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Engineers first to drop Canadian experience requirement

By Adam Freill   

Construction Labour

Professional Engineers Ontario the first regulated profession in the province to remove Canadian experience requirements.

PHOTO: Adobe Stock/Godshutter

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) is the first Ontario association to remove Canadian work experience requirements from its application criteria for skilled newcomers. The Ontario government recently introduced legislation banning regulated professions from requiring Canadian work experience in more than 30 occupations, a step that is expected to help internationally trained immigrants find work in the fields in which they’ve studied.

The province says the move has the potential to help thousands of otherwise-qualified professionals pursue their dreams, while maintaining Ontario’s licensing and exam requirements.

“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 Monte McNaughton, the province’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government has a plan to build a stronger Ontario that works for everyone, and we’re going to do it by unleashing the talent we have right here at home. I congratulate Professional Engineers Ontario for taking this historic step to support our mission.”

The provinces estimates there to be 300,000 job openings on a given day in Ontario, including thousands in engineering. At the same time, studies have shown only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario work in the regulated professions for which they are trained.


Prior to the change to PEO application regulations, even if a newcomer had the skills and technical ability to pass their licensing exams, they could still be barred from registering without Canadian work experience.

“Each year, up to 60 per cent of the engineering licence applications that PEO receives are from internationally trained engineers,” said PEO president Roydon Fraser. “By no longer requiring proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering licence, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified, international applicants can be licensed more quickly, so they can actively contribute to the economy as engineers. 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.”

Ontario is the first province in Canada to ban unfair or discriminatory Canadian work experience requirements to help newcomers work in the professions they trained for. In December 2023, all unfair requirements for Canadian experience will be automatically voided unless an exemption is granted by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for public health and safety.

The legislated changes were introduced as part of the Working for Workers Act, 2021. Affected occupations are those that fall under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (FARPACTA).

In 2019, engineers were the fourth largest regulated profession in Ontario, with 85,649 members the profession had the second largest number of internationally trained members, with 24,258.

“We applaud the Professional Engineers Ontario for their leadership in removing the Canadian work experience as a requirement,” stated Tonie Chaltas, CEO of Achēv. “Through Achēv’s own work with employers and job seekers, we know that removing this barrier will create a true win-win-win. Employers get the talent they need, skilled newcomers secure jobs in their chosen profession, and Ontario’s economy grows.”




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