Speeding the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications in Canada

A new framework to speed the integration of foreign-trained immigrants into the Canadian workforce was introduced in late November as part of the Canadian Government’s strategy to attract and integrate “ the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world.”

Under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications [1], foreign-trained workers who submit an application to be licensed or registered to work in certain fields will be advised within one year whether their qualifications will be recognized. Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development [2] and Co-Chair of the Forum of Labour Market Ministers [3], and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism both endorsed the new framework on November 30 after it was officially introduced.

The recognition of foreign credentials is the process of verifying that knowledge, skills, work experience and education obtained in another country are comparable to the standards established for host-country professionals and tradespersons. Canadian government authorities and non-government agencies have been working hard in recent years to expedite this process as part of a broader strategy to attract skilled immigrants to fill positions in the Canadian labor market that are not being met by domestically trained workers. The strategy is not only aimed at attracting workers, but also to attract talented international students and researchers.

“Attracting and retaining the best international talent to address existing and future labor market challenges is critical to Canada’s long-term economic success,” said Minister Finley in a press release. “Ensuring that foreign credentials and qualifications are assessed and recognized in a timely manner will enable newcomers to maximize their talents.”

The Framework states that provincial governments across Canada will work towards ensuring better pre-arrival services, assessments that are fair, transparent, consistent and timely, while also offering improved workforce participation services for recent arrivals. The goal is to help internationally trained workers put their training and knowledge to work sooner in a bid to make the Canadian immigrant system one of the most competitive and attractive in the world.

The Framework will initially be implemented in the following eight occupations by December 31, 2010:

During the next phase of implementation ending December 2012, the Framework will be implemented in the following six occupations:

The Framework is part of a C$50 million commitment from the Action Plan for Faster Immigration [4] to work with the provinces and territories to address barriers to credential recognition in Canada. The investment is designed to do four things:

The Foreign Credential Recognition Program [5] and the Foreign Credentials Referral Office [6] are the key federal agencies that have been established to support pan-Canadian implementation of the Framework.

For an in-depth look at other programs, initiatives and issues surrounding the recognition of foreign credentials in Canada, please see the May 2009 WES report by Timothy Owen and Sophia Lowe, “Good Practices for the Recognition of International Credentials in Canada [7].”