Working together to facilitate the mobility of certified workers across Canada

FAQ for Regulators2021-07-30T08:46:09-06:00

Regulators determine occupational standards for both entry to practice as well as post certification requirements.

Successful Labour Mobility means having a good understanding of Canadian labour markets and an ongoing coordinated response to labour market trends. LMCs are committed to giving regulatory authorities support and advice to meet their Labour Mobility objectives.

Most regulated occupations benefit from a high level of commonality in their provincial/territorial standards and enjoy seamless Labour Mobility as a result.

However, the need to continue dialogue among professions and trades across jurisdictions is clear. Collaboration in the development and maintenance of occupational standards can help to achieve Labour Mobility objectives.

While there is no single approach for achieving long term Labour Mobility, the following list provides a few examples of the range of best practices that regulatory authorities are currently using:

  • Share information and develop common or similar processes;
  • Work together through consortia meetings and existing national fora;
  • Develop collaborative platforms;
  • Develop a common glossary of terms;
  • Match categories of certification and/ or identify “crosswalks” between categories;
  • Develop common types and descriptions of limitations or restrictions;
  • Develop common transfer documentation i.e. letters of good standing;
  • Consult on and coordinate changes in occupational standards;
  • Develop pan-Canadian databases of certified members;
  • Monitor inter-jurisdictional transfers and establish baseline data;
  • Continue or initiate inter-provincial/territorial dialogue to explore, where appropriate, the adoption of common interprovincial standards; and
  • Consider ways to resolve differences in occupational standards and share best practices pertaining to the regulation of occupations.

Regulators Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This FAQ section is a compilation of the most common questions from regulators about Labour Mobility in Canada.

1. What is Labour Mobility?2021-06-21T14:48:09-06:00

Labour Mobility refers to the ability of certified workers to practice their occupation, throughout Canada, wherever opportunities to work in that occupation 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 can access 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.

2. Who is covered under Labour Mobility provisions of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement?2021-06-21T14:48:53-06:00

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 occupations, including both Red Seal and non-Red Seal trades. The CFTA Labour Mobility provisions do not cover workers who are not certified (i.e. apprentices, interns articling or student categories) nor does it cover non regulated occupations, but there are other mobility opportunities provided under other agreements.

3. Does a certified worker need to reside in the province where he or she wants to be certified?2021-06-21T14:52:16-06:00

No, a certified worker does not need to be a resident of a province or territory to be certified there. Certification cannot be denied on the basis of residency.

4. What Labour Mobility obligations must regulatory bodies meet?2021-06-21T14:52:55-06:00

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement specifies that regulatory bodies have an obligation to recognize workers certified in another jurisdiction. Based on the principle of “certificate-to-certificate” recognition, any worker certified for an occupation in one jurisdiction must be, upon application, certified for that occupation in another jurisdiction without additional material training, experience, examinations or assessments, unless an exception has been posted.
Certification in a Canadian jurisdiction carries with it the recognition that the person certified has the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to perform a similar scope of practice in any jurisdiction.

5. Occupational standards can vary from one province or territory to another. Is there a mechanism that can be used to make an exception to Labour Mobility obligations?2021-10-13T08:14:55-06:00

For those regulated occupations that have a significant difference in occupational standards, provincial or territorial government may approve an exception to the “certificate-to-certificate” principle provided the exception is justified by one of the legitimate objectives.

In most cases, exceptions exist where there is a significant difference across jurisdictions in the activities required to perform an occupation. Differences in certification pathways do not in and of themselves provide a basis for exception or the non-recognition of a certified worker. Exceptions can only be applied if there is strong supporting evidence of an actual material deficiency in skills, knowledge or ability required to perform the scope of practice of an occupation.

Any additional material requirements imposed must not be more restrictive to Labour Mobility than necessary and must not create a disguised barrier to Labour Mobility.
A complete list of approved Labour Mobility exceptions by occupation or by province or territory can be found on our website.

6. What requirements can regulatory bodies impose on certified workers who are certified in another province or territory and are transferring under the CFTA?2021-07-21T07:51:32-06:00

Regulatory bodies are allowed to impose non-material additional requirements on a worker certified in another province or territory. Examples of non-material additional requirements include:

  • Paying application fees;
  • Obtaining insurance as may be appropriate;
  • Posting bonds;
  • Providing evidence of good character;
  • Providing evidence of good standing;
  • Providing a criminal record check;
  • Demonstrating language proficiency if this has not been previously assessed by the regulatory body in the province/territory of origin; and
  • Demonstrating knowledge of the measures maintained by the receiving province or territory applicable to the practice of the occupation (jurisprudence).

