Canadian Consulting Engineer

New commissioner in Ontario to oversee treatment of newcomer engineers

March 19, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The government of Ontario has appointed a "Fairness Commissioner" to oversee the way professional associations trea...

The government of Ontario has appointed a “Fairness Commissioner” to oversee the way professional associations treat applications from professionals coming to live in Canada.
Jean Augustine, a former federal cabinet minister, was appointed to “work with regulatory bodies to ensure that the credentials of internationally trained professionals are evaluated fairly and transparently,” said the Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle in an announcement March 12.
The new office of the Fairness Commissioner is part of a bigger package of measures that came into law in the province on March 1 as part of the “Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006.”
The Fairness Commissioner will oversee regular audits of the professional associations (such as Professional Engineers Ontario) to ensure that their registration practices are “transparent, objective, impartial and fair.” The commissioner is also to submit an annual report to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on how well the Act is working.
The Toronto Star reported that Ms. Augustine will be paid $566 per diem for her part-time job to a maximum of $110,00 a year. Ms. Augustine came to Canada in 1962 as a teacher from Grenada and had “a bit of a struggle” to have her credentials recognized. She later became the first black woman elected to the House of Commons in 1993 as the MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Toronto.
The McGuinty government said the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act is the cornerstone of its comprehensive plan “Breaking Down Barriers” to help newcomers to integrate successfully into Ontario’s economy and society. It recently negotiated an agreement with the federal government to increase federal spending on language training and settlement services for newcomers by an additional $920 million over five years. Ontario has also invested over $53 million in “Bridge Training Programs,” and has set up a loan program that provides $5,000 per person to cover assessment, training and examination costs for professionals and trades people who are newcomers to Canada.


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