Professional Engineers Ontario has become the first association to remove the Canadian experience requirement from its licence application criteria following provincial legislation that bans it from more than 30 regulated professions.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, studies indicate that only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions for which they were trained.
“It’s an all-too-common experience,” announced Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, in a statement. “Meeting a skilled newcomer trained as an engineer, doctor, or accountant, working in a low-wage job that has nothing to do with their profession,” he added, congratulating Professional Engineers Ontario for its “historic step to support our mission.”
In a statement earlier this month about its updated licence application process, Professional Engineers Ontario called the change “efficient, transparent, and fair for all applicants.”
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Ontario’s changes to experience requirements are the first in Canada and come through the Working for Workers Act, 2021 and the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006. The legislation evolved from Ontario facing a generational labour shortage with hundreds of thousands of jobs going unfilled. Roughly 300,000 jobs continue to go unfilled across the province every day, including thousands in engineering, costing billions in lost productivity, according to the ministry.
Professional Engineers Ontario states that licence application candidates are required to demonstrate completion of 48 months of experience that meets requirements for engaging in the practice of professional engineering, “as evidenced by a competency-based assessment.”
Professional Engineers Ontario President Roydon Fraser says that some 60% of the licence applications received each year by the association are from internationally-trained engineers.
“By no longer requiring proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering licence, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified, international applicants can be licensed more quickly, so they can actively contribute to the economy as engineers,” Fraser announced in a statement. “PEO will continue to ensure all professional engineers meet rigorous qualifications for licensing and that only properly qualified individuals practice engineering through a competency-based assessment model and other methods for evaluation.”
In addition to changing the Canadian experience requirement, Ontario’s new legislation also reduces duplication for official language proficiency testing, so that people would not have to complete multiple tests for purposes of immigration and professional licensing.
In 2019, engineers were the fourth largest regulated profession in Ontario with 85,649 members. It had the second largest number of internationally-trained members with 24,258 registered professionals.