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Evidence of meeting #6 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

Doretta Thompson  Principal, Education and Communications, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
Jylan Khalil  Director, Chartered Accountants Qualification, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
Mathew Wilson  Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Carole Presseault  Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
Claudia von Zweck  Executive Director, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Katya Masnyk Duvalko  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators
Carole Bouchard  Executive Director, National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

We'll move now to Ms. Hughes.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Thank you.

I think this is great, because you have certainly brought more recommendations to the fore.

Mr. Wilson, you indicated there was red tape, as you called it, and that you'd have to get rid of some of the paperwork. I wonder if you could elaborate on that a little more. You mentioned that in your recommendations. That's what we're here to hear: your recommendations on how to improve the current program.

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

Maybe it would just be to look at the existing programs and things like the Service Canada recognition, under getting a work visa for a foreign worker in the four- to six-month timeframe. As for the request by Service Canada for a full HR plan, future product plans, and all the rest of that, what do they know about the company? If the company needs the workers, isn't it the best one to actually determine that? I don't even know who it would be within Service Canada. Why is a bureaucrat trying to analyze what a company needs, what the company says is necessary? Those are some of the things, I think, from a purely paperwork perspective. Considering the amount of time it takes to do those types of things, that would be a real benefit.

A lot of the other ones I think are outside of the government's control, at least outside of the federal government's control. A lot of them are within the hands of provincial bodies that regulate the skilled trades. I'm guessing you're probably in most cases not looking to go after some of those through this, but I think it's important recognition that the paperwork process and the certification process for a lot of those skilled trades are very difficult and very time-consuming for employees and employers.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I just want to interject a little bit. I think part of that is to ensure that employers are not just going to try to get immigrants to come in when there could be work for Canadians. I understand the process is lengthy, and I think we do need to look at that, but I think that it also needs to be interjected here that it is also about protecting Canadian jobs for Canadian workers.

I know that Mrs. Presseault wanted to add something.

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Carole Presseault

I just wanted to speak on the regulated professions' point of view on this. You heard the word “harmonization” said I don't know how many times in my script and in the other script. That's because that's kind of the crux of the issue here--that the professions are regulated provincially.

A lot of the work we've done was to bring everyone around the same table, to have everyone using the common tools. It really sounds like a no-brainer, but it isn't. It's complex. It's difficult. These bodies have been given the obligation to regulate their profession. They have to meet a certain provincial standard. They're not going to give that up, and neither should they. They're required by law to do so. So a lot of the work was to bring folks together, to get people to agree on common tools, and have people build from there. To even try to think there could be only one single entry point...it just won't happen.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Before I ask my next question, I was just wondering if there were any other interjections from anyone else with respect to improvements that need to be made to the program. We heard how the program has been benefiting, or what direction you're going in, but how can the recommendations be improved?

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Carole Presseault

That's a good question.

We certainly are now really fully employed. What it's done so far is to help build capacity in our own organization to do this kind of work. We wouldn't have been able to do that without the program. We've had a very generous contribution toward doing that. We need to work on that.

I was very fortunate to be part of a workshop in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year on this topic. We brought together Australians and Canadians to look at the problems. Not all the players, as I said to Mr. Wilson, were at the table. The employers need to be at the table.

I think that's the work going forward--to bring people together. I think that's going to be the key. Once every group has their tools out there, then how do you make them work, how do you keep them current, and how do you bring everyone as part of the equation together? That would be our main recommendation.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

My colleague Marc-André would like to ask a question at this point.

October 20th, 2011 / 4:15 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I want to ask Mr. Wilson what he thinks about this situation. I myself have the impression that the employers' requirements are often too specific.

I want to share the example of the biochemist who drove me from the station to Parliament in his old taxi cab. He is a biochemist from a Middle Eastern country. He taught at a university in Italy. He must have a certain level of expertise. In Canada, he drives a cab for Blue Line. He told me that, whenever he tried to find a job in his profession, workplace experience in Canada was required.

I wonder where we are headed with such requirements. No one will be able to satisfy those criteria.

Shouldn't employers review their requirements a little bit?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you. You certainly make a comment there. I know Mr. Butt raised that issue as well. I don't know if anyone wishes to respond to that.

A fairly short response, if you could, Mr. Wilson.

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

I agree with everything you said. The work experience is a real problem. A lot of times companies are restricted from hiring those individuals to get the work experience because they can't get the certification. It all loops around, unfortunately. That's why I said in my remarks that it's so important to look beyond the academic standards in a lot of these professions and look towards the real, tangible trades.

I'm not talking about accountants or doctors. I'm talking about welders and sheet fitters—real, tangible hard skills that people have. We need to be able to find a way to get around the academic credentials in a lot of these and look at the hard skills themselves so that they can be at least put into some type of apprenticeship program so they can get those without having to start from ground zero, which is typically the case today.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

And we'll move to Mr. Daniel.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you, witnesses, for being here.

I have some general questions first.

