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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Removing Unfair Work Barriers for Skilled Newcomers

TORONTO — The Ontario government is leading the country with changes to help internationally-trained immigrants work in the fields they’ve studied in. After introducing historic legislation that banned regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in more than 30 occupations, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) are the first association to remove it from their application criteria. 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 Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “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 safety.


Quick Facts

  • Introduced as part of Working for Workers Act, 2021, Ontario was the first province in Canada to ban use of discriminatory Canadian Experience Requirements in occupations under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (FARPACTA).

  • In 2019, Engineers were the fourth largest regulated profession in Ontario with 85,649 members and had the second largest number of internationally trained members, with 24,258 people registered in the profession.

  • In 2020, the median employment income for a Civil Engineer in Ontario was $96,000.

  • As part of Working for Workers Act, 2023, introduced this past March, changes to the FARPACTA would help ensure that regulated professions assess competency in a way that is non-discriminatory, ensuring newcomers are able to continue their careers in Ontario.

  • Ontario invests over $90M annually in services that help newcomers learn English or French, settle, access training and find jobs.


Quotes

"We applaud the Professional Engineers Ontario for their leadership in removing the Canadian work experience as a requirement. Through Achēv’s own work with employers and job seekers, we know that removing this barrier will create a true win-win-win. Employers get the talent they need, skilled newcomers secure jobs in their chosen profession, and Ontario’s economy grows."

- Tonie Chaltas CEO, Achēv

"Newcomers to Canada long for bold leadership and initiatives that facilitate and promote their labour market access and inclusion. We applaud the Government of Ontario and Minister McNaughton for their continued efforts to support newcomer’s economic integration and wellbeing, and for being the first province in Canada to ban discriminatory Canadian experience requirements for certain regulated professions."

- Sara Asalya Executive Director, Newcomer Women's Services Toronto

"We applaud the Professional Engineers for recognizing the skills and experience of new immigrants. Minister McNaughton has once again demonstrated true leadership in spearheading this important legislation of providing equal opportunity for all to contribute in making our industries prosper."

- Teresa M. Torralba Executive Director, Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance (PLACA)

"We applaud Professional Engineers Ontario for removing Canadian work experience from their application criteria for foreign trained professionals. We also thank the Province of Ontario for their leadership in enabling newcomers to work in their chosen fields, follow their professional goals, and achieve economic self-reliance."

- Elise Herzig Executive Director, JIAS Toronto

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