This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Credentials, Please

"The public knows a licensed engineer or geoscientist has a certain level of knowledge and skills and can practice independently and will not put them at jeopardy when they make decisions."
"You need to get the requisite education and write the professional practise and ethics exam. Those are rigorous bars to meet."
"The process is straightforward. The attainment of those standards is not always easy."
Mark Flint, CEO, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
Ladislav Mihaly filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission in 2008. (EDMONTON JOURNAL/Chris Schwarz).

People who emigrate from their countries of origin with degrees in various professions often anticipate when they leave and become immigrants to other countries they will still be able to practise their professions. This is not always so, since standards of professionalism and the academic education enabling people to obtain associated certification and degrees differ from country to country. A medical practitioner from Zimbabwe for example, would need to pass Canadian standards to practise in Canada.

The same holds true for practising law, engineering, or what-have-you. Those holding foreign degrees intending to take up their profession on entry to Canada, given landed immigrant status, must meet Canadian standards of professionalism. Ladislav Mihaly who had accreditation from his native land, the former Czechoslovakia, had attempted since 1999 to register with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.

Before they would accede to his request the association required that Mr. Mihaly write exams confirming his credentials. Unfortunately, he failed two tests and then decided to refuse taking any other tests. Instead he appealed to the Alberta Human Rights Commission with a complaint, in 2008. That resulted in a human rights tribunal ruling in 2014 that the tests were discriminatory, and the order followed that the association pay Mr. Mihaly ten thousand in damages and reconsider his application.

A stunning decision, in fact; one that concluded that the professional organization erred in refusing the man's credentials on the basis that he had been incapable of or unable to prove he had the required qualifications to be registered as a professional whose capabilities matched the province's requirements. The association was ordered by the tribunal to launch a review committee to look at the man's perceived academic deficiencies with a view to exempting him from exams, providing him instead with a guide to mentor him into the profession.

Mr. Flint was much relieved when Queen's Bench Justice June Ross overturned the tribunal's ruling as a result of what she saw as an unreasonable conclusion rife with errors. This new ruling, he said, would ensure public safety is protected and presents as confirmation that the association's application process represents sound judgement. The situation as it stood, presented as a challenge, furthermore, to other licensing agencies across the country in all kinds of professional associations.

The human rights tribunal had concluded in its 2014 ruling that many immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia experience disadvantages and discrimination in the workforce resulting from language difficulties and racial prejudice, so that the imposition of exams or additional requirements should be carried out alongside individual assessments in order to avoid restricting immigrants from working in the professions, leaving them to take low paying employment in fields other than their chosen professions.

According to Mr. Flint, about 55 percent of the 9,500 applications filed by people last year with the Association for Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta for licensing, were from those outside of Canada. Complaints are unusual, with people understanding the need to upgrade their technical or language skills, when they are advised by the association on the avenues to take to reach their aspirations.

In any event, Canadian immigration officials make it clear to professionals with foreign accreditation that they will not automatically be able to practise in Canada; that steps must be taken to ensure their credentials match those of the country's professional associations, so these people do not step blindly into a situation they will later regret.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet