ICYMI ‘Game changer’: Ontario engineers remove Canadian work experience requirement for immigrants


Internationally trained engineers will no longer be required to have Canadian experience to be licensed in Ontario, as the province adopts a new law that’s meant to remove the barriers keeping skilled immigrants from working in their former professions.

On Tuesday, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), which represents the fourth largest regulated profession in the province with 85,649 members, becomes the first professional regulatory body to remove the requirement from their application criteria.

“By no longer requiring proof of Canadian experience when applying for an engineering licence, PEO will effectively ensure that qualified international applicants are licensed fairly and without undue delay so they can actively work as engineers,” said Jennifer Quaglietta, the regulator’s CEO registrar.

“Our new application process for professional engineering licences is efficient, transparent and fair, and will provide most applicants with a registration decision within six months of submitting a completed application.”

The lack of Canadian work experience has been cited as a key barrier to earning professional designations in Canada by skilled immigrants in returning to their fields of training. In 2021, amid a labour shortage during the pandemic, the Ontario government introduced new regulations to force some professional regulators to drop Canadian work-experience requirements from their licensing criteria — and to speed up processing times.

“This is, quite frankly, a game-changer for newcomers coming here, but also for businesses who are struggling with a huge labour shortage,” said Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, whose ministry also oversees training, skills development and immigration.

“Only a quarter of internationally trained immigrants in our province are working in the professions they studied for. This is an injustice to these workers, and it doesn’t take a math major to figure out the current numbers don’t add up.” He said roughly 300,000 jobs continue to go unfilled across the province every day, including thousands in engineering and it costs billions in lost productivity.

The amended Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act covers 36 non-health-related professions and trades, ranging from architecture to teaching, social work, plumbing, electricians’ work, autobody repair and hairstyling.

McNaughton said the regulatory bodies have until Dec. 2 to remove the Canadian work experience requirement, unless an exemption is granted for public health and safety reasons. Regulators will be fined up to $100,000 for non-compliance.

“We’re not going to have any regulatory body stand in our way. We want to help lift immigrants up so they can earn more money for themselves and their families and also fill labour shortages and grow our economy,” he told the Star in an interview. “There’s going to be a zero tolerance.”

Despite the removal of the Canadian experience requirement, licensing applicants to the engineering profession are still subject to a rigorous process that covers their knowledge and competencies in technical communication, project management and professional accountability. Candidates are still required to have 48-months of professional experience in engineering and pass a national professional practice exam that includes ethics, professional practice, engineering, law and professional liability.

“This multi-faceted process will continue to ensure that all professional engineers meet rigorous qualifications for licences and that only properly qualified individuals practise engineering,” said Quaglietta, adding that up to 60 per cent of the engineering licence applications each year are from internationally trained engineers.

Source: ‘Game changer’: Ontario engineers remove Canadian work experience requirement for immigrants

Immigrant families’ babies are healthier in poor neighbourhoods: study

Interesting findings, on the “healthy immigrant” effect and how that declines over time (a perverse form of integration):

In Ontario’s poorest neighbourhoods, newborns of non-refugee immigrant mothers face a lower risk of serious illness and death than those born to Canadian-born mothers, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday.

Both immigration status and living in a low-income neighbourhood are associated with worse outcomes for newborns, write researchers from the University of Toronto, two Toronto hospitals, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

However, while previous research has looked at the risk of adverse outcomes for newborns in low- versus high-income neighbourhoods, the study’s authors said it has overlooked the comparative risks for babies born to immigrant and non-immigrant parents living in similar low-income neighbourhoods.

“Efforts should be aimed at improving the overall health and well-being of all females residing in low-income areas, and at determining if the risk of adverse birth outcomes can be equitably reduced among immigrant and non-immigrant groups,” wrote co-author Jennifer Jairam.

To compare the risk of severe neonatal illness and death in immigrant- and non-immigrant-born infants, researchers looked at data on all live, in-hospital births of single babies from 20 to 42 weeks’ gestation between 2002 and 2019 in Ontario.

Ontario, they wrote, is the landing place for about 53 per cent of all female immigrants who enter Canada.

They measured severe neonatal illness or disease by looking at breathing support, intravenous fluid use, birth before 32 weeks’ gestation, very low birth weight and respiratory distress.

During the study period, there were 414,241 single babies born to 312,124 mothers aged 15 years and older living in low-income urban neighbourhoods. Of all the live births during this period, 148,050 were to mothers who had immigrated to Canada, and 266,191 to Canadian-born mothers. Most of the mothers who immigrated to Canada came from South Asia and the East Asia and Pacific regions and had lived in Ontario for less than 10 years.