The Best Practice Checklist for Certifying Labour Mobility Applicants was developed as a guide to assist regulators in better understanding the requirements that can be asked from Labour Mobility Applicants.

7. What is an exception to Labour Mobility?2021-10-13T08:14:55-06:00

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) provides a mechanism for approving Labour Mobility Exceptions, but it can only be used in some very limited cases. Exceptions to Labour Mobility refer to any additional material (significant) condition that is imposed on out-of-province applicants. These additional conditions can be imposed only when significant differences exist in skills, areas of knowledge or abilities leading to a significant scope of practice difference for a regulated occupation in different provinces or territories. Examples of additional material requirements may include: exams, training, experience, etc.

Additional material requirements are permitted when:

  • the purpose is to achieve a legitimate objective (such as public safety, consumer protection, etc.);
  • the requirement is not more restrictive than necessary to achieve that legitimate objective; and
  • the requirement does not create a disguised restriction to Labour Mobility.

All provincial and territorial governments are committed to providing transparent and clear information to explain any additional certification requirements.

8. Under what circumstances can exceptions be posted?2021-11-05T07:57:54-06:00

A provincial, territorial or federal government can approve an exception to impose additional certification requirements for a worker when certification requirements are very different between jurisdictions and result in a significant gap in a worker’s skill, knowledge or ability which is required to perform the scope of practice of an occupation in another province or territory.

Regulatory authorities cannot approve exceptions by themselves. They must be approved by their government. A government must clearly show that the additional certification requirement is needed to achieve a legitimate objective and to close significant gaps in a worker’s skills, knowledge or ability.

To approve an exception, the government has to identify all of the following:

  • legitimate objective(s) as the basis for the exception (for example, public security and safety);
  • additional requirement(s) (for example, additional training or exams);
  • jurisdiction(s) to which the exception applies; and,
  • rationale for the exception.

Once a government approves an exception, it must forward it to the Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) and the exception must be posted publically on the Canadian Free Trade Agreement website and on this website.

Governments have different processes for approving additional requirements. Regulatory authorities or government departments that think an exception to Labour Mobility is needed should contact their provincial/territorial Labour Mobility Coordinator as soon as possible to talk about their government´s approval process.

9. What are legitimate objectives?2021-06-21T15:21:36-06:00

It is important to emphasize that all Labour Mobility exceptions for additional requirements based on a significant scope of practice difference need to be justified based on a legitimate objective, such as:

  • 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 disadvantaged groups.

In order to post an exception based on a legitimate objective, there must be strong supporting evidence that of deficiency in skills, knowledge and abilities of out-of-province workers required to perform the scope of practice of an occupation.

10. When there is disagreement about additional requirements imposed by a province, what mechanisms does the CFTA offer to resolve the dispute?2022-03-08T14:40:08-06:00

There are official mechanisms in place in the CFTA to resolve disagreements when certification requirements are perceived to be inconsistent with Labour Mobility obligations. Provisions are in place for government-to-government disputes and person-to-government disputes. Dispute resolution proceedings are generally initiated only after other avenues for resolving the dispute have been exhausted.

Part of this mechanism is to ensure that parties undertake to resolve disputes in a conciliatory, cooperative and harmonious manner. The first step to resolving a Labour Mobility complaint is to contact your Labour Mobility Coordinator.
To date, there have been two panel rulings on Labour Mobility under the CFTA that have provided clarity on the interpretation of Labour Mobility obligations:

  • 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

The two dispute panel rulings re-affirm the strength of Labour Mobility provisions: that Labour Mobility rights of workers are paramount and exceptions should be unusual and only posted when there is strong supporting evidence.

The panel rulings emphasize that the way to resolve differences is for regulatory bodies to keep working together to make their requirements and processes as consistent as possible.

