Media Release – Removing Occupational Barriers to Entry for Immigrants to Canada: Admitted But Excluded

Press Release, Immigration, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is pleased to participate in the publication of Admitted but Excluded: Removing Occupational Barriers to Entry for Immigrants to Canada. Frontier’s version makes available, in book form, with minor revisions, a work recently published in academic journal format as a special edition of the Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law. The paper’s lead author is Bryan Schwartz, a professor of Law at the University of Manitoba. Professor Schwartz and his colleagues examine the harmful impact of unnecessary regulatory barriers that prevent Canadian immigrants from pursuing careers in the professions for which they were trained in their home countries.

The authors identify several reasons that unnecessary restrictions on the occupational freedom of new Canadians are harmful. Among them are:

  • Unnecessary barriers to occupational practice profoundly impair the effectiveness of programs designed to attract highly skilled immigrants to Canada.
  • For those who do choose to immigrate to Canada, unnecessary regulatory barriers can prevent highly qualified professionals from successfully integrating into the Canadian workforce. The obstacles come at a cost to national productivity, as well as foregone tax revenue.
  • Occupational barriers restrict competition in the provision of goods and services, leading to higher prices for consumers.
  • In addition to the large-scale harms they cause to the Canadian economy, unnecessary regulatory barriers to professional practice cause economic hardship and emotional distress for individual immigrants and their families. 

The authors that at times, governments and professional and occupational self- governing  bodies maintain barriers to foreign-trained individuals that go beyond what is necessary to protect legitimate objectives such as public safety and consumer protection.   The purpose or effect of these measures can at times include protecting existing service providers from competition. While this outcome may serve the narrow interest of some groups, it harms consumers, immigrants, and the Canadian economy as a whole.  

Schwartz and his colleagues propose several policy reforms that would help remove unneeded restrictions on occupational freedom. Among them are:

  • Strengthening human rights legislation at the provincial and federal levels so they can be a more effective tool for eliminating unjustified discrimination against foreign-trained workers.
  • Enacting and strengthening “fair access” legislation at the provincial level that addresses unnecessary barriers to entry.
  • Amending the federal Competition Act to clearly address the issue of unjustified barriers to entry in the regulated professions and occupations;
  • Restructuring Canada’s federal immigration laws and practices, particularly by refining the “point” system for evaluating the strength of applications for immigration. A new formula should emphasize the extent to which an applicants’ home country credentials would actually be recognized when they arrive in Canada.


The authors call for pro-active measures by government and professional and occupational bodies to establish programs to fairly assess foreign-acquired credentials, to test actual competence in practice rather than relying only on paper qualifications, and to put in place programs that assist immigrants to bridge any gaps between their training and competence and legitimate Canadian standards.

They call for the federal government to take a lead role in proposing and coordinating efforts by provincial government and self-regulating professional and regulatory bodies to address the issue of fairly accommodating newcomers to Canada.     The Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade system provides one possible model of how a pan-Canadian initiative can effectively address longstanding issues requiring fresh vision and cooperation.

“Our country’s prosperity in this century will largely depend on our ability to attract immigrants and capitalize on their talents, training and aspirations when they arrive,” writes Schwartz. The articles contained within this publication lay out a detailed program for policy reform that will help Canada attract skilled immigrants and enable them to participate as full and equal members of Canada’s economy and society.

Dr. Schwartz and his colleagues have prepared this publication as independent scholars for publication as a special edition of the Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law. The Frontier Centre is pleased to re-publish their work in e-book form to help bring this research to a wider audience of policy makers and concerned citizens.


About the Lead Author:

Dr. Bryan Schwartz is the Asper Professor of International Business and Trade Law at the University of Manitoba. He holds an LL.B. from Queen’s and a Master’s and Doctorate in law from Yale Law School. He is the author of nines and over eighty academic articles in a wide variety of areas, including constitutional and international law, law and economics, Aboriginal law, human rights law, and law and literature. He is the inaugural editor of two journals: the Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law and Underneath the Golden Boy, an annual review of legislative developments in Manitoba.  His publications also include op-ed pieces in a variety of Canadian newspaper and opinions issued as a arbitrator in labour cases and in international and Canadian internal trade law disputes.   Bryan is also a practicing lawyer. He has been counsel to the Pitblado law firm since 1994, and appeared a number of times before the Supreme Court?of Canada. He frequently advises governments, organizations and individuals on legal issues involving policy development or legislative reform. Over the years, he has received numerous awards and honours for teaching, research and community service.


Download a copy of Admitted but Excluded here.


For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:
Bryan Schwartz

204 782 9727