Ontario is preparing to introduce legislation that would make it easier for immigrants to obtain a license to work in professions that match their areas of expertise.
Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said the bill, if passed, would prevent many regulators from requiring immigrants to have work experience in Canada to get permits.
It would also standardize English testing requirements and ensure license applications are processed faster.
McNaughton says the changes would help remove barriers that immigrants often face when trying to work in their profession.
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âIt truly is an injustice when you consider that only 25 percent of immigrants to Ontario are in jobs and occupations they were trained for,â he said in an interview.
âIt’s about improving their lives, making sure they get bigger paychecks and more protection for workers. “
McNaughton says Ontario faces a labor shortage as some 293,000 jobs go unfilled across the province.
The proposed legislation would apply to regulatory bodies governing engineers, architects, teachers, accountants and social workers, among others. But that would not affect those who regulate the medical professions, including those who license doctors and nurses.
The law would also help internationally trained workers in 23 trades, including electricians, plumbers and lifting engineers.
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Licensing agencies could still apply for exemptions that might require Canadian work experience, but that would require government approval, McNaughton said.
“They have to present a health and safety dossier, which would come to the minister for approval,” he said, noting that he hoped to see the changes in the legislation take effect in two years.
The director of engineering training projects at ACCES Employment, an organization that helps newcomers find suitable jobs in Ontario, said removing the Canadian work experience requirement would help immigrant engineers to get licensed and get hired much faster.
Gabriela Tavaru said immigrant engineers cannot work in their profession until they have obtained their professional license, no matter how many years of experience they had before arriving in Ontario.
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âStarting a job, evaluating performance, the whole system is new. So it is a bit too difficult for any immigrant and especially for regulated professionals like engineers to navigate this process and get a job, âshe said.
She said a maximum of four years of international experience is recognized by the professional engineering regulator of Ontario, but a minimum of one year of Canadian work experience in the field is also required. Immigrant engineers must work for one year under the supervision of a licensed Canadian engineer to gain this experience.
âThat’s the problem: you can’t find a job to get your license,â she said. âThey can’t be engineers. They cannot sign contracts. They cannot be called engineers, but they can work, for example, as estimators, project managers, field coordinators.
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