Jairam and her team found the risk of severe neonatal illness and death for newborns of mothers who had immigrated to Canada was significantly lower than for newborns of Canadian-born mothers, at 49.7 per 1,000 live births compared with 65.6 per 1,000 live births.

However, they said that risk varied depending on the country of origin, with a higher risk of severe neonatal illness and death in newborns of immigrants from Jamaica and Ghana, and in those who had lived for a greater length of time in Ontario.


Rather than suggesting immigrant mothers and their newborns receive better care in Ontario than Canadian-born mothers and babies, the authors believe their findings might be explained by the “healthy immigrant” effect.

“Immigrant females who are healthier and more resilient may be most capable of migration; the immigration policy of a host country may preferentially select healthy immigrants,” wrote Dr. Joel Ray, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and one of the study’s co-authors, adding that, paradoxically, immigrants face greater barriers to health care access.

According to the researchers, the “healthy immigrant” effect wanes relative to the length of time an immigrant spends living in a new country.

Another explanation the researchers suggested is some immigrants have greater net income, educational achievement and health literacy than the average for a low-income neighbourhood.

Either way, Jairam, Ray and their co-authors said the study underscores the importance of paying attention to trends at the neighbourhood level so pregnant parents and babies in low-income communities can hope for better health outcomes.

Source: Immigrant families’ babies are healthier in poor neighbourhoods: study

Ontario regulator eases restrictions for some foreign-trained doctors to work in Canada 


Ontario’s physician regulator is making it easier for doctors who were trained in the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Britain to practise medicine in the province, as jurisdictions around the country compete to remove licensing barriers in an effort to address chronic shortages in health care.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which licenses and oversees more than 35,000 practising physicians, says it will allow doctors trained and certified in the U.S. to skip exams and begin working immediately. It’s also removing supervision and assessment requirements for family doctors from the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Britain if they have already been approved by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the national certification body, allowing them to practice independently more quickly.

Alberta recently made a similar move, with the announcement of a pilot project targeting physicians from those four countries, offering them a simpler path to licensing. Last month, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to allow physicians who were trained in the U.S. to skip certification exams and begin working immediately.

A recent Globe and Mail investigation found Canada is increasingly losing foreign-trained physicians to other countries, as other developed nations lower barriers to licensing and step up recruitment. And fewer international medical graduates are choosing to start careers in Canada: the number of international applicants to entry-level residency positions has fallen 40 per cent between 2013 and 2022.

Groups that represent foreign-trained doctors say they’re happy Canada’s regulatory colleges are beginning to remove barriers for some physicians. But they note that there are still thousands of physicians who were trained outside the country and are unable to find paths to licensing.

They argue more must be done to remove obstacles that prevent internationally trained doctors from working, at a time when staffing shortages are causing significant problems for Canadian patients, clinics and hospitals.

“We’re glad there’s going to be some fast-tracking. But there’s a very serious concern it’s excluding the vast majority of people who come from other countries,” said Rosemary Pawliuk, a lawyer and spokesperson for the Society of Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad, an advocacy group for foreign-trained physicians.

“It’s still very much a system that rewards white, Commonwealth countries. And if you don’t come from one of those, the barriers are still very much up for you.”

Of the 5,948 new physicians who were registered in Ontario in 2021, 296 came from Saudi Arabia, making it the province’s top origin country for foreign-trained doctors. Ireland produced the second highest number, at 284. It was followed by Britain (133), India (129), Egypt (88), the U.S. (82) and Australia (62).

The college was unable to estimate how many more physicians may be able to begin working in Ontario under the new measures announced Tuesday.

Census records estimate that there are nearly 13,000 foreign-trained physicians living in Ontario but not working in their field because of licensing hurdles and other barriers. A report produced for the Ontario College of Family Physicians suggests nearly 15 per cent of the province’s population, or about 2.2 million people, is without regular access to a family doctor.

Shae Greenfield, a spokesperson for the CPSO, said physicians from the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Britain are being given preferential treatment because their medical training is considered the most similar to Canada’s. He said the idea that these people are particularly well suited to the Canadian system is supported by the experiences of senior Canadian physicians, who supervise foreign-trained doctors when they first enter the health care system here.

Yet there is significant disagreement within the Canadian medical community over rules that control who can and can’t be licensed, which some say discriminate against physicians who were trained elsewhere. Ms. Pawliuk argued regulators are restricting doctors from some countries as part of a policy to control health care spending by rationing the supply of physicians.

“It’s almost like you’ve got a bucket, and they’re pouring water into it, but they’ve ensured there’s a lot of holes in it so the bucket never fills,” she said.

