ARCHIVED – Progress Report 2010

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Message from the Minister – Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

It is a great pleasure to present Building Canada’s Prosperity: Government of Canada Progress Report on Foreign Credential Recognition.

The Government of Canada believes in the ability of immigration to build upon our present and future prosperity. When newcomers to Canada can obtain relevant work, quickly integrate their skills and training into our economy, and become productive members of society, all Canadians will benefit from the increases in economic productivity.

Our government has been steadfast in making the necessary investments to ensure that immigrants have the opportunity to integrate successfully into our labour market. Our government is working to ensure that all newcomers and prospective immigrants have the services they need to understand the credential assessment process, whilst employers have the tools they need to attract and retain internationally trained workers who can fill gaps in the economy. Through targeted investments, this government is creating a system where immigration selection is aligned with Canadian labour market needs. We are fast-tracking immigrants who are trained in the professions and trades that continue to be in critical demand in Canada.

The Government of Canada has committed to work with the provinces and territories to address barriers to foreign credential recognition. The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications supports a fair and objective approach to assessing credentials that will help put people to work more quickly. Because foreign credential assessment can be a complex process, early access to information is vital. My department, through the Foreign Credentials Referral Office, has expanded our overseas orientation to include more source countries and more categories of immigrants.

The Government of Canada will maintain our tradition of welcoming newcomers and helping them succeed. Our ability to attract and integrate highly skilled and highly educated immigrants contributes to Canada’s competitive advantage. By taking these measures now and planning for the future, we are building a society in which all Canadians have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

Message from the Minister – Human Resources and Skills Development

Foreign-trained workers, including skilled immigrants and Canadians with international training or education, make an important contribution to Canada’s labour market and economy.

That’s why Canada’s Economic Action Plan invested $50 million to work with the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders, to improve foreign credential recognition.

These partnerships enabled the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, of which I am the Co-Chair, to develop the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications (the Framework). Federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together to implement the Framework to streamline foreign credential recognition and to better integrate skilled newcomers into the job market.

In 2010, under the Framework, service standards were established so that internationally trained professionals in eight priority occupations, such as engineers and nurses, can have their qualifications assessed within one year, anywhere in the country. They may also be advised of additional requirements or be directed to alternative occupations that would benefit from their skills and experience.

The one-year service standard is a prime example of progress toward a more fair, transparent, timely and consistent system for foreign credential recognition across Canada. This year, we will start improving foreign qualification recognition for six more target occupations, including physicians and dentists.

The Framework is complementary to amendments that were made to the labour mobility chapter of the Agreement on Internal Trade to ensure that workers who are certified for a regulated occupation in one province or territory can be certified anywhere in Canada without additional training, examinations or assessments. Once licensed, foreign-trained professionals will also be able to move freely without having to re-certify their credentials.

Our government supports labour mobility to ensure Canadian workers can enter the job market quickly wherever opportunities may exist, which helps to address labour shortages and strengthen the economy. For Canada to achieve its economic potential, immigrants must have the opportunity to find work that best suits their skills and experience. Our government is helping newcomers find meaningful work that contributes to Canada’s overall prosperity.

The Honourable Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Message from the Director General – Foreign Credentials Referral Office

Canada is now ranked third of 31 countries in the integration of newcomers, an increase due mainly to our work on foreign credential recognition. We are not only improving economic outcomes for newcomers, but we are also ensuring that employers have access to this valuable and much needed labour resource. The Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO) is proud to be part of this work in supporting the Government of Canada’s priorities for a more prosperous future.

Even within the current economic climate, governments have continued to work together to address foreign credential recognition, occupation by occupation. And now in 2010, as the recovery continues, we can see that our diligence is paying off in a number of ways.

First, historic advances have been made with the initial eight occupations as they have met the principles of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. This has now built the momentum for further improvements in the regulated occupations. Internationally trained professionals can look forward to consistent and timely service, regardless of where they land in Canada.

Second, we have aligned our overseas platform, both to increase the number of eligible applicants and to expand the number of service points worldwide. Now Provincial Nominees, together with Federal Skilled Workers, will be able to participate in services that reach 25 countries, and begin the integration process while still overseas.

And finally, through the enhancement of language programming, the development of specialized tools for employers and service agencies, and implementation of federal internships throughout Canada, the FCRO is supporting measures needed to strengthen immigrant labour market participation and integration.

We have made progress, but there is much more to do. Our collective goal should be a fair, rational and efficient labour market. We must continue in our efforts to ensure that newcomers to Canada do not face unnecessary barriers to employment, that employers are aware of the benefits of hiring internationally trained workers and that both are prepared and able to meet in the marketplace.

All of these advancements are contributing to systemic change. Federal, provincial and territorial governments, employers and non-governmental organizations all have a role to play. Together, we can effect change. Together, we are making a difference.

Corinne Prince-St-Amand
Director General
Foreign Credentials Referral Office

Introduction

The vast expanse of land and resources in Canada has always attracted newcomers. For nearly half a millennium, resilient and determined people have made their way to Canada for the chance of a new life. While some were drawn by opportunities and others sought refuge, generations of immigrants have become Canadians and built a nation.

Historically, immigration not only contributed to settling Canada, but also to increasing the commercial base. Each successive wave of immigration played a role in the economic expansion of Canada. From carving out homesteads in the east to labouring in mills or factories, raising wheat out on the Prairies or laying a railroad across the country, immigrants came to work and to share in the rewards.

