CONSERVATIVE Party Leader Erin O’Toole on Friday announced his plan to strengthen credential recognition for newcomers.
“Helping newcomers maximize their success by allowing them to work in their field of knowledge will be good for Canada, good for the economy, and, most importantly, good for these workers and their families,” said O’Toole.
“Upon taking office, a Conservative government will immediately launch a Credential Recognition Task Force to develop new timely and appropriate credential recognition strategies.”
As part of this task force, the Conservatives will study credential pre-qualification – allowing people in other countries to acquire Canadian-standard proficiency through accredited institutions overseas or distance learning with Canadian institutions.
According to the Conservatives, credential recognition is a major issue for immigrant communities and for the Canadian economy as a whole. The problem is a complex one given that skilled workers may be required to go through federal Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to apply under the Express Entry program as well as meet multiple additional requirements set by the provinces, educational institutions for continuing studies and professional licensing or regulatory bodies in order to be able to work in the field of their choice. This can involve lengthy delays and require immigrant professionals to work in occupations other than those for which they were trained rather than contributing to the Canadian economy as doctors, nurses or engineers.
The main federal program aiming to address the issue is the Foreign Credential Recognition Program which has existed since 2003 with an approximate annual budget of $21 million in 2017. It provides funding to provinces, academic institutions and professional regulatory bodies to simplify and harmonize foreign credential recognition processes. Employment and Social Development Canada’s 2020 Evaluation of the program concluded that immigrant skilled workers faced long processes and significant barriers to the recognition of their credentials in many instances. In particular it noted an absence of sufficient data on labour market outcomes for workers trained abroad as a significant obstacle to policy making. It also noted that the need to operate across multiple competing jurisdictions limited the program’s effectiveness.