New legislation introduced in British Columbia aims to expedite the process for internationally trained professionals to have their credentials recognized, allowing them to join the workforce more quickly. The proposed law, known as the International Credentials Recognition Act, was announced on October 23, 2023, and targets a range of professions, from engineers and social workers to early childhood educators and paramedics.
Premier David Eby remarked on the urgency of the issue, stating, “Skilled professionals from around the world move to B.C. hoping to put their skills to good use, but instead face huge obstacles and an often-confusing process to get their credentials recognized.” He added, “With the skills shortage we have in this province, we cannot afford to leave anyone on the sidelines.”
The legislation is designed to introduce fairness, efficiency, transparency, and accountability into the credentialing process. If passed, it would require 18 regulatory bodies overseeing 29 professions to streamline procedures and remove barriers. Among the changes would be the elimination of the requirement for Canadian work experience prior to accreditation and the setting of caps for maximum credential processing times. Additionally, information about credential assessments would be mandated to be available online.
Andrew Mercier, Minister of State for Workforce Development, also weighed in on the proposed law: “This is a matter of fairness. Ensuring international professionals can build strong, prosperous lives for themselves and their families in B.C. is important to this government.”
Should the legislation be enacted, a new superintendent will be appointed in summer 2024 to promote fair credential recognition, monitor the performance of regulatory authorities, and ensure compliance with the law. This position will also collaborate with the Ministry of Health to create new pathways for incoming health-care workers, aligning with changes to be introduced through the Health Professions and Occupations Act.
The International Credentials Recognition Act builds upon existing initiatives aimed at alleviating skills shortages across multiple sectors, particularly in health care. Given the province’s current skills deficit, the proposed changes could provide a significant boost to the British Columbia economy by filling in-demand jobs and facilitating the provision of essential services.