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Ontario Breaks Barriers for Immigrant Engineers: New Law Eliminates Canadian Work Experience Requirement for Licensing

On May 23, 2023, Ontario province took a significant step to break barriers for immigrant engineers with the adoption of a new law. The law aims to eliminate the Canadian work experience requirement for licensing, allowing engineers with international training to be licensed in Ontario without this prerequisite. Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the province’s largest regulated profession with 85,649 members, became the first professional regulating organization to remove the work experience requirement from its application criteria.

According to Jennifer Quaglietta, CEO registrar of PEO, “By eliminating the requirement of proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering license, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified international applicants are licensed fairly and without undue delay so they can actively work as engineers.” With the implementation of a new professional engineering license application procedure, most applicants can expect a registration decision within six months of submitting a completed application. This process is designed to be effective, fair, and efficient.

The absence of Canadian job experience has been a significant obstacle for skilled immigrants seeking professional designations in Canada. Recognizing the worker shortage brought on by the pandemic, the Ontario government enacted new restrictions in 2021, compelling professional regulators to remove Canadian work experience requirements and expedite the licensing procedure. Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour who also handles immigration, education, and skill growth, emphasized the importance of this change, stating, “This is a significant shift that will change the game.

Newcomers are coming here, not only for themselves but also for businesses struggling with a huge labor shortage. Only 25% of immigrants in our province with international training are employed in the fields they studied. The numbers don’t add up; the workers are facing mistreatment.”

McNaughton highlighted that nearly 300,000 jobs in the province remain vacant daily, including thousands in engineering, resulting in billions of dollars lost in production. The Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, as amended, covers thirty-six non-health-related professions and trades, including teaching, plumbing, electrical work, auto body repair, and hairstyling. Regulatory authorities have until December 2 to remove the necessity for Canadian work experience, except for cases where a public sector exception is granted. Failure to comply may result in penalties of up to $100,000.

“We won’t allow any regulatory agency to obstruct us,” McNaughton stated in an interview with the Star. “We want to help immigrants rise. The purpose is for them to increase their earnings, improve their families’ lives, fill labor shortages, and expand our economy. Zero tolerance will be applied.” Despite the elimination of the Canadian experience requirement, candidates for engineering licenses must still pass a demanding examination covering technical communication, project management, and professional accountability. Additionally, candidates must have 48 months of engineering-related professional experience and pass a national professional practice exam covering ethics, professional practice, engineering law, and professional conduct.

Approximately 60% of applications for engineering licenses each year come from engineers with international education, making this multifaceted process essential to ensure that all professional engineers meet rigorous license qualifications, as emphasized by Quaglietta.

If you are an immigrant engineer considering opportunities in Ontario, you should seek assistance from an educational consultancy that can provide guidance and support throughout the process. Additionally, abroad education consultants and visa immigration consultants can assist you in navigating the complexities of the immigration system. By leveraging the expertise of the best immigration consultants for Canada and study abroad consultancy services, you can increase your chances of success and contribute to Ontario’s engineering sector while pursuing your career goals.