Skip to Content
 

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce

Issue No. 4 - Evidence - April 21, 2016


OTTAWA, Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce met this day at 10:31 a.m. to study the issues pertaining to internal barriers to trade.

Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. My name is David Tkachuk. I am the chair of the committee.

Honourable senators, as many of you know, our deputy chair, Céline Hervieux-Payette, is turning 75 tomorrow but is leaving today. She's doing it a day early, as you have to. We bid farewell to our deputy chair now because of that.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette has been the deputy chair of this committee since 2009. It has been a long run. She was the first woman deputy chair ever and has been one of the longest-serving members of the committee. She arrived in the Senate in 1995, after a career in private business and being a member of Parliament for five years. As a Liberal MP, she served as parliamentary secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada.

In the Senate she marked another first by being the first woman to hold the post of Leader of the Opposition, from 2007 to 2008. She was also the Liberal Party's chief organizer in Quebec during that time.

Céline, on behalf of all of us, we appreciate your contribution and your forceful voice on this committee over the years. The best that can be said of anyone is that they made a difference, and you certainly have.

On a personal note, for as long as I can remember being on the Banking Committee — and I was first appointed in 1996 and stayed there with some interruptions — Céline was always there and was always a force on the committee.

We will miss you, Céline, and I wish you the best of luck. You have so many skills you don't really need a lot of luck, and I'm sure you are going to do just fine. I hope you enjoy your retirement from the Senate, but I'm sure you will still be active in public life.

[Translation]

Senator Massicotte: I would like to thank you, if I may, Céline, on behalf of all Canadians, many of whom recognize your contribution and expertise. People sometimes wonder what we do in the Senate and what our contribution is. Based on your contributions, you are a model for us all. You have never become discouraged. You have at times handled challenging files, but you have always stepped up your efforts and pushed through. Your work has had an important impact, and we thank you for it. I know you are not truly retiring, because that word is not part of your vocabulary, and that you will continue to serve society. Thank you very much from us all.

Senator Bellemare: I would like to tell Senator Hervieux-Payette that I was impressed when I arrived at the Senate — and I still am — by the amount of work she did and by her many bills and speeches in the chamber. She is truly a workhorse. Moreover, she has in particular defended women's rights, which is remarkable, especially in economic matters. I am also sure that she will continue this work, since she is such a beautiful person, and so young and full of energy. Good luck, Céline.

[English]

Senator Tannas: I want to say all the best to you. I clearly recall our first meeting, which was in the business world, when you were a director of a company and I was asking for money from that company. You provided some very candid advice to me at that time. Throughout my meetings over the years, including when I first came to the Senate, I could always count on you for candid advice. That is something that is wonderful and valuable — your clear thinking and your absolute candour. I want to thank you for that and wish you all the best.

[Translation]

Senator Ringuette: Céline, I would like to thank you for your friendship. Even though you will no longer be in the Senate as of tomorrow, I can assure you that, with regard to the issues you have taken up with great passion — your positions on international trade, free trade agreements and the representation of women on boards of directors — you can count on us to make sure that these various debates do not die on the Order Paper. I wish you good luck, and you can watch us continue the work you have started.

Senator Day: I'm not sure what else I can add, Céline.

[English]

Several of your colleagues here in Banking did the same thing as you. They would come to a Banking meeting on Wednesday and then run down to Finance and carry right on. That's not an easy job to do, and you did it well. We certainly appreciated your contribution in not only this committee but sister committees as well. We wish you well in your future challenges.

Senator Black: What has always impressed me about you is not only your grace but your courage. From the board work I used to do before I arrived here, I find the most important trait of a board member, or in this case a senator, is someone who is brave and prepared to take on important issues, recognizing the consensus of the room may not be with them and still moving their point of view forward. It is very impressive to me.

I have learned things from you, and I thank you very much for that. You still have a very important contribution to make, and I am looking forward to watching and applauding you as you move forward.

Senator L. Smith: A little bit of history for the group, outside of the Senate: In 1997, when we re-launched football in Montreal, which was an ultimate disaster, there was a group of about eight to ten ladies, and they were called le Club des femmes, and they helped me sell tickets, because that's how we survived.

