These ‘first of their kind’ Ontario changes could get more skilled immigrants working in their actual fields of expertise

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The Ontario government is unveiling a new plan to help immigrants find work in areas where they have expertise.

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Legislative changes to be introduced Thursday will force some professional regulators to drop Canadian work-experience requirements from their licensing norms and speed up processing times.

If passed, the changes would address what newcomers often cite as two major obstacles to obtaining their professional designations in Ontario.

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Labor Minister Monte McNaughton, whose ministry also oversees training, skills development and immigration, called the changes “unprecedented and the first of their kind in Canada”.

“They are long overdue right now,” McNaughton said. “My goal is to make sure that we are creating a clear path for new Canadians to fully apply their skills and to remove barriers so that immigrants can find meaningful work.”

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The proposed amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Profession and Compulsory Trades Act would cover 37 non-health related professions and trades.

The affected areas will range from architecture to teaching, social work, plumbing, electrician’s work, auto-body repair and hairstyling.

If the changes are passed, the minister and fairness commissioner would be empowered to order financial penalties for regulators who violate the law.

Currently, licensing times in some businesses take up to 18 months, and both the ministry and the Office of the Fairness Commissioner will collect baseline data to inform and establish appropriate timelines in consultation with monitoring ministries, regulators and communities.

For decades, many immigrants who were selected for their educational achievements and work experience have complained of being unemployed or under-employed as their overseas credentials have been devalued in Canada.

Those who have training and background in a regulated profession also complain that they lack the reputable Canadian experience to meet licensing requirements and that the process is too long and expensive.

When asked about the timing of the announcement, to regulate temporary worker agencies and employers, earlier this week McNaughton denied that it was part of a conservative strategy to garner immigrant votes in next year’s provincial election. Was.

“The pro-activist reforms we’re unveiling… It’s all about rebalancing the scales. Coming out of this pandemic, the scales were tilted toward too many large corporations run billions of dollars by billionaires , “They said.

“We are on the side of workers and making sure they are getting better pay and better protection.”

Premier Doug Ford has been at the center of controversy since Monday, when he said Ontario is desperate to relocate people here – as long as they want to work.

“You come here like every other Canadian who has come here, you work your tail off,” he said. “If you think you’re coming to dole and sit? Nothing’s going to happen, go somewhere else.”

The comments have come under fire from many who say the premiere was playing to racist stereotypes about new Canadians.

According to McNaughton, currently only 25 percent of all immigrants are actually employed in their field of study, while 293,000 jobs are waiting to be filled in the province, which, if the skills gap is addressed, would add to its gross Domestic product could increase by $20 billion.

“It’s unacceptable,” he told Star in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s important that we make sure everyone’s talents are being harnessed and that we uncover their talents to the fullest potential.”

Among the proposed changes to eliminate the Canadian experience licensing requirement are exemption provisions if regulators can demonstrate that it is necessary for public health and safety. However, the hope would be that they would find alternative ways to reduce the barriers. The Ontario Fairness Commissioner’s office will review the waiver requests and make recommendations to the minister, who will make the final decision.

The government also plans to align and streamline language-testing requirements for immigration and licensing purposes, for example by allowing regulators to accept similar tests as proof of language proficiency or to have it as part of their respective technical exams. By asking to embed in.

“We are eliminating unreasonable Canadian work experience requirements, reducing the burden, including duplicate language training, and ensuring that licensing applications are processed expeditiously,” McNaughton said.

“Last year alone, approximately 17,500 internationally trained individuals applied to obtain their license to practice from our regulator. We want to increase that number in a big way.”

It is expected that the Canadian work experience requirement will be eliminated within two years.

The changes could potentially extend to the regulated health sector in the future, which is far more complex due to health and safety concerns.

“We continue to work with the health (authorities). That’s a priority for me,” McNaughton said. “But it’s going to apply across the board except in health, at least at this point.”

With files from Robert Benzie

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter who covers immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung



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