Ontario Helping Newcomers Start Their Careers

Ontario legislative building. (CNW Group/Unifor)

The Ontario government intends to propose legislation that would, if passed, help address the province-wide labour shortage by making it easier for internationally-trained immigrants to start careers in their profession. The proposal announced today would, if passed, help remove many significant barriers internationally-trained immigrants face, such as the requirement for Canadian work experience, when attempting to get licensed in certain regulated professions and trades such as law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical and plumbing.

“Ontario is facing a generational labour shortage with hundreds of thousands of jobs going unfilled. However, all too often, newcomers in this province struggle to find jobs in their regulated profession for no other reason than bureaucracy and red tape,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “These are folks who often have the training, experience, and qualifications to work in booming industries where Ontario desperately needs help but are being denied a chance to contribute. If these proposed changes are passed, Ontario would become the first province in Canada to help level the playing field in certain regulated professions so that workers coming here have the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their loved ones, and build stronger communities for us all.”

To help address the labour shortage and help internationally-trained immigrants in Ontario build better lives for their themselves and their families, the Ontario government intends to propose changes this fall which would, if passed:

  • Eliminate Canadian work experience requirements for professional registration and licensing unless an exemption is granted based on a demonstrated public health and safety risk. These requirements may create situations where workers are unable to obtain Canadian work experience because they don’t have it. This is often cited as the number one barrier Canadian immigrants face in obtaining a job that matches their level of qualification.
  • Reduce burdensome duplication for official language proficiency testing, so people would not have to complete multiple tests for purposes of immigration and professional licensing.
  • Allow applicants to register faster in their regulated professions when there are emergencies (such as a pandemic) that create an urgent need for certain professions or trades.
  • Ensure the licensing process is completed in a timely manner to help internationally-trained immigrants start working in careers that match their skillset.

“Over the past several months, I had the pleasure of co-chairing numerous roundtables with Minister McNaughton, as we heard from immigrants, industry leaders, settlement groups and faith communities, to understand the barriers internationally-trained professionals often face. I am very pleased the government intends to propose several important amendments that would, if approved and passed, better the lives of new Canadians,” said Irwin Glasberg, the Fairness Commissioner of Ontario. “These proposed changes would help to improve registration practices, address unfair Canadian experience requirements and remove related barriers for internationally-trained professionals and tradespersons. I want to thank Minister McNaughton for his leadership on this important initiative. Our office looks forward to working with the government, professional regulators, and other parties to advance these initiatives and improve fair access to the regulated professions and compulsory trades.”

If passed, these proposed changes would build on work the province is already doing to help highly skilled internationally-trained immigrants to find work in their field of expertise. Through the Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ontario is investing $67 million over three years on programs and services that connect internationally-trained immigrants with in-demand jobs in their communities.

Quick Facts

  • In 2016, only one-quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario were employed in the regulated professions for which they trained or studied.
  • This summer, roughly 300,000 jobs were going unfilled across the province, costing billions in lost productivity.
  • Currently, internationally-trained immigrants face multiple barriers to getting licensed in their field including unfair requirements for Canadian work experience, unnecessary, repetitive and costly language testing, and unreasonable processing times.
  • At present, licensing time in some regulated professions takes up to 18 months or more, while workers wait in limbo, wasting valuable time when they could be contributing to the economy.
  • The proposed changes, if passed, would apply to non-health regulated professions and compulsory trades such as professional engineers, architects, plumbers, electricians, accountants, hairstylists, teachers and early childhood educators. However, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will work with the Ministry of Health to assess if these proposed changes can also be made for health professions in the future.


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