Progress in Fair Access to Professions: Need for Broader Mind-Set
By A Correspondent
Hon. Jean Augustine, Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner, on January 16, released A Fair Way to Go: Access to Ontario’s Regulated Professions and the Need to Embrace Newcomers in the Global Economy. The 75-page report is the culmination of five years of research and observation about Ontario’s professional licensing system, and a comprehensive assessment of regulatory bodies – the first time in Canadian history such an assessment has been conducted.
“Five years into the job, I am pleased to be able to point to many improvements in the licensing process. Most of these changes are relatively small. But they are incremental, adding up to systemic, institutional improvements,” Commissioner Augustine said. “These improvements make a difference far beyond the affected individuals. They impact our communities, our economy, our society. They open doors – for people to bring their skills and talents to Ontario, and for Ontario to connect to markets and ideas around the world.”
While reporting satisfactory progress among individual organizations in improving the licensing process, the report raises questions about collective attitudes.
“In the broader context, we need to have the right mind-set, embracing skilled newcomers as vital economic contributors, rather than assuming that their training is inherently inferior,” Augustine notes in her message opening the report.
With data indicating the growing importance of internationally trained workers – Ontario’s Ministry of Finance has projected that 100 per cent of the province’s net labour market growth will come from immigration by 2016 – A Fair Way to Go emphasizes the need to embrace professionals trained in other places.
“What I am really hoping is that today marks the beginning of a discussion: a dialogue we must have to ensure we are all making the most of the resources – the human resources – available to us,” Augustine said. “Yes, we talk like we welcome the world with open arms. We need to make sure we act like it.”
A Fair Way to Go sets out key components for a fair-access agenda going forward, for both regulatory bodies and governments at all levels.
“Ontario needs to look forward, not inward,” Augustine concluded. “Fair licensing only works when the broader mind-set is one of welcoming professionals regardless of where they were trained. In today’s fluid workforce, where we are literally competing with the entire world for skills, we simply cannot afford to be insular or parochial.”
The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) is an arm's-length agency of the Ontario government, established under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006, with a mandate to ensure transparent, objective, impartial and fair registration processes.