In May 2017, TRIEC wrote to the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario, about the Provincial Government’s proposed Bill 127 in Ontario. We strongly feel that if passed, this Bill will adversely affect immigrants with accounting backgrounds. The text of this letter is below.

TRIEC has become aware that the Government of Ontario is drafting amendments to the Accounting Professions Act (2010) as part of Bill 127 in Ontario. As an organization involved in finding solutions for integrating skilled immigrants into the labour market, we are acutely aware of barriers created by the provisions of this Act which seem to have been made even broader by Bill 127. In the interest of minimizing these barriers to allow skilled immigrants to fully participate in the Canadian economy, we strongly encourage you to eliminate the restrictions in the Act that prohibit the use of foreign accounting designations by internationally trained accountants in their efforts to obtain meaningful employment.

In the current Bill, Schedule 3, clause 29 is of particular concern, as it makes these restrictions even more far-reaching, and, in particular, restricts the designations of all internationally trained accountants. Our suggestions in this letter will enable the local economy to benefit from immigrant talent and expertise, while meeting the goals of consumer protection.

We recommend that Bill 127 be amended, under Schedule 3, clause 29 to provide that:

Nothing in subsection 1 shall preclude an individual who has obtained a bona fide professional accounting designation from a jurisdiction other than Ontario from using a designation, initials, term, title or description when making reference to such qualification, provided that the individual shall clearly indicate, in conjunction with such designation, initials, term, title or description the conferring jurisdiction.”

While the Bill does not bar lawful provision of accountancy services in Ontario, the restriction on the usage of foreign designation is extremely broad and thereby creates barriers for skilled immigrant participation in the labour market, even in instances where they wish to work in industry and have no intention of providing services to the public. For internationally trained accountants, and particularly for more recent immigrants with little or no Canadian experience, their credentials, along with previous work experience and education, are key factors in the decision-making process of potential employers. With current and anticipated skills shortages, these barriers could impact significantly on the economy and Ontario’s labour market attractiveness. A 2009 study calculates that if immigrants could fully utilize their skills, personal income in the country could increase by $13 billion a year.

TRIEC’s stakeholders that serve and support internationally trained accountants affirm that the majority of their clients or members seek employment in industry, and in roles which do not provide accounting or consulting services to the public. In addition, research supports that the majority of accounting roles are filled by networking. Under the current Act, it appears that internationally trained accountants are prohibited from using their designations on business cards, email signatures, letterheads, online profiles, and other communications mechanisms which are all essential and widely-used tools when networking for employment. While designations are allowed on resumes we know how important networking is to getting a job. Having the ability to use an international designation on social media sites, business cards and in public speaking is essential when 80% of jobs are not advertised. Making professional connections is key to employment success.

Skilled immigrants, both as labour market participants and consumers, are key to the economic prosperity of Toronto and Ontario. The revised legislation represents an important opportunity to support the Government of Ontario’s efforts and investments to enable the effective integration of skilled immigrants into Ontario’s labour market. The Government of Ontario has taken considerable steps through the establishment of the Fairness Commissioner’s Office, and significant investments in the development and support of bridging programs and other initiatives for skilled immigrants.

The Government has also worked to encourage employers to tap into the talents of skilled immigrants and recognized that employers need a skilled workforce to grow and that newcomers have the education and experience to enable that growth.

We trust that the Government will take this opportunity to ensure that the amended Bill creates the conditions where skilled immigrants can contribute to their full potential. We ask that you eliminate the restrictions in the Bill that prohibit the use of foreign accounting designations by internationally trained accountants provided that they use their designations with issuing jurisdiction in brackets.