Canadian and U.S.-trained medical graduates continue to get preference for residency positions, leaving vacancies that students from other countries could be filling, Ms. Pawliuk said. Across Canada this year, 268 family medicine residency positions went unfilled. That was the highest number ever, according to data from the Canadian Resident Matching Service.

Makini McGuire-Brown, a Jamaican-educated physician who chairs an advocacy group called Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario, said foreign doctors remain an underutilized workforce in Canada. She said the announcement by the Ontario regulatory college follows a pattern of regulators favouring certain “approved jurisdictions” over others.

“The CPSO’s new policy is discriminatory and is the continuation of a pattern,” she said. “Instead of the CPSO improving upon age-old discrimination against less Eurocentric countries, they continue the trend.”

Source: Ontario regulator eases restrictions for some foreign-trained doctors to work in Canada 

An Ottawa-Ontario turf war hobbled efforts to bring in skilled workers. Here’s what ended it

Of interest:

Around the world, ideology drives the politics of immigration by pushing people apart.

Across Canada, geography drives a deeper wedge between rival governments in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park.

Over the past decade, an undeclared turf war has hobbled Ontario’s attempt to recruit skilled workers. The federal government refused to give Canada’s biggest province a significant say in who came here.

Now, Ontario is finally getting a bigger role in selecting skilled immigrants. And Ottawa has belatedly declared peace in our time.

Just in time.

This month, a federal Liberal cabinet minister and his Progressive Conservative counterpart in Ontario agreed to double the skilled immigrants selected by the province for rapid resettlement, matching workers with work. By 2025, Ontario will get to select 18,000 skilled workers, primarily in the health-care, construction and hi-tech fields ― up from 9,000 in 2021 and just 1,000 a decade ago.

How did it happen?

The rise of inflation, the risk of recession, and the recurrence of labour shortages forced Canada’s two biggest governments, at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill, to work together after years of talking past each other.

But it’s not just the economic environment. The political climate has also brought the rival governments together to collaborate.

Two erstwhile enemies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford, now meet almost monthly to cut cheques and cut ribbons for new factory investments. Against that backdrop of bonhomie, Monte McNaughton, one of Ontario’s most politically astute cabinet ministers, went one step further to bridge the partisan divide with his federal counterpart.

As the province’s minister of labour, McNaughton has long been a linchpin of Ford’s outreach strategy with union leaders. But he also has special responsibility for immigration and training, so when Sean Fraser was sworn in as the federal minister two years ago, McNaughton quickly texted an old pal to get his phone number.

That pal was Katie Telford, the PM’s chief of staff, with whom McNaughton has kept in touch since they served together as teenage pages in the legislature. Armed with Fraser’s number, McNaughton disarmed the new Liberal minister by dropping Telford’s name ― proof that he could work across ideological and geographical lines.

“I got his number from Katie and got ahold of him,” McNaughton told me this week. “I said to him, ‘This is not about politics whatsoever. We have a serious challenge in terms of the labour shortage … so let’s grow the numbers and actually do something that is going to make a meaningful difference on the ground.’”

They’ve been talking and texting ever since ― without political aides, without bureaucratic advisers, just the two of them. They started far apart, because the inherited challenge wasn’t just about bipartisanship but bilateralism.

Historically, the federal government was accustomed to unilateral action while Ontario contented itself with inaction. By contrast, Quebec had led the way decades ago, winning shared jurisdiction on immigration on the strength of its special French-language needs; meanwhile, Western provinces had quietly persuaded Ottawa to let them select thousands of immigrants to meet local labour market needs amid growing economies.

Ontario had never bothered to ask in the past. As the jobs went West, so did the talent.

A decade ago, seven out of 10 immigrants to Western provinces were in the “economic” class, compared to barely half of those coming to Ontario. By the time Queen’s Park woke up to that reality, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in Ottawa were unwilling to help.

“We’re not interested in devolving services to the junior level of government,” then-immigration minister Jason Kenney told me at the time.

Now, with the roles reversed ― there’s a federal Liberal minister in Ottawa, while his Ontario counterpart is a PC ― the roadblocks have been removed and a back channel reopened.

“I give full credit to Fraser,” McNaughton said in our interview. “We were more desperate than other provinces from a labour shortage perspective. We were receiving, as a percentage, less (skilled nominees) than any other province in the country.”

For his part, Fraser says he never saw it as a turf battle. The economic stakes are too high for political grudges or bureaucratic games.

A mismatched labour market “is one of the challenges that keeps me up at night,” Fraser told me at a recent Democracy Forum at Toronto Metropolitan University (where he also talked about crossing party lines to get advice from ex-PM Brian Mulroney).

