Immigration and foreign credentials

The federal government announced a plan to help immigrants get their foreign credentials recognized. At the heart of this plan is a deal between Ottawa and the provinces to speed up professional licensing applications filed by foreign-trained immigrants. Of course, the new rules will not force private employers to recognize foreign education or work experience, and even provincial licensing bodies will be free to deny any recognition. All the deal seems to promise is reduce wait times for processing of foreign credentials.

Under the Canadian constitution, immigration is mostly Ottawa’s prerogative, and regulation of professions is up to the provinces. So if you want to move to Canada from India, you have to apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. But if, on arrival, you want to work as an architect in Toronto, you have to apply for a license to a provincially-appointed body—the Ontario Association of Architects. In Canada, provinces are sovereign and independent from the federal government within their constitutionally set area of control. That’s why Ottawa cannot order provinces to recognize foreign credentials. And provinces cannot order Ottawa what immigrants to accept. A lack of coordination between the federal and provincial governments can leave immigrant doctors, nurses, or engineers driving cabs in Canadian cities. The latest deal is supposed to address this problem.

But this deal has limitations. Apparently, it covers only admission to regulated professions: architecture, nursing, engineering, etc. It does not guarantee admission to foreign-trained workers. Its purpose is to speed up processing of foreign credentials to see if they meet Canadian standards. Another limitation is that foreign doctors will not qualify for this program for up to three more years. And even if their credentials are recognized, foreign-trained doctors will still need to find internships, which are in short supply. The program doesn’t cover foreign-trained lawyers at all, although they can qualify for a separate arduous accreditation mechanism at least in Ontario.

Any news of fewer professional roadblocks is good news for immigrants. And the public interest certainly requires protection of Canadian standards of professional practice. But the announced program is a narrow step aimed at relatively few new arrivals. It will hardly help hundreds of thousands whose resumes end up in the shredder because of no “Canadian experience” or because their names don’t sound right. That kind of help requires not a government decree but a culture shift.


2 Comments on "Immigration and foreign credentials"

  1. The recognition of foreign credential by the federal government should be very straight forward. These professionals should be processed at the immigration office in their country. Each applicant applying for immigration status to Canada,during the application and interview process, a copy of their credentials, including the professional license to practice in their country from the state board.These documents should be submitted to the provincial licensing body in which the person is intended to settle.For example, the Ontario Medical association,receive the qualifications and then process it and make the decision on the suitability of the applicant. This would reduce the frustration of the applicant in that they would know if they are qualified to practice medicine in Canada. Also, it would reduce the number of bogus qualifications submitted to immigration Canada. Borderline cases could be given an examination by immigration Canada at the embassy or high commissioner office. These exams are drawn from the OMA syllabus. We do not have to reinvent the wheel, however, we can modify the design and make it better.

  2. Its nice to see that the federal government is helping foreign immigrants with foreign credentials. In my personal life my husband is a doctor from pakistan and is a permanent resident he faced many hardhship due to the fact that canada won’t accept him to practice he has to do the test, which i believe is a wasting people hard earned money and also not being certain they will get residency as many people are facing and more priority is being given to canadian medical students and foreign doctors are left in the back burner delivering pizza making minimum wage as compared to other less qualified. We are facing doctor shortages in the provinces and yet we fail to give opportunities to foreign doctors, because of this my husband is doing his masters just to have a alternative career to fall back on because hes not certain that he will not be given a chance to practice here its a shame. I think the province should be ashamed of themselves letting talented people go through this treatment. I believe that racism still exists in this country and we see it. People abuse their power and this problem should be addressed. I feel the foreign trained doctors are brilliant and bring years of experience with them and for them to give tests and that maybe they deliberately make it tougher for only foreign doctors and taking peoples money and not giving them residency just shows how we treat people no wonder even canadian dont like living here they go to the US , I dont blame them.

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