These ‘first of their kind’ Ontario changes could get more skilled immigrants working in their actual fields of expertise

The Ontario government is unveiling a new plan to help get immigrants working in the fields where they have expertise.Legislative changes to be introduced Thursday would force some professional regulators to drop Canadian work-experience requirements from their licensing criteria — and to speed up processing times.If passed, the changes would address what newcomers often cite as two key barriers to acquiring their professional designations in Ontario.Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, whose ministry also oversees training, skills development and immigration, called the changes “unprecedented and the first of their kind in Canada.”“They’re just long overdue,” McNaughton said. “My goal is to ensure that we’re creating a clear path for new Canadians to fully apply their skills and remove barriers so immigrants can find meaningful work.”The proposed amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act would cover 37 non-health-related professions and trades.The affected fields would range from architecture to teaching, social work, plumbing, electricians’ work, auto-body repair and hairstyling.The changes, if passed, would give the minister and the fairness commissioner the powers to order financial penalties for regulators found to have breached the law. At present, licensing time in some professions takes as long as 18 months, and both the ministry and the fairness commissioner’s office will gather baseline data to inform and establish reasonable timelines in consultation with oversight ministries, regulators and communities.For decades, many immigrants who were selected for their education achievements and work experience have complained about being unemployed or underemployed because their foreign credentials are devalued in Canada.Those who have training and background in a regulated profession also complain they lack the coveted Canadian experience to meet licensing requirements and that the process is too lengthy and costly.When asked about the timing of this announcement, following another earlier this week to regulate temporary worker agencies and recruiters, McNaughton denied it was part of a Conservative strategy to galvanize immigrant votes in next year’s provincial election.“The pro-worker reforms we’re unveiling ... it’s all about rebalancing the scales. Coming out of this pandemic, the scales were tilted toward a lot of big corporations that make billions of dollars run by billionaires,” he said.“We are on the side of workers and just ensuring that they’re getting better paychecks and better protections.”Premier Doug Ford has been at the centre of controversy since Monday, when he said Ontario is desperate for people to move here — as long as they want to work.“You come here like every other new Canadian has come here, you work your tail off,” he said. “If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around? Not going to happen, go somewhere else.”The comments have drawn fire from many who say the premier was playing to racist stereotypes about new Canadians.According to McNaughton, currently only 25 per cent of all immigrants are actually employed in their field of study, while 293,000 jobs are waiting to be filled in the province, which could see its GDP increase by $20 billion, if the skill gap is addressed.“That’s unacceptable,” he told the Star in an interview Wednesday. “It’s important that we ensure that everyone’s talent is being used and we unleash their talent to its full capacity.”The proposed changes to eliminate the Canadian experience licensing requirement do have exemption provisions if regulators can demonstrate that it is necessary for public health and safety. The expectation, however, would be that they find alternative methods to minimize barriers. The Ontario fairness commissioner’s office would review exemption requests and make recommendations to the minister, who would have the final say.The government also plans to align and streamline language-testing requirements for immigration and licensing purposes, for instance, by asking regulators to accept the same tests as proof of language proficiency or embed it as part of their respective technical exams.“We’re eliminating the unfair Canadian work experience requirements, reducing burdens including duplicative language training and ensuring that licensing applications are processed faster,” McNaughton said.“Last year alone, about 17,500 internationally trained individuals applied to receive their licence to practise from our regulator. We want to increase that number in a big, big way.”The expectation is for the Canadian work experience requirement to be struck down within two years.The changes could potentially extend to the regulated health sector in the future, which is far more complex due to health and safety concerns.“We continue to work with health (authorities). That is a priority for me,” McNaughton noted. “But this is going to apply across the board apart from health, at least at th

These ‘first of their kind’ Ontario changes could get more skilled immigrants working in their actual fields of expertise

The Ontario government is unveiling a new plan to help get immigrants working in the fields where they have expertise.

Legislative changes to be introduced Thursday would force some professional regulators to drop Canadian work-experience requirements from their licensing criteria — and to speed up processing times.

If passed, the changes would address what newcomers often cite as two key barriers to acquiring their professional designations in Ontario.

