The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is an agreement signed by all federal, provincial and territorial governments. It has been put in place to remove barriers and make the movement of goods, services, investment and workers between provinces and territories easier.
What does that mean for employers? You can hire certified workers from anywhere in Canada and benefit from a qualified workforce.
Individuals who hold a certificate or license in a province or territory can be recognized to practice their occupation elsewhere in Canada. Worker’s certification will be recognized by all other provinces and territories that issue a similar certificate or license without significant additional training, experience requirements, examination or assessment of qualifications, unless an exception has been posted.
Employers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Everything you need to know about Labour Mobility is a click away. This FAQ section is a compilation of the most common questions relating to hiring certified workers and Labour Mobility in Canada.
Labour Mobility refers to the ability of certified workers to practice their occupation, throughout Canada, wherever opportunities exist. Ensuring that the qualifications of certified workers are recognized when they move to another province or territory benefits both workers and employers alike. Workers have a wider range of employment opportunities and employers have a broader selection of candidates.
Labour Mobility provisions of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement state that certified workers will be recognized as qualified to work in the same occupation by a regulatory body in another province or territory, without having to go through additional significant training, work experience, examination or assessment, unless an exception has been posted.
All certified workers in regulated occupations are covered under the Labour Mobility provisions of the CFTA. Certified workers may also be referred to as regulated, registered or licensed workers.
The fundamental obligation to recognize the qualifications of certified workers applies to all regulated professions and trades, with or without a Red Seal endorsement.
The CFTA Labour Mobility provisions do not cover workers who are not certified (i.e. apprentices, interns, articling or student categories), nor do they apply to workers practicing in non-regulated occupations. However, there are mobility opportunities provided under other agreements. You can find related links here.
For many occupations, the authority to regulate an occupation has been delegated from the province or territory to a non-governmental regulatory body such as a self-regulating “College”, a professional “Order” or similar organization or association. In some instances, occupations are regulated directly by federal/provincial/territorial government departments.
Regulatory bodies can also be referred to as regulatory authorities or simply as regulators.
A regulatory body is responsible by law for defining what can and cannot be done as part of a regulated occupation. Regulatory bodies have an obligation to ensure public safety and consumer protection as well as to maintain the integrity of the occupation. Each province and territory has the right to adopt the occupational standards it feels appropriate to protect the public interest.
Regulatory bodies determine occupational standards for both entry to practice as well as post certification requirements. This means that the regulatory body will determine what a certified worker needs in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to practice a specific occupation. The responsibilities of a regulatory body are set in provincial/territorial legislation.
4. What is the difference between professional associations and provincial/territorial regulatory body?
The role of a regulatory body is to set the occupational standards for the practice of an occupation in a province or territory in order to ensure public safety. This means that the regulatory body will determine what you need in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to practice that occupation.
National or provincial/territorial professional associations have different roles, some of which are to represent their members and lobby on their behalf.
Each province/territory has a Labour Mobility Coordinator whose job is to support the implementation and ongoing adherence to the Labour Mobility provisions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). This can involve interacting with regulatory bodies to support the recognition of out of province certified workers.
If you have any questions about Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA for your workers, please contact your Labour Mobility Coordinator.
6. When a project involves work in more than one province/territory, how can employers ensure that workers have the appropriate certification to work in multiple jurisdictions?
You may want to contact the regulatory body in each of the province/territory your certified workers may be working in to determine how their certification will be recognized and to know the necessary steps they will need to take to get their certification recognized.
Should you have any questions or concerns please contact the Labour Mobility Coordinator for your province/territory.
7. How can employers ensure that out-of-province certified workers will be recognized as qualified to work if they apply to a job posting?
As an employer you could:
- contact the regulatory body of your province/territory to determine what the certification requirements/timelines are for a certified worker coming from another province or territory; or
- visit the Labour Mobility Exceptions page to determine if there may be additional requirements for workers coming from other jurisdictions prior to entering the workforce in your province/territory.