If workers end up in the wrong regions for the wrong jobs, while skilled jobs are going begging in businesses elsewhere, all Canadians will pay the price of a delayed recovery and missed opportunity, he argued.

“I think this was a unique opportunity for us to increase (Ontario’s) provincial nominee program levels,” Fraser said at the TMU event I co-hosted last week, adding coyly: “Before too long we’re going to show up in Ontario.”

Days later, both ministers did indeed show up in Toronto to announce their landmark agreement. Ontario’s biggest employers promptly hailed the deal as an economic breakthrough that ruptures previous roadblocks.

Despite the doubling of the program, the new numbers are still small and the progress largely symbolic. But it is a strategic first step.

Immigration always has the potential to drive people apart. Consider the continuing tumult in the U.S. and U.K.

Yet two Canadian cabinet ministers quietly came together, in a bipartisan and bilateral way. They tried to work it out, so that the economics would turn out better for workers and workplaces alike.

Small numbers, yes. But no small feat.

Source: An Ottawa-Ontario turf war hobbled efforts to bring in skilled workers. Here’s what ended it

‘Scumbag’ Ontario employers to be slapped with hefty new fines for withholding workers’ passports, vows labour minister

Good, but the proof will lie with enforcement or lack thereof. The decline in inspections over the last five years is not an encouraging sign:

Ontario employers who withhold vulnerable foreign workers’ passports will face stiff penalties under proposed new labour laws that aim to introduce the highest maximum fines in the country.

If passed, the legislation to be introduced Monday would result in penalties of $100,000 to $200,000 for each passport withheld from a worker — a significant leap from the current fines, which range from just $250 to $1000.

“It’s totally disgusting that any human being would ever be treated the way we see sometimes,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton told the Star. “Which is why I’ve made this a top priority for myself and for our ministry.”

The proposed reforms would mean if employers are convicted of retaining documents for multiple workers, they could face cumulative fines ranging into the millions.

Withholding foreign nationals’ travel documents is already illegal under provincial employment laws, but heftier fines are “one piece of the puzzle” in a ministry crackdown on labour trafficking, McNaughton said.

Withholding workers’ travel documents is illegal — and widespread, advocates say

The new legislation comes in the wake of several recent labour exploitation cases that have resulted in criminal prosecutions. Earlier this month, York Regional Police announced it had identified 64 Mexican nationals who had been forced to live and work in “deplorable” conditions. Police have laid charges against the workers’ alleged abusers under human trafficking laws.

In that example, the labour ministry’s new penalty framework would also allow inspectors to slap recruiters with fines of up to $6.4 million for withholding passports, said McNaughton.

While retaining workers’ travel documents is coercive and illegal, advocates have long said the practice is widespread — and called for more proactive inspections to prevent violations of the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (EPFNA).

“The profound weakness of the legislation is that it depends upon individual workers to bring forward complaints,” notes a 2016 report authored by lawyer and migrant labour expert Fay Faraday.

Last year, the ministry investigated 189 claims under EPFNA, uncovered 25 violations and identified more than $100,000 of unpaid entitlements owed to workers.

Inspections down dramatically since 2017

Ministry of Labour data shows the number of inspections conducted to identifyoverall workplace violations such as wage theft has dropped significantly in recent years, from 3,500 in 2017 to 215 last year.

The number of prosecutions for employment standards violations also dropped to 34 from 233 over the same time period.

In a statement, the ministry said its employment standards officers have supported the government’s pandemic response over the past two years, including “providing essential businesses with compliance assistance” and enforcing lockdown regulations.

“While the number of inspections the ministry has been able to complete has been impacted by the pandemic, we have continued to investigate every claim and review every complaint reported to us.”

Labour minister’s focus is on cracking down on ‘scumbags’

McNaughton said the proposed new fines will complement the ministry’s new anti-trafficking unit that has so far initiated 45 investigations and recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for over 3,500 workers.

“I know the changes will only work if you catch these scumbags,” he said. “My focus is cracking down on the bad guys who are breaking the law, and my goal is to fine them as much as possible.”

In addition to facing so-called administrative penalties for withholding travel documents, individuals who are prosecuted in court under the proposed labour reforms could face additional penalties of up to $500,000 or a year of jail — up from the current maximum fine of $50,000. Corporations would be liable for penalties of up to $1 million.

With labour exploitation attracting growing attention, the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has said it believes the labour ministry is the right body to lead enforcement activities. The advocacy group has raised concern about the involvement of police and border authorities, particularly where vulnerable workers are at risk of deportation.

