Federal government creates Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians

Jason Kenney and Nick Noorani
Jason Kenney and Nick Noorani


EMPLOYMENT and Social Development Jason Kenney, who is also Minister for Multiculturalism, has set up the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians as part of the federal government’s action plan to improve foreign credential recognition for internationally trained professionals.

Kenney underlined that while the government has already taken significant action to better integrate new Canadians into the workplace, more can be done. New Canadians play a key role in the workforce, but the economy and society can benefit even more by finding better ways to tap into their skills and talents.

The panel is being led by experts in the areas of newcomer integration, diversity and certification. It is the next step the government is taking so that internationally trained professionals can get jobs in their fields faster.

The panel is being chaired by Nick Noorani, an immigrant advocate and social entrepreneur. He will be joined by six other expert panel members: Kim Allen, Wafa Berny, Dr. Lori Campbell, Margaret Eaton, Robert Henderson and Christine Nielsen.

The panel is now meeting with employers, immigration-serving organizations, professional associations, regulatory bodies and academics in seven cities across Canada. Provinces and territories are also participating.  There is also an online consultation accessible to all Canadians through the Employment and Social Development Canada website.

The panel will prepare a report to the Government based on its findings. This report will provide an opportunity to develop new and innovative approaches to improve the hiring and integration of newcomers into the workforce. As well, it will highlight lessons learned in preparing newcomers to enter the Canadian labour market. The report will be available to the public in early 2015.

The federal government provides coordination and financial support to improve credential recognition in 24 target occupations that represent over 80 percent of newcomers. Action taken to date includes:

* A microloans pilot project to help internationally trained workers cover the cost of having their credentials recognized. To date, more than 1,400 skilled newcomers have benefitted from these microloans.

* A new framework for foreign credential recognition, which was launched in partnership with the provinces and territories. Under the framework, internationally trained workers who submit an application to be licensed or registered to work in certain fields, along with all fees and relevant documents, will be advised within one year how their credentials compare to Canadian standards. They may also be advised of additional requirements or be directed to alternative occupations that would benefit from their skills and experience.

* Service standards that allow internationally trained professionals in priority occupations to have their credentials assessed within one year, anywhere in Canada. Recent annual rates of newcomers entering the pathway to licensure in framework occupations include: 5,600 engineers; 3,100 physicians; 2,000 pharmacists; 1,100 physiotherapists; and 1,200 dentists.