Both the accounting groups have done an exciting prospect of going right across Canada with their qualifications. It can't have been easy. What was the process, and how did you manage to get all the provincial associations on board to actually make that happen? Clearly, worker mobility is one of the big issues we have to face. We have nearly 1.7 million unemployed and the ability for them to move across Canada would be one way of assisting in reducing the numbers of unemployed.

4:20 p.m.

Principal, Education and Communications, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

Doretta Thompson

From the point of view of the CA profession, we've had complete Canadian mobility for a very long time. The government's structure of the profession focuses on those kinds of national standards, provincially implemented. Every CA in Canada writes the same exam at the same time. Everybody works towards the same goal. We have a protocol agreement with the provincial institutes. All major decision-making is on that basis.

To give you an idea, for the international credential work that we're doing right now for the portal, and as we work forward with the other projects, we literally took the leading expert in that area, in the provinces that have the most immigration. We put them together in a room. We looked at the processes they had. We shared everything and we came up together with a process that worked for everybody. That's how we do it.

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Carole Presseault

I'd say there is a real incentive for all provincial bodies to work together. We have a national qualification program. We have the same national exams from coast to coast to coast. We have the same educational requirements. For the largest numbers of years, within the CGA profession, we've had full mobility.

Let's look at it from the perspective of someone who's foreign-trained or comes into Canada under one of our MRAs, our mutual recognition agreements. If you take an individual who's achieved his ACCA designation from India, for example, and arrives in British Columbia, once he's accepted, once he becomes a CGA , that individual will have full mobility in every province of Canada, with the exception of public accounting; there is still restricted mobility into Ontario on the public accounting issue. On accounting, within the CGA organization, they have full mobility.

I wasn't at the table when that was negotiated a long time ago, over ten years ago. There was a real motivation to do it, because these are timely and costly processes. Since we have the national uniform standards qualification program, it was quite easy to get together.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you.

I don't mean to put you on the spot, Mr. Wilson, but from a manufacturing and exporting point of view, that doesn't seem to exist within your organization in terms of getting a pan-Canadian standards set, either at the trades level, at the technologists and technicians level, or at the engineering level. Are you working on it? Do you plan to work on it?

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

We'd like to work on it, I guess I would say. We're actually trying to look at some of the models that have been developed out of the human resources sector councils. The automotive human resources sector council, in particular, has done some great work on skill certification matching. They're not looking at titles, they are looking more at functional equivalencies of jobs.

We're actually starting to work with them right now. What we would like to do is use the work they have done and expand it outside of automotive and bring in more sector councils to create a pan-Canadian approach to some of this to start breaking down some of these barriers. Even simple things like the job title can sometimes make a difference in who can compete for the job, even though the actual skills are the same. The answer is yes, it's a problem, yes, we want to do more, and maybe we can through the human resources sector councils.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Is there anything the government can do to assist you in getting that off the ground and moving?

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

Can I come back to you on that? There may be. We're in the very early stages of discussion. There are some big changes coming to the sector councils.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Wilson, one of the things you commented on in your eighth point was the time it takes to get skills into the country. Do you have any ideas on how to reduce that time? My suggestion is to qualify the businesses, based on their experience of bringing people in, so if they need more people there's some trust level put on them, knowing that the skilled workers will come in and leave as appropriate, whether they're temporary or anything else

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

That's a great idea, which we'd certainly support--any way to speed it up.

I agree with the point about Service Canada representatives looking at HR plans. It obviously needs to be done to some degree, but is there a way to maybe put in place a service standard that says it's a two-week turnaround on some of these things? So maybe some of the service standards could be improved, and maybe the level of detail could be ratcheted down.

It should be enough if a company says “We need a chemical engineer in painting, and we've searched. This is our ad in the paper and we haven't come up with anyone reasonable.” They shouldn't have to submit a mountain of paperwork to anyone. The Canadian government needs to take the word of the companies that are trying to do the job. If you can't get that one person in, it could create unemployment for dozens of others. So it's a bigger problem.

Those are a couple of things, if that's any help.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Okay, thank you.

We'll move to Mr. Cuzner for the concluding five minutes.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for being here today.

Mr. Wilson, the people you represent have such a broad spectrum of skill needs, and there are so many moving parts in the sector you represent. Recognition of international credentials is a challenge, when I see that it continues to be a domestic problem.

The two largest employers in Cape Breton are Suncor and Sycrude. We have a very mobile workforce in my community. Kudos to people in Alberta who are accommodating eastern workers now, who do three out and a week home, a month out, or whatever it might be. But it's a matter of trying to get those credentials recognized. If we have problems doing that from province to province, I would imagine that from other countries.... You may have a bigger animal to eat than the CAs and CGAs.

Is there a province that's doing better than other provinces, and is there a skilled trade group doing better than others in how quickly they're able to respond?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

To be honest with you, I haven't heard of many people doing it well. That's unfortunately the bad news. There may be some, but it's kind of a big animal. There could be provinces that are doing it very well, but we hear a lot of complaints from our members right across the country in all different sectors. You don't tend to get people praising other people often. People don't call up and say, “Hey, these guys are great”.