Ontario Eases Path to Regulated Professions for Newcomers

Canadian work experience

This article was last updated on May 29, 2023

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Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) is the first professional association in the province to remove the Canadian work experience requirement from their application criteria. The decision was announced by the Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton in Toronto on May 23.

Ontario Talent Shortages

The elimination of the work experience requirement aims to provide an easier path for internationally trained engineers to enter the profession in Ontario. The move follows the Working for Workers Act, 2021 which requires regulated professions to evaluate competency in a non-discriminatory manner, in turn improving opportunities for newcomers to pursue their chosen profession in the province.

The removal of the work experience requirement is expected to help close the gap on the 300,000 unfilled jobs across Ontario, amongst them thousands in the engineering field, costing the province billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Around 60% of PEO’s license applications received annually are from internationally trained engineers. Previously, candidates applying for an engineering license had to provide 48 months of Canadian work experience post-graduation, with at least 12 months of it gained within the territory and supervised by a licensed professional engineer.

Easing Profession Regulations

With Ontario experiencing acute labor shortages, the elimination of Canadian work experience requirements is a part of a series of legislative tactics aimed to improve the accreditation process for newcomers seeking regulated professions; a significant barrier for many immigrants in the province.

For instance, a new law will allow nurses all over Canada to work in Ontario after coming from different jurisdictions without registering with relevant health regulatory colleges. International graduates can pursue nursing in a temporary class while working towards full registration.

The College of Nurses Ontario permits foreign-trained individuals who meet its English proficiency standards to apply for registration. As per the college, in 2020 out of 12,385 new nurses registered, 5,124 were trained outside Canada.

Ontario – Second-Highest Number of Internationally Trained Engineers

According to records from PEO dating back to 2019, Ontario has a licensed engineer population of 85,649. Ontario occupies the second position regarding the total number of internationally trained registered engineers, with 24,258 professionals from outside of Canada registered.

With the removal of the work experience requirement by PEO, qualified international engineers are now expected to be licensed soon. PEO has assured Ontarians that it will dynamically maintain its rigorous qualification standards while verifying competency through the use of a competency-based assessment model and other evaluative methods.

Future Workforce

Studies suggest that incoming immigrants account for a significant part of Ontario’s future workforce. With employers indicating difficulty in locating skilled workers– health and science occupations, for instance– it is essential that Ontario has a regulatory environment bolstering professionals from other jurisdictions and removing bureaucratic barriers.

The elimination of work experience requirements for engineers entering the Ontario job market creates a more level playing field for people from divesre backgrounds. It represents an important step toward overcoming a significant hurdle to Ontario’s labor market for skilled newcomers and an engine for growth in the future.

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