Removed Canadian work experience requirement for engineers in Ontario

Posted on May 28, 2023 at 08:00 am EDT

Internationally educated Ontario Professional Engineer applicants no longer need to demonstrate Canadian work experience.

On May 23 in Toronto, Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, announced that Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) is the first professional association in the province to remove the Canadian work experience requirement from its application criteria.

The minister says that removing the Canadian work experience requirement will help qualified professionals to enter the profession for which they are trained.

“It’s a very common experience: meeting a newcomer qualified as an engineer, doctor or accountant, who is working in a low-paying job that has nothing to do with their profession,” McNaughton said.

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In accordance with the most recent work experience requirements under PEO, candidates applying for a license must be able to demonstrate 48 months of verifiable and acceptable engineering experience after graduation. At least 12 months of that experience must be in a Canadian jurisdiction under a licensed professional engineer.

McNaughton says there are 300,000 open jobs across the province, including thousands in engineering, which can cost billions in lost productivity.

The change follows the Labor for Workers Act of 2021. Under the Act, regulated professions such as engineering must assess competition on a non-discriminatory basis. This is to ensure that newcomers can continue their careers in Ontario.

Roydon Fraser, president of PEO, said that 60% of license applications received each year are from internationally trained engineers. He says removing the Canadian work experience requirement will ensure qualified international engineers are licensed more quickly.

According to PEO data, as of 2019 there were 85,649 licensed engineers in Ontario. It has the second largest number of internationally trained members, with 24,258 people registered in the profession. The province says removing the work experience requirement will help qualified professionals pursue their careers while maintaining Ontario’s licensing and examination requirements.

“PEO will continue to ensure that all professional engineers meet the rigorous qualifications for licensure and that only appropriately qualified individuals practice engineering through a competency-based assessment model and other assessment methods.” Royce says.

Under the current system, a newcomer with the skills and technical ability to pass their profession’s licensing exams may still be prevented from registering in their profession without Canadian work experience. This means that many must gain this experience through whatever job they can get, even if that job is in an unrelated sector, such as retail or hospitality.

Other registered professions

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and faces severe labor shortages in several sectors. One of the biggest barriers to filling open positions is getting newcomers to obtain the required accreditation in regulated professions.

Ontario is taking steps to make it easier for other newcomers to work in regulated fields. For example, it has passed legislation that will allow nurses from other Canadian jurisdictions to work in the province without having to register with the appropriate regulatory colleges of health. It is also allowing internationally educated nurses to register for a temporary class and start work earlier while they work towards full registration.

The Ontario College of Nurses reports that of the 12,385 new nurses registered by the college last year, 5,124 were trained outside of the country.

The College has also changed its language competence policy and has collaborated with colleges and universities to help applicants meet the education requirement.

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