The job they did was so outstanding that the Alouettes had, during the 12 years I was president, the largest female demographic in the CFL. Thirty-three per cent of the fans in the stadium were women. The average demographic for women was 20 per cent, and it was because of the assertiveness and leadership of the ladies. Céline was one of them. She gave me some good tips at that time on how I should sell.

Senator Campbell: The two words I think of whenever I think of Senator Hervieux-Payette are courage and strength. She has both of them in a large degree. Once she decides something is the right thing, she doesn't back down and she's fearsome. That's an enviable trait and one I have watched closely in my 11 years here.

You will be missed. As a former coroner, I can tell you that this is not death that you are going to; it is a new and exciting new life.

Senator Ringuette: The key word is "life.''

Senator Greene: I'm not going to repeat any of the wonderful comments that have been made, but I do wish to praise you for two things that haven't been mentioned yet. One is your consistency on behalf of your objectives, and the other is your outstanding productivity. You are offering your advice, your wisdom, your work and your diligence right up to the last day, and I admire that very much.

The Chair: Did you want to say a few words, Senator Hervieux-Payette?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I will formally thank you all this afternoon. I am very attached to this committee. It was the first committee I attended when I was appointed in 1995. I left the committee during the time I was the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, but I came back, with great pleasure.

I would like to say to Senator Bellemare that one of the reasons was the fact that women were not on the committee at the beginning, and it took many years. Pierrette was one of the first. If we want to be present in society and develop policies in the economy that are favourable to every citizen, we have to have men and women. That's why I changed my bill about women on boards to say a maximum of 40 per cent men or women. I made changes over the years, and I thank you for your continuing support.

I will take the summer off. In September, you might receive an email telling you where I'm going to be. I'm now negotiating to do something else that will certainly be useful to Canada. I must say that if I didn't love my country, the job, I would not have worked so much. From the bottom of my heart, it was a privilege that I enjoyed, and if I was tough on you Conservatives, it is because I loved you. We have to be tough on the people we love.

I came here the year of the referendum, and I came here saying that I want my province of Quebec to be part of this country that we founded together. I have a sweet spot for every province, and I am truly a Canadian. Some people in my province are Quebec first and Canadian second; I'm Canadian first and Quebec second. That is important to me. I will continue to preach that, work on that and make sure that we continue to be one of the best countries in the world. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Chair: If we as Conservatives were tough on you, it was because we love you too.

I would like to welcome our witnesses today: from Engineers Canada, Kathryn Sutherland, Vice-president, Regulatory Affairs; from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Kurt Eby, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations; from the Canadian Welding Bureau, Craig Martin, Vice President, Office of Public Safety.

Thank you, witnesses, for being here today.

Senator Day: I have an intervention, if I may, Mr. Chairman.

I wanted to declare an interest, Mr. Chairman. I don't think it would preclude me — though it's for you to determine — from being here, but I was honoured with the designation Fellow of Engineer Canada a couple of years ago. It's a designation that I'm very pleased to have, but if you feel that that would disqualify me from participating in Ms. Sutherland's participation here, I am in your hands.

The Chair: Far from it, Senator Day.

With that, Ms. Sutherland, please proceed.

Kathryn Sutherland, Vice-president, Regulatory Affairs, Engineers Canada: Thank you for the opportunity to appear here today, Mr. Chair. As the Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs for Engineers Canada, I am very pleased to be here to discuss how the engineering profession is reducing barriers to internal trade.

Engineers Canada has long recognized the importance of interprovincial and interterritorial labour mobility to ease internal trade barriers and to ensure that engineers can best serve Canada and protect the public. The mobility of professionals is important for career advancement and to ensure that engineering skills and knowledge are available where they are needed throughout the country.

Canada's engineering regulators license 280,000 engineers across the country. It is a very diverse group of people and qualified professionals from all backgrounds. It includes women, men, new Canadians, indigenous people, individuals at every stage of their career, from recently graduated engineers in training to mid-career professionals balancing work and family, to engineers that are approaching retirement. They build our bridges and our roads. They design aircraft, build robots, invent new digital technologies, discover new medicines, create medical devices and more. They do this in every province and every territory, and they do it with the highest priority on the protection of the public.