Proposed legislation includes higher fines, expanded worker protections

Other changes to be introduced Monday include higher fines for corporations convicted of health and safety violations, raising fines to $2 million from $1.5 million.

The move follows an increase in maximum fines for individuals who break workplace safety laws, brought in last year.

The proposed new legislation will also contain a number of other initiatives recently announced by the ministry, including expanded cancer coverage for firefighters at the workers’ compensation board and protections for remote workers during mass terminations.

Source: ‘Scumbag’ Ontario employers to be slapped with hefty new fines for withholding workers’ passports, vows labour minister

Ontario colleges move to protect international students, before and after they come to Canada

Needed, but the whole system incentivizes recruitment and the funding that provides to public and private institutions and any consultants involved:

In the face of growing concerns about the treatment of international students in this country, publicly funded colleges in Ontario are bringing in a new set of rules meant to protect those coming from abroad to study.

The rules will apply to, among other things, the information and marketing given to prospective students and the training of those recruiting them.

The new standards come as international students have increasingly raised concerns over the Canadian education they’re being sold and the hard financial and employment realities they find upon arriving here.

“There was a real need for greater clarity in the information we give them at the start of the process, when they’re with us and when they leave and have to navigate work permits and all that sort of thing,” Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, told the Star.

“The motivating factor for us is making sure that our international students are well taken care of.”

The 12-page standards of practice for international education cover different areas — from program marketing and admission; to requiring recruiters to complete a recognized training program; to comprehensive orientation and post-graduation services to assist international students’ settlement.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, there were 807,750 international students in Canada at all levels of study last year, up 43 per cent from five years ago. Indian students accounted for 40 per cent of the overall international enrolment, followed by Chinese students, at 12 per cent.

More than half of those international students study in Ontario and an increasing number are enrolled in provincial colleges, because their programs are generally cheaper and shorter than universities, which let the students obtain work permits — and potentially permanent residence — sooner.

A provincial government audit found international students represented 30 per cent of the total student enrolment of Ontario’s public colleges and that their tuition fees amounted to $1.7 billion and 68 per cent of Ontario public colleges’ total tuition fee revenue in 2020.

Twenty-three of the 24 members of Colleges Ontario have signed on to begin the compliance process immediately. All are expected to be compliant with the standards by June 2024 through a review process. Seneca College did not sign on because it’s going to put out something similar for both its domestic and international students, said Franklin.

There had been no rules to guide the sector in serving international students. The new protocols help set minimum industry standards and tougher enforcement guidelines.

“Some colleges are doing some things better or differently than others. It would be important to standardize that so international students had a really clear sense of what the offering was when they came to Ontario, no matter which door they chose to walk through,” Franklin said.

As the international student population grew, she said, it started to attract some unscrupulous recruitment agents who have provided misleading information to prospective students.

“So if they were being directed into programs that didn’t have as clear a labour market outcome as they wanted, that’s a problem. And it’s a problem for Ontario’s economy as well,” Franklin said. “One of the things we wanted to be sure of (was) our agents were well trained as they were representing us on the ground in India particularly, but in every other country that we operate in that students were getting clarity around the offering.”

Colleges that signed on to the standards are required to ensure their marketing materials are consistent with the law and not misleading, including “not guaranteeing any academic, immigration or employment outcome,” to help students make informed choices.

Administrators must provide accurate information about student responsibilities and student life in Ontario, including the types and cost of accommodation and work opportunities while monitoring the performance of their recruitment agents.

Under the new rules, orientation and welcoming initiatives are to be offered to international students both prior to and following arrival, including information about housing and residence options; health, safety and mental well-being; learning assistance resources; immigration pathways and processes; and post-graduation support.

An institution is required to terminate contracts with any education agent who has been involved in any “serious, deliberate or ongoing conduct that is false, misleading, deceptive or in breach of the law,” the guidelines said.

These standards also extend to private colleges in so-called Public-Private College Partnerships, or PPP, where taxpayer-funded colleges provide curriculum at a fee to private career colleges, which hire their own instructors to deliver the academic programs. Graduates from the for-profit private colleges then get a public college credential.

As of June 2021, 11 of the 24 Ontario public colleges were partnered with 12 for-profit private career colleges, with a total of more than 24,000 international students enrolled under these arrangements — up from 14,698 in 2018.

The 2021 provincial audit found that some of these partnerships did not uphold enrolment requirements and that their quality assurance and student support processes could be strengthened.

Franklin said it’s important that the private partners are part of the process and being held accountable to ensure international students are welcomed and their interests are protected and well looked after.

“There’s a lot of value propositions right now for international students to choose Canada, and we would never want to put any of that at risk by suggesting to them that we are less than any of those things,” she said.

