Evidence of meeting #10 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 ontario.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Suzanne Gordon  Manager, Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Government of Ontario
Cathy Giblin  Registrar and Director, Registration Services, College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
Ximena Munoz  Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

Can I just take two more minutes?

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

No.

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

I didn't get to my recommendations, sir.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Your recommendations are important, so if you don't get to them through the questioning, we'll probably give you an opportunity at the end, or you can submit them to the committee. But we have to respect the time. I've given you well over the time we normally allow.

We'll go first to Mr. Choquette. You have seven minutes, but you can share your time with others.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I will split my time with my colleague, Mr. Patry.

First, I want to thank you for coming here today to testify. This is interesting, particularly since in my area of Drummondville, we have many immigrants with degrees. All the people I meet as well as all organizations tell me about this integration problem and how it is difficult to get a job quickly. Recognition of credentials is also a major problem.

My first question is to Mrs. Munoz and Ms. Gordon.

What fields of study or what professions are the most difficult for immigrants who want to get their skills and credentials recognized?

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

I think those in the health professions have a very difficult time, because they cannot observe or volunteer until they have some recognition. I think that's very difficult. Dentists and doctors have difficulty, because there are very few spots for them and the process takes a long time. In health, the longer you're out of practice, every day and minute counts against you. After five years out of practice that's it; they won't look at you. So I think the health professions have the most difficult time.

4:50 p.m.

Manager, Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Government of Ontario

Suzanne Gordon

I agree and would add that another challenge is the legal profession, because the law is substantively different from one jurisdiction to another. It presents a significant training challenge. We are working on that in Ontario. We have a very good law program, but there isn't automatic recognition in law. It's even more different than in other regulated professions.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Thank you.

My question is to Ms. Giblin first. My riding is mainly rural, and I am wondering about what is to be done in order to better integrate immigrants with degrees in the labour market. Are there programs or incentives to help them integrate in rural areas?

Ms. Giblin, you can answer my question. After that, I will ask the other witnesses if they have any further comments.

4:55 p.m.

Registrar and Director, Registration Services, College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

Cathy Giblin

I had a conversation about this issue during our break. For nursing in Alberta there are no formal programs that support people to go into rural or remote settings. However, in Alberta we have the rural physician action plan. It is a program that supports internationally trained physicians to enter practice in rural and remote settings. We don't have a similar kind of program for the nursing profession in Alberta.

4:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

I can tell you that in Manitoba it is a real issue. In the rural areas, the locations are small and far away. The situation we're facing in Manitoba is around the fact that doctors, the international medical graduates who are getting assessed, can get a provisional licence to practise, but the provisional licence is only to practise outside of Winnipeg.

So the situation we're dealing with in Manitoba is that IMGs with a provisional licence working up north, or in very small locations, have no support. They have nobody else there, no other colleagues. And they're saying that this doesn't make any sense: You're giving me a provisional licence and I'm the only one here, when the other ones have full licences and there are three or four in a practice.

So getting people to the rural areas is a problem, but supporting them while they're there is also a real issue.

4:55 p.m.

Manager, Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Government of Ontario

Suzanne Gordon

I'll be very brief and say that in Ontario we have similar initiatives for doctors in rural areas.

With particular regard to the bridging programs, our program actually doesn't have responsibility for the doctors. That's the Ministry of Health. For all other professions, we are trying to work with municipalities through immigration portals, and also through bridging programs that, in the northern areas of Ontario, for example, are really providing a base for recruitment. It isn't exactly our model, but they need immigrants, they have the training institutions, they have the expertise, and they have the employers. They need the people.

So we are working in a more creative way with them to offer bridge training programs in areas where there is a labour market demand and to help them build the tools and supports so that people will feel welcome when they come and integrate successfully into the workforce once they're there.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Thank you.

I will leave the rest of my time to Claude Patry.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, ladies.

Mrs. Munoz, you said that three provinces have an agreement, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Is this an agreement between provincial representatives? You said that Ontario is ahead of Manitoba. Where does Quebec fit in there?

4:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

Quebec was the third. Actually, no, it was the last, the fourth.

Nova Scotia has an act but they don't have a commissioner. Quebec is slightly different in that they have a commissioner of complaints. He has to set up a system to address the complaints that immigrants have with the process of the regulatory bodies.

That's not part of the Ontario or Manitoba law. In fact, the law says I cannot get involved in registration decisions, but I do get involved in processes.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Your time is up.

We'll move to Mr. Mayes, for seven minutes....

Actually, it's Ms. Leitch; you can share your time with your colleagues, if you need to.

November 3rd, 2011 / 4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

No problem. Thank you very much.

Thank you for presenting today.

To begin, Ms. Munoz, could I ask you to take two minutes to tell concisely what your recommendations are?

5 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

Well, my perspective is this: why is it that we haven't solved this? People have been working at this for years and years. We're not stupid people. Why is it that we still have a problem?

I think initially it had a lot to do with pointing fingers, i.e., whose responsibility was this? Some people said it was the federal government; they bring the people in. Some people said it was the provinces; they were responsible for the education. Other people, that is, the provinces, said no, no, it was really the regulators who determined that. But the regulators said they worked with the post-secondary institutions. It was nobody's problem.

I think we've solved that now. I think generally in Canada people are working together to try to solve this. I think we've tried to fix the immigrant part and we're now trying to fix the regulators.

In a way, I think we're just tinkering around the edges. I'm not sure we're really dealing with what is at the bottom of the issue. I want to put forward the notion that perhaps it's time to look at the regulatory model we have in Canada. My experience with regulators is that many of them are caught in this dual role that many of them play. One is responsible for regulating and deciding the standards for entry and the standards for conduct. On the other side is the profession, promoting the profession, advocating for the profession, etc.

Those two roles are not compatible. I think we have wanted people to really be able to work like that, and I think many of them try very hard, but because of the need for more work, need for more resources, etc., that's becoming more and more of an issue.

I have executive directors and registrars saying to me, you know, my board is really unhappy that I'm doing all of this work for international professionals; they want me to do work for the existing members.

My position is that I think the oversight of regulatory activity is not a bad thing. Fairness acts I think can be very helpful, but I don't think they are the solution, either. I can see how far we can go with that and I can see that we're not going to solve the problem.

I want to tell you that I think this may be a time that warrants looking at a model that was set up in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I think it's old for the times. We're in a different world; things are different right now. I think we need a better system.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Maybe I can ask you a specific question with regard to that. This is along the lines of what the federal government's role can be in that.

I'd like to ask each of you what you see as the specific role of the federal government with respect to that and the approach to credential recognition. We've had obviously some varied comments. Just very concisely, if there were one specific thing we could do, just one, what would it be?

5 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

I'm not sure there is one thing.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

I just want the number one thing. What is your number one priority?

5 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

Money: financial support for regulators and financial support for the gap training and bridging programs.

We have some very good programs in Manitoba. Everything is pilot. There's no money. They're not sustainable. There's no money for ongoing programming.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Maybe I can ask Ms. Gordon and Ms. Giblin the same question.

5 p.m.

Manager, Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Bridge Training Program, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Government of Ontario

Suzanne Gordon

Well, Ontario really would say money as well, but I think we need to be more creative, and I think you want to hear what particular role the federal government could play.

I think that our information overseas has to be really, really clear. You heard today about plain language information. In Ontario, and I think the other provinces too, we have career maps, or fact sheets really, that tell you how to get started.

When we have the agreement on internal trade in place and regulators are moving to a more common approach, having plain language information overseas, marketing that, and getting people to read it and understand it overseas would really do a tremendous service to our labour market, and also to them.

5 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Department of Labour and Immigration, Government of Manitoba

Ximena Munoz

Can I follow up on that?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

I have a question for her.

Ms. Giblin, can I ask for your comments here?