New legislation would have Ontario's 34 regulated professions face scrutiny by a new 'fairness commissioner', ensuring their admission procedures are clear, open and fair to all.

Jun. 9, 2006 - The "Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act ", was submitted into legislation by Ontario Immigration Minister Mike Colle yesterday. The new policy is intended to break-down the barriers of professional entry for as many as 13,000 foreign-trained skilled workers currently living in Canada's most populous immigrant province.

This policy, described by immigrant advocates as a "bold and amazing" move, is expected to draw the ire of some of the professional regulatory bodies. "If there wasn't resistance, there wouldn't be a need for legislation and the regulatory bodies would simply do it on their own," expounds immigration professor Jeffrey Reitz, who works at the University of Toronto.

"The government's interest is to ensure that people's skills are being recognized, and that's not necessarily in the interest of the regulatory bodies or the professions that they represent," explains Colle, referring to the closed nature of the process. In fact, in many professions, it's not even known how many immigrants make it through the screening system. The Act would go a long way in curtailing the problem of immigrant credentials recognition that has troubled Ontario for two decades.

The new bill would require regulatory bodies to:

Re-examine their registration requirements, such as academic courses and work experience to remove unnecessary barriers.

Provide complete details on the process, how long it should take, fees required, and criteria for acceptance.

Process license applications within a reasonable time.

Ensure applicants have the right to an internal review or appeal if they dispute the decision.

Submit annual reports to the fairness commissioner for review.