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, whose ministry also oversees training, skills development and immigration, called the changes “unprecedented and the first of their kind in Canada.”

“They’re just long overdue,” McNaughton said. “My goal is to ensure that we’re creating a clear path for new Canadians to fully apply their skills and remove barriers so immigrants can find meaningful work.”

The proposed amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act would cover 37 non-health-related professions and trades.

The affected fields would range from architecture to teaching, social work, plumbing, electricians’ work, auto-body repair and hairstyling.

The changes, if passed, would give the minister and the fairness commissioner the powers to order financial penalties for regulators found to have breached the law.

At present, licensing time in some professions takes as long as 18 months, and both the ministry and the fairness commissioner’s office will gather baseline data to inform and establish reasonable timelines in consultation with oversight ministries, regulators and communities.

For decades, many immigrants who were selected for their education achievements and work experience have complained about being unemployed or underemployed because their foreign credentials are devalued in Canada.

Those who have training and background in a regulated profession also complain they lack the coveted Canadian experience to meet licensing requirements and that the process is too lengthy and costly.

When asked about the timing of this announcement, following another earlier this week to regulate temporary worker agencies and recruiters, McNaughton denied it was part of a Conservative strategy to galvanize immigrant votes in next year’s provincial election.

“The pro-worker reforms we’re unveiling ... it’s all about rebalancing the scales. Coming out of this pandemic, the scales were tilted toward a lot of big corporations that make billions of dollars run by billionaires,” he said.

“We are on the side of workers and just ensuring that they’re getting better paychecks and better protections.”

Premier Doug Ford has been at the centre of controversy since Monday, when he said Ontario is desperate for people to move here — as long as they want to work.

“You come here like every other new Canadian has come here, you work your tail off,” he said. “If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around? Not going to happen, go somewhere else.”

The comments have drawn fire from many who say the premier was playing to racist stereotypes about new Canadians.

According to McNaughton, currently only 25 per cent of all immigrants are actually employed in their field of study, while 293,000 jobs are waiting to be filled in the province, which could see its GDP increase by $20 billion, if the skill gap is addressed.

“That’s unacceptable,” he told the Star in an interview Wednesday. “It’s important that we ensure that everyone’s talent is being used and we unleash their talent to its full capacity.”

The proposed changes to eliminate the Canadian experience licensing requirement do have exemption provisions if regulators can demonstrate that it is necessary for public health and safety. The expectation, however, would be that they find alternative methods to minimize barriers. The Ontario fairness commissioner’s office would review exemption requests and make recommendations to the minister, who would have the final say.

The government also plans to align and streamline language-testing requirements for immigration and licensing purposes, for instance, by asking regulators to accept the same tests as proof of language proficiency or embed it as part of their respective technical exams.

“We’re eliminating the unfair Canadian work experience requirements, reducing burdens including duplicative language training and ensuring that licensing applications are processed faster,” McNaughton said.

“Last year alone, about 17,500 internationally trained individuals applied to receive their licence to practise from our regulator. We want to increase that number in a big, big way.”

The expectation is for the Canadian work experience requirement to be struck down within two years.

The changes could potentially extend to the regulated health sector in the future, which is far more complex due to health and safety concerns.

“We continue to work with health (authorities). That is a priority for me,” McNaughton noted. “But this is going to apply across the board apart from health, at least at this point.”

With files from Robert Benzie

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Today’s coronavirus news: India hits 1 billion vaccine doses; Canada Recovery Benefit is set to expire

