Labour Mobility

Labour Mobility Coordinating Group

  • Labour Mobility In Canada
  • How the Labour Mobility Chapter Affects Workers
  • Impact of the Amendments on Standards
  • Exceptions to 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, 2009

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.

Amendments to Chapter 7 of the Agreement of Internal Trade were made in January 2009, by the premiers and Prime Minister regarding the purpose of resolving the challenges for labor mobility that faced certain regulated occupations.

The effort to implement Chapter 7 with its amendments involves all territories, provinces, as well as the federal government, and the national and regional organizations who are involved in the designated 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 labor 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, the mobility of workers is the goal and, where inconsistencies exist between agreements, the agreement referring to the labor mobility prevails.

How the Labour Mobility Chapter Affects Workers

The newest amendments to Chapter 7 of the AIT mean that workers that have professions that are regulated can apply in another territory or province to be certified in the same professions without having to receive additional training, assessment or examination. However, workers still need to apply to the jurisdictional regulators for receiving certification in their profession.

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 labor 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.

Article 706 of Chapter 7 states that in certain circumstances, territories and provinces may have certain requirements, limitations, restrictions, and conditions on the process of 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 be refusing 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 labor, workplace skills, training or trades.

Impact of Amendments on Occupational Standards

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

Governments and regulatory bodies have a priority of maintaining highly-regarded standards of occupation of Canada. 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 the occupational standard. Changes made will be conducive to labor mobility.

Exceptions to Full Labour Mobility

Successive federal, provincial and territorial governments have affirmed their commitment to full labor 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 labor 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 Chapter 7 states that in certain circumstances, territories and provinces may have certain requirements, limitations, restrictions, and conditions on the process of certification.

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.

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