11. Are workers with conditional/restricted or limited certification covered by Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA?2021-06-21T14:57:36-06:00

Under the CFTA, when a worker has conditions, limitations or restrictions on his/her license and applies for certification in another jurisdiction, the regulatory authority must make a reasonable effort to certify the worker with equivalent conditions, limitations or restrictions.
However, if the regulatory authority does not have a provision for issuing an equivalent conditional, limited or restricted license, the regulatory authority may refuse to certify the worker, or the regulatory authority may offer a conditional/restricted license with a requirement for the worker to upgrade. The regulatory authority is not required to create equivalent license categories, but may choose to do so.

12. Do incoming certified workers need to meet post certification requirements such as currency hours and professional development?2021-06-21T14:58:13-06:00

No, a regulatory body cannot require a certified worker moving from another province or territory to meet its upgrading/professional development requirements upon initial application for certification.
For example, if province A has mandatory continuing education/professional development requirements and province B has no required continuing education hours, a regulatory body in province A must recognize the certificate of a worker moving from province B.

However, once certified in another jurisdiction, a worker is expected to meet upgrading and professional development requirements of that jurisdiction. The same conditions imposed on workers of the receiving jurisdiction will apply to this worker.

13. A province or territory has certified an internationally trained worker. Can regulatory bodies from other provinces or territories reassess that internationally-trained/educated worker for certification purpose?2021-07-21T07:37:23-06:00

No, once internationally trained and/or 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 not be required to undergo any additional material requirements such as having qualification reassessed, taking exams, doing more training, gaining additional work experience or undergoing other assessments, unless an exception has been posted.
Provincially certified internationally-trained/educated workers are granted the same Labour Mobility opportunities as domestically trained and educated workers. If an internationally-trained worker has been certified by the regulatory body of a province or territory to work in a specific occupation and is in good standing, then the Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA apply.

14. Are compulsory/mandatory trade certificates recognized under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement?2021-10-13T08:19:19-06:00

Yes, for mandatory/compulsory trades a journeyperson will need to have a trade certificate (e.g. Certificate of Qualification). There are two approaches in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement that describe how the qualification of tradespeople can be recognized. In some provinces or territories, tradespersons with a certificate are required to register and/or be certified with the province/territory where they would like to work in before they can work in a compulsory/mandatory trade. In other provinces or territories, tradespersons with a certificate are allowed by the regulatory authority to work in that province/territory with the certification in good standing from their home jurisdiction.

If you have questions about how a trade certificate will be recognized in a province/territory please contact your Labour Mobility Coordinator.

15. Does the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) cover apprentices?2021-08-27T13:43:14-06:00

No, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement only applies to workers that have already been certified by a province/territory in Canada. Once apprentices are granted their trade certificate (e.g. Certificate of Qualification), and become certified workers, then the Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA apply. For more information about apprenticeship mobility please see the Provincial-Territorial Apprentice Mobility Protocol, under the FLMM Secretariat website.

16. Where an occupation has been recently regulated in a province or territory and workers in that occupation have been grandparented, do Labour Mobility obligations apply to transferring grandparented workers?2021-10-13T08:19:19-06:00

As occupational standards and entry requirements for certification change over time, many provinces and territories take the approach of grandparenting workers who were certified according to a different set of occupational standards. Typically, such grand-parented workers maintain their certification and ability to practice their occupation, even though they are certified under a previous set of standards. Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA apply to all workers who are currently certified in a province or territory.

Regulatory bodies that have concerns regarding grand-parented workers should discuss the matter with their Labour Mobility Coordinator.

17. Can exceptions be allowed against grandparented workers?2021-10-13T08:14:55-06:00

The Labour Mobility Chapter of the CFTA does not view grandparented workers who hold current certification differently from other certified workers covered by the Chapter.

Since Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA are based on a certificate to certificate recognition principle, grandparented workers must be granted a full license by the receiving jurisdiction unless an exception to Labour Mobility is posted. In such cases, an exception to Labour Mobility is open to challenge. Any intention to grandparent should be included in a notification to change occupational standards.

18. What is an occupational standard?2021-06-21T15:03:16-06:00

An occupational standard refers to the skills, knowledge and abilities required for a worker to practice an occupation. Occupational standards are established by regulatory bodies. To be considered qualified to practice that occupation, an individual is assessed against these standards.

19. Does Labour Mobility affect the authority of regulatory bodies to set standards as they see appropriate to protect the public?2021-06-21T15:25:10-06:00

No, Labour Mobility provisions under the CFTA fully acknowledge that the primary role of regulatory bodies is to set the standards necessary to ensure public safety, consumer protection and the integrity of the profession. It does not undermine this fundamental mandate of regulatory bodies.

