also poses a significant loss to Ontario’s economy.
It is estimated that approximately 300,000 jobs remain unfilled across the province each day, with thousands of vacancies in engineering alone, leading to billions of dollars in lost productivity.
Shockingly, studies have revealed that only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario currently work in the regulated professions they were trained for.
Removing Canadian Work Experience Requirements
In recognition of the pressing need to address this issue, the Ontario government has taken decisive action to level the playing field for skilled newcomers.
The historic legislation introduced in the form of the Working for Workers Act, 2021, has banned the use of discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements in occupations covered by the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (FARPACTA).
This groundbreaking move has paved the way for change, giving internationally-trained professionals an equal opportunity to pursue their chosen careers in Ontario.
Professional Engineers Ontario Leads the Way
Among the regulated professions in Ontario, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has become the trailblazer by removing the Canadian experience requirement from their application criteria.
Each year, PEO receives up to 60% of engineering license applications from internationally-trained engineers.
By eliminating the need for proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering license, PEO can ensure that qualified international applicants are licensed more quickly, allowing them to contribute to Ontario’s economy as engineers actively.
It is important to note that PEO remains committed to upholding rigorous qualifications for licensing and maintaining a competency-based assessment model to ensure only properly qualified individuals practice engineering.
Ontario Sets the Bar for Inclusivity
Ontario’s initiative to ban unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements is a pioneering step in Canada.
As of December 2023, all unfair requirements for Canadian experience will be automatically voided, unless exemptions are granted by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development for reasons of public health and safety.
This move signifies the government’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce that recognizes the talent and potential of newcomers.
The Impact on the Economy and Job Market
The removal of Canadian work experience requirements holds significant promise for Ontario’s economy.
With a large pool of highly skilled professionals now able to pursue their intended careers, the province stands to benefit from their expertise, innovation, and contributions.
The impact is not only economic but also social, as skilled newcomers gain the opportunity to fulfill their professional aspirations, achieve economic self-reliance, and contribute to the overall prosperity of the province.
Support and Recognition for Ontario’s Initiative
Tonie Chaltas, CEO of Achēv, lauds the move as a win-win-win, benefitting employers, skilled newcomers, and Ontario’s economy as a whole. Sara Asalya, Executive Director of Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, commends the government’s efforts to support the economic integration and well-being of newcomers.
Teresa M. Torralba, Executive Director of the Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance (PLACA), hails the leadership displayed by Minister McNaughton in spearheading legislation that promotes equal opportunities for all.
Elise Herzig, Executive Director of JIAS Toronto, expresses gratitude for the removal of Canadian work experience requirements, enabling newcomers to work in their chosen fields and achieve economic self-reliance.
Ontario’s commitment to removing unfair work barriers for skilled newcomers marks a significant milestone in creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
By eliminating discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements, the province has taken a giant leap forward in harnessing the talents of internationally-trained professionals.
PEO’s groundbreaking decision to remove the Canadian experience requirement sets a powerful example for other regulated professions to follow.
As Ontario leads the way in fostering a welcoming environment for skilled immigrants, it opens doors to countless opportunities, enhances economic growth, and strengthens the province’s position as a global leader.
With this progressive approach, the province is building a stronger and more prosperous future for all.
What has the Ontario government done to remove work barriers for internationally-trained immigrants?
The government has introduced groundbreaking legislation that prohibits regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in over 30 occupations.
This move aims to empower skilled newcomers to pursue their chosen fields without facing unfair work barriers.
Which professional association in Ontario has become the first to eliminate the Canadian experience requirement?
Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has emerged as the frontrunner by removing the Canadian experience requirement from their application criteria.
This decision allows qualified international applicants to be licensed more quickly, enabling them to contribute to the province’s economy as engineers.
What is the significance of Ontario’s initiative in the context of inclusivity?
Ontario is setting a pioneering example in Canada by banning unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements.
This demonstrates the government’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce that recognizes the talent and potential of skilled newcomers.
By removing these barriers, the province is paving the way for equal opportunities and a more equitable society.
How will the removal of Canadian work experience requirements impact Ontario’s economy and job market?
The removal of these requirements holds significant promise for Ontario‘s economy.
By allowing a larger pool of highly skilled professionals to pursue their intended careers, the province can benefit from their expertise, innovation, and contributions.
This will help address the issue of unfilled job vacancies, boost productivity across sectors, and contribute to overall economic growth.
Additionally, skilled newcomers will have the opportunity to fulfill their professional aspirations, achieve economic self-reliance, and contribute to the prosperity of Ontario.