Engineering is a self-regulated profession. Each of Canada's 12 engineering regulators set high professional and ethical standards, establish codes of conduct, and administer regulatory processes and standards of practice to assure protection of the public. This protects and enhances public health, safety, welfare and the environment for all Canadians.

Engineers Canada is the national body that represents the provincial and territorial regulators of the engineering profession. We also accredit undergraduate engineering programs and develop professional practice and qualification guidelines as they relate to the public interest. We facilitate international and interprovincial labour mobility, and we act as the voice of Canada's engineering profession on the international stage. We track labour market trends. We own the official marks on the terms relating to the profession such as engineer, engineering, professional engineer, 34 more, and we promote diversity in the profession.

To perform engineering work in Canada, the engineer must be licensed in the province or territory where the work is being completed, with a few exceptions. Recognizing how mobile engineers need to be across Canada to share their expertise on projects in other provinces, the engineering regulators have worked very hard to facilitate seamless movement of professionals from one province or territory to another, and these arrangements have created one of the most straightforward interprovincial and interterritorial systems among the regulated professions in Canada.

The engineering profession has long recognized the need to smooth the mobility of engineers across the country. In 1999, 16 years ago, and about 10 years before the Agreement on Internal Trade, or AIT, came into place, Engineers Canada facilitated the signing of the Inter-Association Agreement on Mobility by all of the engineering regulators. This agreement allowed professional engineers who are licensed in one jurisdiction in Canada to register in another jurisdiction, with minimal administrative overhead and without processing delays. The final decision for licensure always remains with the new jurisdiction, but it certainly was a very good start to the process.

In 2015, over 4,500 engineers who were licensed in one province or territory applied for licensure in another province or territory. The provinces and territories are using innovative approaches to have swifter, efficient, trusted mobility processes. This protects the public interest by ensuring that engineers are held publicly accountable, remain in good standing and are available to move and practice anywhere in the country.

The Inter-Association Mobility Agreement was in many ways the Canadian engineering profession's forerunner to Chapter 7 of AIT. It is important to facilitate the mobility of professional engineers, but at the end of the day, the most important concern of the engineering regulators and Engineers Canada is public safety. It is not about balancing efficiency and safety; safety is paramount, and the efficiency of mobility is sought without risking that vital intent.

All of the provincial and territorial regulators are committed to facilitating mobility while protecting public health, safety and the environment. As an example, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta has created an online interprovincial mobility application that streamlines the process of moving from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It enables applicants to apply for a licence with the Alberta association without going through the same application process as someone who is applying for their initial licence. It takes about three to five days to process that application, so if you are licensed in Ontario, for example, in five days you can be licensed in Alberta.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia are also doing excellent work. In 2015, they reported a 93 per cent success rate for professional members who apply each year to transfer from provinces and territories across Canada into B.C. Individuals are licensed within three business days.

Collaboration among engineering regulators to facilitate internal mobility is the norm. As an example, in late 2015, Engineers Nova Scotia and Engineers P.E.I. launched a dual application form that allows engineers licensed in one jurisdiction to apply to both of those jurisdictions at the same time.

This year at the Engineers Canada's May annual meeting, all other engineering regulators who are interested in doing it at this time will sign the agreement, and that will further facilitate the movement of professional engineers across Canada. So far, the British Columbia association and the Association of Professional Engineers of the Yukon have indicated that they're going to sign as well.

Also, just last week, the Alberta and B.C. regulators announced that they will collaborate on the evaluation of refugee applicants, relying on resources from both provinces toward the eventual recognition of these applicants in both jurisdictions.

Mobility doesn't start simply with the licensing of engineers; it is also very important that the educational credentials of applicants meet the standards of our engineering regulators. That's why Engineers Canada established an accreditation system for Canadian post-secondary engineering programs in 1965. The accreditation of engineering programs helps to support mobility by ensuring that the engineering education an individual receives at an accredited institution in Canada is recognized as equivalent all across the country. There are currently 279 accredited programs at 43 higher education institutions that are accredited by the Engineers Canada accreditation board.