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.5:45 a.m.: Over a month into the school year, the province’s largest school boards are reporting staff vaccination rates ranging from a high of 94.8 per cent to a low of 76 per cent.But a Star analysis of 31 major boards has found inconsistencies in the way they report and present this information that make it difficult to compare rates between boards, and in most cases impossible for parents to know the rate of vaccination of teachers at their boards.Despite provincial direction that public school board employees disclose their vaccination status, the Star found that over 15,000 staff have not done so, and, because boards don’t break down the data by job category, it’s not clear what these people do.Read more from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and May Warren.5:30 a.m.: Russia on Thursday registered the highest daily numbers of new coronavirus infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic as the authorities hoped to slow the spread by introducing a nonworking week.The government coronavirus task force reported 36,339 new confirmed infections and 1,036 deaths in the past 24 hours that brought Russia’s death toll to 227,389 — by far the highest in Europe.Russia’s daily infections have been surging for weeks and coronavirus mortality numbers topped 1,000 for the first time over the weekend amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. Only about 45 million Russians — roughly a third of its nearly 146 million people — are fully vaccinated.President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday responded to rising contagion and deaths by ordering Russians to stay off work for a period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days are already non-working, including a two-day state holiday. In some regions where the situation is the most threatening, he said the nonworking period could start as early as Saturday and be extended past Nov. 7.5:15 a.m.: The Canada Recovery Benefit is on the way out, the Star learned late Wednesday.Two sources told the Star that the benefit, which replaced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last year, will be gone sooner rather than later. But some support will still be available for those who are not able to go to work temporarily because of strict lockdowns.The fate of the federal government’s soon-to-expire pandemic support measures could be revealed as early as Thursday.Supports for struggling businesses will remain in some form but be streamlined and made far more stringent in terms of applicants demonstrating losses.Read more from the Star’s Raisi Patel.5 a.m.: India has administered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Thursday, passing a milestone for the South Asian country where the delta variant fueled its first crushing surge earlier this year. About 75% of India’s total eligible adult population have received at least one dose, while around 30% are fully immunized. The country of nearly 1.4 billion people is the second to exceed a billion cumulative doses after the most populous country China did so in June. Coronavirus cases have fallen sharply in India since the devastating months at the start of the year when the highly transmissible delta variant, first detected in the country a year ago, was infecting hundreds of thousands daily, sending COVID-19 patients into overwhelmed hospitals and filling cremation grounds. Officials have bolstered the vaccination campaign in recent months, which experts say have helped control the outbreak since. The country began its drive in January. Still, there remains a worrying gap between those who have received one shot and those fully immunized. Ramping up the second dose is “an important priority,” V K Paul, the head of the country’s COVID-19 taskforce, said at a briefing last week. 4:50 a.m.: Toronto expects the COVID-19 vaccine to be approved and offered to children aged 5 to 11 within weeks, says public health chief Dr. Eileen de Villa.De Villa told reporters Wednesday her department is launching a multi-pronged campaign to get as many kids immunized as quickly as possible, including an online “tool kit” with vaccine information for parents, guardians and caregivers.The kit includes information about the benefits and risks of children getting the jab, she said, adding that in general the vaccine’s protection for kids and adults around them against COVID-19 far outweigh any risk of side-effects.Read more from the Star’s David Rider.4:45 a.m.: Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health broke into tears in the midst of a COVID-19 modelling presentation over teleconference Wednesday.Dr. Saqib Shahab teared up while reflecting on the province’s overloaded hospitals and intensive care units.“It’s distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs an

Today’s coronavirus news: India hits 1 billion vaccine doses; Canada Recovery Benefit is set to expire

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:45 a.m.: Over a month into the school year, the province’s largest school boards are reporting staff vaccination rates ranging from a high of 94.8 per cent to a low of 76 per cent.

But a Star analysis of 31 major boards has found inconsistencies in the way they report and present this information that make it difficult to compare rates between boards, and in most cases impossible for parents to know the rate of vaccination of teachers at their boards.

Despite provincial direction that public school board employees disclose their vaccination status, the Star found that over 15,000 staff have not done so, and, because boards don’t break down the data by job category, it’s not clear what these people do.

Read more from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and May Warren.

5:30 a.m.: Russia on Thursday registered the highest daily numbers of new coronavirus infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic as the authorities hoped to slow the spread by introducing a nonworking week.

The government coronavirus task force reported 36,339 new confirmed infections and 1,036 deaths in the past 24 hours that brought Russia’s death toll to 227,389 — by far the highest in Europe.

Russia’s daily infections have been surging for weeks and coronavirus mortality numbers topped 1,000 for the first time over the weekend amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. Only about 45 million Russians — roughly a third of its nearly 146 million people — are fully vaccinated.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday responded to rising contagion and deaths by ordering Russians to stay off work for a period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days are already non-working, including a two-day state holiday. In some regions where the situation is the most threatening, he said the nonworking period could start as early as Saturday and be extended past Nov. 7.

