Canadian work experience requirement removed for engineers in Ontario

Edana Robitaille
Published: May 28, 2023

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

The minister says removing the Canadian work experience requirement will help qualified professionals enter the profession they are trained for.

“It’s an all-too-common experience: meeting a skilled newcomer trained as an engineer, doctor, or accountant, working in a low-wage job that has nothing to do with their profession,” said McNaughton.

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According to the most recent work experience requirements under PEO, candidates applying for a license must be able to demonstrate 48 months of verifiable and acceptable engineering experience following graduation. At least 12 months of that experience must be in a Canadian jurisdiction under a licensed professional engineer.

McNaughton says there are 300,000 jobs unfilled across the province, including thousands in engineering, which can cost billions in lost productivity.

The change follows the Working for Workers Act, 2021. Under the Act, regulated professions, such as engineering, must assess competency in a non-discriminatory way. This is meant to ensure newcomers can continue their careers in Ontario.

Roydon Fraser, president of PEO said that 60% of the license applications received each year are from internationally trained engineers. He says that removing the Canadian work experience requirement will ensure that qualified international engineers will be licensed more quickly.

According to data from PEO, as of 2019, there were 85,649 licensed engineers in Ontario. It has the second-largest number of internationally trained members, with 24,258 people registered in the profession. The province says that removing the work experience requirement will help qualified professionals pursue their careers while maintaining Ontario’s licensing and exam requirements.

“PEO will continue to ensure all professional engineers meet rigorous qualifications for licensing and that only properly qualified individuals practice engineering through a competency-based assessment model and other methods for evaluation.” says Royce.

Under the current system, a newcomer with the skills and technical ability to pass their profession’s licensing exams may still be barred from registering in their profession without Canadian work experience. This means that many must gain this experience through any job they can get – even if that work occurs in an unrelated sector, such as retail or hospitality.

Other registered professions

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and is dealing with acute labour shortages in several sectors. One of the largest barriers to filling vacant jobs is getting newcomers the accreditation required in regulated professions.

Ontario is taking steps to make it easier for other newcomers to work in regulated fields. For example, it has passed legislation that will allow nurses from other Canadian jurisdictions to work in the province without having to register with the applicable health regulatory colleges. It is also allowing internationally educated nurses to register in a temporary class and begin working sooner while they work towards full registration.

The College of Nurses Ontario reports that of the 12,385 new nurses registered by the college last year, 5,124 were trained outside the country.

The College has also changed its language proficiency policy and has collaborated with colleges and universities to help applicants meet the education requirement.

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