Degrees from these institutions are also recognized internationally through our membership in the Washington Accord, an international mutual recognition agreement among engineering-degree accrediting bodies in 17 countries. As well, Engineers Canada has several memorandums of understanding, both academic and at the full professional level, with engineering accrediting, certification and licensing organizations in other countries. A degree from an accredited Canadian engineering program prepares the graduate to practise anywhere in Canada and in 24 countries around the world, representing over 62 per cent of the world's economy.

Canada's strong accreditation process ensures that studying at an accredited institution allows engineering graduates to have their academic qualifications recognized in all provinces and territories. Helping internationally educated and trained individuals who have attended accredited institutions is just another way that Engineers Canada works to facilitate smooth mobility.

Knowing market trends across the country, as well as the make-up of the provincial and territorial regulators' membership, is vital to tracking and supporting labour mobility. For that reason, Engineers Canada conducts both labour market studies and membership trends research and makes this information publicly available.

We are currently finalizing the development of an online labour market portal known as EngScape. It will present labour market trends for the Canadian engineering profession, from employment rates and salaries to university enrolment to immigrant employment. We will make this information available by engineering discipline or by province or territory. Right now, they're working on drilling it down even more into different cities. With that, you can look at a city and see how many engineers there are there, how many in what discipline and how many jobs might be available so you can make informed decisions about where you want to move and where your skills are going to be needed. The online tool would be dynamic, easy to use and timely. It will assist engineering students, licensed engineers and foreign- educated engineers who are looking for work and ready to move to find it.

Internal mobility is greatly supported by provincial and territorial engineering regulators, as they work tirelessly to break down barriers to trade while ensuring that they're safeguarding the economy, the environment and Canadians.

To close, Engineers Canada believes that the provincial and territorial regulators have prioritized internal mobility and put in place successful initiatives to promote and facilitate labour mobility. With their leadership and transparent self-regulation of the profession, Canada's engineering regulators have been at the forefront of labour mobility, which allows for the movement of professional services from coast to coast.

Engineers Canada does not believe that the current licensing processes create unjust internal barriers to trade or mobility across the country. The provincial and territorial regulators consistently strive to ensure that their admissions and licensure practices are timely, transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

As noted earlier, interprovincial licensure can be achieved in as quickly as three business days. Engineers Canada believes in the need to maintain self-regulation of the profession and to always work to improve the interjurisdictional licensing process.

We encourage the government to actively consult and collaborate with the regulated professions to achieve the desired outcomes for professional mobility in Canada. These professions are regulated in Canada with the sole intention of protecting public health, wellness and the safety of Canadians. The engineering profession is always ready and willing to work with the government to achieve their goals and best serve Canadians.

Thank you very much for your time and the opportunity to contribute to this.

Kurt Eby, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association: Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee, for the opportunity to join this discussion.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association represents wireless service providers, as well as the companies that develop and produce products and services for the industry, including handset and equipment manufacturers, content and application creators, and business-to-business service providers.

Consumer preferences have created our mobile-first world, where smartphones and tablets are the preferred choice to communicate, navigate, inform, shop, bank, work, collaborate, entertain and be entertained.

Consumers want wireless services to become even more accessible, convenient and easy to use. They count on ubiquitous advanced network connectivity to help keep them safe and secure. They need to trust that personal and private information on their mobile devices is also safe and secure. They depend on the wireless industry to continue investing and innovating so they can maximize the value of their wireless experience.

Indeed, Canadians' preference for wireless clear. In only seven countries in the world does the average mobile user consume more than 1 gigabyte of data per month. Canada is one of those countries, and Canadians currently rank as the fourth-highest consumers of wireless data in the world, at more than 1.5 gigs per month.

The cumulative effect of more Canadians using smartphones and connected devices to do more is massive growth in overall data usage. The latest projections indicate that Canadian mobile data traffic will increase 600 percent by 2020. No other sector of the economy must consistently meet levels of demand growth similar to those experienced by the wireless industry every year.

This demand is met by significant infrastructure investment. The Canadian wireless industry has invested more than $2.5 billion in capital expenditures each year since 2009. The doubling of total data usage every two years keeps the industry in a perpetual capital investment cycle. The industry has invested an additional $8 billion since 2014 to acquire the spectrum it needs to expand and enhance wireless networks to meet current and projected traffic volumes.

