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B.C. introduces legislation to fast-track accreditation for international workers

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Facing a skilled labour shortage that is expected to worsen in the coming years, the province unveiled new laws Monday aimed at getting foreign-trained professionals to work in B.C. sooner.

“We have one million-plus jobs that will be opening in the next decade in this province, and we know we will not be successful filling those jobs unless at least a third of them are filled by newcomers to British Columbia,” said Premier David Eby Monday.

The proposed legislation applies to 29 occupations, including early childhood educators and teachers.

“The need couldn’t be more urgent, I mean you’re talking about a problem that impacts every district in the province in our opinion,” said Clint Johnston, the president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

The list also includes engineers, landscape architects, social workers, veterinarians, architects, biologists, real estate brokers and lawyers.

Alice Wong is a social worker from Hong Kong. After a year of struggling to get credentialed, Tuesday will be her first day in B.C. working in her trained profession.

“I was fighting in a battle all alone, without support, without resources, so it kept me very frustrated in the process,” said Wong Monday, as she recalled the challenges she went through becoming credentialed in B.C.

The legislation aims to remove some of those hurdles—eliminating the need for Canadian work experience, removing redundant language tests, making credentialing assessment information available online and setting maximum time limits for processing credentials.

“I spoke to an internationally trained professional that told me they spent 18 to 24 months on a website, clicking refresh to see if their application has been accepted,” noted Andrew Mercier, the minister of state for workforce development.

Not on the list of professions being streamlined are nurses and doctors, professions the province says it’s already addressed—including by tripling the number of spots available to foreign-trained doctors through its Practice Ready Assessment program to a potential 96 in 2024, compared to 32 this year.

“We started with health care on this to speed up approvals with the professional colleges and to get this model right,” said Eby.

Vitaliaa Atamaniuk was trained as a general surgeon in Ukraine. She is struggling to be accredited in B.C. to work as a general surgeon and thinks the model is far from right.

“It’s very difficult, it’s very expensive,” she said Monday.

If passed, the new laws will take effect next summer.

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