Today, immigrants still strive to build a life in Canada. They bring with them the same dreams that have always motivated people to choose our country: better economic opportunities; the chance to use their skills, abilities and training to maximize their potential; the need for safety and security; the desire for a better life for their children and the hope of belonging.

The Government of Canada has made commitments not only to attract the best global talent, but also to support innovative and responsive initiatives that enable internationally trained workers to use their training and experience. This third progress report, published by the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO), highlights accomplishments in foreign credential recognition and assessment in 2010.

Canadian Perspective

Immigration has evolved over time to meet the emerging needs of a growing nation. Canada is entering a period of rapid demographic transition in addition to the ongoing economic challenges associated with globalization. With increasing retirement rates, decreasing birth rates and the need for highly skilled and specialized labour, newcomers will continue to be an important source of labour force growth.

In 2010, Canada welcomed over 280,000 newcomers. Economic Class immigrants, those chosen for their education, experience and skills, along with their families, comprised approximately 150,000 of the total. Through immigration, the Government of Canada is working to ensure a globally competitive labour market, both now and into the future.

Immigration policy is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that passed into law in 2002. [Note 1] This legislation was designed to be more responsive to the changing Canadian economy. Prospective immigrants are chosen based on language skills, education level and work experience, reflecting the need for broadly skilled workers who can adapt in a dynamic labour market. IRPA also allowed provinces and territories to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada to select prospective immigrants to meet local and regional needs, while still maintaining annual immigration targets.

Did you know?
Canadian workers born between 1947 and 1966 make up nearly one-third of Canada’s total population and will start turning 65 in 2012.
(Office of Consumer Affairs - Consumer Trend Reports, 2005)

The introduction of IRPA also resulted in an increased diversity of immigrants coming to Canada. Higher numbers of women and those with trade certificates and post-graduate degrees have been selected as Principal Applicants as a result. Newcomers are drawn more evenly from more source countries, are experienced in a broader range of professions and are more knowledgeable in one or both of the official languages of Canada. [Note 2]

In 2008, amendments to IRPA under the Action Plan for Faster Immigration authorized the use of Ministerial Instructions to further refine immigration criteria and processes. Under the Ministerial Instructions, Federal Skilled Worker applicants who have experience in one of the eligible occupations or who have an offer of employment may apply for priority processing. Beginning in 2010, all Federal Skilled Worker Class and Canadian Experience Class applicants were required to submit the results of an independent language test as well.

Did you know?
In 2009, the top six source countries of immigrants to Canada were China, the Philippines, India, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
(CIC Facts and Figures 2009)

Innovation and productivity are the main drivers of economic growth. In the global economy, these are becoming increasingly collaborative activities, crossing borders and industries, and connecting networks and individuals. At the national level, immigration expands Canadian trade, both imports and exports, as well as direct foreign investment. [Note 3] In 2007, over 40% of all Canadian research articles in the natural sciences, medicine and engineering were internationally co-authored. [Note 4] More than 25% of Canadian patents, specializing in biotechnology, information technology and energy, were internationally co-invented. [Note 5] Global connections provide Canada with the resources and opportunities to expand its economic reach.

Recent studies have shown that employers who hire immigrants value their positive and innovative contributions, and that job performance expectations were met or exceeded. [Note 6] Employers report significant advantages from hiring immigrants, including: skills in languages, generating new ideas and enhancing their company’s reputation. [Note 7] The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, conducted by Statistics Canada over four years from 2001 to 2005, determined that as newcomers found jobs, they tended to stay with their employers. After two years, of the 75% of immigrants who had found employment, more than half remained with their first employer. [Note 8] After four years, over one-third of newcomers had worked at only one job, while nearly another third had changed jobs once. [Note 9]

Concerted work across the immigration system has been having positive impacts on newcomers in recent years. Changes in settlement services provide more choices for immigrants and ease of administration for immigrant serving organizations (ISOs). Modifications in the immigration selection criteria have resulted in significantly higher incomes for newcomers with strong language skills, Canadian education or work experience and those who had arranged offers of employment prior to landing. [Note 10] Immigrants who have earned degrees in countries with university systems similar to Canada, and those in particular fields of study are more likely to work in positions that align with their skills and experience. [Note 11]

While the economic situation for some immigrants has been improving, there is more work still to be done. Some of the employment related challenges that immigrants face include occupation-specific language skills, lack of Canadian work experience, and foreign credential assessment and recognition.

Many immigrants underestimate the complexity of foreign credential recognition (FCR) processes; initiating assessment after arrival can lead to unnecessary delays and undue financial burdens. Research shows that newcomers have better success if their attachment to the labour market happens early in the settlement process. The first year in Canada is a crucial period for immigrants to secure employment in their chosen field, [Note 12] while they have the best chance of having their educational credentials and work experience recognized in the first two years of landing. [Note 13] By beginning the credential assessment process prior to leaving their country of origin, immigrants can be better prepared when they arrive in Canada.

For many newcomers, the most important step to integration into Canadian society is securing a job commensurate with their education, experience and skills. Yet obstacles to full labour market integration persist, resulting in the underutilization of the human capital that immigrants bring to Canada. This impacts not only individual newcomers in terms of lost or delayed opportunities, but also businesses in terms of lowered productivity and innovation capacity, and the prosperity of Canada as a whole. The Government of Canada is providing strategic leadership to address immigrant labour market integration. Addressing the barriers to foreign credential recognition is a priority that is being met through initiatives that provide the information, tools and resources needed by provinces, territories, regulatory bodies, employers, immigrant serving organizations and newcomers.

