Immigrants with international training in 29 occupations will be able to get their credentials recognized faster under a proposed British Columbia law, the International Credentials Recognition Act.
“This is a matter of fairness,” said the province’s Workforce Development Minister Andrew Mercier. “Ensuring international professionals can build strong, prosperous lives for themselves and their families in B.C. is important to this government.
“The legislation we’ve introduced on Oct. 23, 2023 will help people get their credentials recognized more quickly, regardless of where they were trained.
“This will help folks find work in their chosen fields faster, increase their opportunities for success, and build a stronger B.C. economy that is inclusive, sustainable and leaves no one behind.”
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The 29 professions which are overseen by 18 regulatory authorities and covered under the proposed legislation, Bill 38, include:
- registered music teacher
- professional engineer
- professional teaching certificate holder
- land surveyor
- early childhood educator
- landscape architect
- early childhood educator assistant
- applied science technologist
- conditional teaching certificate holder
- certified technician
- social worker
- registered clinical social worker
- professional biologist
- applied biology technician
- notary public
- registered biology technologist
- emergency medical assistant, including paramedics
- professional geoscientist
- chartered professional accountant
- registered professional forester
- associate real estate broker
- registered forest technologist
- managing real estate broker
- professional agrologist
- real estate representative
- technical agrologist
Bridgitte Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, says recognizing internationally-trained professionals’ credentials will help boost the province’s economy.
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“With B.C. experiencing record-breaking population growth, this legislation represents a commonsense initiative that will help newcomers realize their full potential and harness their skills to better our communities and economy,” said Anderson.
“Businesses in B.C. look forward to a more streamlined and transparent process for recognizing international credentials to help build a more inclusive and prosperous province.”
British Columbia, which has recently been recognized as Canada’s most culturally-diverse by the e-learning firm Preply, has published translations of Bill 38 in 10 languages other than English and French on its website. There are two Chinese-language versions, one using the traditional Chinese writing and the other using simplified Chinese.
Organizations that work with newcomers praised the province’s initiative.
“For too long, credential recognition was the hot potato that nobody wanted to touch and tackle,” said Olga Stachova, chief executive officer of MOSAIC.
“As an organization led by immigrants and serving immigrant communities in B.C., we really appreciate the thorough engagement process and inclusion of voices of those with lived experience in shaping the discussion on steps needed to allow immigrant talent to practise in the professions they were trained for.”
In all countries, international credentials recognition is a Catch-22 situation for immigrants. They often cannot get their credentials recognized without the proper work experience but can’t get the needed work experience without the recognition of their credentials.
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British Columbia is hoping the International Credentials Recognition Act will resolve this conundrum. The legislation, which will come into effect next summer if passed by the provincial legislature, will also remove redundant language testing, set caps for maximum processing times, and require credential-assessment information be available online.
“Skilled professionals from around the world move to B.C. hoping to put their skills to good use, but instead face huge obstacles and an often-confusing process to get their credentials recognized,” said Premier David Eby.
“With the skills shortage we have in this province, we cannot afford to leave anyone on the sidelines. That’s why we’re taking action to close the gaps in the system so people can get to work faster, fill in-demand jobs and provide much-needed services to people in B.C.”
This latest move by British Columbia comes in the wake of efforts to improve credential recognition for internationally-trained healthcare professionals hoping to work in their fields in that province.
This legislation complements and builds on the government’s ongoing work to create pathways for doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals educated outside of Canada to be able to get to work more quickly.
So far the province has expanded pathways for internationally trained physicians to enter B.C.’s workforce, including:
- a further expansion of seats in the Practice Ready Program, which helps internationally educated doctors get to work more quickly in B.C., allowing the program to triple from 32 seats to 96 seats by March 2024;
- the introduction of a new U.S.-certified class of licensure (through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC) to enable eligible U.S.-trained physicians to practise pediatric medicine, internal medicine or emergency medicine in B.C.;
- the introduction of associate physicians, a new class of registration that provides a route for international medical graduates not eligible for licensure as independent medical practitioners, to work under the direction and supervision of an attending physician within team-based care settings, and;
- funding Health Match BC, a free health-professional recruitment service that has helped international medical graduates and Canadian-trained physicians relocate and practise in B.C.
The province has also removed roadblocks that internationally educated nurses used to face, including:
- developing a more efficient pathway that simultaneously assesses internationally-educated nurses for the HCA, LPN, and RN designations;
- directly covering application and assessment fees with NCCAS and BCCNM and providing bursaries for English-language competency testing and education with more than $9 million in funding;
- creating new nurse-navigator positions to help internationally-educated nurses navigate the assessment and licensing process;
- developing the Health Care Access Program (HCAP) to train, recruit and employ up to 3,000 entry-level health-care workers each year;
- bursaries to help internationally educated allied health professionals join B.C.’s workforce.