Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity.
Practical recommendations to further shorten FQR processes are really important to me. A shortened process certainly is important.
I am Ximena Munoz, and I am the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner. That's a very new position. I've been in that job for only two years. There are only three commissioners in the country--one in Ontario, one in Quebec, and one in Manitoba. My job is to implement the new act, which came into effect in 2009.
Today, I would like to talk to you about the work of the self-regulated bodies.
Immigration is key for Manitoba. We need the people. We are working very hard to attract people. We need them to come in and be able to integrate into the labour market in their professions, and it's taking too long. I was at a focus group the other day where immigrants were congratulating each other because for somebody it had taken only four years to get recognized as accountant. Four years is a long time.
Manitoba has been very committed to this issue since 2003. The approach we took in Manitoba was to look at the need for systemic change. So it wasn't just preparing immigrants; it was looking at what we're doing and how we're doing it and asking ourselves if that was the right way and the best way to do it. The process was led by the provincial government, and one of the main things that came out of it was the recognition and acceptance that this issue was not any one body's responsibility. Really, there are many stakeholders involved in this, and it really will take all of us to find a solution.
In 2009 the Fair Registration Practices in Regulated Professions Act was proclaimed. The act requires that regulatory bodies--and Manitoba has 31 of them--have assessment and registration processes that are fair, transparent, objective, and impartial, and that they appoint a commissioner--and that's me--and also commit to supporting immigrants and to supporting regulators to come up with better practices.
It also requires that the regulators report to me on applicants and their numbers, which is something they haven't had to do to date. So I get to review the assessment processes. I get to sit down with them and go over what they do, what they ask people to have, how they assess them, and what exam or practicum and so on is used. We start in many cases from what the regulator is doing, even pre-migration, in terms of giving people information. We see our process ending when people get to work in their profession. So it isn't just about getting the recognition but actually getting a recognized licence and practising in their profession.
The focus of our work is not the professional standards of each profession but rather how regulators assess people against those standards. That's where we think a lot of the issues are, and I think we've been proven pretty right. They're not being asked to lower their standards and let immigrants in through the back door. They're being asked to make sure that the way in which they assess them is fair.
We take a very collaborative approach to that work. We were second in the country; Ontario was ahead of us, and is always a year or so ahead of us. Actually, the woman sitting next to me was the key drafter of that initial law in Ontario, and we benefited a lot from that, so she deserves a lot of credit.
The bridge that we decided to use in Manitoba was collaborative, collegial, and supportive. I started from the premise that there are no bad guys, there are just people trying to do a job and there may be things they don't know how to do very well. You may be a very good architect, but that doesn't mean you're a good assessor or a good evaluator. So we started from that perspective.
We've also been able to provide some financial support. It isn't only about looking at what they're doing, how they're doing it, and how they could do it better, but what is it they have to do, how do they are going about doing it, and who is helping them with the funding.
My office has taken that on, and as a result I think we have some really good things. We have much better information for immigrants, so people can access information even before they come here. There are better websites. We've done a lot of work in terms of plain language and things like that. We've done a lot of capacity development activities. We've done training on appeals, which is required by the law. They must have appeal processes and, believe me, many of them don't. We've done managing cultural diversity, and we've done written reasons.
We've also engaged regulators from outside of Manitoba to share what they do. We just had a fantastic presentation by the med labs, the medical laboratory society nationally. Different bodies have come in to share with us. The lawyers did a session on written reasons, and the engineers did a session on reconsideration of decisions, etc.
They are required, for the first time, to provide us with information on how many people are applying, and how many are successful and how many are not. We are also tracking all the steps in the process, for each of them. We don't just want to find out that ten applied and only one got recognized, but where the nine who didn't get recognized failed and where the problems are.
We think that is really going to help us—