These investments create jobs directly related to network expansion and enhancement, and the ongoing delivery of advanced wireless services from Canada's service providers. In 2014, Canada's wireless industry generated 134,000 full- time equivalent jobs and an overall economic benefit of $23.5 billion. Canada's wireless service providers will continue to make record investments to meet the demand of exploding data usage and ensure consistent level of service for all Canadians.

Strategic government policies can facilitate additional investment in wireless network infrastructure and support innovation and economic development across Canada. Specifically, CWTA has consistently identified four priorities necessary to ensure the wireless industry can most efficiently meet the demands of Canadians. These priorities are more spectrum, more tower and antenna sites, lower fees to government and smart regulations, which is the most relevant to the study we are contributing to here today.

By smart regulation, we mean the federal government must maintain and defend its position as the sole regulator of telecommunications in Canada. Consumers, service providers, regulators and elected officials are all better served by a proportionate and symmetrical set of federal regulations rather than an asymmetrical and inefficient patchwork of different provincial frameworks. For example, when provinces began to regulate the contracting process for wireless service, CWT asked the CRTC to establish one set of rules that applies equally to all wireless consumer agreements in all provinces and territories, which the CRTC did.

We are also recommending that the government fix a policy that provides foreign companies with an up to 15 per cent price advantage over Canadian firms and creates a barrier to doing business in Canada. Currently, foreign suppliers of digital products and services, such as online music, movies, software and advertising inventory, are not required to collect or remit HST, while similar Canadian firms are. The competitive advantage given to foreign suppliers by this policy undermines Canadian investment and innovation by encouraging Canadians to spend money outside of the Canadian economy, to the detriment of Canadian suppliers and workers as well as content creators, programmers, publishers, actors, directors, musicians and all others in the creative community who benefit from a strong digital economy.

We strongly believe the government should ensure taxation parity among all suppliers of digital goods in Canada, removing the competitive advantage currently enjoyed by foreign firms. This would bring Canada's regime in line with the EU, Norway, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, to name a few.

Wireless network infrastructure expansion and enhancement deliver unmatched commercial and social benefits to Canadians, including creating jobs, contributing to GDP, and enabling the mobile and virtual workforce, thereby removing geographical barriers for rural businesses and communities to participate fully in the Canadian economy. Wireless service also connects all Canadians, allowing for collective participation in society and contributing to our shared national identity.

The government can therefore always directly contribute to innovation and economic development across Canada by facilitating and incenting investment in wireless network infrastructure.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.

Craig Martin, Vice President, Office of Public Safety, Canadian Welding Bureau: Thank you, honourable senators, for the opportunity to speak with you today. I serve as the Vice-President of Public Safety for the Canadian Welding Bureau, known more commonly as the CWB. I will start this morning by providing you with a brief introduction to the CWB and to the welding industry in Canada, and then I will focus on barriers to internal trade from a labour mobility perspective and how CWB has taken proactive steps to address this challenge facing our industry.

The CWB is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded solely by the industry we serve. Since 1947, our certification programs have expanded beyond the welding of steel. We now offer programs for aluminum welding, resistance welding, welding electrodes and welding inspectors, to name but a few. In all cases, our programs are based on standards produced by the Canadian Standards Association.

With offices in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, the CWB's team of 160 staff provide services right across the country. The majority of our services are provided on the shop floor, providing guidance and oversight to multiple industry sectors involved in welding.

The CWB is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada as a certification body and is the only national organization with a primary focus on welding.

Today, the CWB now has over 6,000 welding fabrication companies certified across Canada and throughout the world. The CWB's primary mission is to help protect the safety of Canadians. To support this mission, the CWB provides its services not only to Canadian organizations but also to organizations around the world that supply welded structures and products to Canada.

Each year the CWB witnesses the welding of over 90,000 test plates completed by welder, and trains thousands of welding supervisors, welding inspectors and welding engineers. In addition, CWB staff provides an independent review of over 30,000 welding procedures to ensure compliance with national standards.

It is this combination of qualified welders, qualified welding supervisors and engineers and qualified procedures that help ensure high quality and a safe weld, regardless of what province or territory you may live in. If one of these elements is missing, the risk of weld quality issues and failure greatly increases.