8. If employers have questions about hiring out-of-province workers or about the occupational standards in other provinces/territories, who should they contact?
If you have concerns about how out-of-province workers are certified in your province or territory, you could contact the regulatory body in your province/territory and inquire about how they recognize out of province certified workers.
Finally, you could visit the Labour Mobility Exceptions page to determine if there may be additional requirements for workers coming from other jurisdictions prior to entering the workforce in your province/territory.
Regulatory bodies in provinces/territories can provide general information about certification requirements and timelines for certification for out of province certified workers.
The Labour Mobility Coordinator of your province/territory is there if you have any questions about Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA for your workers.
Yes, compulsory/mandatory trades are covered under Labour Mobility provisions of the CFTA.
You need to have a trade certificate (e.g. Certificate of Qualification) to qualify for Labour Mobility opportunities under the CFTA. In some provinces and territories, you must register with the province/territory you would like to work in before you can work in a compulsory/mandatory trades. In other provinces/territories, you can apply directly with an employer to work in your trade with the certification in good standing from your home jurisdiction.
If you are uncertain about how your trades Certificate of Qualification will be recognized in the province/territory you would like to work in, please contact a Labour Mobility Coordinator.
11. How can employers ensure that the workers they hire have met their requirements for professional development and/or mandatory upgrading?
Often, regulatory bodies have requirements for upgrading or annual professional development for their members. These requirements apply only once workers are certified in a jurisdiction. They can include continuing education, professional development, hours worked within a certain time period, and so on. This information is often available on the regulatory body’s website or by contacting the regulatory body directly.
You could also ask certified workers to provide you with confirmation from their regulatory body that they have fulfilled their professional development requirements.
The Canadian Free Trade Agreement only applies to workers that have already been certified by a province/territory in Canada. However, once internationally trained/educated workers have been certified in a province or territory they are recognized as qualified to work in the same occupation in another province or territory, and should therefore not be required to undergo any additional material requirements such as having qualifications reassessed, taking exams, doing additional training, gaining additional work experience or undergoing additional assessments unless an exception has been posted.
No, The Canadian Free Trade Agreement only applies to workers that have already been certified by a province/territory in Canada. The CFTA provisions do not cover workers who are not certified (i.e. apprentices, interns articling or student categories), nor do they apply to workers practicing in non-regulated occupations. However, there are other mobility opportunities provided under other agreements. Once apprentices are granted their trade certificate (e.g. Certificate of Qualification), and become certified workers, the Labour Mobility provisions under CFTA would apply. For more information about apprenticeship mobility please see the Provincial-Territorial Apprentice Mobility Protocol.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments are working hard to remove or reduce barriers to Labour Mobility in Canada. If certified workers are concerned about how their certification is recognized under Labour Mobility, they should contact the provincial or territorial Labour Mobility Coordinator where they are currently certified.
If initial discussions among parties concerned do not resolve a complaint or dispute, the CFTA features a formal dispute resolution mechanism which can be found in Chapter 10 (Dispute Resolution Procedures) of the Agreement. Governments, individuals and the private sector can ultimately use this mechanism to resolve disputes in a cooperative and respectful way.
To date, two decisions have been made using this tool:
- Panel Concerning the Dispute Between Mr. X, a Private Person from Quebec, and Ontario Regarding a Crane Operator Certification
- Panel Regarding the Dispute between Manitoba and Ontario Concerning Ontario’s Notice of Measure with respect to Public Accountants
While the CFTA emphasizes the mutual recognition of certified workers across the provinces and territories, exceptions to Labour Mobility exist. Exceptions may be approved when there is a significant difference in occupational standards resulting in a significant scope of practice difference for an occupation. The exception must be based on a legitimate objective such as the protection of public security, health and safety.
Currently, there is a relatively small amount of exceptions considering the number of regulated occupations that exist in Canada. Jurisdictions continue to review exceptions to ensure they are current and required.