B.C. report identifies several ‘themes for improvement’ in international credential recognition

By Ian Burns

Law360 Canada (July 28, 2023, 4:10 PM EDT) -- British Columbians want the province to take action to deal with issues surrounding international credential recognition, according to feedback from a wide-ranging public engagement.

In spring 2023, the province asked internationally trained professionals, educational institutions, immigrant-serving organizations, business associations, health-care associations, regulatory authorities and members of the public for their feedback about international credential recognition through a series of roundtables and an online survey.

“We’ve heard from regulators, post-secondary institutions and internationally trained professionals that the system isn’t working,” said B.C.’s Minister of State for Workforce Development Andrew Mercier. “This is a question of fairness and about making sure that internationally trained professions have the supports they need to succeed and practise in B.C.”

The “what we heard” report identified eight themes for improvement, among them streamlining complex processes and shortening timelines, improving the accessibility, consistency and transparency of information about the licensure process and requirements, and exploring alternative pathways for credential recognition.

The report also said the province should be exploring more flexible approaches to demonstrate language proficiency, improving co-ordination between government and regulatory authorities at the provincial and federal levels and strengthening collaboration between regulatory authorities, educational institutions, employers and immigrant-serving organizations to support licensure and integration.

Feedback gathered from the public engagement will be used to help streamline the international credential-recognition process and work toward new legislation, the province said.

Robert Russo, University of British Columbia

Robert Russo, University of British Columbia

Robert Russo, a lecturer in labour and employment law at the University of British Columbia, said navigating both the different regulatory bodies in the province and requirements for Canadian work experience is a complex and difficult process.

“I also think there is a misconception by some people that they can come to Canada and start working in a relatively short period,” he said. “They by and large are not aware how expensive the process is and the amount of time it takes.”

Russo, who also teaches in UBC’s Master of Laws (Common Law) program for foreign trained or non-common law trained lawyers, said one of the most important recommendations in the report was the need to create more alternative, competency-based pathways to demonstrate skills and knowledge as opposed to strict reliance on Canadian work experience.

“Another recommendation is to help skilled immigrants connect with mentors as part of the licensing process for whatever regulatory bodies they are applying for, such as educated lawyers that come to Canada to practise,” he said. “Ideally, changing requirements at regulatory bodies would have a domino effect across the country — a lot of people wish there could be one unified regulatory body across Canada, but for a lot of reasons you don’t have that.”

According to the province, feedback was received through the online survey from 953 internationally trained professionals, 185 domestically trained professionals, 98 representatives for immigrant-serving organizations and 108 other members of the public.

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