Foreign Credential Assessment and Recognition in Canada

The assessment of foreign credentials is a process that confirms the validity of academic credentials, while the recognition of qualifications refers to the verification that the education, skills and experience obtained in another country are comparable to the standards established for Canadian professions and trades.

The education levels of newcomers to Canada have been steadily rising in response to changes in immigration criteria. Many newcomers have experience in management or professional level occupations in the natural, applied and social sciences; business, finance and administration; government and education; and the health-care industry. Overall, 70% of immigrants say that they plan to continue working in their field after landing in Canada. [Note 14] To facilitate their labour market integration, the Government of Canada, along with provinces and territories, have put in place information, services, and processes to support foreign credential assessment.

There are two categories of occupations in Canada: non-regulated and regulated. Eight out of 10 jobs are in non-regulated occupations where employers are solely responsible for determining that a prospective employee has the skills, education and experience necessary for the position. Some employers may require that prospective employees with qualifications from outside of Canada have their education and experience evaluated by a credential assessment agency. [Note 15]

Certain occupations that have a particular impact on the public are governed by regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies have been delegated the authority to regulate professions through provincial or territorial legislation. Because of the level of expertise needed, the regulatory bodies are responsible for the administration of provincial and territorial laws related to the profession, the maintenance of practice standards, and the credential assessment of prospective candidates.

Did you know?
The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada reported that one quarter of the 7,000 immigrants surveyed did not have their credentials assessed within six months of landing: 11% of these immigrants indicated they thought their credentials would be accepted by employers, while 14% did not think their credentials would be accepted.
(René Houle and Lahouaria Yssaad, Perspectives, September 2010, p. 21)

At present, regulated professions, such as physicians and accountants, are governed by hundreds of provincial regulatory bodies across Canada. Each regulated profession has its own requirements for education and experience in order to qualify for licensure. Regulatory bodies are also responsible for developing the procedures and processes for certification, registration and licensing for practice.

In April 2009, amendments to Chapter 7 of the Agreement on Internal Trade were signed by all parties to the agreement, allowing any worker certified for an occupation by a regulatory body in one jurisdiction, upon application, to be certified for that occupation by any other party, without having to meet significant additional requirements. Consequently, once licensed in Canada, internationally trained workers in regulated occupations may then be able to work in the province or territory of their choice. Encouraging the recognition of credentials benefits both workers and employers. Workers can search out opportunities throughout Canada, while employers have a broader pool of applicants from which to choose.

FCR has been and continues to be a priority for the Government of Canada. By working with provinces and territories, regulatory bodies, employers and other stakeholders such as professional associations and assessment agencies, we are making progress in the assessment and recognition of qualifications that originate from outside of Canada. The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, launched in November 2009, provides a foundation for making this possible. By supporting collaborative change in FCR processes, more internationally trained workers will have the opportunity to work in their fields at levels commensurate with their education and experience, thereby easing settlement and integration to Canadian life.

Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications: A Year in Review

In 2009, the Forum of Labour Market Ministers [Note 16] was tasked with developing a plan to address the challenges of newcomers in regulated professions. The Government of Canada invested $50 million over two years (2009-2010 to 2010-2011) in initiatives that support coherent and collaborative assessment processes across Canada.

In the 2008 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to working with the provinces and territories in making the recognition of foreign qualifications a priority. On November 30, 2009, the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications (the Framework) was launched. The Framework is a public commitment that establishes a shared national vision, guiding principles and desired outcomes for improving the labour market integration of internationally trained workers. Through the Framework, regulators and stakeholders are working with governments toward ensuring that the processes used to assess foreign qualifications adhere to the Framework’s principles of fairness, consistency, transparency and timeliness. The timeliness principle includes the one-year commitment to timely service:

“Within one year, an individual will know whether their qualifications will be recognized, or be informed of the additional requirements necessary for registration, or be directed toward related occupations commensurate with their skills and experience.” [Note 17]

This one-year period for initial assessment of qualifications begins once all documents and fees required to process an application are provided to the relevant regulatory authority. It ends after the candidate receives a decision related to the assessment of his or her qualifications.

FCR improvements are focused on each step in the process of immigrant labour market integration: preparation and pre-arrival supports, assessment, recognition, individual and employer supports, and work force integration. In linking guiding principles to desired outcomes, the Framework supports the Pan-Canadian Vision.

Pan-Canadian Vision
A fair and competitive labour market environment where immigrants have the opportunity to fully use their education, skills and work experience for their benefit and for Canada’s collective prosperity.

The Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders have worked collaboratively over the last year to begin implementing the Framework. At the federal level, work is led by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), which co-chairs a Foreign Qualifications Recognition Working Group that guides and supports Framework implementation. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Health Canada’s Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative provide support in this work.

The 2010 group of target occupations has met the one-year commitment to timely service. These target occupations have developed action plans to focus on making continuous improvements to the structures, tools and processes in order to achieve improved outcomes for immigrants. The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories and other stakeholders to support a cycle of continuous improvement by implementing priority actions.

An additional six occupations have been identified for implementation by the end of 2012.

2010 Target Occupations

Architects
Engineers
Medical Laboratory Technologists
Occupational Therapists
Pharmacists
Physiotherapists
Registered Nurses
Financial Auditors and Accountants

2012 Target Occupations

Dentists
Engineering Technicians
Licensed Practical Nurses
Medical Radiation Technologists
Physicians
Teachers (K-12)

 

Federal Partnership

The Government of Canada provides strategic leadership in support of the development of coordinated approaches to foreign credential recognition.

