Harper Government announces more help for new Canadians to get into job market faster

OTTAWA, April 13, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, released a report today outlining new and better ways to integrate immigrants into the Canadian workforce.

The Minister shared highlights from the report, authored by the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians, during his speech at The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Immigration Summit 2015, which kicked off in Ottawa today.

The Minister also announced funding for two related projects that will see internationally trained doctors and engineers have their foreign credentials more quickly and effectively recognized by eliminating red tape and taking advantage of new online tools.

The two projects, one led by the Medical Council of Canada and the other by Engineers Canada, will help address some of the challenges noted by the Panel that newcomers face when trying to obtain employment.

These challenges include problems getting foreign qualifications recognized, a lack of Canadian work experience, inadequate pre-arrival information and a mismatch of skills to region.

The Minister pledged to carefully study the Panel's recommendations, which include the need to:

  • require each regulated occupation to develop a single national standard and point of contact and insist that skilled immigrants take the initiative to have their qualifications assessed prior to arriving in Canada;
  • develop a broader strategy for alternative careers, with a more prominent role for regulators, that will support newcomers as part of the licensing process;
  • produce better, more coordinated labour market information targeted at newcomers; and
  • create a sense of shared responsibility among all stakeholders for helping immigrants find jobs that match their skills, with a focus on engaging employers.

The Government's commitment to helping newcomers to Canada is just one of its key priorities, which also include helping hard-working families by enhancing the Universal Child Care Benefit, introducing the Family Tax Cut and making improvements to the Child Care Expenses Deduction and the Children's Fitness Tax Credit.

Quick Facts

  • Following the creation of the Panel in fall 2014, in-person consultations on integrating new Canadians into the workforce were held in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax.
  • The Panel met with over 150 organizations closely involved in the issue of employment for new Canadians, including employers, immigrant-serving organizations, professional associations, occupational regulatory bodies, provincial representatives and academics.
  • The Panel also posted an online survey open to all Canadians and received input from over 600 respondents, including many new Canadians.
  • A study done by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in 2012 showed that employment and wage gaps between new immigrants and native-born Canadians cost the economy slightly more than $20 billion in forgone earnings.
  • Engineers Canada estimates that 95,000 professional engineers are expected to retire by 2020 and that they are not being replaced fast enough by Canadian graduates.
  • Overseas delivery of the qualifying exam for international medical graduates (IMGs) and removal of the evaluating exam will give IMGs a better benchmark to understand their likelihood of practising as a physician in Canada, prior to deciding to immigrate to Canada. Removal of the evaluating exam alone will result in some $6 million in annual savings to IMGs for exam fees and is expected to shorten the licensing process by four to six months.

Quotes

"Every time we can help a newcomer to Canada plug their skills and experience into the Canadian workforce, everyone wins. It's a source of pride and provision to the individual and their family, which in turn benefits local communities and strengthens our national economy. All levels of government need to adopt more common-sense approaches that help newcomers take on meaningful work more quickly."
– The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development

"The Panel thanks the hundreds of Canadians, including the numerous organizational representatives, who participated in the consultations and contributed to our insights and recommendations. We hope our report will help new Canadians achieve their full potential, for their own benefit and for the sake of our country."
 – Nick Noorani, Immigrant Champion and Chair of the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians

Associated Links

Report of the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians
Announcement of the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians
Employment and Social Development Canada: Credential Recognition
A Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications

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Backgrounder

Panel members

In addition to the Chair, Mr. Nick Noorani, the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians included:

  • Mr. Kim Allen, CEO of Engineers Canada;
  • Ms.Wafa Berny, Consultant and Lecturer at the Université du Québec in Montréal;
  • Dr. Lori Campbell, Manager of Diversity at Enbridge Pipelines;
  • Ms. Margaret Eaton, Executive Director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council;
  • Mr. Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada; and
  • Ms. Christine Nielsen, CEO of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science and Chair of the Canadian Network of Associations of Regulators.

Many of the topics in the Panel's report complement those being discussed at the Canadian Immigration Summit 2015, namely the importance of immigration, the need for collaboration among the many Canadian stakeholders, efforts to recruit and integrate newcomers to Canada, reforms to immigration for skilled tradespeople, licensing and settlement issues.

