Evidence of meeting #11 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was health.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jean-François LaRue  Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Brendan Walsh  Director, Foreign Qualification Recognition, Foreign Credentials Referral Office, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Margo Craig Garrison  Director, Health Human Resources Policy Division, Department of Health
  • Jonathan Wells  

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Obviously time is up, and there are many questions there. You might pick one that you want to answer, and then you might come back.

4 p.m.

Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Jean-François LaRue

This one is....

That question is relatively easy to answer. We are well aware of the negotiations that are going on at the moment, you understand. Of course, I do not speak for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, since the negotiations are still ongoing, it would not be appropriate for me to express an opinion that might end up interfering with them.

But it is really an excellent question. The treaty is certainly being given a lot of attention. I know that the Government of Canada, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is working with the provinces on it and the work is continuing.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you. Your time is up.

We'll move to the next questioner. Mr. Shory.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, witnesses, for coming out this afternoon.

It is a very interesting topic, for me at least, because I have lived through this issue, and I can tell you that from the last few years I can see a huge change in the attitude and the progress made in this area. That is highly appreciated by foreign-trained individuals. I like that term, instead of foreign-trained new Canadians. As a matter of fact, the fact is that there are a lot of Canadian-born children or Canadians who go overseas for a higher education or some professional education, and they have to go through the same issue that a new Canadian with foreign qualifications has to go through.

Mr. Walsh, in your presentation you talked about the pre-arrival tools, which made sense to me. The more I listened to the witnesses and the more I think about this issue, I think that will help a lot, basically pre-certification before arrival. Before anyone comes with foreign qualification to Canada, that individual should know what is the path he or she has to take, and where does that individual stand.

I guess we are in the right direction when we talk about pre-certification. If you can elaborate on that, what are the constructive ways our government can work with other countries to ensure that this pre-certification can be carried out as much as possible?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Foreign Qualification Recognition, Foreign Credentials Referral Office, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Brendan Walsh

Thank you.

In this matter it's a question of working particularly with the regulatory bodies in Canada. As my colleague Mr. LaRue has said, through our work on the FQR framework we are actively engaging with regulatory authorities and those who assess credentials for those target occupations to see what can be done to expedite the processes, and in particular, how much of the assessment or even some of the licensing steps can be moved to the pre-arrival phase.

We're seeing a lot of success on the information front. I think it's safe to say now that applicants who come to Canada, whether they're immigrants or internationally trained, do have access to good information about how their international training will be recognized or assessed in Canada, and what particular steps they're going to have to take.

We're seeing some challenges in moving some of the licensing steps overseas. As much as my colleagues and I would like to see many of the licensing steps happen before the applicant arrives in Canada, there are limits to how much can be done pre-arrival. It depends on the capacity of the profession and its ability to provide testing overseas at a range of possible sites around the world.

We're also seeing trends among regulatory bodies of not just relying on paper-and-pencil tests to assess, but giving applicants a chance to demonstrate their experience, a competency-based assessment. I think we're seeing a good trend, but it does make it more challenging to deliver those types of services pre-arrival.

In our discussions with the professions, we're trying to move forward on how much of the process can take place pre-arrival. In some cases professions are saying that the applicants can begin a self-assessment tool, or they may be able to start having their educational credentials taken. Maybe they can even start the initial phase of an examination. It depends on the profession, but that's where we're headed as one of our objectives.

4:05 p.m.

Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Jean-François LaRue

If I can add, HRSDC also works with many of the regulatory bodies in furthering the establishment of mutual recognition agreements as well as putting in place processes that make sense for mid-career professionals who come from overseas.

Maybe Jonathan Wells could talk rapidly about just one of our projects, like the one with accountants, and the bridging measures and some of the mutual recognition agreements we've encouraged through some occupations.

4:05 p.m.

Jonathan Wells

I would certainly be happy to speak to those.

One of the items that's come up repeatedly in the national consultations is the utility of having a mutual recognition agreement between countries with respect to a single profession. I have heard this comment from a number of professions, but they're not necessarily equipped to act on this immediately. So one of the responses we're currently working on is building on the experiences we've had with such groups as the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada and the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists.

We're looking at drawing together a group of up to 40 representatives of Canadian regulatory authorities, ones that have expressed interest in this subject, and we're intending to hold a workshop that will provide these associations and organizations with some of the additional insights and some of the how-to and what-to-look-for in consideration of advancing the idea of profession-to-profession mutual recognition agreements that can bypass many, if not all, of the steps required for licensure. This was announced in late September.

In some cases they will allow people to pass through the assessment service, such as the case of dentists, whereby individuals come to the point of writing the national exam. In other cases they can permit an individual to obtain licensure with the passage of the relevant tax exam or codes or those types of things. This is an area we have seen that is holding tremendous promise, and we're beginning to work with our partners to engage in it much more deeply.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you very much.

We'll move now to Ms. Hughes.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Thank you very much.

Again, thank you for your presentations.

Mr. LaRue, you talked about the Red Seal program. I know that in the audience today we also have Christopher Smillie, who's the senior advisor, government relations and public affairs, for the building and construction trades. I happen to have his testimony here as well. I'm just trying to get some sense, because there seems to be a void there. We know there's a shortage in skilled labour, especially in the construction field. One of the things he had talked about was that he wanted to see the Red Seal exam be administered overseas and on an ongoing basis, including every other week in the United States. The other thing he had mentioned was that there needed to be more trades that should be included on the list. Basically, his words were:

We need...more trade to go through this process and if Canada decides what competencies are required where, the easier it will be to determine who else in the world has these qualifications. Canada is in competition with the rest of the world to attract investment.

Based on that, I have a couple of questions here. I'm just wondering what specific things have been done to examine skilled trades from the U.S.

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Jean-François LaRue

I don't know that it's specifically from the U.S., but we do have the Red Seal program working with the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship. Any time that they consider an occupation to be certified as red seal, there is a process. There needs to be a sponsoring provincial government, and it must be brought forward by that sponsoring province.

A number of criteria are used to assess whether a skilled trade will be included as one of the occupations to be considered for Red Seal designation--obviously, industry support, commonality of tasks, number of PTs involved, usage....

In addition, there are a number of initiatives examining the issues related to the trades. For example, the Saskatchewan apprenticeship authority has released a study on the assessment and recognition of credential and trade experience of foreign-trained workers in red seal trades, and the CCDA has recently created a task force that will review the recommendation and certainly advise the CCDA on how best to apply the framework to skilled trades.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Just to follow up on that, you do talk about the report that came out, and it says the study resulted in a number of recommendations that will be considered by CCDA to improve the FCR and work experience for the skilled trades. I'm just wondering if you'd be able to table those recommendations.

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Jean-François LaRue

At the present moment we are right in the midst of implementing the Pan-Canadian framework, and this is part of the targeted occupations. The Red Seal program is not under my purview. It's difficult for me right now to tell you whether the recommendations are available publicly, but I'll be glad to forward them to the clerk of the committee if they are.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

What mandate does CCDA and HRSDC have to work with industry? Is there a mandate, or should there be a mandate?

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Labour Market Integration, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Jean-François LaRue

There is a clear mandate for the CCDA working on the Red Seal program. CCDA is an institution under the Forum of Labour Market Ministers that examines the issues related to apprenticeship.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Based on the shortage and on the demand out there, do you think that HRSDC should convene a labour ministers meeting to address this issue as well?