Evidence of meeting #5 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 federal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Rob Walsh  Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons
  • Christine Nielsen  Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
  • Jim McKee  Executive Director, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
  • Jill McCaw  Coordinator, Integration Project, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
  • Charles Shields  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
  • Giulia Nastase  Manager, Special Projects, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

4:15 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

--and there's the Canadian Bar Association for lawyers. Neither of those regulates doctors or lawyers. Those are national organizations. They have provincial chapters, but they're national organizations. They don't control qualifications for acceptance or accreditation in law or medicine.

There is the College of Physicians and Surgeons or some institute like that at the provincial level that regulates doctors, and there is the law society or some institute like that that regulates lawyers. These are created under the legislation of the provincial legislative assembly and authorized to play that role. While these associations may be good for representing, broadly speaking, the professional and economic interests of their members in dealing with the federal government or in dealing with provincial governments, they don't have any direct role to play in the accreditation issue. But certainly they may well be influential players in trying to bring the provinces to adopting a common standard across the country, if that was the role they chose to play.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

I appreciate that clarification.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

I think we've come to a point of conclusion here.

I'd like to thank you, Mr. Walsh, for answering all of the questions, for the insightful presentation and answers to the various questions. We very much appreciate you coming. Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

I only want to add, Mr. Chairman, if I may, that I relate to this subject because I am an immigrant myself, but from a very young age.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

There you go.

4:20 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

When you come to a country as a young person and you don't speak like they speak and you don't look like they look—and I didn't—it's a difficult experience for some years, until you finally get yourself assimilated in some manner. I understand the difficulties people have who come from jurisdictions where they don't speak English or French and have different cultures and different economic systems. It's very hard coming to this country. We have a number of problems of our own already, but it's especially so for someone who comes from elsewhere.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

With that, we'll suspend for 10 minutes.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

I'd like to welcome our next panel. We have the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, Christine Nielsen--I appreciate having you here; the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; and the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. We're looking forward to hearing from you.

Each of you will be making a presentation. Following that, there will be a round of questioning of five minutes each.

I'm not sure who's going to start first. Would that be the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science? Okay, go ahead.

October 18th, 2011 / 4:30 p.m.

Christine Nielsen Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to sincerely thank the committee for inviting the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science to appear today. My name is Christine Nielsen and I am the executive director for the society. Prior to that role, I handled our certification and prior learning assessment portfolio, and integration of internationally educated medical laboratory technologists, or--

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Perhaps I will caution you to slow down a bit. The interpreters are having a difficult time. If you would take your time, it would be appreciated by the interpreters and others on the other side of the interpreters.

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

Christine Nielsen

Prior to that role, I handled our certification and prior learning assessment portfolio, and integration of internationally educated medical laboratory technologists, or IEMlTs, continues to be my commitment and passion.

The CSMLS is the national professional association for over 14,000 medical laboratory professionals in Canada. We are also the national certification body that establishes the entry-to-practice requirements in consultation with the provinces and territories. We also offer the only national prior learning assessment program for our profession that is used in all jurisdictions, with the exception of Quebec. We have always done some form of recognition, however, and in 1999 the program became more robust, with the goal of providing fair, open, and transparent assessments of credentials, education, work experience, professional development, and language proficiency.

Since 1999, we have assessed over 2,000 files and certified more than 1,000 international medical laboratory technologists. Our program is unique in that each jurisdiction relies on the assessment and certification for entrance into the labour market. Our program has been reviewed and celebrated by agencies such as the Ontario Fairness Commissioner, the Manitoba Fairness Commission, HRSDC through the pan-Canadian framework for the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications, and the Ontario Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.

The CSMLS thanks the Government of Canada for its sustained interest in investing in immigration to build on Canada's prosperity. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has a great responsibility in the recruitment and selection of newcomers to Canada, and HRSDC is there to help in the transition, whether it is offshore or in Canada. Programs like the FCRO and the pan-Canadian framework are important to the successful integration of newcomers.

The CSMLS has been fortunate enough to have had nine research and pilot projects supported from the HRSDC FCR program, and they have undoubtedly helped us create a program that is reliable, fair, and transparent, valued by regulators, fairness commissioners, and our profession.

Our HRSDC projects include:

• overview of best practices, identification of barriers for the clients and creation of a standardized assessment process;

• plain language review of all documents related to certification and prior learning assessment to ensure clarity in English and French;

• the business case for creating and sustaining bridging programs;

• loan libraries to remove access issues and costs for internationally educated technologists;

• the creation of a resource guide for IEMLTs to help address the gaps in experience and education in relation to the Canadian context of practice;

• the creation of an online self-assessment tool, also available offshore;

• the feasibility of creating a peer support network;

• investigation of factors enabling or impeding integration of five groups of internationally educated health professionals, two to seven years post-licensure and certification;

• and our newest project, the CSMLS self-directed bridging program.

We have also had language projects funded provincially, through MCI Ontario bridge funding:

• investigation of language assessment tools and benchmarks necessary for the success for internationally educated medical technologists;

• language proficiency testing for IEMLTs, validating cut scores and a new testing tool.

Each of these projects has facilitated the development and validation of a fair, open, and transparent prior learning assessment program. These projects have undoubtedly helped contribute to the CSMLS vision of creating a process that is evidence-informed, allowing for the best possible outcomes for the technologist, the profession, and the public. Like any robust research program, the CSMLS has several areas of further interest and eagerly awaits the outcomes of the peer support network and the five professions integration project, as there will undoubtedly be a list of recommendations that will further enhance the outcomes of our internationally educated technologists. We are also hoping to engage in another multi-profession project addressing common challenges.

