If immigrants are fit, willing and able, let’s certify them

posted on January 18, 2022

Employing skilled immigrants to fill gaps will be key to Canada’s post-COVID recovery

Canadians obviously want to know that the various professionals they encounter are fully qualified. But raising certification barriers too high affects real people and their families and puts a damper on the Canadian economy. So it is good that new Ontario legislation may help speed up licencing for skilled newcomers — though it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
I recently met Moez, a trained pharmacist who immigrated from India in 2015. Despite working two jobs packaging orders at restaurants in Calgary he was not able to afford the cost of re-licensing to practice pharmacy in Canada. Relicensing costs for internationally trained pharmacists range from $9,000 to $25,000, depending on the province and the requirements to be fulfilled.

Such stories are common among immigrants. We’ve all heard of or met internationally-trained doctors, nurses or engineers who make a living driving taxis because they can’t get the certifications they need to work here — even though we are facing severe labour shortages in critical sectors such as health care as Canadian-born boomers retire. Job vacancies reached a record high in Canada in the third quarter of 2021, with 118,000, one-fifth of the total, reported in the health-care and social assistance sector. Employing skilled immigrants to fill these gaps will be key to Canada’s post-COVID recovery.

The good news is that recent legislation in Ontario amending The Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act will significantly reduce licensing barriers for skilled newcomers.

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