Labour Mobility

Labour Mobility in Canada

“Canadians should be able to work anywhere in Canada in their chosen profession.”
— First Ministers Conference on the Economy, January 16, 2022

Most Canadians are able to work in their chosen occupation anywhere in Canada. Some workers, however, are employed in regulated occupations, certified or licensed by provincial or territorial authorities. Although many occupations enjoy a high degree of consistency in the requirements for a specific job, workers have encountered barriers when they move from one jurisdiction to another because of differences in certification requirements.

In the mid 1990s, countries around the world began to improve the free flow of trade and worker mobility. At the same time, provinces, territories and the Canadian government achieved a national Agreement on Internal Trade, AIT. Since the AIT and as a result of more recent amendments to Chapter 7 on Labour Mobility, governments and other organizations responsible for the certification of workers in regulated occupations have partnered to support the free movement of workers within the country.

In January 2009, the premiers and Prime Minister endorsed amendments to Chapter 7 of the AIT in order to help resolve labour mobility challenges that continued to face certain regulated occupations.

The effort to implement the amended Chapter 7 involves all provinces, territories and the federal government, as well as regional and national organizations involved in occupational certification and licensing. A national co-operative process is in place and jurisdictions and regulatory bodies are sharing best practices as each participates in the implementation. Changes in policies, practices, by-laws and in some cases legislation will be required to ensure recognition of workers’ certification from coast-to-coast. Complete details on the recent amendments and requirements in Chapter 7.

Other interprovincial labour programs and agreements, such as the trades-focused Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program, the Alberta-British Columbia Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), the Ontario-Quebec Construction Agreement and agreements between other provinces remain in place. A list of current agreements is included on this website. However, mobility of workers is the goal and, where inconsistencies exist between agreements, the agreement most conducive to labour mobility prevails.

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How the Labour Mobility Chapter Affects Workers

Recent amendments to Chapter 7 of the Agreement mean that workers in regulated occupations can apply to be certified in the same occupation in another province or territory without having to undergo significant additional training, examination or assessment. Individuals are still required to apply to jurisdictional regulators for certification in their occupation.

Provinces and territories have the right to maintain specific occupational standards and can adopt exceptions to certification requirements. Governments recognize the goal of providing freedom of movement for all Canadians in their chosen field across the country. Where jurisdictional exceptions are made – meaning that a worker may not have labour mobility to that jurisdiction until an additional material requirement is met – those exceptions will be based on legitimate objectives and will be publicly posted on this website by the jurisdiction, beginning November 30, 2009.

Please click here for a list of approved exceptions

As Article 706 of the Chapter states, provinces and territories may, in specific circumstances, impose certain requirements, restrictions, limitations or conditions on certification. For example, if you arrive in another jurisdiction with a license that has a certification restriction, the receiving jurisdiction may impose a similar restriction or may refuse to certify if that jurisdiction does not have a similar restriction available. For more information on exceptions to certification specific to a particular occupation, contact the regulatory authority from which you are seeking certification.

Additional information is available from each province, territory or federal department responsible for labour, workplace skills, training or trades. (See the section on contacts)

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Impact of Amendments on Occupational Standards

Governments across Canada are committed to both the public protection that comes from occupational standards and improved labour mobility across the country.

Maintaining Canada’s highly-regarded occupational standards continues to be a priority for governments and regulatory bodies. Parties shall, to the extent possible and where practical, and without diminishing the level of protection they ensure, adopt common interprovincial occupational standards as set out in Article 707 of the Chapter.

The amended Chapter 7 allows provinces and territories to continue to establish or make changes to occupational standard. Changes made will be conducive to labour mobility.

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Exceptions to Full Labour Mobility

Successive federal, provincial and territorial governments have affirmed their commitment to full labour mobility across Canada. In a limited number of cases, exceptions to this principle are required.

