At Ontario, the Fairness Commissioner from the Government of Ottawa looks at unlocking the talents of professional immigrants
“In this post-recessionary world, we need to find a way to work together to ensure there is a sense of balance and a sense of fairness; a sense that we are in this together and that we’ll find a way forward together.”
— Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
One in three Canadians calls Ontario home. The most diverse cultural province in Canada first recognized the need for the Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC). The Honourable Jean Augustine was appointed as the first Fairness Commissioner for Ontario in March 2007 and works closely with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of Ontario. The OFC is rooted in the belief that applicants to a regulated profession need their academic credentials, work experience treated fairly and a transparent manner.
Improving fairness and access to licensed professions has delivered real results for the people of Ontario and serve as a solid foundation for renewing partnership with the federal government
With the new bill being implemented, educated and skilled professionals citizen of the Caribbean wishing to migrate to Canada, hoping to work in their field after being granted permanent resident it’s not always an easy task – when you arrive with no Canadian experience.
On September 20, 2013 at the Delta Chelsea Hotel, hosted by The Economic Club of Canada, the Hon. Jean Augustine, PC, CM, Fairness Commissioner for the Province of Ontario projected that by 2016 that all of the province’s net labour market growth will come from immigration.
The Fairness Commissioner went on to say “we cannot deny there is a gap between immigration policy and the labour markets realities with less than one quarter of employed and university educated immigrants to Canada working in their chosen field of study, it’s a serious barrier to our own economic advancement. The federal skilled working class within the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations were disappointed to see the federal immigration police move to assert the importance of “Canadian experience.”
Canada’s economic growth depends on the contributions of highly educated newcomers. Thousands of immigrant professionals arrive here every year. Many are frustrated and under-employed. It is vital to unlock their potential and recognize their credentials to fast-track licensing.
1. The federal proposal to increase points for Canadian work experience and reduce points for foreign work experience is counter–productive and counter intuitive to efforts of advancement over the past five to six years in Ontario and elsewhere experience gained internationally should be deem of equal to experience gain in Canada.
2. Requiring a mandatory assessment of foreign education credentials to determine their equivalency to complete education credential in Canada could be harmful to fair and due process, since their new criteria to determine” Equivalency” are not transparent.
3. Requiring a minimum level of language proficiency in English or French has unintended consequences, further excluding individuals from other regulation who would otherwise be successful.
The OFC cannot support the federal proposal as it reasons;-
- If the regulation proceeds as written the federal government will be providing the conceptual framework to continue marginalized and exclude internationally- –educated from the labour force.
- The proposed deregulation goes against the direction of Ontario and other provinces with Fair access legislation of internationally- trained professionals, and the regulation validates discriminatory practise of devaluing work experience obtained outside Canada.
- And in doing so, devaluing international work experience in the immigration points system, the Federal government may unintentionally be encouraging employers to violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
Recommendations by the Fairness Commissioner office include the following;
- The Government makes information available abroad in advance of their arrival to Canada to permit self-assessment of the readiness to practice their profession in Canada.
- Ensuring the Federal government make provide an equal number of points under the regulation for work experience in their declared occupation regardless of where that experience was optioned.
- Streaming the assessment process by designating all province regulatory bodies the responsible for academic assessment for the purpose of licensure .
- Requiring any federally established academic assessment criteria to determine equivalency is fair, public –available, and not pose un-necessary barriers; and aligning test and benchmarks for language proficiency with those used now by regulatory bodies.
The Hon. Jean Augustine concluded, “We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs . We must bring fairness and transparency, leading to a more welcome access to regulated professions for our newcomers. It can’t just be legislation but fairness for internationally trained on the public agenda at the national level. We need to draw attention to what appears to be obscure and technical regulation change, but one that embodies a major shift in policy . We need to put consideration of this regulation into an “economic” context – this is an issue that effects all of us and will continue to affect us for generations. We need to unlock the talents of immigrant professionals upon whom we may well depend upon for a prosperous Canada in the coming decades.”
- Vicky Augustin of Post Media, born St Lucian, but Canadian citizen, her editorial seeks to emphasise how the positive images made by the Caribbean Diaspora add to the Canadian community.