Canadian work experience no longer required for engineers in Ontario: Province

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The Ontario government is taking a significant step forward in assisting internationally-trained immigrants to work in their respective fields of expertise.

The government recently introduced legislation that prohibits regulated professions from demanding Canadian work experience in over 30 occupations. In line with this initiative, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has become the first association to eliminate Canadian work experience as a requirement for their application process. This progressive move has the potential to unlock countless opportunities for qualified professionals and maintain Ontario’s high standards for licensing and examination procedures.

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, emphasized the significance of this development.

“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. Our government has a plan to build a stronger Ontario that works for everyone, and we’re going to do it by unleashing the talent we have right here at home. I congratulate Professional Engineers Ontario for taking this historic step to support our mission.”

In Ontario alone, approximately 300,000 job vacancies remain unfilled daily, with thousands of openings in the field of engineering. These unoccupied positions result in billions of dollars in lost productivity. Additionally, studies have revealed that only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions they were trained for.

Even if newcomers possess the necessary skills and technical expertise to pass their profession’s licensing exams, they may still face obstacles to registering within their respective fields if they lack Canadian work experience, even if that experience comes from unrelated sectors like retail.

Roydon Fraser, President of PEO, highlighted the impact of this policy change.

“Each year, up to 60 percent of the engineering license applications that PEO receives are from internationally trained engineers. By no longer requiring proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering license, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified, international applicants can be licensed more quickly, so they can actively contribute to the economy as engineers. 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.”

Ontario has become the first province in Canada to eradicate unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements that hinder newcomers from pursuing careers in their trained professions.

Starting from December 2023, all unjust requirements for Canadian experience will be automatically invalidated, unless the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development grants exemptions for reasons of public health and safety.

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