The welding industry in Canada contributes over $5 billion to the Canadian economy and employs over 300,000 individuals. Through our membership and advocacy arm, the Canadian Welding Association, we are actively involved in working with our over 60,000 members to ensure that the industry in Canada remains healthy.

One of the biggest issues facing Canadian welding is that this sector is in the midst of a skills shortage and mismatch. With an aging demographic and a strong demand for welding professionals in several industries, including shipbuilding, mining and natural resources, an active effort must be made to attract young people to the industry and ensure that we can meet the needs of our industry no matter where the jobs are or where the qualified welder is trained. To put the issue of demographics in context, the average age for most skilled welding positions is 47.

While it is true that in the past 18 months the demand for welders in certain sectors, such as oil and gas development, has decreased from previous levels, demand in many sectors still remains strong. As the Canadian manufacturing sector shows signs of positive indicators of renewed growth and Canada looks to make significant investments in infrastructure over the next eight years, we fully expect the demand for skilled welders will remain strong.

The current skills shortage in the welding sector not only creates difficulties in finding skilled tradespersons but it also introduces the risk that those that are doing the work may not have the level of skill that we relied upon in the past.

What's more, these challenges are compounded by the fact that there may be perceived issues around the ability to work in other jurisdictions. This mixed message on if a skill needs to be recertified or retrained can lead to confusion in the marketplace that can delay projects at a cost to industry and ultimately to the Canadian economy.

From the perspective of CWB, a key opportunity that can help make a significant positive impact on the skills issues that our industry is facing, including the challenges around labour and mobility, is to ensure the alignment of provincial training programs for skilled trades workers. The creation of a national training curriculum for welders would provide colleges and other training institutions with a current and comprehensive approach to create a first class generation of skilled trades.

In response to this, the CWB has invested over $2 million in a new and comprehensive national training curriculum for the welding trade. Known as Acorn, the program was developed with both input from industry and the educational sectors and was launched in 2015. The Acorn training curriculum includes components that can be used both at the secondary school level and the post-secondary level right across the country.

At the secondary school level, the CWB has committed to provide this training curriculum resource to provincial boards of education at no charge. This is to help ensure that the next generation of potential welders receives a world- class learning experience, assisting them in making educated choices about the long-term career opportunities in the welding profession.

Through our charitable arm, the CWA Foundation, we are also providing opportunities to train secondary school instructors on advancing their skills in teaching welding and providing funding for equipment and facility upgrading to create the best possible learning environment.

At the post-secondary level, Acorn provides Canada's first truly national training and assessment program for the welding industry. It is unique in that it is both extensive, with over 120 distinct courses, and has been developed to provide life-time learning, training Canadians for a career rather than simply a job.

As Acorn development is funded by the industry we serve, it is focused on training for job readiness and assessing those that have been trained to ensure they meet the specific requirements of industry as they progress along their career path. Fundamentally, these programs address the need for national standardization of skills and the training resources that create them.

We recognize that we must all work together to improve the ease of labour mobility from province to province to ensure that well-trained, highly skilled tradespeople can go where they are needed. By ensuring that training is consistent across Canada, this will help ease the movement of labour through permitting them to start their training in one province, become an apprentice in another and become fully qualified in whichever province they move to seek their employment.

As such, the CWB group is working with a number of agencies to ensure that Acorn aligns with current training schemes and recommendations, including those of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship and provincial ministries of education. This approach to a national training curriculum resource will assist in facilitating the easing of remaining barriers to labour mobility.

The problems we are now experiencing related to the skills shortage, skills mismatch and labour mobility have been years in the making. The CWB is committed, on behalf of all Canadians, to put in place solutions that move both the welding industry and the people that work within it in the right direction.

We have seen in recent years a move forward at the provincial level to establish recognition in several key skilled trades areas, including welding. The CWB is pleased to see a focus on these issues at the federal level, and we encourage the federal government to continue to support and assist our provincial governments in coordinating and harmonizing their requirements related to trades training, apprenticeship and certification with the goal of a truly national solution to the issues facing Canadian skilled trades workers and the industry they support.

