- What is the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)?
- When did the AIT come into force?
- What is the scope of the AIT?
- What is the purpose of Chapter 7 – Labour Mobility?
- Who is covered under AIT’s labour mobility provisions? Are there any occupations that are not covered?
- The AIT has existed since 1994 – what has changed recently and how will those changes affect workers?
- What sorts of consultations were done by the jurisdictions that signed the AIT?
- How are the wages and salaries of professionals and skilled tradespeople affected?
- Why do we need to open the doors to in-migration from other provinces? Don’t we have enough skilled trades and professionals?
- What is the role of regulating bodies?
- How does this agreement affect certified tradespersons?
- How does the province ensure only qualified tradespeople and professionals are able to practice in New Brunswick (NB)?
- What does a certified worker need to provide to a NB regulatory body to become certified in the province?
- Is the application process simplified?
- Do workers holding certifications from other provinces or territories have to write additional exams, undertake additional training or fulfil other requirements prior to becoming certified in NB?
- Are there any registration costs for certification for a trade or professional worker moving to NB?
- Can a worker use the same title they used in their home province?
- What if an occupation is not regulated in the worker’s home province or territory, but he or she wants to move to NB to work, and the occupation is regulated in NB?
- What if an occupation is regulated in another province or territory, but it is not in NB?
- Are workers able to upgrade to higher level occupations when they come to NB? What if the standards elsewhere are lower than those in NB?
- What if a worker from another province has been disciplined by their regulatory authority for unprofessional conduct – can they move to NB and start over?
- What if a worker from another province has a conditional or restricted license? Are they able to do more in NB than they did in their home province or territory?
- Are NB professional and trades certifications accepted in all other provinces and territories?
- Are there any provisions in the AIT to resolve disputes over labour mobility issues?
- Can immigrants become entitled to practice their trade or profession under the AIT?
- Which group or groups have been responsible for leading the application of the labour mobility Chapter of the AIT?
The AIT is an intergovernmental trade agreement signed by Canadian First Ministers. Its purpose is to reduce and eliminate, to the extent possible, barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investment within Canada and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market. The AIT focuses on 11 specific sectors, one of which is labour mobility (Chapter 7).
The AIT has been in force since 1995, but there were amendments to the labour mobility provisions that were agreed upon in January, 2009. These amendments have been ratified by all provinces and territories and are in effect.
Labour mobility is only one aspect of the AIT. The agreement is comprehensive and contains chapters on procurement, investment, labour mobility, consumer-related measures and standards, agricultural and food goods, alcoholic beverages, natural resources processing, communications, transportation, and environmental protection.
The purpose of Chapter 7 is to eliminate or reduce labour mobility barriers to ensure that any worker certified in a regulated occupation in any Canadian province or territory will be granted a certification for the same occupation in any other province or territory. Chapter 7 applies to measures adopted around residency requirements for workers as a condition of access to employment opportunities or as a condition of certification.
Labour mobility provisions apply only to those occupations for which provincial certification is available or required, based on an assessment that certifies the worker as qualified based on provincial standards. About 15 per cent of workers in Canada work in occupations where a license or certificate is available or required.
The AIT does not cover occupations for which there is no certification or licensing requirements. For example, retail and service employees, restaurant servers, administrative and clerical workers, and many other non-certified workers are not covered under the AIT.
Educational qualifications to perform an occupation, such as a degree or certificate awarded by a post-secondary institution, may differ from occupational certification and licensing requirements, which are imposed by a regulatory body.
Recognizing there were some shortfalls in the original Labour Mobility Chapter, the Council of the Federation agreed to amend and strengthen the provisions in Chapter 7 of the AIT. Amendments were finalized and signed by the First Ministers on January 19, 2009.
Changes to Chapter 7:
- Demand elimination of local residency requirements.
- Mandate certification of workers based on previous certification in another Canadian jurisdiction.
- Mandate that certification practices for workers from other jurisdictions be transparent, objective and impartial.
- Require regulators to provide publicly accessible certification information to applicants from other jurisdictions.
- Strengthen the dispute resolution processes within the AIT, so that there are real penalties for non-compliance.
It is expected that with these changes, workers will have the ability to move where the work opportunities may be.
Canadian provinces and territories have worked together for years on labour mobility and consulted widely with professional and occupational associations. They developed and distributed a common communication package in 2008 to advise stakeholders of planned changes and implications for regulatory bodies.
Chapter 7 strengthens mobility in terms of recognition of certification. It does not guarantee anyone a job in any province or an increase in wages or salaries. People who want to move to another province will compete for jobs as they always have.
The average age of New Brunswickers is now over 40 years old. Over the next ten years, many of our professionals and skilled tradespeople will begin retiring, creating many openings across all fields of work.
While our post-secondary education and training system is preparing a new generation of New Brunswick students for the workforce, the number of projected retirements exceeds the number of students by a significant margin.
Interprovincial migration is one of the best ways to meet NB’s future labour market needs.
Provincial regulatory bodies maintain and monitor the certification requirements within the legislation, governing admission to the professions and ensuring occupational standards are met. They continue to maintain codes of ethics and administer discipline.
