October 18, 2023

Canadian work experience not required for engineers in Ontario.

In a significant move towards enhancing employment opportunities for skilled professionals, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has become the first professional association in Ontario to eliminate the Canadian work experience requirement from its application criteria. This pivotal decision, announced by Ontario's Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, aims to facilitate qualified engineers in entering their respective professions more swiftly and efficiently. This article delves into the details of this crucial development and its potential impact on Ontario's engineering landscape.


The Current Work Experience Requirements:

Under the previous criteria set by PEO, candidates seeking a license were required to demonstrate 48 months of verifiable and acceptable engineering experience after graduation. Furthermore, a minimum of 12 months of this experience had to be obtained in a Canadian jurisdiction under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer. This requirement often presented a significant challenge for internationally trained engineers, limiting their ability to practice their chosen profession and contributing to underemployment within the province.


The Impetus for Change:

Recognizing the pressing need to address this issue, Monte McNaughton emphasized the prevailing scenario of skilled newcomers, including engineers, working in menial jobs that do not align with their qualifications. With approximately 300,000 unfilled jobs across Ontario, including a substantial number in the field of engineering, the province was experiencing a loss of billions of dollars in productivity. The removal of the Canadian work experience requirement was a step towards rectifying this situation and promoting equitable opportunities for qualified professionals.


The Working for Workers Act, 2021:

The decision to remove the Canadian work experience requirement aligns with the Working for Workers Act, of 2021. This legislation mandates regulated professions, including engineering, to assess competency in a non-discriminatory manner. The Act's purpose is to ensure that newcomers can seamlessly continue their careers in Ontario without unnecessary barriers and delays. By removing the work experience requirement, the province aims to streamline the licensing process for internationally trained engineers and facilitate their integration into the workforce.


Benefits for Internationally Trained Engineers:

According to Roydon Fraser, the president of PEO, approximately 60% of annual license applications received by the association are from internationally trained engineers. By eliminating the Canadian work experience requirement, qualified international engineers can now obtain their licenses more expeditiously. This change will enhance their professional mobility and create opportunities to showcase their skills and expertise in the Ontario job market. Removing this obstacle will enable internationally trained engineers to pursue their careers promptly, contributing to the growth and development of the engineering industry within the province.


Data and Statistics:

As of 2019, Ontario boasted a total of 85,649 licensed engineers, making it the province with the second-largest number of internationally trained members. Out of this figure, 24,258 engineers were registered through international education pathways. It is crucial to highlight that while the removal of the work experience requirement aims to support qualified professionals, Ontario remains committed to upholding rigorous qualifications for licensing and ensuring that only competent individuals practice engineering through a competency-based assessment model.


Unlocking Opportunities in Regulated Professions:

Ontario, being Canada's most populous province, faces acute labor shortages across various sectors. The difficulty in obtaining accreditation in regulated professions has been a significant barrier for newcomers in securing employment. Recognizing this challenge, Ontario has taken steps to simplify the process for other regulated fields as well. For instance, legislation has been passed to allow nurses from different Canadian jurisdictions to work in Ontario without registering with the applicable health regulatory colleges. Additionally, internationally educated nurses can now register in a temporary class and commence their work sooner while pursuing full registration. Similar efforts have been made to revise language proficiency policies and collaborate with educational institutions to help applicants meet the necessary education requirements.


Bottom line

The removal of the Canadian work experience requirement for engineers in Ontario, spearheaded by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), represents a pivotal step towards promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities for internationally trained engineers. By eliminating this barrier, the province aims to bridge the gap between skill availability and labor demands, stimulating economic growth and development. This progressive decision not only benefits qualified professionals by enabling them to contribute their expertise in their respective fields but also serves as an example of Ontario's commitment to welcoming and harnessing the talents of newcomers. Through the implementation of non-discriminatory assessment methods and ongoing collaboration with professional associations, Ontario continues to make strides in facilitating the integration of skilled immigrants into its workforce, ultimately bolstering the province's economy and diversity.


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