5:15 a.m.: The Canada Recovery Benefit is on the way out, the Star learned late Wednesday.

Two sources told the Star that the benefit, which replaced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last year, will be gone sooner rather than later. But some support will still be available for those who are not able to go to work temporarily because of strict lockdowns.

The fate of the federal government’s soon-to-expire pandemic support measures could be revealed as early as Thursday.

Supports for struggling businesses will remain in some form but be streamlined and made far more stringent in terms of applicants demonstrating losses.

Read more from the Star’s Raisi Patel.

5 a.m.: India has administered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Thursday, passing a milestone for the South Asian country where the delta variant fueled its first crushing surge earlier this year.

About 75% of India’s total eligible adult population have received at least one dose, while around 30% are fully immunized. The country of nearly 1.4 billion people is the second to exceed a billion cumulative doses after the most populous country China did so in June.

Coronavirus cases have fallen sharply in India since the devastating months at the start of the year when the highly transmissible delta variant, first detected in the country a year ago, was infecting hundreds of thousands daily, sending COVID-19 patients into overwhelmed hospitals and filling cremation grounds.

Officials have bolstered the vaccination campaign in recent months, which experts say have helped control the outbreak since. The country began its drive in January.

Still, there remains a worrying gap between those who have received one shot and those fully immunized. Ramping up the second dose is “an important priority,” V K Paul, the head of the country’s COVID-19 taskforce, said at a briefing last week.

4:50 a.m.: Toronto expects the COVID-19 vaccine to be approved and offered to children aged 5 to 11 within weeks, says public health chief Dr. Eileen de Villa.

De Villa told reporters Wednesday her department is launching a multi-pronged campaign to get as many kids immunized as quickly as possible, including an online “tool kit” with vaccine information for parents, guardians and caregivers.

The kit includes information about the benefits and risks of children getting the jab, she said, adding that in general the vaccine’s protection for kids and adults around them against COVID-19 far outweigh any risk of side-effects.

Read more from the Star’s David Rider.

4:45 a.m.: Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health broke into tears in the midst of a COVID-19 modelling presentation over teleconference Wednesday.

Dr. Saqib Shahab teared up while reflecting on the province’s overloaded hospitals and intensive care units.

“It’s distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs and hospitals and I’m sorry,” he said in a press conference over the phone. “It’s a very challenging time.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Kevin Jiang.

4:30 a.m.: Belgium's government warned Thursday that the country could well be on the cusp of another major surge in COVID-19 cases despite its high vaccination rate.

Though the government recently relaxed the mandatory use of facemasks, it is again starting to encourage the population to use them to counter a rise in cases reminiscent of the first three surges of the past one and a half years.

“We are clearly in a fourth wave,” Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told the VRT network. “We will see a major increase in infections and, unfortunately, hospital admissions.”

The government has this month loosened some restrictions, including allowing for more indoor events and dropping requirements for customers to wear masks in bars.

4:20 a.m.: Geoff Waszek was wary of another pandemic-related lockdown this fall just in time for Halloween, so the owner of Candy's Costume Shop in Toronto decided to take a cautious approach to ordering this year.

But with COVID-19 cases having stabilized, Waszek was left scrambling to stock his shelves in time.

"We had to do a lot of scrounging this year, going through companies and finding what’s available," he said.

Waszek is one of many Halloween store owners who say supply chain issues, shuttered suppliers and uncertainty have hampered their recovery from a dismal 2020.

In the end, Candy's Costume Shop was able to stock about 90 per cent of its shelves, but without certain items. Licensed products like superhero and movie costumes were nearly impossible to find, so his shop has more generic items like capes and masks this year.

U.S.-based HalloweenCostumes.com, which ships directly to Canadian consumers, said many retailers are struggling as they see a roughly 50 per cent increase in year-over-year demand compared with last year, when many didn't celebrate Halloween. Spokeswoman Ashley Theis said much of the stock the company ordered won't arrive until after Halloween.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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