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Ontario Looks to Ease Entry for Foreign-Trained Individuals

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A bill working its way through the Ontario legislature targets professional occupations in an aim to help professionals who immigrate to fully integrate into the economy.

After passing its second reading in the parliament of Ontario, Bill 124 – titled the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act – will now be discussed in committees before a final reading later this year. The proposed law lists 34 professions whose entry is regulated by an association, including engineering, medicine and accounting. If passed, the bill will create provincial standards for recognizing foreign credentials and for transparency in the registration process.

Also included in the bill are some institutional measures intended to improve the process. A new office called the Access Centre for Internationally Trained Individuals would provide one-stop shopping for a range of services for the licensing/registration process as well as for employers, post-secondary institutions, community agencies, internships and mentorships. The proposed law would also see a Fairness Commissioner appointed to oversee auditing and compliance with the legislation.

If an individual is found not to be treating immigrant professionals fairly they can be fined up to $50 000. Corporations and Associations can face up to $100 000 in penalties. Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle, speaking at a public forum about the bill, said that by improving the process “we’ll have a gain for the foreign-trained individuals but also for all the communities that need engineers, doctors, nurses”.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, failure to recognize foreign skills and credentials costs the Canadian economy up to $5 billion a year. Ontario is the leading recipient of immigration to Canada, with approximately 140 000 new arrivals annually. This legislation aims to simultaneously address inequalities in the system while helping to fill shortages of professionals in the Canadian economy