The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) entered into effect on July 1, 2017, replacing the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). The CFTA incorporates all AIT elements requiring that workers in regulated occupations be able to work anywhere in Canada without having to undergo significant additional training, experience, examinations or assessment. For more information, including a news release, backgrounder, and technical briefing deck, please see the CFTA Announcement. If you have any questions regarding the labour mobility provisions under the CFTA contact your Labour Mobility Coordinator.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments are committed to full Labour Mobility across Canada. While the CFTA emphasizes the recognition of certified workers across the provinces and territories, exceptions exist. Exceptions may be approved when there is a significant difference in occupational standards and the exception is based on a legitimate objective such as the protection of public security, health and safety.

In cases where certification requirements or occupational standards for a regulated occupation are very different from one jurisdiction to another, a government may approve an exception to full Labour Mobility. But the exception must be justified by at least one of the following legitimate objectives:

  • public security and safety;
  • public order;
  • protection of human, animal or plant life or health;
  • protection of the environment;
  • consumer protection;
  • protection of the health, safety and well-being of workers;
  • provision of adequate social and health services to all its geographic regions; and
  • programs for underserved groups.

The exceptions process involves two objectives:

  • obtaining governmental approval to impose additional material requirements, such as exams and training, to achieve a legitimate objective (e.g. public safety and consumer protection, among others). This requires clear evidence that there is a material difference in the scope of practice for an occupation between jurisdictions as a result of an actual deficiency in skills, knowledge or ability of a worker to practice the occupation; and
  • supporting transparency by informing the public about the additional material certification requirements implemented by a province or a territory.

Currently, there are a small number of exceptions considering the number of regulated occupations that exist in Canada. Jurisdictions continue to review exceptions and update their exceptions list accordingly to ensure currency.