Improving FCR in Canada requires working with a variety of stakeholders - national and provincial, government and non-government - all of whom have roles to play. Within the Government of Canada, three key departments have a particular interest in seeing progress on this issue: CIC, which oversees the immigration system (except in Quebec where immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial government); HRSDC, given its interest in supporting an efficient and effective labour market; and Health Canada, given the growing number of health professionals who are internationally trained.

These federal partners, in turn, work with the provinces and territories, ISOs, regulatory authorities, professional associations and employer groups. Through collaborative efforts across the federal government, and with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders, the barriers to full labour market integration for newcomers are slowly, but surely, being dismantled.

Foreign Credentials Referral Office

In May 2007, the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO) was established at CIC with the mandate to actively guide, monitor and facilitate the implementation of FCR processes in Canada. The Office provides information, path-finding and referral services to internationally trained workers, both in Canada and overseas, and collaborates with federal partners and other stakeholders to improve FCR processes. The FCRO initially received $13.7 million in funding over five years (2007-2008 to 2011-2012). In Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the FCRO received an additional $13.75 million (2009-2010 to 2010-2011) to support the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework.

By providing services early in the immigration process, ideally prior to leaving the country of origin, the FCRO supports internationally trained workers and their families in making more informed decisions that will lead to increasingly successful outcomes. In Canada, FCRO services are provided in collaboration with Service Canada. The FCRO works with partners and other stakeholders overseas to provide pre-arrival services that are streamlined and client-focused.

Highlights

Since 2009, the FCRO has been supporting the development and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications by leading preparation and pre-arrival supports for immigrants overseas. Together with other government departments, provinces and territories and key partners, the FCRO facilitates the development of pre-arrival information and assessment tools and services, as well as the provision of innovative, in-person counselling abroad.

Through Service Canada, FCR services are provided to both immigrants and Canadian citizens in Canada who have earned their professional credentials abroad. Agents guide internationally trained workers to information pertaining to specific occupations and jurisdictions, and refer them to the appropriate regulatory body or credential assessment agencies. Service Canada also provides a comprehensive service to newcomers and Canadian citizens by bundling information related to a wide spectrum of programs and services that address their specific needs. Service Canada received $18.5 million over five years to provide the FCRO service offerings.

FCRO services provide information and resources related to credential assessment and recognition for skilled immigrants, employers and other stakeholders. Service Canada’s web content includes links to the FCRO websites (www.credentials.gc.ca and www.competences.gc.ca), the Working in Canada (WiC) tool, the Going to Canada Immigration Portal, Planning to Work in Canada? An Essential Workbook for Newcomers and The Employer’s Roadmap.

In 2010, Service Canada enhanced its service delivery for the FCRO through website redesign and increased promotional activities. It improved the structure and content of the FCRO information to increase the accessibility of information and facilitate navigation online. The Service Canada website was also updated to include the most current, relevant information on FCR as well as the FCRO advertisement and link in the web-based Feature of the Month. Service Canada also began a promotion of FCR services in a digital display advertisement that was simultaneously broadcast on 157 digital screens in 130 Service Canada centres across the country.

The FCRO has engaged in coordinated outreach activities to increase awareness of the tools and services available to immigrants in their employment-related activities. During CIC’s Services to Newcomers promotion of language training and settlement services, the FCRO launched the “You have the skills. Put them to work in Canada” campaign. In conjunction with a Google ad-words campaign, immigrants were directed to the FCRO website and Service Canada for information on foreign credential recognition throughout February and March 2010. As a result of the combined outreach campaigns, there was more than a 400% increase in both calls to Service Canada’s FCR telephone line and direct visits to the FCRO website.

The FCRO website provides a globally accessible platform offering direct, comprehensive and authoritative FCR information for newcomers, employers and other stakeholders. Resources such as the Planning to Work in Canada? An Essential Workbook for Newcomers, the Working in Canada tool and The Employer’s Roadmap are provided, as well as links to provincial and territorial immigration websites. In 2010, the FCRO website added Occupation Facts, designed to present general information on occupations, licensure processes and employment in Canada. Thus far, 16 Occupation Facts have been completed, including 11 of the occupations targeted in the Framework.

Did you know?
In 2010, over 22,000 people visited Service Canada Centres for FCR services, while the
FCR hotline (1-888-854-1805) received 3,288 calls.

In October 2010, the FCRO took over responsibility from HRSDC for the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP). Funded through a contribution agreement with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, the objective of the CIIP is to effectively prepare immigrants for successful integration while still in their country of origin.

The CIIP now provides both Federal Skilled Worker and Provincial Nominee category immigrants, as well as their spouses and working-age dependants, with a two-day orientation to Canadian culture, the labour market and the foreign credential recognition process. Immigrants participate in a group session and then receive personal counselling where they develop an individualized action plan. The CIIP then connects program participants with focal point partners in Canada, including colleges and ISOs, for services and advice after landing. The CIIP also provides an overseas platform for other partner organizations to offer specialized pre-arrival services that complement the orientation, as well as connections to local employers in Canadian communities.

CIIP services are provided in Manila (Philippines), Guangzhou (China), New Delhi (India), and itinerant and satellite locations subject to demand. A fourth location in London (United Kingdom) will open in 2011, serving the British Isles, the Gulf States and Scandinavia. In locating the CIIP in these areas, the FCRO can potentially reach 75% of Federal Skilled Worker and 44% of Provincial Nominee applicants in up to 25 countries.