Provinces and territories have the right to adopt occupational standards and, thus, ensure the protection of their public at the level they consider appropriate. However, to support improved Labour Mobility, provinces and territories also agreed to:

  • Take steps to reconcile differences in occupational standards to the extent possible and where practical;
  • Adopt occupational standards based on common interprovincial standards, to the extent possible and where practical; and,
  • Establish transparent notification practices to avoid the creation of barriers to Labour Mobility that might result from the introduction or modification of standards.
20. How can occupational standards be maintained in one province or territory when different standards are required in other provinces or territory?2021-06-21T15:04:57-06:00

The CFTA recognizes that there is more than one way to acquire the requisite skills, knowledge and abilities to practice an occupation. This means that although there may be different pathways in education, training and experience across jurisdictions, the learning outcomes and competencies required to practice an occupation may be similar.
In addition, through post certification requirements, regulators have mechanisms or tools to monitor newly certified members and assist them in performing to required standards. Once certified in another jurisdiction, a worker is expected to meet upgrading and professional development requirements of that jurisdiction. The same conditions imposed on workers of the receiving jurisdiction will apply to this worker.

21. Does the CFTA require all Provinces and Territories to adopt the same occupational standards?2021-10-13T08:14:56-06:00

No, there are no requirements to adopt the same occupational standards. However, Labour Mobility provisions encourage regulatory bodies to reconcile differences in occupational standards and to adopt, to the extent possible and where practical, common interprovincial occupational standards.

Each jurisdiction has the authority to set occupational standards as they see fit. If necessary to ensure public health and safety, a jurisdiction can impose training and examination requirements on incoming practitioners already certified elsewhere in Canada in the same occupation as long as a Labour Mobility exception has been approved that provides strong evidence that a Labour Mobility exception is necessary to achieve a legitimate objective, such as a genuine threat to public health and safety.

22. What changes to occupational standards must be brought to the attention of other regulatory bodies or provincial and territorial governments?2021-10-13T08:19:19-06:00

If the creation of a new or a change to existing occupational standard is being considered, regulatory bodies are encouraged to inform their Labour Mobility Coordinator. For example, any changes to legislation, the scope of practice, categories of certification/licensure, and/or entry to practice requirements, should be communicated to other regulatory bodies through their respective Labour Mobility Coordinator.

When informed of changes, the Labour Mobility Coordinator of the jurisdiction where the regulatory body is considering to introduce a new standard or revise an existing standard will notify the other provinces and territories and will give them an opportunity to comment to avoid the creation of any new barriers that might result from the introduction or modification of standards.

Therefore, notifications should be circulated as expeditiously as possible and preferably when they are still at a development stage to afford other provinces and territories the opportunity and sufficient time to comment on the development of those standards. The best practice is to give jurisdictions one month to review proposed changes and provide comments.

23. What is the mechanism to notify the appropriate authorities?2021-10-13T08:19:20-06:00

Each government has established its own internal process for completing the process for notification. Please contact your Labour Mobility Coordinator to learn about the process for notification in your jurisdiction.

24. What is the Role of Labour Mobility Coordinators?2021-10-13T08:19:20-06:00

Each province and territory has a Labour Mobility Coordinator (LMC) whose job is to promote the implementation and ongoing adherence to Labour Mobility provisions of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). This can involve interacting with regulatory bodies to assist them in understanding and complying with Labour Mobility obligations and to resolve issues that certified workers may have in getting their certification recognized. Since the implementation of the CFTA, Labour Mobility Coordinators have been working with regulatory bodies to remove mobility barriers for certified workers moving to another Canadian province/territory.

LMCs also regularly communicate with their counterparts in other jurisdictions to prevent and/or resolve Labour Mobility issues. This work is conducted in cooperation with regulatory bodies.

LMCs from all provinces and territories are members of the Labour Mobility Working Group (LMWG), which was established by the Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) to support the coordination, implementation and monitoring of Labour Mobility provisions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, and to develop consistent interpretation of these provisions and ensure their proper application across the country.

The LMCs are responsible for:

  • addressing questions and Labour Mobility concerns from certified workers;
  • interacting with regulatory authorities and officials in other government ministries to support the recognition of out-of-province/territory certified workers; and
  • assisting with the processes for reconciliation of occupational standards to the extent possible and where practical.