foreign workers

Starting a career in Ontario could get easier for some foreign workers

On October 21, 2021, the government of Ontario issued a release speaking about how they are planning to make certain jobs more accessible to internationally trained foreign workers in Ontario. This comes from the province having a shortage of workers and simultaneously having over 300,000 jobs go unfilled over this past summer. The changes will affect non-health regulated professions and compulsory trades.

Who is being affected?

A non-health regulated profession is a job that requires registration with an overseeing body. Some examples of these in Ontario are: engineering, law, social work/social service work, early childhood education, architecture, and chartered accounting. However, you can find a full list here.

A compulsory trade is one where you must register as an apprentice, journeyperson candidate, or certified journeyperson. In these cases, registration with your trade’s College is mandatory. There are 23 compulsory trades in Ontario, including plumber, sheet metal worker, and electrician. You can find a full list here as well.

What’s changing?

There are four major proposed changes:

  1. Eliminate the need for Canadian work experience. This means that workers will be able to apply for professional registration and licensing sooner. Currently, workers may need to spend up to 18 months working in Canada before they are eligible for certification. There are some limitations to this change, namely if there is an exemption granted on the basis of a risk to public health and safety.
  2. End the requirement for duplication of official language testing. Under the proposed changes, workers will not need to take multiple costly language tests that duplicate the same information.
  3. Allowing immigrants to register even quicker during emergency situations. This clause would apply to our current pandemic situation.
  4. Halt unreasonable processing times. Through the proposed changes, the government also hopes to streamline the process and process applications quicker.

Why is this important?

Currently, many internationally trained immigrants already in Canada are unable to work in their field. Moreover, in 2016, three out of four internationally trained immigrants worked outside of the field in which they specialized. Also, internationally trained immigrants are in “limbo” while waiting for their license. This wastes valuable skills, time, and resources for both the workers themselves and for the larger workforce experiencing shortages that could be remedied.

The changes will pave the way for discussions around allowing registered health professionals to have the same barriers removed from their path. And, during the past 20 months of the pandemic, the importance of our healthcare workers has certainly come to the surface.

Additionally, these changes build on the Ontario Bridge Training Program. Through this program, Ontario is investing $67 million to help internationally trained immigrants find in-demand jobs in their communities.

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