Ontario is hoping to ban employers from asking for Canadian work experience and relax the provincial immigration eligibility so that international graduates from one-year college programs can qualify for permanent residence.
The proposed changes are expected to take effect next year and will be part of legislation the provincial government plans to introduce early next week.
Starting Dec. 1, more than 30 occupational and professional licensing bodies will be prohibited from using Canadian work experience requirements in licensing. A similar ban against employers in job postings and application forms is meant to further remove a crucial employment barrier for newcomers.
Officials said helping internationally trained newcomers work in the professions they studied for could increase the province’s GDP by as much as $100 billion over the next five years. The ban on Canadian experience requirement, they said, would help more qualified candidates progress in the interview process.
“For far too long, too many people arriving in Canada have been funnelled toward dead-end jobs they’re overqualified for. We need to ensure these people can land well-paying and rewarding careers that help tackle the labour shortage,” said David Piccini, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.
“When newcomers to Ontario get a meaningful chance to contribute, everyone wins.”
Ontario runs its own provincial immigrant nominee program, which allows the province to screen and pick prospective permanent residents with the skills in demand, especially in health care and skilled trades. It has a quota of 16,500 in 2023.
The province said it’s going to welcome more international students through the nominee program by revising their eligibility requirements so those who finish a one-year college graduate certificate program can also qualify.
This is expected to help Ontario retain those international students who already have an undergraduate degree and choose to upgrade their education in Canada.
Currently, for example, a student studying nursing in one of these short-term graduate programs wouldn’t qualify even if there’s a huge demand for nurses in the province.
The new legislation will also crack down on how regulated professions such as accountants, architects and geoscientists use third-party companies to assess international qualifications to ensure they are done in a “fast, transparent and fair” fashion.
Officials said changes to the provincial immigrant nominee program will take effect in early 2024 but other changes may take a bit longer to allow employers and professional regulators time to comply.