Did you know?
In 2010, the FCRO’s 16 Occupation Facts received 116,352 online visits, the Planning to Work in Canada? workbook received 243,450 and was downloaded more than 56,000 times, and The Employer’s Roadmap was viewed 78,649 times and downloaded more than 14,000 times. Overall, more than 63% of the FCRO website visits were from outside Canada.

By September 2010, nearly 13,000 internationally trained workers had registered for CIIP services, and over 9,100 had completed the two-day session. When surveyed, the majority of the 70% of CIIP participants who had landed in Canada indicated that they had found employment despite the economic downturn. Of the CIIP graduates in Canada, 67% were working (rather than attending further education or training) and of those working, 73% had found employment within three months and an additional 19% within six months. [Note 18] The survey also found that CIIP participants who followed their individual job search plan were more likely to find work within their area of specialization. [Note 19]

In comparing cohorts of immigrants, the data from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada indicated that 44% of all immigrants who landed in 2001 found employment within six months, while the CIIP survey indicated that 62% of CIIP participants had found employment within six months of landing. [Note 20] The CIIP’s coordination of pre-arrival services overseas with settlement services in local communities in Canada is a key feature of the program and provides a continuum of support for newcomers to integrate more quickly and more successfully.

Did you know?
In 2007, the CIIP registered 13% of all eligible immigrants in China, India and the Philippines. By 2009, this registration rate had more than doubled to 31% of all eligible Federal Skilled Worker class immigrants for these countries.

With funding from Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the International Qualifications Network (IQN) website is being developed in response to the need for a tool to showcase promising practices related to the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications.

The IQN will enable registered members across Canada to share information about their FCR initiatives, and provide feedback on others’ initiatives. Administered by the FCRO, the IQN is governed by a 20-member national advisory council, representing both federal and provincial governments, the business community, ISOs, professional associations, regulatory bodies, credential assessment agencies, sector councils and academia. In building the knowledge base, sharing successful strategies, helping stakeholders create professional connections and using collaborative approaches to issues, the IQN will support Canadian organizations to leverage and capitalize on existing initiatives in foreign qualifications assessment and recognition.

One of the employment barriers frequently cited by immigrants is their lack of Canadian work experience. Following the success of HRSDC’s Immigrant Intern Pilot Project and CIC’s Young Newcomers Internship Program, both programs were combined and rebranded as the Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) Program. The newly expanded program, delivered through the FCRO in partnership with HRSDC and other federal departments and agencies, is an innovative initiative that provides qualified newcomers, at both entry and mid-career levels, with valuable Canadian work experience. In partnership with World University Service of Canada, LASI (Local Agencies Serving Immigrants) World Skills, Hire Immigrants Ottawa and Service Intégration Travail Outaouais, the program is designed to improve newcomers’ integration into the Canadian labour market. Participating departments and agencies, in return, benefit from the unique education, skills and insights that newcomers bring to the public service.

The FIN Program was identified as a priority in 2010 following a recommendation from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to expand the program to other federal departments and agencies. [Note 21] The FCRO leads the FIN Program coordination, delivery and expansion to other federal departments and agencies. In 2009, CIC and HRSDC were able to extend the opportunity to 29 interns. In 2010, the number more than doubled, and over 65 interns participating in the fall intake were placed in 11 federal departments and agencies. Moving forward, there is growing interest in program participation, and plans are under way to expand the program to other federal departments and agencies.

Did you know?
Between 2005 and 2009, the number of internationally educated nurses writing certification examinations in Canada is estimated to have increased by 296% for licensed practical nurses, 96% for registered nurses and 127% for registered psychiatric nurses.
(Canadian Nurses Association)

Services that can be delivered while immigrants are still in their home country are an important component of successful and timely settlement and integration.
The FCRO supports stakeholders through contribution agreements that provide pre-arrival services, tools and information to foster the labour market integration of internationally trained workers. Examples of the work FCRO is supporting include:

  • The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is a federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing organizations representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners. The CNA is exploring the interest in and feasibility of offering licensing examinations to internationally educated nurses outside of Canada. The Offshore Examination Study will analyse the options and issues over a two-year period, including the implications for internationally trained nurses, the regulatory authorities and the Canadian public.
  • The Association of Canadian Community Colleges is expanding the Sustainable Partnerships for Overseas Services project that partners stakeholders in the settlement sector and colleges in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta to provide online advising and onward referrals for immigrants destined for these provinces.
  • The Information and Communications Technology Council’s Enhanced Online Learning Workshops provide newcomers in Canada and immigrants overseas with initial approval to immigrate, and those who work with newcomers, with information and resources on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. These enhanced services will address language training and labour market integration of newcomer ICT professionals in both English and French.
  • Funding is being provided to the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers for the Development of CLB Assessment Tool for International Engineering Graduates project to develop engineering-specific language assessment tests for internationally trained engineers. Four versions of the tests, which include both core and discipline-specific terminology, measured against the Canadian Language Benchmarks in both official languages, will be piloted.
  • JVS Toronto, an immigrant serving organization, will be redesigning its Canada InfoNet website to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of current programming and expand the range of services. This project - the Online Mentoring Support for Newcomers - serves professionals and business and tradespeople while they are still in their home country by providing trained Canadian mentors, matched by industry sector, who will provide occupation-specific support, information and advice.

