New framework ‘step in the right direction’
Canadian HR Reporter
January 11, 2010
Certain groups of foreign-trained professionals will know within one year of applying for certification whether their qualifications will be recognized by Canadian regulatory bodies under a new framework developed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
“What they’re trying to do is a step in the right direction, to set a baseline standard, and what we would hope to see is that those standards are higher and higher and, over time, that we get a better responsiveness, that immigrants get a quicker response to their applications,” said Elizabeth McIsaac, director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.
Beginning in December 2010, foreign-trained architects, engineers and pharmacists will be among the first group of eight professions to be told if their qualifications meet Canadian standards of practice within one year
The same timeline will apply to a second group of six professions, including physicians, as of December 2012. (See sidebar on page 3.)
Under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, governments across Canada will work towards ensuring assessments are fair, transparent, consistent and timely, workforce
participation services for newcomers are improved and immigrants receive the information they need to start the assessment process as early as possible.
The framework represents the first time the federal government has consulted with the provinces and territories to articulate and strive for a co-ordinated strategy on credential recognition, said McIsaac. However, the framework is just that – a framework – and not legally binding.
“It’s articulating a vision of how the federal government would like to see the country operate. Articulating those values and standards is important and then more important is how are they are able to see this implemented,” she said. “This is important for creating a better system overall.”
Builds on 2009 agreement
The framework builds on the 2009 Agreement on Internal Trade signed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments in January. The agreement aims to improve labour mobility by ensuring someone licensed to practise a profession in one province or territory is able to practise in all provinces and territories.
There are more than 400 regulatory bodies in Canada, many with their own standards for qualification, and many don’t have the resources to quickly and efficiently assess and recognize foreign qualifications, said McIsaac.
“While perhaps in Ontario or in Alberta or B.C., the engineers may very well give an answer within two months or six weeks, it may not be the case for a regulatory body with less capacity in another province.”
The federal government has promised $50 million to work with the provinces and territories to strengthen the institutional capacity of regulatory bodies, provide information resources and tools to support assessment and
recognition in skilled trades and provide project-based funding to enhance collaboration between regulatory bodies and third-party qualification assessors.
The Saskatchewan Association of Architects welcomes any help it can get to speed up the recognition of foreign-trained architects, said John Parry, president of the association.
The province has just 90 licensed architects, with an average age of 56.
“We are very anxious to get more architects qualified and resident in the province because we have a very low ratio of architects to population. It’s the second lowest in the country, actually, after Newfoundland. We also still have something of a construction boom going on,” said Parry.
Because there are so few architects in the province, the association doesn’t have the time or manpower to assess foreign applicants and instead has passed that duty along to the Architectural Institute of British
Columbia, he said.
Greater support for immigrants
The framework also recommends creating and promoting programs to help immigrants access jobs in their fields, including labour market and career guidance, mentorships, language upgrading, internships and bridging programs.
“We need more of those. They need to be available across the country and there needs to be greater access to them,” said McIsaac.
Mentoring and internship programs, in particular, are also very useful to the 80 per cent of immigrants who aren’t in a regulated profession, she said.
“For them, it’s about connecting with employers. We have to make sure that focus also remains in the forefront,” said McIsaac.
|By Dec. 31, 2010, it is expected the following occupations will have the necessary processes and supports in place to ensure applicants
know whether or not their qualifications will be
recognized within one year of application.
However, jurisdictions can supplement the list
with other occupations in response
to local labour market needs.
By Dec. 31, 2012, it is expected the following
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Reference: Canadian HR Reporter