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Labour Mobility

Labour Mobility

Labour Mobility in Canada – What you need to know

Trade agreements are agreements where two (bilateral) or more (multilateral) jurisdictions agree on the terms of trade between them. This is relevant to professionals because the agreements also apply to professionals moving across jurisdictions. One intent of trade agreements is to allow for ease of mobility and prevent barriers in mobility. This is done through labour mobility provisions within the trade agreements. At the First Ministers’ Conference on the Economy in January 16, 2009, it was concluded that:

“Canadians should be able to work anywhere in Canada in their chosen profession.”

Currently there are four Trade and Labour Mobility Agreements affecting professionals in BC:

In brief, all agreements determine that workers certified (another term for registration or licensure) for an occupation by a regulatory authority by one Party to the Agreement, shall be recognized as qualified to practice that occupation by the other Parties. This recognition should generally occur without the requirement for any further material training, experience, examinations or assessments.


What it means for social workers

As a general rule, for an applicant to be able to invoke the certification requirements in the labour mobility agreements, the following threshold conditions must be met:

  • the applicant must hold current certification for an occupation in at least one province (i.e. their originating province). The BCCSW bylaws state that the certification must be equivalent of a full registrant in the other Canadian jurisdiction; and
  • there must be equivalency between the occupation for which the applicant is already certified in their originating province, and the occupation in which the applicant seeks certification in another province.


What it means for Regulators (like the BC College of Social Workers)

The regulator cannot impose additional training, experience, examinations or assessments as part of that certification procedure for applicants who are currently registered with another Canadian regulator. There are however exceptions that a regulatory body may rely upon to refuse an application for certification, or to impose terms, conditions or restrictions as a condition of certification. These exceptions include, but are not limited to, such things as assessment of good character, criminal record checks, and disciplinary action by another jurisdiction. In fact, the BC College of Social Workers refused to grant registration to an applicant based on the ‘good character’ provision in TILMA. This decision was challenged and in September 2012, the TILMA panel upheld the ability of regulators to consider character as part of the application process. You may read the full decision here.