We would like to applaud the HRSDC for their willingness to collaborate and negotiate new projects that will be of benefit to the CSMLS, the IEMLT, and, ultimately, the Canadian public. The application process is relatively seamless, and improvements have recently been made, allowing for the more timely sharing of documents for both HRSDC and the recipient.

We are fortunate to have a single point of contact for FCR applications at HRSDC and have appreciated the effort HRSDC has taken to better understand the complexity of my profession and the issues we face.

We meet annually with our HRSDC contact to discuss current and future projects. In fact, they seem to understand projects, challenges, and opportunities as well as I do. This leads to productive discussions that are dynamic, future-focused, and centred on improvement.

One of the biggest limitations we all face with grants funded by HRSDC is the lack of sustainability of the projects, as this is beyond the mandate of HRSDC. We encourage the Government of Canada to find a logical place for sustainability of these projects. We believe that HRSDC might benefit from the implementation of a post-project process that looks at sustainability. While the CSMLS does not enter into funding agreements for programs or processes that we cannot sustain, the failure of several regional bridging programs for internationally educated medical laboratory technologists suggests that this might help, as it would force grant applicants to have collaborative agreements in place long before a project ends, to ensure that a project will be sustainable.

Further, the CSMLS encourages the Government of Canada to consider credential evaluation or PLA as part of the immigration process, not something an immigrant tries to navigate once they arrive. We are excited about the outcomes of the CIIP projects in India, China, and the Philippines, and look forward to its expansion to the U.K.

We've seen the challenges of a process that allows a newcomer to self-declare their occupation with no actual validation of the claim. Verification would assist the government in determining fit, especially related to the professions on the preferred list for the foreign skilled workers, and allow the immigrant to better plan for their journey to Canada. It will allow them to make an informed choice in coming to Canada, determine the order of events they will undertake when they get here, and possibly alter their expectations on arrival.

We thank the government for their interest and action in the assessment and integration of immigrants to Canada. We sincerely hope investments continue to be made in this area, as the financial burden on associations and internationally educated professionals would be insurmountable were it not for the commitment of the Government of Canada.

Thank you.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

I've given you some extra time because I asked you to slow down. I didn't want to shorten your time because of it. I'm happy that you were able to conclude.

We will now move to the presentation by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

4:40 p.m.

Jim McKee Executive Director, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Thank you.

My name is Jim McKee. I'm the executive director of Architecture Canada.

With me is Jill McCaw, project manager for the broadly experienced foreign architect project.

I'd like to mention that Saskatchewan architect Dave Edwards, chair of the broadly experienced foreign architect task force, would very much like to have been here today but couldn't be, as the meeting was held on fairly tight notice.

I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to report on the progress of our project, which is labelled BEFA for short. It's a project made possible by the foreign credential recognition program and one conceived to put in place an innovative new system for assessing the credentials of foreign-trained architects in a manner that is timely, fair, transparent, pan-Canadian, and rigorous in ensuring that Canadian standards for architectural practice are upheld.

The project is proceeding with the full backing of the Canadian architectural profession. Our partners, the provincial and territorial members of the Canadian architectural licensing authorities, CALA, share a commitment to put in place a new process for assessing the credentials of foreign-trained architects to be administered by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board. The project is currently in the pilot phase. Our target date to go operational is September 2012.

Under the current system, foreign-trained architects seeking to qualify for practise in Canada must be able to demonstrate educational qualifications equivalent to those specified by the Canadian educational standard. They have to find work with an architectural practice and accumulate 5,600 hours as an intern architect, and they have to write the Canadian qualification exam.

Three, four, or more years are required to complete this process. It can be unattractive to an architect already holding a broad range of experience who is well advanced in their career in their home country.

The reality is that we currently have a prescriptive certification system predicated on the vast majority of candidates entering the profession coming from accredited Canadian schools of architecture.

Moreover, the reality is that Canada needs more architects, not less. Like many professions, its membership is aging. Within ten years, 58% of Canadian architects will be above the age of 50. As this group transitions to retirement, one study has projected that we will face a shortfall of between 100 and 200 architects a year.

Our fundamental objective, then, is to develop and put in place an assessment system and interview process that results in more internationally trained architects being integrated into the system without in any way diluting or lowering Canadian standards of admission to the profession, the regulation of which exists to protect the public interest, notably public safety.

We are now well advanced in the development of this new system. It will include an online self-assessment component that will enable foreign-trained architects to begin the process of assessing their credentials vis-à-vis Canadian standards of practice while still in their home country.

To be clear, foreign-trained architects will still need to provide evidence of an architectural education, proof of licensure or its equivalent in their jurisdiction, as well as proof of broad experience, at least seven years, as a practising architect in their home country.

The fundamental focus of the new system, however, will be on testing for essential competencies required to perform as a qualified Canadian architect. These competencies have been identified after extensive work with assessment consultants and with practising architects.

The competencies have then been mapped out in a comprehensive matrix, which underlies the online self-assessment questionnaire that will be the starting point for any foreign-trained architect seeking to be certified and referred to the licensing authorities.

Once they've completed their self-assessment and uploaded supporting documentation, their file will be reviewed by a team of assessors. They will then be scheduled for a face-to-face interview, which we use to verify their competencies. This evaluation will be carried out by three Canadian architects trained as assessors.

Jill.