Agreement on Internal Trade
In 1995, the provinces, territories and the Canadian government signed the national Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
The purpose of the AIT is to foster improved inter-provincial trade by addressing obstacles to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada. Its establishment was a significant achievement in helping to remove the existing inter-provincial trade barriers, prevent the establishment of new barriers and harmonize inter-provincial standards. It was felt that these actions would reduce extra costs to Canadian businesses by making internal trade more efficient, increasing market access for Canadian companies and facilitating work mobility for trades people and professionals.
Parties to the AIT agreed to six general rules, established to prevent governments from establishing new trade barriers and to reduce existing barriers:
Non-discrimination: Establishing equal treatment for all Canadian persons, goods, services and investments.
Right of entry and exit: Prohibiting measures that restrict the movement of persons, goods, services or investments across provincial or territorial boundaries.
No obstacles: Ensuring provincial/territorial government policies and practices do not create obstacles to trade.
Legitimate objectives: Ensuring provincial/territorial non-trade objectives which may cause some deviation from the above guidelines have a minimal adverse impact on inter-provincial trade.
Reconciliation: Providing the basis for eliminating trade barriers caused by differences in standards and regulations across Canada.
Transparency: Ensuring information is accessible to interested businesses, individuals and governments.
The AIT focuses on reducing trade barriers within eleven specific sectors (see Overview of the Agreement on Internal Trade): procurement ; investment; consumer-related measures and standards; agricultural and food products; alcoholic beverages; natural resources processing; energy; communications; transportation; environmental protection and labour mobility.
Of the 11 Sectors, labour mobility is the most critical to the FPRC and its member organizations as it focuses on enabling qualified workers to practice their profession anywhere in Canada by eliminating residency requirements, requiring licensing, certification and registration of workers to be based primarily on competence, committing to recognizing a worker's occupational qualifications and reconciling differences in occupational standards.
In January 2009, the provincial premiers and Prime Minister endorsed amendments to Chapter 7 of the AIT to help resolve labour mobility challenges that continued to face certain regulated occupations and to give the agreement enforceability. Implementation of the amended Chapter 7 has involved all provinces, territories and the federal government, as well as regional and national organizations involved in occupational certification and licensing. In most Provinces separate legislation has been passed to give the agreement the force of law.
The amended Chapter 7 provides that:
Subject to the potential exceptions outlined in the last bullet below, any worker certified for an occupation by a regulatory authority of one province or territory must be certified for that occupation upon application to the regulatory authority of another province or territory;
Recognition of certification is to be granted expeditiously without material additional training, experience, examinations, or assessment requirements.
While provinces and territories maintain their right to adopt occupational standards and thus ensure the protection of the public at the level they consider appropriate, provinces and territories agree to examine their measures and to reduce and eliminate barriers to labour mobility. When changing a standard or creating a new standard, provinces and territories shall adopt, to the extent possible and where practical, occupational standards based on common inter-provincial standards or, at least, in a manner conducive to labour mobility. They shall notify and afford other provinces and territories the opportunity to comment on proposed new or revised standards.
Provinces and territories acknowledge their continued commitment to the Inter-provincial Standards Red Seal Program as a well-established means of developing common inter-provincial standards for trades.
Article 705 of the Chapter states that no party to the agreement shall require a worker of a party to the agreement to be a resident in its territory as a condition of eligibility for employment or certification relating to the worker’s occupation.
Article 706 states that provinces and territories may impose certain requirements as a condition of certification and, in specific circumstances, may impose certification restrictions, limitations, or conditions or may refuse to certify.
Exceptions to full labour mobility (such as additional requirements for certification) are permissible but must be clearly justified as necessary to achieve a legitimate objective. Examples of legitimate objectives include public safety and consumer protection. Any exception must be approved by the government maintaining it and must not be more restrictive.
The Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations represented the practice of Professional Forestry in negotiations to implement Chapter 7 on Labour Mobility throughout Canada. In addition, each provincial member organization of FPRC has had to review its legislation, policies, practices and by-laws to ensure that they are in conformity with Chapter 7.
The implementation of the FPRC agreement on Mutual Recognition and the adoption of the Chapter 7 Labour Mobility of the Agreement on Internal Trade have shaped the process for cross-Canada mobility of professional foresters in Canada.
How Labour Mobility Affects Individual Registered Professional Foresters/ ingénieur forestier (ing.f.).
As Article 706 of the Labour Mobility Chapter states, provinces and territories may, in specific circumstances, impose certain requirements, restrictions, limitations or conditions on certification. A licenced provincial Association can for example (a) refuse to certify a worker or impose terms, conditions or restrictions on his or her ability to practice where such action is considered necessary to protect the public interest as a result of complaints or disciplinary or criminal proceedings in any other jurisdiction relating to the competency, conduct or character of that worker; (b) impose additional training, experience, examinations or assessments as a condition of certification where the person has not practiced the occupation within a specified period of time; (c) require the worker to demonstrate proficiency in either English or French as a condition of certification in cases where there was no equivalent language proficiency requirement imposed upon, and satisfied by, the worker as a condition of the worker’s certification in his or her current certifying jurisdiction;
(d) assess the equivalency of a practice limitation, restriction or condition imposed on a worker in his or her current certifying jurisdiction to any practice limitation, restriction or condition that may be applied by the regulatory authority to a worker in its territory, and apply an equivalent practice limitation, restriction or condition to the worker’s certification, or, where the regulatory authority has no provision for applying an equivalent limited, restricted or conditional certification, refuse to certify the worker; provided that: any such measure is the same as, or substantially similar to but no more onerous than, that imposed by the regulatory authority on its own workers; and that the measure does not create a disguised restriction on labour mobility.
Forest professionals who wish to move from one province to another should contact the FPRC member organization in the province which they wish to move to for details of any special mobility requirements. All, however, are in conformity with the Agreement on Internal Trade and, more specifically, with Chapter 7 on Labour Mobility.
Mutual Recognition Agreement
Under the Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade, and FPRC’s mutual recognition agreement, professional foresters (RPF), forest engineers (ing.f.) and professional forest technologists (RPFT and RFT) in good standing may transfer to another jurisdiction after providing the requisite forms and fees.