Findings

The Panel learned there is nothing irrevocably wrong with the system in place to integrate new Canadians into the labour market. All of the required components are available in some form; however, the system itself simply does not work well enough, seamlessly enough, or quickly enough.

The consultations identified a number of promising practices, but also clearly demonstrated the need for better collaboration among the many stakeholders.

In the consultations, individual respondents and immigrant-serving organizations both mentioned foreign credential recognition difficulties and inadequate Canadian experience most frequently as an obstacle to obtaining relevant employment in Canada. Other frequently mentioned difficulties were perceived employer bias, inadequate labour market information and cultural adaptation challenges.

The report provides six recommendations:

1 – Require each regulated occupation to develop a single pan-Canadian standard and a single point of contact, and insist that the assessment process be initiated from abroad by prospective immigrants and tracked in the immigration system.

2 – Develop a broader strategy for alternative careers, with a more prominent role for regulators, which will support newcomers who are unsuccessful in the licensing process or those who make it their first career choice.

3 – Create a sense of shared responsibility among all stakeholders for helping immigrants find jobs that match their skills, with a focus on engaging employers in this regard.   

4 – Task a group composed of diverse stakeholders to advise governments on an ongoing basis on the broader issue of integration of newcomers.

5 – Produce better, more coordinated labour market information targeted at newcomers.

6 – Educate communities on how to attract and retain newcomers.

Action to date

The Panel's recommendations align with the Government's current approach to better integrate immigrants into the labour market, namely through the Government's priorities on foreign credential recognition (FCR), settlement and immigration.

The Government of Canada has made considerable progress on FCR, including working with its provincial and territorial partners to improve credential recognition in 24 high-priority occupations that represent many newcomers.

In addition to today's announcements on improved FCR for internationally trained physicians and engineers, the Government has also undertaken the following:

  • A microloans pilot project to help internationally trained workers cover the cost of having their credentials recognized. More than 1,500 skilled newcomers have benefitted from these microloans.
  • The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, under which high-skilled newcomers in 24 priority occupations—including some 5,600 engineers, 3,100 physicians, 2,000 pharmacists, 1,100 physiotherapists and 1,200 dentists—are already benefitting from improvements to foreign credential recognition.
  • An Action Plan for Better Foreign Qualification Recognition, a renewed multilateral approach endorsed by the Forum of Labour Market Ministers last fall to better help new Canadians have their qualifications recognized faster. This plan focuses on improved pre-decision supports, including access to the first steps in assessment overseas, clearer communications and transition supports to better ensure that the skills and experiences of newcomers are fully utilized in the Canadian labour market.

Next steps

Minister Poilievre will follow up on the report with government colleagues, at all levels, and work with them to consider to work with the many other stakeholders who share our interest in helping new Canadians quickly find jobs in their fields.

New FCR projects

The Medical Council of Canada and Engineers Canada will receive matched funding to develop transparent new online tools and processes to more quickly, fairly and easily recognize the qualifications of internationally trained medical and engineering professionals. These tools and processes will be better aligned with the Canadian immigration system and our labour market needs.

By making the tools available internationally, we will also help prospective immigrants better understand our licensing process and professional requirements to ensure they have a better chance of practising their profession upon arriving in Canada.

The Medical Council of Canada will receive $6.7 million from the Government of Canada for its project, A Streamlined and Equitable Assessment for Foreign-Trained Physicians, and will in turn contribute close to

$7 million in cash and in kind. The project will give prospective physicians from over 80 countries easier access to the path into our health care system by streamlining the exam process.

Engineers Canada will match federal funding of $779,000 for the development of its Online Competency Assessment System. Engineers Canada's project will make the Canadian engineering assessment system available internationally through the Web and will considerably accelerate the licensing process for qualified foreign-trained engineers.

This will help respond to the fact that some 95,000 professional engineers are expected to retire by 2020, many with more than 10 years of experience. Currently, they are not being replaced fast enough by Canadian graduates.

 

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Aaron Bell, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, 613-220-3230, aaron.bell@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca


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