NEWS BEYOND OUR BORDERS
Institute for Canadian Citizenship report notes barriers for international engineering graduates
Engineering Dimensions - In September, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) released a report on the barriers faced by international engineering graduates (IEGs). The ICC is a national charity that delivers programs and special projects and publishes reports on citizenship and inclusion.
Its new report, Closed Shops: Making Canada’s Engineering Profession More Inclusive of International Engineers, examines Canada’s immigration system and reviews the licensure process, with an aim to identify ways IEGs might face unique barriers and makes recommendations for change.
Its recommendations are aimed at Engineers Canada, provincial engineering regulators, immigration officials, policy-makers, fairness commissioners, employers, universities, settlement support agencies and IEGs.
In its examination of licensure and employment processes, the report’s findings suggest a systemic bias and suggests this is due to an overly complex and misunderstood system that is not consistent from province to province. Finally, it suggests streamlining processes and reducing information gaps.
PEO responds to the Fairness Commissioner
Engineering Dimensions - While acknowledging that Professional Engineers Ontario’s (PEO) 12-month Canadian work experience requirement for all applicants for licensure may not strictly comply with the provisions of the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, the association expressed confidence to the Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) that the requirement is necessary when considering its legislated mandate to protect the public interest.
Currently, all applicants wishing to obtain their licence to practise engineering in Ontario must have a minimum one year of Canadian experience under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer. The OFC conducts annual reviews of the registration practices of all regulatory bodies in Ontario, including PEO.
In a March 15, 2018, letter to PEO—and in subsequent face-to-face meetings in April and July—Fairness Commissioner Grant Jameson stated that PEO’s mandatory Canadian experience fails to meet an Ontario Human Rights Commission policy requiring “regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement.”
As a result, Jameson stated that PEO is not living up to its duties in the Fair Registration Practices Code of the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act.
In a letter to Jameson, PEO Interim Registrar Johnny Zuccon, P.Eng., FEC, responded to Jameson’s concern, noting that PEO has a mandate to protect public safety. He also noted all 12 Canadian engineering regulators have universal licensing requirements to ease inter-provincial mobility.
Jameson noted that PEO’s rationale behind the one year of Canadian experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer—reaffirmed in a 2015 PEO Council statement—is “insufficient,” as “it focuses on the importance of an applicant receiving validation from an individual already licensed by PEO and does not demonstrate openness to alternative methods for applicants to prove they are fully competent to practise in Ontario.”
Restoring public confidence in regulators
Engineering Dimensions - In Canada and around the world, professional regulators are facing increased scrutiny by both the public and governments for perceptions they’re doing too little to protect the public and too much to guard their own.
Such was the warning delivered to delegates of an interactive governance training workshop on September 17-18 in Toronto, hosted by the Ontario College of Pharmacists and organized by the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR).
The solution for regulators, according to workshop facilitators, is to create trust by building competence in their governance and processes and being honest, accountable and consistent in their regulatory decisions—especially around discipline.
Skepticism around professional regulators gained public prominence in both the United Kingdom and the United States in the 2000s.
In the UK, it was prompted by the public’s horror around serial killer doctor Harold Shipman, who killed at least 250 patients with lethal doses of morphine. The fact that Shipman’s deadly actions continued for years without drawing any legal or regulatory attention prompted the UK government to create the Professional Standards Authority (PSA)—an arm’s length “regulator of regulators” that now oversees the UK’s health professions.
In the US, several massive corporate frauds—Enron, WorldCom and Tyco—cast doubt on the public accounting profession and ultimately brought passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that set new requirements for public accounting firms. More recently, in Canada, there have been several media reports questioning regulators’ perceived ability—and will—to protect the public.
Workshop participants reviewed recent headlines about Ontario regulators of doctors, dentists and pharmacists issuing secret cautions to practitioners that were hidden from the public, as well as about the College of Nurses of Ontario, who came under fire for their dealings with serial killer and former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer.
These and other stories raise questions about all self-regulated professions: Who are they protecting? The public or themselves? The key to building trust, according to the facilitators, is competent regulation, and honesty and transparency in regulatory decision making.