Resolve Accreditation Issues for Foreign-Born Professionals

Education and work experience are among the valuable assets new immigrants bring to Canada. Yet, immigrants face systematic employment barriers as their foreign-earned credentials and work experience are often not recognized in Canada. Non-recognition of foreign credentials and work experience by professional societies or employers can lead to an underutilization of the ‘human capital’ of many immigrants and can be discouraging and overwhelming to the individuals involved. Data released by Statistics Canada in 2015, showed a persistent wage gap between racialized Canadians and those who are white; confirming the discrimination in employment that leads to income inequality and disparities for many first and second-generation immigrants. As such, Canada needs to adopt a consistent and holistic framework to enable foreign-trained professionals to quickly enter the Canadian workforce. Such a program should eliminate province-specific barriers and ensure that foreign-trained professionals have easy access to certification programs.

Overview

Education and work experience are among the valuable assets new immigrants bring to Canada. Yet, immigrants face systematic employment barriers as their foreign-earned credentials and work experience are often not recognized in Canada. This may be because foreign education and certifications are unrecognized by Canadian professional societies; unfamiliarity or lack of trust of foreign degrees among employers; or Canada’s decentralized accreditation system with each province having distinct standards for evaluating degrees.[i] Non-recognition of foreign credentials and work experience by professional societies or employers can lead to an underutilization of the ‘human capital’ of many immigrants and can be discouraging and overwhelming to the individuals involved. 

Data released by Statistics Canada in 2015, showed a persistent wage gap between racialized Canadians and those who are white; confirming the discrimination in employment that leads to income inequality and disparities for many first and second-generation immigrants.[ii] What is needed is for the federal and provincial government to make concrete commitments to implementing policies that will address issues related to the comparability of education and credentials obtained outside of Canada. The Canadian Heritage committee published the report, Taking Action Against Systematic Racism and Religious Discrimination including Islamophobia, which recommended the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to facilitate mechanisms to recognize education and credentials obtained outside of Canada.[iii]

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe doctors and other professionals trained abroad should be encouraged to pursue their vocations in Canada?
  • If so, how do you propose to make it easier for foreign-trained professionals to have their credentials recognized in Canada?
  • Do you believe the government can and should do more to address systemic barriers to employment for immigrants to Canada?

If elected:

  • Will you work within your caucus to address the barriers to foreign-trained professionals to practicing their vocation in Canada?
  • Will you work within your caucus to push for the government to follow through on the Heritage Committee’s recommendation to address the problem of non-recognition of education and credentials obtain outside of Canada?
  • Will you work within your caucus to hold the government accountable to developing policies that will reduce income inequality facing immigrants.

Supporting Points

  • 2017 Heritage Committee Report. In the Taking Action Against Systematic Racism and Religious Discrimination including Islamophobia report, Parliament’s Heritage Committee proposed that the Canadian Government eliminate employment barriers by devising a national strategy on labour market integration. Witnesses before the committee suggested that cooperation between the federal, provincial and territorial governments is necessary to eliminate employment barriers. The report also recommended that the Government follow Ontario and Manitoba’s lead and establish provincial Fairness Commissioners to ensure that immigrants with professional credentials from foreign countries have easier access to professional labour markets.
  • Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). [iv] TRIEC released a State of Immigrant Inclusion report, which found that many employers do not recognize or see international skills and credentials as an asset to their businesses. TRIEC recommends educating employers on how to understand international credentials through a cross-sector collaboration to create systemic change. The report found that the unemployment gap is narrowing in the greater Toronto area (GTA). However, the unemployment rate for university-educated immigrants is still twice the rate of native-born Canadians. In addition, the report found that female immigrants in the GTA who have a university degree earn on average half the amount of their Canadian-born female counterparts. The report recommended that immigrants not be forced to earn another degree to gain access to the Canadian job market.  Instead, they recommended bridging programs, professional certificates, or certification courses to reduce employment barriers for foreign-trained professionals.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).[v] ESDC studied ways to eliminate employment barriers to foreign-trained professionals, and recommended: easier access to language training; vocational bridging programs; and skill upgrade programs for foreign-trained professionals. In addition, the ESDC recommended cultural competency training for employers to highlight the benefits of hiring immigrants. The ESDC also recommended greater sharing and dialogue among service providers to identify employment barriers, and to share referral opportunities.

Recommendations for Canada

  • Canada needs to adopt a consistent and holistic framework to enable foreign-trained professionals to quickly enter the Canadian workforce. Such a program should eliminate province-specific barriers and ensure that foreign-trained professionals have easy access to certification programs.
  • More broadly, Canada must eliminate employment barriers faced by immigrants when their foreign qualifications are not recognized.
  • Canada should do more to encourage employers to find ways to integrate immigrants into their workforce.

 

[i] Recognition of newcomers' foreign credentials and work experience. (2010, September 29). Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-001-x/2010109/article/11342-eng.htm

[ii] Andrew-Amofah, B. 3 areas where the government's new immigration plan falls short. Retrieved from https://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/bandrewamofah/3_areas_where_the_government_s_new_immigration_plan_falls_short

[iii] Committee Report No. 10 - CHPC (42-1) - House of Commons of Canada. Retrieved from https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/CHPC/report-10/page-18

[iv] TRIEC. Retrieved from http://triec.ca/research-and-insights/state-of-immigrant-inclusion/

[v] Social Development Canada. (2018, October 30). Eliminating barriers to foreign qualification recognition: Emerging and best practices conference. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/foreign-credential-recognition/conference-report-emerging-best-practices.html#h2.2

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