Government set to announce that workers applying to be licensed in 14 fields will learn within a year whether qualifications accepted

The Globe and Mail
November 30, 2009

Trevor Pritchard

The federal Conservatives are planning to reduce the time it takes for internationally trained workers to have their foreign credentials recognized.

The Canadian Press has learned the government will announce today that foreign-trained workers who apply to be licensed in 14 different fields will be told within a year whether or not their qualifications match Canadian standards. A news conference is scheduled in Toronto to make the announcement.

By the end of 2010, the one-year timetable will be in place for foreign-trained architects, engineers, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, registered nurses, medical laboratory technologists, and financial auditors and accountants. The changes will be expanded to include six more fields by the end of December, 2012: teachers, dentists, physicians, engineering technicians, licensed practical nurses, and medical radiation technologists.

The federal government is touting the changes – otherwise known as the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications – as a way to attract international talent to Canada and allow immigrants to reach their full potential. There are signs that potential isn’t being tapped into: a Statistics Canada study released earlier this month comparing foreign-born and Canadian-born workers found that immigrants were more likely to be overqualified for their jobs.

Forty-two per cent of immigrant workers between 25 and 54 had a higher level of education than their jobs required, compared with 28 per cent of Canadian-born employees, the study said.

Average hourly wages for immigrant workers in that same age group were also $2.28 lower than for Canadian-born workers.

“I see a lot of qualified immigrants working in restaurants as dishwashers or as waiters, waitresses . . . it’s mainly manual work, not (work using) skills that they have,” said Sang-Hee Park, the board president of the Korean Canadian Women’s Association.

A social worker in her native South Korea, Ms. Park immigrated to Canada nine years ago. She said she spent two years working in a Toronto clothing store and had to take extra classes before being accredited here. She said the governments proposal is “very positive” but wanted to know more about how Ottawa plans to work with organizations that accredit and license certain professions, like architects or engineers.

“This has been an issue for a long time, and there’s always conflict or there’s always argument (with those regulatory bodies),” she said. “I’m so glad the government is recognizing (foreign training) but how are they going to work with them in bridging those gaps in implementing this policy?”

The new framework also pledges that federal, provincial, and territorial governments will strive to create better services for immigrants before they arrive in Canada and once they’re in the work force.

The governments will work with regulatory bodies, colleges and universities, and other “key partners” to make the changes happen.


Reference: Globe and Mail