Foreign Credential Recognition Program

HRSDC’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program (FCRP) plays an important role in the Government of Canada’s commitment to attract, integrate and retain highly skilled immigrants. Since its inception in 2003, the FCRP has been working with Canadian institutions to improve the integration of internationally trained workers into Canada’s labour market. Through horizontal leadership and strategic investments, the program provides funding to and works with provincial and territorial partners and key stakeholders to implement projects that facilitate the assessment and recognition of qualifications acquired in other countries.

The FCRP received approximately $80 million in contribution funding over seven years (2003-2004 to 2009-2010). Under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the FCRP received an additional $14.72 million in contribution funding to undertake activities related to the implementation of the Framework.

Highlights

A key priority of the FCRP is to implement the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. In support of this commitment, and acknowledging system complexities and the diversity of decision makers, the FCRP provides financial support through contribution agreements to provinces and territories, regulatory bodies, non-governmental agencies and employer organizations for projects that reduce barriers to full labour market integration. To date, more than 150 projects have been funded through the FCRP to address barriers to workforce participation, including the following:

  • Through the FCRP, financial support is being provided to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, in British Columbia in support of the Building Foreign Qualification Recognition Capacity project. This funding will enable the province to help integrate skilled newcomers into the labour market through improved credential and assessment processes, bridge-to-work programs and internship opportunities. The project will also create a British Columbia version of the online Working in Canada tool, which will help newcomers access the latest provincial labour market information.

Did you know?
In 2009-2010, the Working in Canada website received 2.72 million visits and over 1.82 million Working in Canada reports were produced. In the same period, Working in Canada videos on YouTube were viewed over 409,940 times.

  • To improve the assessment and recognition of internationally trained architects, the FCRP is providing funding to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in support of the Integration of Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects in Canada project that will establish a pan-Canadian system for evaluating and licensing architects. The RAIC will also work with Athabasca University to develop bridge-to-work programs and language-training courses aimed at improving labour market integration for internationally trained architects.
  • Meaningful changes in the way internationally trained dentists are assessed and recognized are also under way. The Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation’s project - the Assessment of Internationally Trained Dentists from Non-Accredited Programs-will establish a national process for the qualification assessment of internationally trained dentists. This initiative will assess internationally trained dentists to establish whether they have the knowledge, skills and clinical judgment equivalent to that of a graduate from an accredited dental program.
  • Through the FCRP, the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) has a project under way to examine its current system for assessing the education and work experience of internationally trained physiotherapists. The Alliance will research best practices for credential and language evaluations and develop recommendations to streamline the overall licensing process for internationally trained physiotherapists wanting to practice in Canada.
  • With support from the FCRP, Engineers Canada (EC) has studied the experiences of international engineering graduates before and after they immigrate to Canada. This research has led to recommendations that are now being implemented to ensure that licensing requirements and decisions are communicated clearly, that there are national systems to support provincial regulatory authorities, and that appropriate methods of licensure are available which enable international engineering graduates to obtain licensure faster, which can help lead to employment in engineering.
  • Through the IMPACTS initiative, the FCRP is supporting employers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to develop tools so that they can assess the credentials, skills and work experience of internationally trained ICT professionals, in order to better integrate these individuals into the workforce.

Did you know?
Over 70% of visits to the Working in Canada website were from individuals outside Canada.

The Working in Canada (WiC) website is managed by HRSDC and is the Government of Canada’s primary source of information on working in Canada. Bringing together local, regional and national labour market information, the WiC website provides comprehensive and detailed information on occupations, employment prospects, wages, lists of potential employers, training, economic outlooks, industries and communities. This information assists not only job seekers, but also career decision makers, career counsellors, employment service providers, employers and community development organizations.

Building on its success, the WiC website was mandated early in 2010 to provide labour market information to a broader clientele and meet its ongoing mandate to serve the needs of newcomers. WiC has been active on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to increase outreach. These networks help disseminate information and attract new visitors to the website, and they have helped maintain the interest of repeat visitors.

A new feature of the WiC tool, which supports the Framework, is the specialized information in the licence and certification section. It informs the individual about the steps that can be taken while still overseas, the fees required and the time lines. The WiC tool now includes information from the Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Medical Council of Canada, Occupation Facts from the FCRO and material from the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Did you know?
In 2009, internationally educated health professionals represented approximately 9% of occupational therapists and 12% of physiotherapists. The top three source countries for graduates in both professions were the United Kingdom, the United States and India. (Occupational Therapists in Canada 2009 and Physiotherapists in Canada 2009)

Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative

Launched in 2005 at Health Canada, the Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative (IEHPI) works with provinces, territories and other national stakeholders to increase access to assessment and training programs, and to facilitate the integration of internationally educated health professionals (IEHP) into the Canadian health workforce. In line with the priority occupations in the Framework, the IEHPI has focused on registered nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technologists, physicians, medical radiation technologists and licensed practical nurses.

To better prepare IEHPs for the Canadian health labour market, IEHPI funding seeks to develop access to clear and timely information for a wide range of audiences. In order to increase the number of internationally educated health professionals qualified to practise in Canada, the IEHPI provides contribution funding to provinces and territories, the health regulatory authorities, post-secondary institutions and professional associations to disseminate information, develop pathways to qualification assessment and recognition, increase opportunities to build skills and improve regional coordination. The IEHPI received $75 million over five years (2005-2006 to 2009-2010), with ongoing annual funding of $18 million thereafter.