Thank you very much for your time.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: First of all, as a lawyer, I envy engineers. You have a much better record of ensuring labour mobility in engineering and of promoting your profession as one of the best in the world. We know that Canadian engineers have a strong reputation for the quality of their work on sites around the world. My first question is why other professional associations have not followed your lead.

Now, my real question pertains to the continuing professional development of engineers. What are the requirements for professional engineers working in any province as to professional development and learning about new technologies?

[English]

Ms. Sutherland: I'll answer your second question first. It was about the continuing professional development requirements of engineers.

In the Code of Ethics and in the requirements for engineers, one of their requirements is they remain competent at all times, so they have an ethical and moral obligation to make sure that they only practise in areas where they are competent to practise.

When you graduate from an engineering program and become a professional engineer, it really doesn't matter what discipline you practise in. Your licence says you can practise in any area of engineering. Engineers have an obligation to only practise where they are competent to practise.

Most of the associations across the country have a continuing professional development program that requires engineers to undertake a certain number of hours of professional development every year and to keep records of that. Some of the associations require them to report and provide supporting documentation for it. A couple of the associations have a voluntary reporting requirement, and there's sometimes an incentive to take on additional professional development opportunities, and the incentive is in a lower fee or something like that.

There are a couple of organizations that do not have a continuing professional development program in place. One is in British Columbia, but they have a very strong voluntary program that a lot of their members contribute to regardless. Professional Engineers Ontario is in the process of putting a professional development program in place so they will be in line with all of the other regulators.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Is the continuous education administered at the national or provincial level?

Ms. Sutherland: It's administered at the provincial level. If you're licensed to practise in more than one province, you report your professional development activities in every one of those provinces.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have several engineers in my family, starting with my daughter, who is an engineer in physics, and my son-in-law in a different discipline, too, mechanics. We have another one in chemistry.

Ms. Sutherland: Congratulations.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: So if you are in one gang, you are not going to practise in the other.

Ms. Sutherland: That's right.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Mr. Eby, for me, everything goes back to something called Netflix. I listened to all of your presentation, and I just said that, yes, I feel I would be inconvenienced if I was in your organization and had players that were not paying their taxes in Canada. We need a few more dollars to help the Minister of Fnance.

How do you explain that these people seem to be able to do that, not just in Canada, but in other countries as well? What's the rationale for having outside players who are cutting, in fact, the possibility of other companies here by saving a big amount of money?

Mr. Eby: It's a great question. It's really more of a historical policy because this particular policy or policy loophole only applies to goods that come digitally. Originally, these didn't make up a huge portion of the economy, so it maybe wasn't worth the effort to try to collect the taxation. That's not the case anymore, as everyone can agree. It's not just streaming services. It's downloading music and movies. It's advertising as well. If you're advertising on American- provided websites, you don't pay HST. So depending on the province, it's a massive price difference.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Does every province lose the tax?

Mr. Eby: Yes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: No provinces charge anything, and neither does the federal government?

Mr. Eby: They do, yes, exactly. The OECD looked at this a couple of years ago when they came out, and their recommendation was to start requiring these companies to collect and remit sales tax, HST. That's going on in Europe now, Australiaand New Zealand. Canada would really just be falling in line with what is becoming the norm.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: It could be a good recommendation for this committee. I won't be here, but I want to underline that to my colleagues that I think it's unfair to our industry, because they have invested billions of dollars to upgrade and we have a great system. As far as I'm concerned, in all fairness, new technology doesn't deserve to enjoy a no-tax regime.

Mr. Martin, this is a very interesting sector, because I worked with the Department of Labour in Quebec, and we had the Red Seal. Are you covered by the Red Seal agreement?

Mr. Martin: Yes, the Red Seal agreement does cover the welding trade.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Who is paying for the training, not just the basic but so that people go to higher levels? I know in that trade you can start with little knowledge in the activity, but you have to learn more and more until you go to the pipeline, I would say, with very sophisticated activities. How does it work? How many steps are there and where is it done? Where do you have a major hole in the number of people to exercise this trade?

Mr. Martin: To answer your first question about who is paying for the training, that does vary depending on the situation and the industry. Generally speaking, if they choose to move into the welding profession, of which being a welder is just one of the many choices, the individual themselves will cover the cost of that training directly.

