International Qualifications Recognition

Many immigrants come to Canada with professional credentials that are not recognized here. These individuals represent a substantial opportunity for the province to fill labour market gaps—from health care professionals to skilled tradespeople.


Many immigrants come to Canada with professional credentials that are not recognized here. The recent report by the Royal Society of Canada notes that “skilled immigrants lose over $11 billion annually in earnings because their credentials are not fully recognized, resulting in lost tax revenues for the country as a whole.” (RSC, p. 18)  These skilled immigrants represent doctors, engineers, pharmacists, teachers, many skilled tradespeople, etc. Internationally, a more holistic approach is being adopted that looks at qualifications, which are considered a combination of academic credentials + training + work experience + knowledge. The Global Convention ensures immigrants have a legal right to have their qualifications assessed for admission to further study or to find employment in another country. For more about the Global Convention and its importance, please visit: Assessing qualifications can lead to critical analyses of gaps and barriers and to creating bridging programs that will allow immigrants to proceed along clear pathways to have their qualifications recognized and to work in their fields. Immigrant professionals’ integration into the workforce holds numerous benefits for Canada as well as for immigrants and their families.

International Medical Graduates and International Qualifications Recognition

Immigrant physicians are commonly called International Medical Graduates (IMGs). For many years, IMGs have been a significant ISANS client group, including family physicians and specialists, those with many years of clinical experience, and more recent graduates. IMGs also remain as ISANS clients longer than those in other occupations due to the difficult and lengthy licensure process. Nova Scotia’s need for physicians is well known. Currently, ISANS is working with more than 100 internationally educated immigrant physicians who are permanent residents in Nova Scotia and who are eager to practise their profession. These physicians are settled in the province with their families and do not intend to leave, so Nova Scotia has already retained them. However, the opportunities for them to have their qualifications recognized are very limited.

It is important that the NS government consider providing more opportunities for immigrant physicians to proceed along the pathway to licensure through the following steps:


  • Remove the 2-year training requirement in family medicine, which is currently a prerequisite for the Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) for family physicians. The 2-year training program in family medicine is a program that exists in only a few countries around the world, and most IMGs in Nova Scotia have not had the option to complete it. If the province wishes to keep the two-year requirement, we advise they create a bridging program for IMGs who do not meet it, then move them into the PRA and place them in rural communities with a return-for-service agreement. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have excellent models that provide clear precedents.
  • Increase availability for the medical clerkship at Dalhousie – there are currently only two spots each year in this very good program.
  • Increase opportunities for clinical assistant roles across the province as an alternative career.

More on Why Nova Scotia Needs International Qualifications Recognition

Current examples of the resulting issues that stem from evaluating credentials rather than qualifications include:

  • Internationally educated teachers are often not able to get a license because they don’t have a B.Ed., even though they may have a Masters Degree in education and 10 years of experience.
  • Internationally educated teachers with experience teaching 4 and 5-year-old children are not eligible for classification as ECEs because they don’t have formal education in child development for 0-3 year olds.
  • Individuals who have worked as medical lab technologists in their own countries and who have Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Science, plus many years’ experience, are not eligible for gap training because they don’t have the medical lab tech credential.