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Canadian Work Experience

Most applicants to Ontario's regulated professions must provide evidence of relevant work experience before they can get licences. This experience can take various forms:

  • practical training
  • internship
  • practicums
  • bridging programs
  • mentorship
  • residency
  • “active engagement” in the profession

Internationally trained applicants are often frustrated by this experience requirement.

Thirty-eight regulated professions (in 35 separate regulatory bodies) licensed people in 2011, and 26 of those professions require work experience. Of those 26, 15 require Canadian experience, including 6 that specifically require Ontario experience. For more information, see the table below.

In 2011, 62,452 people applied to the regulated professions. Of those, 15,062 applied to professions that require Canadian experience, including 4,698 who applied to professions that require experience in Ontario.

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner believes that regulators requiring Canadian experience should explain why it is necessary and relevant. In other words, what precise competencies and skills are needed to practise the profession in Ontario, and why must they be obtained here?

Most regulators have promised to clarify what is needed, but not to lighten their requirements.

The OFC is discussing this issue with regulatory bodies and with the Government of Ontario, which is responsible for regulations about the professions.

Calling on employers, regulatory bodies to remove the “Canadian experience” barrier, July 2014

(left to right): Hon. Jean Augustine, Ontario Fairness Commissioner; Claude Balthazard, Vice-President Regulatory Affairs, Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA); RatnaOmidvar, President, Maytree; Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants; Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall, OHRC; Dr. Izumi Sakamoto, Principal Investigator, “Beyond Canadian Experience Project,” University of Toronto; Cherie Robertson, Senior Policy Analyst, OHRC; Elizabeth Reynolds, Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, KPMG; Errol Mendes, Commissioner, OHRC.

Canadian Work Experience Requirements

The following table shows whether a profession has work experience requirements, and describes those requirements.

Profession Is Canadian work experience required?
Architects Yes: 940 hours in Ontario.
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists Yes: 6-month mentorship in Ontario.
Chartered Accountants No.
Chiropodists No.
Chiropractors No.
Dental Hygienists No.
Dental Surgeons No.
Dental Technologists No.
Denturists No.
Dietitians Yes: Most internationally educated applicants are asked to complete a Canadian Practical Training experience. Completing Ryerson University’s Internationally Educated Dietitians Pre-registration Program satisfies this requirement.
Early Childhood Educators No.
Engineering Technicians and Technologists Yes: 1 year of work experience in Canada. Applicants may work for a Canadian company abroad, or may work on projects, while in another country, that are destined for Canada and are consistent with Canadian codes, standards and practices.
Engineers Yes: 12 months of work experience anywhere in the world under the supervision of a Canadian professional engineer, while employed by a company whose head office is in Canada.
Foresters Yes: 18 months of relevant Ontario (or equivalent) work experience. Up to 6 months of international experience can be credited to this requirement, depending on the type of experience. For example, experience involving cooler, boreal-forest ecosystems is most relevant.
General Accountants Yes: 12 months of work experience in Canada.
Geoscientists Yes: 12 months of work experience in Canada. This experience includes experience in another country if the applicant was subject to Canadian professional standards in carrying out the work and did so on behalf of a company incorporated in Canada.
Land Surveyors Yes: Most internationally educated applicants must article for 18 months with an Ontario land surveyor or land-information professional. Relevant experience may reduce or replace this requirement.
Lawyers No.
Management Accountants No.
Massage Therapists No.
Medical Laboratory Technologists No.
Medical Radiation Technologists No.
Midwives Yes: All internationally trained midwives must complete a bridging program in Canada.
Nurses No.
Occupational Therapists No.
Opticians No.
Optometrists Yes: All internationally trained applicants must complete a bridging program in Canada.
Paralegals No.
Pharmacists Yes: All applicants must complete a period of structured practical training in Canada.
Pharmacy Technicians Yes: 12 weeks of structured practical training in Canada.
Physicians and Surgeons Yes: All international medical graduates must complete 1 year of post-graduate training (residency) in Ontario, unless they are eligible for one of the alternative pathways to registration.
Physiotherapists No.
Psychologists Yes: All candidates must complete 1500 hours (approximately 1 year) of supervised practice in Ontario.
Respiratory Therapists No.
Social Workers No.
Social Service Workers No.
Teachers No.
Veterinarians No.

April 2013

Did you know?

In 2013, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released a policy on “Removing the Canadian Experience Barrier.”

It says that asking for Canadian work experience may result in discrimination, and that employers and regulatory bodies should show why they need Canadian experience. The explanation must meet the legal test for a bona fide occupational requirement.

The OHRC encourages regulators to remove these barriers.

Instead, regulators should describe the specific knowledge and skills they require of candidates and should assess people individually.

Read the policy on “Removing the Canadian Experience Barrier.”

Learn about your rights and about the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Contact the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to make a complaint.

Contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre if you need legal help.

Exemplary Practices

The OFC gathers regulatory bodies' exemplary licensing practices so that they may learn from one another. Exemplary practices about Canadian work experience are listed below.

  1. Offering internship and mentoring supports while applicants complete requirements

    This practice allows applicants to participate in a...

  2. Removing requirement that work experience be obtained in Ontario

    This practice helps ensure that the work experience...