Highlights

The establishment of fair and transparent mechanisms for assessing credentials, knowledge and clinical skills remains a high priority for the IEHPI. The Government of Canada has collaborated with the Medical Council of Canada, the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders to develop a common assessment for international medical graduates entering residency training. Work is now under way to implement this assessment process in all seven assessment centres across Canada. Web portals, designed to provide authoritative information on licensure processes and supporting resources, have been developed by IEHPI Atlantic Canada, [Note 22] Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Self-assessment tools have been developed for occupational therapists, licensed practical nurses, physiotherapists and medical radiation technologists. These tools provide IEHPs with an overview of the required competencies, knowledge and skills, and an understanding of the Canadian health-care system.

Training programs have also been developed to assist IEHPs in preparing for competency national examinations. For example, the Consortium national de formation en santé has developed and implemented an examination preparation course for internationally educated nurses, offered in Ottawa and Manitoba. British Columbia has implemented online delivery of its physiotherapy examination preparation course and has piloted McMaster University’s Occupational Therapy Examination and Practice Preparation Project.

Faculty training has been developed for those working with IEHPs. The Consortium national de formation en santé has offered French-language cultural training to approximately 200 people who work with IEHPs. A web-based version of a national training program for mentors and faculty of international pharmacy graduates was implemented, along with the publication of associated textbooks and manuals.

Remediation programs have been created to provide upgrading and additional opportunities that support IEHPs in successfully obtaining licensure. For example, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing is determining the core elements that may guide the curriculum of nursing bridging programs across Canada. British Columbia is revising its bridging program for medical laboratory technologists, while Manitoba has developed and implemented a bridging program to help internationally educated practical nurses upgrade their knowledge and skills.

Through IEHPI funding, Canadian institutions and stakeholders also provide orientation and integration programs. In British Columbia, the Physician Integration Project has been revised to better support new international medical graduates as they transition to practice. In Newfoundland and Labrador, assistance is being provided to help IEHPs and their families integrate into the workplace and in the community.

The IEHPI promotes regional partnerships to effectively manage resources. The Western and Northern Health Human Resources Planning Forum [Note 23] is addressing governance and sustainability issues in the assessment process for internationally educated nurses. The IEHP Atlantic Connection has developed and implemented a common assessment process for internationally educated nurses across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

In addition to the IEHPI, Health Canada has also collaborated with partners to fund research, providing a strong basis for policy development that contributes to improved health work force outcomes for IEHPs. In partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada funds the Research Chair in Health Human Resource Policy.

  • Brain Gain, Drain & Waste: The Experiences of Internationally Educated Health Professionals in Canada examined the experiences of internationally trained physicians, nurses and midwives in pursuing licensure in the Canadian health-care system. Interviews with IEHPs were conducted to understand the barriers to practice and which factors facilitated successful outcomes in order to influence policy recommendations. [Note 24]
  • Similarly, Health Canada has worked with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) to fund the development of databases to support research on various health professions. Examples of this research include the following:
  • Canada has relied on international medical graduates (IMGs) to address physician shortages in various areas of the country. Research conducted by CIHI, International Medical Graduates in Canada: 1972 to 2007, looks at the country of training, IMG mobility in Canada, urban and rural distribution, and the proportion of IMGs in practice to understand the long-term trends that affect the overall health-care system.
  • Access to family doctors is a long-standing challenge in the Canadian health-care system. Based on a survey of nearly 20,000 physicians currently in practice, the study - What Do We Know About Family Physicians Who Accept New Patients? identifies the characteristics that underlie a decision to accept new patients in urban and rural Canada. Some of the factors examined by the CIHI were the family physician’s age, sex, country of medical degree, practice setting and career satisfaction. The report noted that international medical graduates were more likely to accept new patients, especially if they practised in a rural setting.
  • The studies Occupational Therapists in Canada 2009, Physiotherapists in Canada 2009 and Pharmacists in Canada 2009, developed by the CIHI, focus on occupations targeted in the Framework, and report on the demographics of registered practitioners, geographic distribution, education and employment factors.

In 2011, Health Canada’s Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative plans to enter into new agreements with the provinces and territories to further their capacity to address the needs of IEHPs, while aligning with the principles and desired outcomes of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. Through planned IEHPI funding, the provinces and territories will be working with stakeholders to develop pre-arrival services, enhance capacity for assessment, offer bridging programs and implement more strategies to help integrate IEHPs into the Canadian health-care workforce.

Conclusion

The Government of Canada is moving to more closely align the continuum of FCR and related initiatives to meet current and future needs. Collaborative work with each level of government, across sectors and industries, will result in better outcomes for newcomers.

Increasing pre-arrival services, improving the capacity for assessment and expanding supports for employers and immigrant service providers are some of the ways that the Government of Canada supports, and will continue to support, our partners and stakeholders.

Over the next year, the Government of Canada, the provinces, territories and regulatory bodies will continue to work toward achieving the desired outcomes and vision articulated in the Pan-Canadian Framework. Governments will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that immigrants looking to enter regulated occupations in Canada receive clear information, fair treatment and prompt communication. More regulated occupations will have processes in place that are fair, transparent, timely and consistent. Collaboration among governments, and between governments and regulatory authorities, will also be strengthened as work begins on the second set of target occupations.

The Government of Canada will look to expand overseas pre-arrival services to include more ways of connecting with communities, immigrant serving organizations and employers in Canada to speed the integration of newcomers in their new home. At the same time, the Government of Canada’s support for recent initiatives has created more direct linkages between immigrants, ISOs and employers.