In cases where significant differences in certification requirements exist between jurisdictions, a provincial or territorial government may approve an exception to full labour mobility provided the exception is justified by 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 disadvantaged groups.
  • Article 706 of the Chapter states that provinces and territories may impose certain requirements as a condition of certification and, in specific circumstances, may impose restrictions, limitations or conditions or may refuse to certify.

In keeping with their commitment to transparency, jurisdictions will publish exceptions as they become available on this website, beginning November 30, 2009. It must be noted that it is the approval of exceptions by a jurisdiction that is critical to its taking effect.

There are hundreds of regulated occupations in Canada and only a small number of exceptions have currently been identified. The list of exceptions contained here is partial as governments are at different stages in the process of identifying and approving exceptions. Recognizing this, as well as the evolving nature of regulated occupations subject to Chapter 7, this list should at no stage be regarded as comprehensive..

Please click here for a list of approved exceptions. For more information on exceptions to certification specific to a particular occupation, contact the regulatory authority responsible for the occupation for which you are seeking certification.

The AIT includes a dispute resolution process for labour mobility issues(see Chapter 17 of the AIT). If you have questions on labour mobility issues, please see the following list of contacts.

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Contacts are provided below:

View the list of contacts

Agreement on Internal Trade

Full text of the Agreement below:

Full text of the Agreement

Questions and Answers regarding Chapter 7 (Labour Mobility) of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)

Q1: What does Chapter 7 do?

A1 The purpose of Chapter 7 is to ensure that any worker certified, licensed, registered or officially recognized in one province or territory, upon application, will be certified, licensed, registered or officially recognized for that same occupation by any other province or territory without the worker being required to undertake any material additional requirements, such as education, training, examination, or assessments.

Prior to the implementation of the Chapter, workers in regulated occupations may have experienced barriers, such as requirements to take additional training or examinations, when applying for certification to work in other provinces and territories within Canada.

Q2: Why is labour mobility important?

A2 Labour mobility, as a key element of labour market efficiency, contributes to sustaining economic growth, innovation, productivity and Canada’s competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.

Regulated workers already active within the labour force are able to find job opportunities more readily throughout Canada. Further, immigrants to Canada, who are quickly becoming a critical source of skilled labour, are more easily integrated into the workforce. Ultimately, employers can attract and quickly hire workers in regulated occupations where there are regional and industry-specific skills shortages. While helping to address current labour market challenges, this flexibility also becomes particularly important in the case of regional or national emergencies, such as a pandemic or natural disaster.

Canadian workers benefit from greater standardization at the regulatory level that a more consistent approach to assessment and certification brings. Through on-going dialogue and the sharing of best practices, regulated occupations will encounter fewer obstacles to full labour mobility and will have access to tools and information that will facilitate national coordination and consistency across jurisdictions.

Ensuring full labour mobility within Canada is also particularly important as Canada and individual provinces and territories enter into labour mobility agreements with other countries.


Q3: Who is covered?

A3: Approximately 15 percent of workers in Canada are employed in occupations where a license or certificate is available or required. To find out if your occupation is regulated and subject to the obligations of Chapter 7, please contact the labour mobility coordinator in your jurisdiction.

Q4: How will I know if my qualifications are recognized in another province or territory?

A4: Most regulated occupations fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. Therefore, a certified worker should contact the regulatory authority of the province or territory in which they wish to be recognized. Standards for regulated occupations in Canada generally have a high degree of commonality. However, some provinces and territories may have government approved exceptions which will involve additional requirements. These exceptions are publicly posted on this website.

Q5: How will this national agreement affect a certified tradesperson?

A5: A large portion of Canada’s skilled trades workers are certified through a province or territory and hold an interprovincial standards Red Seal endorsement which is based on nationally accepted industry standards. This standard supports skilled trades workers, enabling them to practice their trades wherever there is demand for their skills. Under the amended Chapter 7, provinces and territories are obligated to recognize trade certificates of qualification with or without a Red Seal endorsement.

