Protectionist Workplace Regulations Marginalizing Canadian Immigrants -Vancouver Sun

A new CLSRN study finds that occupational licensing requirements are preventing many Canadian immigrants from working in their field of study

An article in Monday’s Vancouver Sun blames trade and professional associations for hampering the economic integration of Canadian immigrants.

The story, by columnist Don Cayo, cites a new report by Canadian researchers that finds that occupational licensing is preventing immigrants to Canada from working in their field of study, at a cost of $2-5.9 billion a year to the country’s economy.

The Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network (CLSRN) report notes that a full 20 percent of workers in the Canadian labour market now work in an occupation that requires a license, and that these licenses create significant barriers to entry that take up to a decade for a new immigrant to overcome.

Drawing from several studies authored by CLSRN researchers, the report finds that the average Canadian immigrant experiences an immediate drop in the skill level of their occupation upon arriving in Canada, and that even after four years, only 20 percent of women and 25 percent of men are working in their pre-immigration occupation.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Cayo says the mismatch between immigrants’ work experience and their post-immigration occupation is due to self-regulating trade and professional associations imposing licensing requirements in order to limit competition to their members:

Self-serving self-regulators are capable of a lot of sanctimonious bumph — and of greatly complicating accreditation procedures — to minimize the competition and protect their comfortable sinecures. Simply put, the old boys are way too prone to put down the “new kids on the block.”

He argues that unless self-regulating labour associations reduce regulatory barriers to entry in their fields, the government should repeal their regulatory powers.

Occupational licensing and the immigrant income gap

The income gap between recent immigrants and native-born Canadians has grown from 20 percent in 1970 to 40 percent in 2011, despite the proportion of recent immigrants with a university degree increasing from 10 percent in 1980 to over 54 percent in 2007 – or more than double that of native-born Canadians.

One possible explanation is the shift to an immigration selection criteria that favours foreign professionals who are trained for occupations that are regulated in Canada, like teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers and veterinarians.

Canada Immigration Minister says Foreign Doctors could be ‘Fast-Tracked’ into Canada

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney during an interview with the London Free Press editorial board in London, Ont. on April 17, 2012 (Morris Lamont/QMI Agency)

In an interview in the London Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that the Canadian government is looking to fast-track foreign-trained doctors to help fill Canada’s shortage of physicians.

“It’s critical our immigration system respond to current and future shortages and across the spectrum of the labour market” Mr. Kenney said in the interview.

The reports of the possible fast-track program for physicians are being looked on favourably in the province of Saskatchewan, as provincial officials say it currently takes two years for foreign physicians immigrating to the province to have their application approved.

No details have been released about the fast-track program for physicians, so it is not known what qualifications foreign-trained doctors need to meet to be eligible, and how long a fast-tracked application would take to get approval.