B.C. speeds up immigration of skilled workers with Fair Credentialing Act

Canada has been doing a lot to address its labor shortage. There are a number of direct measures in place, such as planning immigration levels by increasing the annual immigration quota, and prioritizing immigrants in high-need occupations through targeted draws. This is especially true at the provincial level. For example, BC's Targeted Draw, which sends invitations to immigrant candidates in occupations that are in demand in the province, is a provincial prioritization approach. There are also a number of other ways to fill the province's workforce needs, such as allowing rural communities to apply for permanent residency.

The province is also introducing a new Fair Credentialing Act, which will accelerate the flow of credentialed professionals into the province starting in 2024. The provincial government has already moved forward with a scheme to make it easier for internationally trained doctors and nurses to start practicing in 2022. And last Monday, October 23, 2023, the provincial government announced at a press conference that it will introduce legislation to add 29 more professions, including social workers and engineers, to make it easier for them to work through a simplified professional certification system.

The existing policy required internationally recognized professionals to jump through a number of hoops to have their expertise recognized again in Canada, most notably a "Catch-22" that required them to have worked in Canada before their foreign credentials could be recognized, requiring a longer and more costly process to meet the requirements. The provincial government announced the introduction of the new legislation with the goal of removing this constraint, which in turn delays labour market recruitment and negatively impacts the development of BC's and Canada's economic markets, which are closely tied to the quality of life for BC residents.

Premier David Eby stated that the province is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, among other things, which is why they are taking steps to get more people to work, with a particular focus on filling hard-to-fill jobs. He also stated that this is a way to ensure that BC residents get the services they need. The resulting legislation will streamline the certification process for 29 occupations that are vetted by 19 different regulatory bodies. It also noted that the passage of the Fair Credentialing Act will eliminate restrictive requirements, eliminating inefficiencies such as internationally trained professionals having to take language tests twice.

This will make it easier for internationally educated professionals such as engineers, social workers, early childhood teachers, paramedics, teachers, and biologists to start working in BC. The new Fair Credentialing Act focuses on fairness, efficiency, transparency, and accountability. If passed, the legislation will enable regulators to remove barriers to international certification for 29 professions and make it easier and faster for qualified professionals to get their expertise validated in Canada, no matter where they were educated. The legislation will also set limits on maximum processing times to prevent people from taking longer than necessary to get their credentials recognized, and will make credentialing information available online to increase transparency and accessibility of information.

Over the next 10 years, B.C. is expected to add approximately 387,000 newcomers to its labor force. That's about 38 percent of the available jobs, which gives you an idea of the importance of the new workforce to the province's labour market. Helping newcomers and foreign workers quickly become established in the province's labour market will play a big role in the province's economic development. If the legislation, which is currently being pushed by the provincial government, is fully passed, a new superintendent will be appointed who will be responsible for promoting fair credential recognition, and the legislation will come into effect in the summer of 2024. The appointed superintendent will encourage implementation of the new legislation and monitor the performance of regulators to ensure the system is in compliance with the new legislation.

In addition to the implementation of the legislation, the provincial government will also help those coming to BC to have their credentials recognized more quickly, regardless of where they were educated. The hope is that this will help new immigrants or foreign workers find jobs faster and have a better chance of success.