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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 process.

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

As you know, we have immigration agreements with provinces; we have the provincial nominee program. I'm assuming that gives us a little bit more legislative leverage. Are you familiar with those agreements?

3:55 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

I am not in detail, no.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Would it be likely, though, that if the federal government had a signed agreement with the province to determine immigration levels and types of immigrants and skill sets and so on, we at the federal level would also have the ability to insert clauses in those types of agreements that would perhaps put additional pressure on provinces concerning the foreign credential recognition side of things?

I guess my point is, if we have signed an agreement with the provinces, they have agreed to sign it with us. We obviously have some power through that type of agreement to leverage our influence.

3:55 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

The key word here is “agreement”. You'd have to negotiate the insertion of these clauses into that agreement, which means you would have to have the consent of the province to make those considerations part of the agreement.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

My last question, then, is on foreign credentials for federally regulated industries. You talked about the pilot scenario, banks, others.

Are you of the view that the federal government has jurisdiction to go to federally regulated industries and to set foreign credentialling qualifications and standards that would set minimum qualifications for people to practice their profession in those federally regulated industries?

3:55 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

Yes and no. There are complications with it.

Let's take my own field as a lawyer. Lawyers are provincially regulated. There is no federal bar that would approve my standing as a lawyer. The federal government hires lawyers, and they require the lawyers to be recognized and registered as lawyers in one of the provincial jurisdictions. If it were to decide it would have its own standards and certify an individual as being a lawyer for its purposes, but that individual had no recognition by any of the regulatory officials, that lawyer might not be terribly useful to them.

So it's a bit of an artificial question, because the individual has to work in a larger economic field than just the federal field. While it may theoretically be possible in some fields for the federal government to decide that this individual is going to work for us and only for us, so we'll decide whether he's qualified to fly a plane or not and don't need provincial authorities to tell us, there may nonetheless be other reasons why some recognition outside of the federal level should be obtained.

Going to that particular example of pilots—and I don't know for sure whether I'm right in saying this, so I again qualify what I'm saying, but I'm curious now and will double-check to see whether this is the case—it seems to me that if the airlines are federally regulated and provinces have no jurisdiction in regulating airlines, then yes, the federal government would have the ability to decide whether someone is qualified to fly a plane. So with some caveat, that makes sense to me, but I'd want to double-check to see whether the feds are actually doing this or have chosen to accept provincial control of that area too.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you very much.

We'll now move on to Mr. Cuzner.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Thanks very much.

Mr. Walsh, it's always a pleasure to have you sit in on a committee. The committee always benefits from your counsel.

Let me get further elaboration concerning what our chair posed on federal-provincial jurisdiction and responsibility. I'll respect your vast expertise on the broad range.

Maybe I can set it up with a hypothetical case.

If, for example, somebody wanted to tow a ship that they wanted to salvage through Canadian waters and the federal government was responsible for processing the application, granting the permits, granting the licence, securing the bond, so it monitors it during the towing process, but it cuts loose at sea and ends up on the shore of an unfortunate province—this is just a hypothetical situation—and then the federal government washes its hands of it, what—I'll use Mr. Butt's comment—would a premier of this hypothetical province have besides moral suasion to make his federal partner play a role is disposing of this, let's say, 243-metre wreck?

4 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

As you know, Mr. Chairman, hypotheticals are hazardous, but shipping is a federal area of jurisdiction for legislation purposes, and that vessel in Canadian offshore waters and doing business within Canada's jurisdiction would be subject to federal regulation. If it washes up on the shore of this hypothetical province, the owner of the ship may find themselves in trouble with the provincial authorities for one reason or another, for damage to the beach or that sort of thing.

These kinds of areas of provincial jurisdiction might come to apply to the craft for landing where it did, but the vessel still remains under federal jurisdiction in terms of how it is used or how it is managed and what operational requirements or standards it must meet. They remain federal. It doesn't fall into provincial, I don't believe, but it may be accountable to provincial authorities for whatever damage it is causing and that sort of thing.

I don't know if that answers your question. I don't think leverage arises to the province to enter into the federal field, if that's what you mean to ask. By virtue of the fact that the boat has landed on their shore, they don't suddenly acquire the ability to legislate in areas of--

4 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

A point of order, Mr. Chair.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Go ahead.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Chair, I don't think this question is at all relevant to foreign credential recognition. I don't think this is a time when we should be addressing--

4 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

[Inaudible--Editor]...question. We're just trying to further develop the role of the federal government and what possibilities the provincial government might have, and it could apply to workers from foreign countries as well.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

I think it's getting into another field there, Mr. Cuzner.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Okay.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

If you want to bring it to a question, could you do so? I think we're going far afield, even though it's hypothetical.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Is it a little broad?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Right. Can you bring it home?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I will surrender my time on that.

Thank you, Mr. Walsh.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Mr. Daniel.

October 18th, 2011 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Walsh, for coming in.

As a new parliamentarian and a first-generation Canadian who has gone through the qualification process, I am curious about all of the different provinces having their own regulations for their own professions. We've talked about foreign qualifications, but what about Canadians who have been here...? For example, do the qualifications of a nurse in the eastern provinces transferring into Ontario still hold value, or do they have to go through the registration process again?

4:05 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

I can't address nurses specifically, but I believe there has been some significant progress made in enabling some of these qualifications to move from one province to the other.

I know that in my own field there has been significant progress made. It used to be that a lawyer couldn't go to another province and enter into the courts or engage in any practise of law. Now they can, I understand, with nominal requirements. Obviously there are provincial laws that the outside lawyer may not know, so there may be some schooling required in that regard, but basically it's not what it used to be.

I suspect that in the area of nursing within Canada they are able to move around fairly well. You hear stories of some professional groups that find themselves in great demand in another part of the country; there is almost a migration from one part of the country to another to meet the economic needs. I suspect that on the whole it's not bad, but there may be some areas, however, where it's difficult.

As you know, this program means to deal with the immigrant coming from another jurisdiction, who has credentials from another jurisdiction and is trying to get recognition here for those credentials from the other jurisdiction.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

To follow up on that, I am thinking about what the actual process is to validate the qualifications. How is that done in terms of taking what the foreign credential is and comparing or processing it with the Canadian qualification?

4:05 p.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Rob Walsh

Well, I would think it depends on the professional field and the regulator in that field. I would imagine—and I say “imagine” because I don't specifically know—and it would stand to reason that an engineering regulatory agency in a province would have jurisdiction in respect to which it readily recognizes the qualifications of engineers in other jurisdictions where it has some reservations or in other jurisdictions where it simply doesn't accept.... I don't know. But they would have, I would think, some foreign credentials that are not a problem for them and others that are a problem. But you have to look at each professional field, I think.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

So as we discuss the different provinces, is there any information with regard to the standards that each of the provinces holds? For example, if I'm an engineer coming in, would it be easier for me to get into Alberta versus Ontario or one of the other provinces?