Provinces and territories are obliged to recognize each other’s certificates not bearing a Red Seal. However, where a non-Red Seal endorsed certification is determined to not cover equivalent scope, a province or territory may declare an “exception” to labour mobility and require additional training or examination before a tradesperson can work in the jurisdiction. Workers holding a certificate not bearing a Red Seal should contact the regulatory authority in the province or territory where they seek to work to determine whether additional requirements exist.

Q6: What kinds of additional requirements can a regulator impose on a worker coming from another province or territory?

A6: Regulators may impose both material and non-material additional requirements on a worker coming from another province or territory.

Based on information provided by regulatory bodies, each province and territory will assess and determine what additional measures it deems as material. This may be determined on a case-by-case basis for each occupation which it regulates.

Chapter 7 permits a regulatory authority to impose non- material additional requirements on a worker. Examples of non-material additional requirements include: paying application fees, obtaining insurance as may be appropriate, posting bonds, providing evidence of good character and offering evidence that his or her certification from another jurisdiction is in good standing. Workers may be required to demonstrate language proficiency if this has not been previously assessed and to demonstrate knowledge of the measures maintained by the destination province or territory applicable to the practice of the occupation.

Chapter 7 permits a regulatory authority to impose a material additional requirement ONLY when the justification for the requirement has been reviewed and approved by the government maintaining it. Material requirements may include additional exams, training, assessments and declarations. Factors which determine if a requirement is material, include: the requirement itself, its cost, options on ways to complete the requirement, delay in the ability and time required to complete the requirement and whether a temporary or conditional certificate is granted while the applicant completes the requirement.

Additional material requirements may be imposed on a worker if a government has approved an “exception” to labour mobility, due to a clear and significant difference in academic credentials, education, training, experience and examination of assessment methods. In such cases, provinces and territories must demonstrate that the difference being addressed by the material measure results in a significant deficiency in skill, area of knowledge or ability (see also Answer 9).


Q7: What impact will the amendments have on maintaining high standards?

A7: Each province and territory has the right to set and maintain its own standards. Regulatory authorities for most occupations have reported that occupational standards across Canada are already very consistent. Chapter 7 calls on governments to collaborate with regulatory authorities and adopt, to the extent possible and where practical, common interprovincial occupational standards as a way to achieve labour mobility objectives. If necessary, provinces and territories also maintain the authority to approve an exception to labour mobility where additional education, training, experience, or an examination is justified to achieve a legitimate objective.

This being said, the purpose of the amendments to Chapter 7 is to eliminate or reduce measures adopted or maintained by jurisdictions that restrict or impair labour mobility in Canada. Governments are committed to on-going dialogue and sharing of best practices that will mitigate obstacles to labour mobility while ensuring recognition of and adherence to high standards across the country.

Q8 Why would a government have an “exception”?

A8: A province or territory may choose to approve an exception when there is a significant variation in certification requirements with other provinces or territories.

A province or territory has to clearly demonstrate that the additional certification requirement is necessary to achieve a legitimate objective, and to close the gap on a significant deficiency in skill, knowledge or ability of the worker.

Q9 How does a government set an “exception”?

A9: The province or territory will have to identify the legitimate objective, the additional requirement, the jurisdictions to which it applies and the rationale for it. Once the exceptions are approved by a Government, the province or territory will inform the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, and the exceptions will be publicly posted on this website.

An exception may be approved to achieve a legitimate objective in the area of: 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.

Q10 How are governments ensuring that the protection of public health and safety will be upheld?

A10: Governments fully acknowledge that the primary role of regulatory authorities is to ensure public health and safety. If necessary to ensure the public health and safety, a Government can approve “exceptions” to labour mobility, where it is demonstrated that a significant difference in standards poses a risk to public health and safety. A Government can therefore impose additional requirements on incoming practitioners already licensed elsewhere in Canada in the same occupation. Exceptions will be publicly posted on this website.

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