Ontario Government to Remove Canadian Experience Requirements for International Engineering Graduates, in line with OSPE’s Recommendations

On October 21, 2021, the Ontario Government announced it is proposing legislation that would, if passed, make it easier for internationally trained immigrants to start careers in their profession. Proposed changes, if passed, include:

  • Eliminating Canadian work experience requirements for professional registration and licensing
  • Reducing burdensome duplication for official language proficiency testing, so people would not have to complete multiple tests for purposes of immigration and professional licensing
  • Allowing applicants to register faster in their regulated professions when there are emergencies (such as a pandemic) that create an urgent need for certain professions or trades
  • Ensuring the licensing process is completed in a timely manner to help internationally-trained immigrants start working in careers that match their skillset

“OSPE has long advocated for removal of barriers that prevent many International Engineering Graduates (IEGs) from practising their profession in Canada,” said Sandro Perruzza, OSPE’s CEO. “OSPE’s 2016 Census analysis revealed that almost 50 per cent of IEGs were underemployed in Canada, meaning they worked in jobs not necessarily requiring a professional degree.

This barrier to licensure keeps many talented engineering graduates from contributing to the Ontario and Canadian economies, and impacts innovation and economic progress. It also contradicts efforts by OSPE to make the engineering profession more diverse and inclusive to all. OSPE wishes to thank Minister McNaughton and the government of Ontario for adopting our recommendations in this new legislation,” said Perruzza. 

Most recently, OSPE recommended the elimination of the requirement for 12-months of Canadian Experience of Licensure in the Professional Engineers Act by amending Regulation 941 to revoke Section 33(1)4 and 33(2). In this submission, OSPE noted that the Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) has repeatedly identified PEO’s licensure requirement of 12 months of Canadian experience to be an artificial barrier that hinders applicants who are IEGs with significant practical engineering experience acquired outside of Canada. The OFC has concluded that PEO’s requirement is discriminatory and breaches PEO’s duties under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act.

Further, in 2020, PEO established an Anti-Racism & Anti-Discrimination Exploratory Working Group. PEO then retained independent consultants to identify vulnerabilities to systemic racism and discrimination within the range of activities overseen by PEO. The consultants’ report, issued in May 2021, identified the 12-month Canadian experience requirement as the concern of greatest significance in PEO’s licensing process. 

The majority of the other engineering regulators in Canada have eliminated this requirement and found alternatives to address familiarity with local codes and standards including competency-based assessments.

In addition to ongoing advocacy, OSPE has supported IEGs since 2009 through bridging programs. Although funding has expired for these courses, in the past three years, we’ve been highly successful in delivering two programs:

  • Examination Skills Preparation for International Engineering Graduates (IEGs) – preparing newcomers to take the National Professional Practice Exam (NPPE – formerly PPE)
    • 199 IEGs completed course
    • 49 IEGs obtained the P.Eng. licence, with many more on track to obtaining their licence in the coming months
  • Skills and Jobs in Ontario’s Environment Sector – to assist newcomers in job searching and finding work in the environment sector
    • 191 IEGs completed course
    • 107 IEGs employed in engineering or related field

OSPE is currently offering a new career portal, ENGpath, where engineering and technology graduates, including IEGs, can find resources to assist with finding work.

Participants can:

  • Connect directly with employers at our free Virtual Engineering Employment Events (VE3s)
  • Learn how to optimize their resumes and LinkedIn profiles
  • Job search at one of our workshops, sharpen interviewing skills with the Virtual Interview Simulator (VIS)or discover quality career opportunities through our Career Centre
  • Get the skills, opportunities and confidence they need to succeed in their engineering careers

For more information, visit https://ospe.on.ca/career-services/.

Through these programs, IEGs continue to express concerns regarding obtaining Canadian job experience to secure a licence in the province. We commend the Ontario government for taking action to remove this barrier for International Engineering Graduates and others. OSPE will continue working towards a more diverse and inclusive engineering profession in Ontario. For more information on OSPE’s Diversity & Inclusion programs and initiatives, click here.

What do you think about the government’s news? Are you an IEG? Share your story with us below.

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