For years, Hire Immigrants Ottawa (a United Way East Ontario initiative) has advocated for measures to address systemic barriers and challenges that skilled immigrants face when entering the Canadian labour force. The Government of Ontario’s announcement to eliminate the work experience requirement for more than 30 regulated professions and skilled trades such as engineering, law, accounting, and architecture is a welcomed step towards ensuring a faster process for newcomers to Ontario to find jobs, settle into their communities, and build a prosperous life.
However, we can and should do more.
Newcomers to Canada have had long-standing issues with unfair requirements for Canadian work experience, repetitive and costly language testing, and unreasonable processing times. The proposed reforms will make an enormous difference in maximizing the talents and potential of immigrants in Ontario’s labour force. This should be extended to other professions and trades not on this list.
While this legislation is focused on regulated professions and trades, often, skilled immigrants in non-regulated professions also face these barriers. This issue is wide-spread and goes well beyond the proposed list. As well, as we continue to fight COVID-19 and beyond, more needs to be done to address a dire shortage of health-care professionals.
“We know that immigrants come to Canada for a better life for themselves. They are hard-working, ready to work, and want opportunities to work. The work that we are all doing is to break down barriers to enable them to find meaningful jobs and be paid for productive services that they deliver. Our community is better, their personal circumstances are better, and at the end of the day, it’s a win-win for everyone.” — Henry Akanko, Director, HIO on CityNews Ottawa’s The Rob Snow Show
For this legislation to succeed, employer education and support will be critical to make this new process work, for everyone. Newcomers have so much to offer to the labour market—including their values, commitment, and determination to succeed.
We all benefit when skilled immigrants in our community are fully employed in skills-appropriate positions.
Listen to the full conversation between HIO’s Director Henry Akanko and CityNews Ottawa’s Rob Snow: