Newcomer engineers with international qualifications and experience no longer need to show Canadian work experience to become a member of the regulatory association Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), making it easier for them to find employment in the province.
PEO is the first association to remove Canadian work experience from their application criteria. Their decision comes in the wake of the Ontario government issuing historic legislation that banned regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience across more than 30 occupations such as law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical, and plumbing so as to remove significant barriers faced by many newcomers with overseas experience when it comes to launching their careers in Canada.
Up to 60% of engineering licence applications in Ontario annually are from internationally trained newcomer engineers
“It’s an all-too-common experience: 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,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. He added: “Our government has a plan to build a stronger Ontario that works for everyone, and we are going to do it by unleashing the talent we have right here at home,” he explained. “I congratulate Professional Engineers Ontario for taking this historic step to support our mission.”
According to the Government of Ontario, roughly 300,000 jobs continue to go unfilled across the province every day, including thousands in engineering, costing billions in lost productivity. At the same time, studies have shown only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions they trained for. Furthermore, currently, even if a newcomer has the skills and technical ability to pass their profession’s licensing exams, they may still be barred from registering in their profession without Canadian work experience – even if that work occurs in an unrelated sector, such as retail.
“Each year, up to 60 percent of the engineering licence applications that PEO receives are from internationally trained engineers,” said Roydon Fraser, President of PEO. “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,” he added.
‘Employers get the talent they need, skilled newcomers secure jobs in their chosen profession, and Ontario’s economy grows’
Ontario is the first province in Canada to ban unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements to help newcomers work in the professions they trained for. In December 2023, all unfair requirements for Canadian experience will be automatically voided unless an exemption is granted by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for public health and safety.
Introduced as part of Working for Workers Act, 2021, Ontario was the first province in Canada to ban the use of discriminatory Canadian Experience Requirements in occupations under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (FARPACTA). As part of Working for Workers Act, 2023, introduced this past March, changes to the FARPACTA would help ensure that regulated professions assess competency in a way that is non-discriminatory, ensuring newcomers are able to continue their careers in Ontario.
In 2019, engineers were the fourth largest regulated profession in Ontario with 85,649 members and had the second largest number of internationally trained members, with 24,258 people registered in the profession.
The legislation by the Ontario government and the move by PEO in removing Canadian work experience as a requirement has been welcomed by immigrant-serving agencies. “Employers get the talent they need, skilled newcomers secure jobs in their chosen profession, and Ontario’s economy grows,” said Achēv CEO Tony Chaltas. Sara Asalya, Executive Director, Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, Teresa M. Torralba, Executive Director of the Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance, and Elise Herzig, Executive Director for JIAS Toronto also echoed their support for initiatives that facilitate and promote labour market access and inclusion.
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