“Our brand in the world and the continuation of our standing as a safe, welcoming, great place to be is at stake in all of this. We’re very mindful of that.”

The new rules will be incorporated this summer into the existing audit for compliance by the Ontario College Quality Assurance Services, an oversight body of credential validations and quality standards within the sector.

Source: Ontario colleges move to protect international students, before and after they come to Canada

Federal government paying to move migrants from Quebec to Ontario

Burden sharing!

The federal government transported almost all of the migrants entering the country through Roxham Road to other provinces over the weekend, said Quebec Minister of Immigration Christine Fréchette on Tuesday, calling the wave of relocations a “new approach” from Ottawa.

Three hundred seventy-two of the 380 migrants who arrived in Quebec by that route on Saturday and Sunday were relocated, largely to Ontario, the minister said in a scrum in Quebec City on Tuesday.

She saluted Ottawa for fulfilling the province’s demand for help with the recent influx of asylum seekers through the irregular border crossing south of Montreal and called on Justin Trudeau’s government to continue.

“We are starting to see results,” said Ms. Fréchette. “We’re very happy with that.”

The federal government has been relocating Roxham Road migrants regularly because of capacity constraints in Quebec since last summer, and would not confirm whether the spike in relocations was a new policy or a blip. Since June, more than 5,300 migrants have been relocated from the province, including some 500 to Windsor, Ont., and roughly 2,700 to Niagara Falls, Ont.

A federal source said this is part of a long-standing initiative, paid for by Ottawa, but did not clarify whether the number of people being relocated outside Quebec have been expanded. The source added that people who do not want to relocate can stay in Quebec.

The Globe and Mail is not naming the source because they were not authorized to speak about the matter.

Ms. Fréchette called on the federal government to maintain the recent heightened rate of removals, repeating her government’s position that Quebec’s “welcoming capacity” has been surpassed. Roughly 60,000 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec last year, double the annual number from before the pandemic, the minister has said.

That has sparked a fierce political debate in the province about how to manage the situation, with the opposition Parti Québécois tabling a motion in the National Assembly recently calling on the government to “close” the border crossing.

Federal opposition parties have also repeatedly called for a review of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, a long-standing pact that requires border agents from each country to turn away asylum seekers from the other if they present themselves at official land border crossings.

Roxham Road, along the border between New York State and Quebec’s Eastern Townships, has become the primary route for irregular entries into Canada in recent years. The RCMP intercepted 34,478 asylum seekers who did not use official ports of entry to enter Quebec between January and November of 2022, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data, compared with just 316 in the rest of the country.

On Tuesday, Ms. Fréchette called the weekend’s mass relocations a “first step” that could potentially come to involve other provinces receiving asylum seekers from Roxham Road. She said the federal government recently booked 500 hotel rooms to house migrants in Ontario as a sign of seriousness.

“I don’t have information about what happened on Monday, but we are expecting that this new approach persists,” she said.

In the future, she added, her government is asking that the share of asylum seekers who stay in Quebec be kept around 22 or 23 per cent, in keeping with the province’s demographic weight within Canada.

Roxham Road has become one of the stickiest issues in Quebec politics as Premier François Legault’s nationalist Coalition Avenir Québec government has sought to manage public unease with the increase in irregular migration.

On Tuesday, Mr. Legault met with U.S. ambassador to Canada David Cohen to ask for a speedy renegotiation of the agreement governing asylum seekers between the countries.

“I said to him, ‘I don’t understand why it’s taking this long to settle with the United States.’ What we’re asking is that the Safe Third Country Agreement be applied to all ports of entry, including Roxham.”

Source: Federal government paying to move migrants from Quebec to Ontario

And the article in Le Devoir:

La ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, Christine Fréchette, s’est réjouie mardi du fait que presque la totalité des demandeurs d’asile ayant traversé la frontière par le chemin Roxham la fin de semaine dernière ont été envoyés en Ontario.

Parmi les personnes qui ont emprunté cette voie de passage irrégulier samedi et dimanche, seules 8 sur 380 sont restées au Québec, a affirmé Mme Fréchette en mêlée de presse. « On est très contents de ça et on espère que ça va se maintenir dans le temps », a-t-elle dit.

Récemment, « 500 chambres additionnelles » ont été réservées par Ottawa en Ontario afin d’accueillir des demandeurs d’asile, a-t-elle affirmé.

