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Ontario bill targets removal of licensure barriers for immigrant engineers

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A new Ontario bill aims to eliminate the requirement for Canadian work experience, often cited as the most significant barrier for Canadian immigrants seeking licensure in fields such as engineering.

Just one quarter of internationally-trained immigrants in Ontario are employed in the regulated professions for which they trained, despite a massive labour shortage of about 300,000 unfilled positions in those same professions, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“Ontario is facing a generational labour shortage with hundreds of thousands of jobs going unfilled,” announced Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in a statement to media. “However, all too often, newcomers in this province struggle to find jobs in their regulated profession for no other reason than bureaucracy and red tape,” he added.

In October, Ontario introduced Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021. Among the changes proposed by the bill is a plan to remove barriers for internationally-trained individuals to get licensed to practise in certain regulated professions, including engineering. Notably, the bill would also impact fields such as law, accounting, architecture, electrical and plumbing.

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If passed, the bill would make Ontario the first province to level the playing field.

“This new legislation is a path forward that will optimistically continue to bridge support for internationally-educated professionals as they look to practise safely and effectively in a new professional environment,” stated Engineers Canada in a November news release.

Ontario’s Bill 27 targets several other impediments to licensure. It proposes to reduce “burdensome” duplication for official language proficiency testing, so people would not have to complete multiple tests for purposes of immigration and professional licensing.

The bill would also allow applicants to register faster in their regulated professions during emergencies, such as a pandemic.

At present, licensing time in some regulated professions takes up to 18 months or more, Ontario officials said. The new bill aims to “ensure the licensing process is completed in a timely manner to help internationally-trained immigrants start working in careers that match their skillset.”

Bill 27 is currently headed to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

Through the Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ontario is investing $67 million over three years on programs and services that connect internationally-trained immigrants with in-demand jobs in their communities.

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