Improving mobility for Canada’s teachers

Teacher certifying bodies across Canada are working together to ensure that teachers’ credentials will be recognized in any jurisdiction in the country.

by Brian McGowan

Canadian teachers and students alike will benefit from the success of one of the most challenging initiatives the College is involved in today.

Certifying bodies across the country are working co-operatively to give substance to the growing acknowledgement – globally and nationally – that labour mobility for qualified professionals delivers economic and social benefits for the individual and for the communities where they settle.

To put it simply, Ontario teachers should be able to continue to practise their profession when circumstances take them to another part of the country.

The challenge for all of us in this process is to reach an agreement that accommodates differences between jurisdictions and continues to ensure teacher competence.

One of the College’s objectives in this is to develop an agreement that would not require applicants from one Canadian jurisdiction to complete additional courses or tests in order to teach in another jurisdiction, unless there are legitimate objectives that can only be met through these additional requirements.

The initiative began in 1994 when the federal and provincial governments signed the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) to make it “easier for people, investments and services to move across Canada.” This is an important point. This process is not optional. The College, as Ontario’s certifying body for the teaching profession, is obliged by national agreement to remove barriers to the interprovincial movement of teaching professionals.

The AIT requires several professions, including teaching, to develop a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). The task of developing the MRA for the teaching profession was given to the Teacher Certification Registrars of Canada, of which the College is a member.

As an initial step that improved professional mobility in the short term, registrars in 1999 developed an agreement in principle, endorsed by the College Council.

Reaching this agreement in principle allowed us to institute provisional mechanisms that increased professional mobility for teachers immediately while taking the time necessary for a more measured look at the challenges that mutual recognition presents.

For example, in September 2001, the College introduced the Interim Certificate of Qualification (Limited) for applicants who satisfied the terms of the agreement in principle but not all Ontario registration requirements.

Since then, the College has issued just over 100 of these certificates. On the other hand, during the same period, almost 4,000 teachers have made a nearly seamless transition from other Canadian jurisdictions to Ontario without requiring any additional course work.

“Labour mobility for qualified professionals delivers economic and social benefits.”

Members of the College wanting to teach in another part of Canada will find comparable mechanisms that recognize their Ontario credentials and enable them to practise their profession.

The agreement in principle remains in effect until an MRA has been approved.

Why is the process taking so long? There is a lot of similarity among the various Canadian jurisdictions in terms of occupational standards and academic and professional requirements. However, there are also differences in some rules, such as how recently a teacher has practised, evidence of language proficiency, certification for technological studies teachers, and the endorsements and/or restrictions added to some teaching credentials.

Once the registrars develop a draft agreement, it must be approved by all 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Under the terms of the Agreement on Internal Trade, a final ratified agreement is to be in place for April 1, 2009.

Does this mean that teachers from elsewhere in Canada will increasingly find it easier to work in Ontario? Absolutely.

It will also be easier for College members to work elsewhere in Canada. So this agreement will clearly have benefits for all.

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