La ministre Fréchette soutient que « la capacité d’accueil du Québec a été dépassée ». « On demande à ce que la proportion des demandeurs d’asile qui restent au Québec équiva[ille] au poids politique du Québec à l’intérieur du Canada, a-t-elle ajouté. Donc on parle de 22 à 23 %. Là, on serait dans des eaux acceptables. »

Christine Fréchette admet toutefois que le dossier sera « réellement réglé » par une renégociation de l’entente entre le Canada et les États-Unis sur les tiers pays sûrs. Le chemin Roxham, situé au sud de Montréal, n’est pas soumis à l’accord, car il s’agit d’une voie de passage irrégulier. Un total de 39 171 demandeurs d’asile y ont été interceptés l’an dernier.

En juillet dernier, Jean Boulet, qui était alors le ministre québécois de l’Immigration, avait salué la décision du gouvernement fédéral de rediriger en Ontario une centaine de demandeurs d’asile entrés de façon irrégulière au Québec.

Le bureau du ministre fédéral de l’Immigration, des Réfugiés et de la Citoyenneté, Sean Fraser, dit s’adapter depuis l’été dernier en fonction de la capacité du Québec et de ses besoins. « On reconnaît qu’au Québec, c’est un gros fardeau », a dit au Devoir Émilie Simard, porte-parole du ministre.

Legault et l’ambassadeur américain

Plus tôt mardi, le premier ministre québécois, François Legault, a dit qu’il continuerait à faire pression sur son homologue canadien, Justin Trudeau, afin qu’il « accélère » les négociations avec les États-Unis concernant l’accord sur les tiers pays sûrs.

Il a d’ailleurs profité de sa rencontre le jour même avec l’ambassadeur américain au Canada, David L. Cohen, pour déplorer le fait que le chemin Roxham n’est pas inclus dans l’entente.

Sur Twitter, M. Cohen s’est réjoui d’avoir pu discuter des « objectifs des États-Unis et du Canada en matière d’énergie propre, de commerce et de nos frontières communes ».

Source: La ministre Fréchette se réjouit du transfert de demandeurs d’asile en Ontario

Métis Nation of Ontario to determine who is a Métis citizen with …

Of interest:

Métis Nation of Ontario members are voting to determine who the organization should recognize as a Métis citizen.

Some 28,000 members across the province are able to cast their “yes” or “no” vote in a plebiscite, as to whether or not the Métis Nation should continue to represent around 5,400 people with incomplete documentation about their ancestry.

In 2003, a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision determined Métis people have rights under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, which pertains to Indigenous treaty rights.

Métis Nation of Ontario president Margaret Froh said that decision meant Métis people were recognized in the same way as First Nations and Inuit people.

In 1993, Ontario conservation officers charged Steve and Roddy Powley, both members of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, for harvesting a bull moose outside of the city.

The Supreme Court determined the Powleys could exercise a Métis, and Indigenous, right to hunt.

In 2019, that recognition from the Supreme Court of Canada led to the country’s first Métis self-government agreement.

With that recognition, Froh said it’s time for the Métis Nation of Ontario to take the next step.

“One of the very first things that any Indigenous people do when they are pushing for that recognition of their inherent rights is they determine who it is that they represent,” Froh said.

Source: Métis Nation of Ontario to determine who is a Métis citizen with …

Ontario gives OK for nursing college to expedite international nurse registration


Ontario’s minister of health has told the province’s nursing college to go ahead with regulatory changes that could get thousands more internationally trained nurses into practice more quickly.

Sylvia Jones directed the College of Nurses of Ontario last month to develop plans to more quickly register internationally educated professionals as staffing shortages have led to temporary emergency department closures across the province.

Among the college’s proposals was allowing internationally trained nurses to be temporarily registered while they go through the process of full registration, such as completing education and an exam.

It also proposed to make it easier for about 5,300 non-practising nurses living in Ontario to return to the workforce, if they want to. Current rules say a nurse must have practised within the last three years to be reinstated, but that could be removed.

Jones has now told the college to draft those amendments to regulations right away.

“It is my expectation that should these amendments be approved by the government, that the college will immediately begin registering both (internationally educated nurses) and other applicants who will benefit from these changes,” she wrote to them in a letter obtained by The Canadian Press.

The college has said the changes could potentially help the 5,970 active international applicants currently living in Ontario, but Jones has asked the regulator specifically how many nurses it expects will benefit.

The nursing college had also said that with temporary registrations, it could change rules to only revoke a temporary certificate after two failed exam attempts, instead of the one attempt nurses are currently allowed. On that measure, the ministry said it will rely on the college’s expertise about what exactly should be included in the regulatory amendments it is now drafting.

Temporarily registered nurses have to be monitored by a registered practical nurse, a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner.

Jones has also given approval to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for it to create a temporary, three-month registration for physicians licensed in other provinces.

