March 28, 2012 / 8:18 PM / 5 years ago

Canada to test immigrants' professional credentials

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government says it is taking action to try to ensure that immigrants with foreign professional credentials are actually qualified to work in their chosen fields in Canada, with the screening to be done before they arrive.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the proposed new requirement on Wednesday in a speech to regulatory bodies that are responsible for recognizing or denying foreign credentials.

The idea is to avoid situations in which, for instance, foreign doctors cannot find work after immigrating to Canada because Canadian medical bodies will not recognize their qualifications, and end up in jobs such as driving taxis.

“The overall goal here is to better select and better support potential immigrants before they come to Canada, so they can hit the ground running once they arrive by integrating quickly into our labor market,” Kenney said.

Kenney said he continually hears heart-rending stories of doctors and other professionals from abroad unable to get licensed to practice in Canada.

The plan is for the government to hire designated third-party organizations to do the assessments, which will feed into the decision on whether to let the applicants immigrate.

Kenney said this would enable Canadian officials to screen out applicants without the necessary education and qualifications more effectively.

He said he hopes to have the system up and running by the end of the year.

“Not everyone from every country from every university has an equal shot at licensure at a job in a profession in Canada,” he said.

“Part of the problem in the past has been our rigid and passive immigration system, which has invited people into the country, even those who frankly will never have a shot at applying their credentials into the licensed profession in Canada.”

Kenney said the plan was no guarantee that the proposals would improve the chances that accrediting organizations in Canada - the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, for example - will end up accrediting the immigrants once they arrive.

The government cannot force the regulatory bodies to accredit more foreigners, and Kenney said it did not want them to lower their Canadian standards. But he did encourage the regulatory bodies to streamline their processes and open up opportunity.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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