Quebec regulator announces new regulation affecting internationally trained applicants

On June 12, Quebec engineering regulator l’Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) announced a significant and immediate regulatory change affecting some internationally trained professionals (ITPs) applying for engineering licences to work within the province of Quebec.

The change is intended to make ITPs’ application process more personal and reflective of each candidate’s background and takes into consideration their diplomas earned as well as their relevant work experience and all competencies acquired when their admissions applications are evaluated. Its objective is to ease access to the profession for ITPs while maintaining a rigorous competency validation process that protects the public.

Of the 46 professional orders in Quebec, OIQ has one of the highest rates of ITP applications: In the 2017–2018 period, a quarter of all applicants for an OIQ engineering licence received their education from a university outside Canada; of these internationally trained candidates, 60 per cent of them received their education from countries with no mutual recognition agreement (MRA), which is an international agreement between countries that establishes mutual recognition of academic and/or professional credentials, intended to foster mobility for engineers looking to practice in other jurisdictions.

Under Quebec legislation, ITPs fall into two categories: those who received their training in 20 foreign countries with which OIQ has MRAs—notably France and some Commonwealth countries—and those from all remaining international jurisdictions that don’t have any agreements with Quebec.

Historically, this second group of ITPs has had to overcome significant hurdles, says OIQ President Kathy Baig, ing., FEC. “How can we increase the success rate and shorten the process?” Baig asks. “We wanted to find a way for them to get their licences while maintaining rigorous admission criteria.” 

Under the old application process, ITPs who obtained their education from jurisdictions without MRAs could have faced up to 11 examinations that, although designed to “test and improve [applicants’] knowledge,” were, according to OIQ, “a demanding step.” It could also prove lengthy, possibly up to 16 months. According to Baig, only 58 per cent of ITPs under this system were able to successfully navigate this process and get a permit to work in Quebec. “We want to increase the success rate to 75 per cent and lower the process to eight months,” Baig adds.

To meet this target, under the new procedure, these candidates are now able to take university courses, work on engineering projects and have interviews to demonstrate their engineering skills meet OIQ’s standards. Whatever the path the candidate takes, their skills will be assessed by a panel of OIQ experts and licensed engineers. “There are competencies they will have to prove,” Baig reiterates. “But we do think this will be beneficial.” 

Baig, who, on June 15, was re-elected to her second consecutive term as OIQ president, notes there is a two-tiered treatment of ITPs, stating that ITPs from countries with MRAs have a much easier application process. “With all the [engineering] programs in France,” Baig uses as an example, “it’s like they graduated in Quebec.”

Although this new regulation is designed to lessen the burden on ITPs with training from non-MRA countries, Baig notes there can still be hurdles. As she stated in a June 12 news release: “Their integration also depends on the work and assistance of many other actors, such as immigrant support organizations, universities and various job market–related bodies that must work together to make their path easier.”

PEO’s Acting Deputy Registrar, Licensing and Registration Moody Farag, P.Eng., notes OIQ’s new policy is equivalent to the Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification Bridging (IEEQB) Program that Ryerson University offers. The IEEQB program is an individualized study program in lieu of PEO’s Confirmatory Examination Program. Farag notes that, upon completion, the applicant will be deemed to have PEO’s academic requirements for licensure. However, they must, like all P.Eng. applicants, still pass the professional practice exam and complete 48 months of work experience, of which a minimum 12 months must be in Canada.

In situations where applicants are trained in another jurisdiction and are applying for a PEO licence, their transcripts are reviewed by the Academic Requirements Committee, which can:

  • reject the application;
  • exempt the applicant from any further exams; or
  • assign the applicant to an examination program.

Timelines on meeting any of the licensure requirements depend on each applicant’s circumstances.