Breaking barriers: B.C.’s proposed legislation to ease accreditation for internationally trained professionals

On October 23, 2023, the B.C. government introduced Bill 38 – 2023: International Credential Recognition Act, which targets the international credential assessment processes of professional regulatory authorities to reduce barriers of entry and fast-track accreditation for internationally trained professionals.

Aiming to address the province’s labour shortage, the new law would require regulatory bodies to remove barriers for 29 different professions including: architects, early childhood educators, lawyers, natural resource professionals, paramedics, teachers and veterinarians.

The proposed International Credential Recognition Act (the ICRA), which has had its first reading in front of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, would require that professional regulatory authorities establish and implement international credential assessment processes that are fair, efficient and transparent. This would simplify the accreditation of internationally trained applicants who have substantially equivalent knowledge, skills, ability and judgment as that required of professionals trained in Canada.

In addition to its broad fairness mandate, the ICRA looks to implement the following specific rules to ensure that the accreditation process for internationally trained applicants is easier and quicker:

  1. Determinations must be made within a reasonable time, and no longer than any period prescribed by the minister, and communicated to the applicant within 14 days of the determination being made.
  2. Requirements for Canadian work experience are prohibited, unless an exemption is granted. Such requirements have historically created a dilemma for many internationally trained applicants who could not work in B.C. without being accredited by a regulatory authority but who could not be accredited by the relevant regulatory authority without having worked in Canada.
  3. Regulatory authorities must not request new language testing where the applicant has submitted valid language testing results from the last five years with their application.
  4. Information regarding international credential assessment processes must be published on the websites of regulated authorities, including certification requirements, the criteria for assessment and review or appeal processes.

If Bill 38 is passed, the ICRA would apply to 18 regulatory authorities in B.C., which regulate 29 professions.

Introduction of Bill 38 is the latest action taken by the B.C. government to address the province’s labour shortage. In 2022, a process was implemented to fast-track accreditation of internationally trained medical doctors and nurses in the province.

MLT Aikins Regulated Professionals practice group has extensive experience working with and regulated professionals – including doctors, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, chiropractors and veterinarians – and regulatory authorities and would be happy to discuss the potential introduction of the ICRA and compliance with new requirements. Contact us to learn more.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.