Regulatory bodies are required to:
- implement and follow certification practices for workers from other provinces and territories that are transparent and fair;
- eliminate barriers to labour mobility for workers from other provinces and territories and refrain from creating new ones; and
- provide publicly accessible certification information to applicants that is clear, understandable and timely.
- require additional significant training, examination, work experience or assessment from workers who are certified for the same occupation in another province or territory; and
- require local residency as a condition to apply for or maintain certification in NB.
Communications between regulatory bodies in each province will help to reconcile any remaining barriers to mobility. As standards evolve over time, they will also ensure no new barriers are created.
A large number of skilled tradespersons practicing in Canada are already certified through a national standard known as “Red Seal.” This standard supports skilled workers, enabling them to practice their trade wherever there is demand for their skills.
Red Seal certified workers are automatically recognized as qualified in NB. Other trades workers are recognized as well as long as the trade is regulated in the other province or territory.
Each province and territory has the right to set its own standards for the occupation in question and that will not be compromised by the AIT.
The standards for regulated occupations in Canada have a high degree of commonality. Where they do not, according to the provisions of the AIT, a province may approve an "exception" to full labour mobility, provided that it can demonstrate that there is an actual deficiency in skills, knowledge or abilities.
Regulating bodies remain responsible for maintaining and monitoring the certification requirements that are in place through provincial legislation.
If a province or territory’s government does not believe that the workers of another jurisdiction are competent to work in their jurisdiction, it can declare an exception by posting it to a public website. Any exceptions are open to challenge by the other province and territory.
The worker needs to provide proof of their certification in another province or territory – certificate, license, registration or other form of official recognition issued by the regulatory body that shows he or she is qualified to practice the occupation or use the title.
He or she may also need to pay application fees to obtain insurance, to provide evidence of good character and to offer evidence that his or her certification from another jurisdiction is in good standing.
For most professions and non-trade occupations, a worker needs only to provide proof of his or her certification and apply to the regulatory body, filling out a simpler form of application than the one that would be used by a new applicant.
Regulatory bodies can only request the information that is necessary to meet their obligations.
Workers do not have to write significant additional examinations or undertake additional training if they hold certifications from other Canadian provinces or territories. There are still processes to ensure a worker has knowledge of provincial laws and regulations, as permitted under Chapter 7 of the AIT.
Workers may also have to pay application fees, obtain insurance, provide evidence of good character and offer evidence that their certifications from another jurisdiction is in good standing, as these are specified to be acceptable requirements under the AIT.
There may be application fees to cover the certification process administrative costs.
Many occupational titles are consistently used across the country, but there are some occupations for which different titles are used. When that is the case, upon certification in NB, workers will be required to use the title for the occupation that is reserved in NB. This will reduce the likelihood for confusion.
In those circumstances, the worker would be required to meet the certification requirements set out by the NB regulator for that occupation, just as any NB resident would to begin practicing the occupation.
A worker who holds a certification from another jurisdiction may freely practice his or her occupation in NB, where that occupation is not regulated, provided it does not infringe on the “restricted activities” of another occupation. For example, some provinces certify Psychiatric Nurses to practice independently. In NB, we do not certify this occupation because this skill set is managed within the Registered Nurse scope of practice. Psychiatric Nurses moving to NB will have to complete all requirements to become a Registered Nurse.
Equivalence between the occupations is necessary for unconditional labour mobility to NB.
If a worker wishes to upgrade to a different occupation – such as a specialist category – when moving to NB, he or she would be very likely to need to take additional training or examinations or gain more work experience. The requirements for the certification for the new occupation would be determined by an NB regulator. Individual assessment would be used to identify additional requirements for that worker.
No, when one applies for certification with a NB regulatory body, he or she can be required to provide evidence of good standing and good character. As a result, their record can be requested from the previous regulatory body that granted certification. A regulatory body has the discretion not to grant certification in instances where the applicant’s record is such that the worker is deemed to create a risk to the province, if certified.
No, there is no entitlement created for anyone to upgrade their certifications merely by moving to another jurisdiction. One can obtain the equivalent certification in NB from the applicable local regulatory bodies, where such exists. If no such equivalent certification exists, NB is not required to create that category of license. Therefore, an applicant with a limited license may receive a NB license or may be refused a license at the discretion of the regulatory body.
Yes, labour mobility means that NB professionals and tradespersons may work in any Canadian jurisdiction.
Yes, there is a dispute resolution process under the Agreement. If a dispute cannot be resolved by the parties (the provinces/territories) to the Agreement, it will go to an independent panel, which is how trade law disputes are typically managed.
The decisions of the panel are binding and, if the parties do not follow up to correct a problem after a panel decision, there are substantial financial consequences.
If this process was utilized by another jurisdiction stating that NB, or one of its regulatory bodies, is not in compliance with the terms of the AIT, the Province could be liable to pay penalties.
Once a person who has foreign credentials becomes a resident in a Canadian province or territory and has received a provincial occupational certification, they may – subject to the provisions within the AIT – apply to the regulator of any other Canadian jurisdiction for certification, regardless of where they were originally trained.
The Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) with the assistance of the Labour Mobility Coordinating Group (LMCG) is responsible for monitoring the compliance with the labour mobility chapter of the AIT.