TORONTO — The Ontario government will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, would make it the first province in Canada to help even more internationally-trained immigrants work in the fields they’ve studied in by banning the use of Canadian work experience as a requirement in job postings or application forms. This change would help more qualified candidates progress in the interview process and follows historic legislation to prohibit regulated professions from requiring discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements in licensing for more than 30 occupations, which comes into effect December 2023.
“For far too long, too many people arriving in Canada have been funnelled toward dead-end jobs they’re overqualified for. We need to ensure these people can land well-paying and rewarding careers that help tackle the labour shortage,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “When newcomers to Ontario get a meaningful chance to contribute, everyone wins.”
This year, Ontario will nominate 16,500 immigrants for permanent residence through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) in various critical sectors such as health care and the skilled trades. To ensure the Province is selecting the best candidates available, the government is also proposing changes that would increase the number of international students in Ontario eligible to apply to the OINP by revising eligibility requirements for hundreds of one-year college graduate certificate programs around the province. The Province has also communicated to the federal government that Ontario should have significantly more influence in selecting the economic immigrants coming to Ontario.
“Ontario is a global leader in welcoming newcomers from a wide array of backgrounds, cultures and faiths around the world,” said Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. “By banning Canadian work experience requirements in job postings, Ontario, through Premier Ford and Minister Piccini’s leadership, is leading the country in breaking down barriers to make it easier for internationally-trained immigrants to find meaningful work and contribute to building Ontario. This change will help support families as they start their journey in their new homes, create more vibrant communities and help ensure businesses have the talent they need.”
The government is also proposing changes to improve oversight and accountability of how regulated professions like accountants, architects and geoscientists use third-party organizations to assess international qualifications to ensure assessments are done in a way that is fast, transparent and fair. Ontario welcomes more immigrants than any other province each year and research has shown that helping internationally-trained newcomers work in the professions they studied for could increase the province’s GDP by up to $100 billion over five years.
The legislative changes are part of a larger package that will expand on the ground-breaking actions introduced in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021, 2022 and 2023, which will be unveiled in the coming days to protect workers, help them earn bigger paycheques and help newcomers contribute to building Ontario.
There have been over 162,000 immigrants arriving in Ontario from January to September 2023.
Ontario is investing $100M in 2023-24 in services that help newcomers learn English or French, settle, access training and find jobs. This also includes additional funding for 2023-24 to enhance the Ontario Bridge Training Program and Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program to expand access to foreign qualification recognition supports.
Ontario was the first province in Canada to ban the use of discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements in regulated professions under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006.
Earlier this year, Professional Engineers Ontario were the first regulated profession to remove the requirement for Canadian experience from their registration criteria since the government took action and Professional Geoscientists Ontario recently did as well, potentially helping thousands of otherwise qualified professionals find jobs.
Once introduced, and if passed, this new legislation will mean Ontario would be the first in Canada to include provisions on Canadian experience in employment standards legislation.
There are over 900 programs offered across Ontario colleges that award an Ontario College Graduate Certificate and most are one-year programs.
At request of the Province, the OINP’s allocation from the federal government will more than double from 9,000 in 2021, to over 18,000 by 2025.
"Canadian experience continues to be one the most prominent barriers faced by many newcomers in their search for meaningful employment. Introducing legislation to ban the Canadian experience requirements from job postings and ads is a big leap forward in the right direction to eliminate systemic barriers facing newcomers, and to facilitate pathways to their labour market inclusion. We thank the Ministry for their continued efforts towards creating inclusive labour market legislation and practices."
- Sara Asalya
Executive Director, Newcomer Women's Services Toronto
"JVS Toronto, serving as a pillar of support for newcomers settling into Canada since 1947, firmly believes that a lack of Canadian work experience should never hinder someone’s pursuit of meaningful employment in their new home. We applaud the Ontario government’s move to eliminate this barrier, enabling more newcomers in regulated professions to contribute their talents to our vibrant and diverse province."
- Allison Steinberg
Chief Executive Officer, JVS Toronto
"We are pleased to see these additional measures being introduced to further address the unfair barriers internationally-trained immigrants face in the job market. Removing discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements is a necessary step towards creating a more inclusive labour force."
- Tonie Chaltas
"This unprecedented and historic legislation, if approved, not only clears the tremendous backlog of skillful workers, but it will also benefit all the major job sectors in Ontario. A prosperous Ontario is what everyone deserves."
- Phil Mendoza
President of Compass Careers Canada
"If we want to attract immigrants to Ontario to fill vacant jobs in a competitive landscape and help meet the needs of our growing economy, we have an obligation to remove the barriers to finding work in their areas of expertise once they arrive in Canada. The removal of the requirement for Canadian work experience is a big step forward in ensuring newcomers have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to our economy and reach their potential. This legislation also speaks to the desire of our regulated professions to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for newcomers."
- Elise Herzig
Executive Director, JIAS Toronto
"Removing requirements for Canadian work experience in job postings will help immigrants to enter the Canadian job market with an increased likelihood of finding meaningful work that is a good match for their skills and experience. Many newcomers are welcomed to Canada because of their education and experience, yet face significant challenges when trying to further their career path after they arrive. We see this every day with the people we serve at Matthew House Ottawa, and we look forward to seeing this legislation passed."
- Allan Reesor-McDowell Executive Director, Matthew House Ottawa
"We salute the Government of Ontario for continuously finding ways to extend a welcome hand to new immigrants and newcomers to Canada with international diplomas, training and extensive work experience from the homeland. The passing of this historic legislation will herald the province of Ontario as the favoured province for newcomers and immigrants based on inclusivity, fairness and respect for human rights."
- Teresa M. Torralba
Executive Director for Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance (PLACA)