United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney speaks about his party’s plan to speed up foreign credential recognition in Alberta during a press conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.
Ian Kucerak Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
The UCP plans to throw a spotlight on professional licensing bodies that delay telling immigrants if they have the necessary credentials to work in Alberta, says leader Jason Kenney.“There are still some bad actors where it takes sometimes two to three years to get an answer on an application for licensure,” he told reporters Tuesday. “There’s not a clear pathway. People lose heart.”If elected, the UCP will introduce legislation outlining a six-month deadline for licensing bodies to determine whether someone’s foreign credentials are recognized. It would apply to dozens of regulated professions and trades, including doctors, nurses and engineers, Kenney said.He said some immigrants wait far too long to know whether their credentials are transferable.“What we’re asking for is a response, some kind of an indication of the prospect that an applicant has of getting to licensure within six months,” Kenney said.Licensing bodies may require additional courses or training before immigrants can work in Alberta.“If that is what is required to get to the Canadian standard, I will respect and defend that,” Kenney said. “But don’t put people through endless non-answers.”He said the UCP would potentially shut down regulators if they fail to streamline their processes, but noted it would be a “last resort.“There is some gatekeeping designed to limit competition from new entrants into licensed professions. We will identify the professions that are engaged in that and coax them, nudge them to improve their practices,” he said. “We can review the legal authority granted by the legislature.”Education Minister David Eggen said the province is actively talking to the federal government about addressing problems with recognizing foreign credentials.“We’ve heard loud and clear from Albertans that international qualification credentialing is an important issue,” he said in a statement.He said the government started a foreign qualification recognition fund that will have a $1.5-million annual budget.“The fund will be devoted to working with regulatory bodies to develop new tools that measure skills and experience, not only credentials, and make sure immigrants know about these changes to help them better prepare for work here,” Eggen said.Kenney also announced that the UCP would create a “fairness for newcomers office” with a $2.5-million budget. Its purpose would be to hold regulatory bodies accountable if they have unreasonable barriers to credential recognition. That office would be overseen by a minister with a portfolio that includes immigration issues.Part of his “fairness for newcomers action plan” would also include organizing a premier’s summit on the issue, inviting regulators, workers, employers and settlement agencies, he said.They are the latest platform promises from Kenney, who rolled out an immigration plan Monday aiming at attracting newcomers to rural Alberta.Premier Rachel Notley has yet to set an election date, but could have dropped the writ as early as Feb. 1 to launch a 28-day campaign period. An election is expected between March 1 and May firstname.lastname@example.org/clareclancy