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.