That college had also highlighted for the minister a need for practice ready assessments, which would allow internationally educated physicians to be rapidly assessed over a 12-week period of supervision and direct observation. Such programs are already used in seven other provinces and are designed to deploy physicians to underserved communities and provide a path to licensing, the college wrote to the minister.

“CPSO urges government to take immediate steps to implement a PRA program for Ontario,” it wrote.

“With government funding and co-ordination among key system partners, a program could be implemented immediately and begin injecting a new supply of (internationally educated physicians) into the system as early as spring 2023 and onwards.”

Jones responded that the ministry is “looking carefully at the concept.”

Source: Ontario gives OK for nursing college to expedite international nurse registration

Le français sera-t-il bientôt une langue parmi d’autres en Ontario ?

Likely given immigration patterns:

Les derniers chiffres du recensement 2021 ont de quoi faire craindre la minorisation accentuée de la communauté francophone en Ontario. Bien que le nombre de francophones demeure relativement stable, la proportion de francophones (Première langue officielle parlée), par rapport à la population générale, ne fait que baisser, passant de 3,8 % en 2016 à 3,4 % en 2021 — ce qui représente la plus forte baisse depuis 2001.

À cet effet, déjà, plusieurs signes montrent une reconfiguration du régime linguistique canadien. Pendant que l’on tergiverse encore sur les nécessités du renforcement du français au sein de la Loi sur les langues officielles, aucune politique conséquente n’est mise en place en immigration.

On peine toujours autant à délivrer les visas aux étudiants francophones intéressés à venir séjourner au pays. Aucune mesure musclée ne vient encadrer et promouvoir l’immigration francophone à l’extérieur du Québec. Aucun plan n’est réalisé pour attirer ces derniers, comme en témoignent les statistiques sur la provenance des nouveaux immigrants (2016-2021).

Le dernier recensement nous apprend que 80,6 % des immigrants « choisissent » l’anglais comme première langue officielle parlée. Mais jusqu’à quel point ce choix n’est-il pas prévisible lorsqu’on constate qu’aucun effort n’a été consenti par le gouvernement pour atteindre le quart du seuil minimal d’immigration francophone internationale souhaité par la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) et plusieurs autres acteurs du monde francophone au Canada ? Cette baisse importante du prorata de francophones par rapport à la population générale en Ontario doit être analysée pour ce qu’elle est : le résultat d’une politique ratée des instances fédérale et provinciale.

Si le recensement montre bien que les francophones vieillissent et que c’est là un des facteurs explicatifs de la baisse de leur poids démographique au Canada, cette tendance n’est pourtant pas nouvelle. Elle est observable depuis des décennies, et le plan du ministre Dion (2003) cherchait déjà à en contrer les effets.

Malheureusement, les dernières données montrent au contraire que l’attractivité du français est en perte de vitesse partout au Canada. Là où cette langue est minoritaire, le français tend de plus en plus à n’être perçu que comme une langue de communication, un outil, et de moins en moins comme un vecteur culturel, en Ontario notamment.

S’il fallait encore s’en convaincre, on peut percevoir dans les résultats de ce recensement la sortie du régime de dualité linguistique traditionnelle (anglais-français) et l’entrée de plain-pied dans un régime pluraliste où le français (hors Québec) semble de plus en plus qu’une langue parmi d’autres.

Seulement 1,3 % des ménages ontariens parlent régulièrement le français à la maison ; seulement 1,9 % parlent le français et l’anglais à égalité. Et 0,1 % des ménages parlent régulièrement le français et une langue tierce, contre 18,8 % l’anglais et une langue tierce. Un lent mais profond glissement s’opère du français vers l’anglais et les langues tierces (qui représentent désormais 8 % des langues parlées régulièrement au foyer).

La langue française et ses cultures francophones semblent ainsi de plus en plus déliées l’une de l’autre et ont de plus en plus de mal à s’incarner dans des milieux concrets. Cela a pour effet de fragiliser la transmission du français et la force de ses institutions francophones, notamment scolaires (de la petite enfance à l’Université). Faut-il rappeler le saccage du fait français à l’Université Laurentienne ?

Ces statistiques ne reflètent-elles pas la place véritable que l’on souhaite donner au français dans l’espace canadien ? Une place malheureusement de plus en plus symbolique qui témoigne, d’une part, des exigences d’un marché du travail anglo-dominant et, de l’autre, du manque de volonté politique du gouvernement fédéral à assurer la pérennité et le développement des communautés francophones au pays. Le temps est désormais aux solutions audacieuses.

Source: Le français sera-t-il bienitôt une langue parmi d’autres en Ontario ?