Often a first contact for newcomers after landing, ISOs provide settlement services, cultural training, language instruction and employment workshops. In addition to these services, immigrants can now access pre-employment services and employers in their new community while still in their country of origin through the Internet. ISOs in some communities are providing employer services such as employment pre-screening and mentoring, bridge-to-work programs, and integration and retention training.

Over the next year, we will continue to develop ways to engage employers in the recruitment, hiring and retention of internationally trained workers. Employers will be able to access information, tools and services that build FCR awareness and capacity and that support bridging opportunities, mentoring relationships and training needs.

As we work together to build Canada’s future prosperity, the need to fully integrate internationally trained workers will continue to be a priority for the Government of Canada. The collaborative work completed thus far, and the work that is in progress has provided a strong base for future accomplishments in foreign credential recognition that will benefit both newcomers and Canadians.

For More Information

Information, path-finding and referral services on foreign credential recognition are available as follows:

On Internet: www.credentials.gc.ca

By telephone through Service Canada:
1-888-854-1805 or TTY 1-800-926-9105

In person through Service Canada:
Visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca to find the nearest Service Canada Centre offering in person services

To obtain more information about the Foreign Credentials Referral Office, please e-mail us at credentials@cic.gc.ca or write to us at:

Foreign Credentials Referral Office
150 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 1L1
Canada

For more information on the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, please visit:
www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/publications/fcr/pcf.shtml

To obtain more information on the Foreign Credentials Recognition Program, please visit: www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/cs/comm/hrsd/news/2005/050425bb.shtml

To obtain more information on the Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative, please visit:
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/hhr-rhs/strateg/init-prof-educ/index-eng.php

The Working in Canada website can be found at:
www.workingincanada.gc.ca


Footnotes

  • 1 IRPA replaced the Immigration Act of 1976 and defined the three categories of permanent residency. The program objectives of IRPA are reuniting families, protecting refugees in accordance with international agreements and contributing to Canadian economic development. [Back to Content]
  • 2 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Evaluation of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, p. 18 (Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 2010). [Back to Content]
  • 3 Downie, Michelle (2010). Immigrants as Innovators: Boosting Canada’s Global Competitiveness, The Conference Board of Canada (2010), p. 25. [Back to Content]
  • 4 OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard (2009). International Co-operation in Science, pp. 114-115. [Back to Content]
  • 5 Compendium of Patent Statistics (2008). Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, pp. 13, 14, 19, 21 and 23. [Back to Content]
  • 6 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Evaluation of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, p. 2 (Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 2010). [Back to Content]
  • 7 Lopes, Sandra and Yves Poisson (2004). Bringing Employers into the Immigration Debate: Survey and Roundtable. Public Policy Forum. [Back to Content]
  • 8 Xue, Li (2006). The Labour Market Progression of the LSIC Immigrants: A Perspective from the Second Wave of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC): Two Years After Landing. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Research and Evaluation, p. 18. [Back to Content]
  • 9 Xue, Li (2008). Initial Labour Market Outcomes: A Comprehensive Look at the Employment Experience of Recent Immigrants During the First Four Years in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Strategic Research and Evaluation, p. 18. [Back to Content]
  • 10 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Evaluation of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, p. 39 (Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 2010). [Back to Content]
  • 11 Xue, Li and Li Xu (2010). Employment and Occupational Outcomes Among Postsecondary Educated Immigrants: Country of Education and Field of Study. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Research and Evaluation. [Back to Content]
  • 12 Ibid. [Back to Content]
  • 13 Houle, René and Lahouaria Yssaad (2010). Recognition of Newcomers’ Foreign Credentials and Work Experience. Perspectives, Statistics Canada, p. 24. [Back to Content]
  • 14 Grenier, Gilles and Li Xue (2009). Duration of Access of Canadian Immigrants to the First Job in Intended Occupation, Working Paper 0908E, Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa. [Back to Content]
  • 15 The credential assessment agencies include the five provincially mandated agencies-Academic Credential Assessment Service (ACAS), Centre d’expertise sur les formations acquises hors du Québec (CEFAHQ), International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES), International Qualifications Assessment Services (IQAS), and World Education Services (WES)-as well as Comparative Education Service (CES) and International Credential Assessment Service (ICAS). [Back to Content]
  • 16 The Forum of Labour Market Ministers was created in 1983 to promote discussion and cooperation between provincial and territorial ministers and the federal minister responsible for labour market issues. [Back to Content]
  • 17 Forum of Labour Market Ministers (2009) Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, p. 8. [Back to Content]
  • 18 Centre for Community-Based Research (2010). The Canadian Immigration Integration Project Pilot: Final Evaluation, p.34. [Back to Content]
  • 19 Ibid. [Back to Content]
  • 20 Ibid. [Back to Content]
  • 21 In Recognizing Success: A Report on Improving Foreign Credential Recognition, the Standing Committee made the following recommendation regarding the internship programs: “The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada implement workplace experience programs such as the Young Newcomers Internship Program and the Immigrant Intern Pilot Program in all federal departments and that the targets for these two programs be expanded.” [Back to Content]
  • 22 IEHPI Atlantic Canada is a regional network whose mandate is to attract, integrate and retain internationally educated health professionals in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. [Back to Content]
  • 23 The members include British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. [Back to Content]
  • 24 The research was conducted by Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, Health Human Resource Policy Chair. [Back to Content]

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