Ontario seeks to reduce 'barriers' for job-seeking immigrants

The new legislation will remove requirements in some professions

Ontario seeks to reduce 'barriers' for job-seeking immigrants

Ontario is set to introduce a new legislation that will remove "significant barriers" faced by internationally trained immigrants coming to the province to find jobs. The move is an attempt from the provincial government to address labour shortage - with roughly 300,000 jobs are unfulfilled this summer, costing the government billions in lost productivity.

"Newcomers in this province struggle to find jobs in their regulated profession for no other reason than bureaucracy and red tape," said Labour Minister Monte McNaughton - adding that these people have enough qualifications but are denied being the chance to contribute.

If passed, the legislation will make the following changes this fall:

  • Eliminate Canadian work experience requirements for professional registration and licensing unless an exemption is granted based on a demonstrated public health and safety risk.
  • Reduce burdensome duplication for official language proficiency testing, so people would not have to complete multiple tests for purposes of immigration and professional licencing.
  • Allow applicants to register faster in their regulated professions when there are emergencies (such as a pandemic) that create an urgent need for certain professions or trades.
  • Ensure the licensing process is completed in a timely manner to help internationally trained immigrants start working in careers that match their skillset. Currently licensing time in some professions takes up to 18 months or more, according to the government.

"If these proposed changes are passed, Ontario would become the first province in Canada to help level the playing field in certain regulated professions so that workers coming here have the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their loved ones, and build stronger communities for us all," said McNaughton.

Read more: Canada’s educated immigrants stuck in low-skilled jobs

The legislation will cover non-health regulated professions and compulsory trades, according to the government. This includes professional engineers, architects, plumbers, electricians, accountants, hairstylists, teachers, and early childhood educators. The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development will hold talks with the Ministry of Health to see if the legislation can also apply to health-related occupations in the future.

Reactions

Irwin Glasberg, the fairness commissioner of Ontario, lauded the initiative and said their agency looks forward to the improvement of fair access to regulated professions and compulsory trades.

"These proposed changes would help to improve registration practices, address unfair Canadian experience requirements and remove related barriers for internationally-trained professionals and tradespersons," said Glasberg.

Debbie Douglas, executive director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, echoed similar sentiments of working with the government further to help immigrants and refugees.

Read more: Canada more dependent than ever on immigrants

"If passed, these reforms will address Canadian experience requirements, remove barriers for internationally-trained professionals and allow immigrants and refugees to better express their dignity through work, for themselves and their families," Douglas stressed.

The introduction of the legislation comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently made controversial remarks on immigration.

"If you think you're coming to collect the dole and sit around, not going to happen. Go somewhere else. You want to work, come here. We have so much work, we can't keep up with it right now," he said in a speech on Monday.

Opposition parties have since called him out on it, but the premier refused to apologise claiming that he has always been "pro-immigrant."

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