PEI

P.E.I. looking closely at Ontario foreign accreditation changes

P.E.I. is taking a close look at what other jurisdictions are doing to make it easier for foreign-trained professionals to join the Canadian workforce.

Ontario legislation will make it so Canadian work experience is no longer required for certain professions

Last month, the Ontario government passed legislation that would remove barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials for some regulated professions such as engineers, teachers and accountants.  (Prince County Hospital Foundation)

P.E.I. is taking a close look at what other jurisdictions are doing to make it easier for foreign-trained professionals to join the Canadian workforce.

Last month, the Ontario government passed legislation that would remove barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials for some regulated professions such as engineers, teachers and accountants. 

The bill will make it so Canadian work experience is no longer required for these jobs.

Kal Whitnell, executive director for economic growth, tourism and culture with P.E.I., says there's been conversations at all levels of government regarding what that legislation would mean, as well as ways to harmonize and improve current foreign credential requirements.

He said most immigrants coming to P.E.I. in a given year are already connected through the labour force in some way, so a change in how the foreign credential recognition program works wouldn't necessarily apply to many people on the Island now.

"They're coming through economic programs ... Keep in mind that non-regulated or unregulated professions obviously don't require the same certification or don't have to go through a regulatory authority. It's really up to the employer's discretion on what qualification or assessments that individual would require," he said.

"If they're bringing a family member and spouses and others that are in regulated professions, I wouldn't have specific numbers for you, but it's something that we can continue to look at."

But Whitnell said measures such as the elimination of the Canadian work experience requirement would still help fill some labour shortages.

He said educational requirements and other standards should also be re-examined.

"We are all challenged trying to fill obviously some labour shortages and gaps, and I think it's important we all work together to try to find a way to expedite this," he said. "I think we learn from others, and those best practices will be important to move forward."

Like most of Canada, P.E.I. is struggling to find health care professionals. The Ontario bill excludes doctors, nurses and other professionals in the sector, but the province said it could look to include them in the future.

Whitnell said whatever measures are put in place to expedite the foreign credential recognition process need to account for the safety of Canadians.

"You really have to make sure the education and skills that they have coming from a another country is comparable to our standards," he said. "We need to make sure that those protections are in place. So it can take some time."

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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