It typically starts at the secondary school level. Of course, they are not paying for that directly, but then out from secondary school they typically will go to a post-secondary institution such a technical college. There are also a number of private institutions that offer training.

The third option that some individuals will do is register as an apprentice. They will find someone to take them on, and then the employer will pay for part of the training. It depends on the individual arrangements. It's a combination of working on the shop floor and going back to school at a certain period until they have the number of hours.

Part of the complexity is that what is defined as a welder in each province varies greatly. In some provinces, it is a recognized trade. In other provinces, it is both recognized and mandatory. In other provinces, it is silent. That creates some of the issue around mobility around the country.

When I talked about the strategies, a key strategy that we've been working on is on the training side. Although we have the Red Seal Program, there has to be an agreement that the training that an individual did in province A is the same as the training that's done in province B. That's where some of the challenges come up. Some provinces may have 1,200 hours of on-the-job time, while other provinces might have 1,500 hours. Neither approach is wrong; they're just different. That creates difficulties for an individual moving from one province to another.

We feel that although it may be up to the provinces to define what a welder is, if we could have a national standardized approach to the training regime recognized by all provinces, that should ease some of the movement from one province to another.

The Red Seal Program is absolutely one solution that we have, but there are still challenges simply because not all provinces actually have an apprenticeship program for welders, so they become ineligible to apply under the Red Seal Program. If every province had the same apprenticeship program and the same requirements for on-the-job training and classroom training, then the Red Seal Program would work much more seamlessly than it does today.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Perhaps you could consult your colleague, the engineer, to help standardize. because standardizing is the necessary requirement.

Mr. Martin: As an engineer, I'm well aware of some of the issues around licensing. The approach that Engineers Canada is taking will have challenges similar to what we face, and the road they are going down is similar to the road we are pursuing as well.

Senator Black: I'm very interested in the engineering model. Synthesizing what you have said, if I'm an engineer in Quebec and I want to do a project in Alberta, I apply to the engineering association of Alberta for the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, which you say will come in three to five days.

Ms. Sutherland: Correct.

Senator Black: Does the Alberta government have any role in that at all?

Ms. Sutherland: The Alberta government has no role.

Senator Black: Does the Quebec government have any role?

Ms. Sutherland: The Quebec government has no role.

Senator Black: That's very helpful. The only question then is about the three to five days. Why can't that be eliminated?

Ms. Sutherland: That's a very good point. It's something that we're working on across the country. In my view, it should be almost instantaneous if you fit in all the right categories. There're a couple of conditions where you would not automatically get your licence under AIT — if you have a history of complaints or if you have a history of discipline. If none of those are present, then there's no reason why it couldn't happen virtually instantaneously.

Senator Black: Therefore the border would become seamless. Would that be your goal?

Ms. Sutherland: Absolutely.

Senator Black: Would you recommend that this committee recommend that for other professions?

Ms. Sutherland: Absolutely.

[Translation]

Senator Bellemare: I have a question for the engineers' association, and I also have a question or comment regarding welders, and they are related. Take, for example, a young engineer, and please tell me if I have understood this correctly. The young engineer has just graduated from university, is accepted into the provincial association in Quebec and starts working. When the time comes to receive accreditation, he realizes that the engineers he works with are not part of the association. They paid their dues to the association for several years but, since they have been with the same company for 15 or 20 years, they expect to stay on there until the end of their careers. The young engineer, however, does not have the recommended number of hours. In other words, my question is the following:

[English]

Is your system by hours really the best one with respect to qualifications? Wouldn't it be better for the order to recognize qualification, as I think you are doing with welding? It's not only hours because hours don't measure necessarily if you qualify or not, even though it is a proxy, and a good one, but it's not the only one. What do you do with the problem that so many people are out of the system?

Ms. Sutherland: They're still a member of the engineering association, but you're saying that they have not kept up their professional development.

Senator Bellemare: That's right. What's going on? Those young university kids have to pay. How much does it cost to be in the order? There's a kind of financial barrier for some people.

Ms. Sutherland: I'll give you a little background about how it works for an engineer that graduates from an accredited engineering program. They apply to the regulator in the jurisdiction where they would like to work. If they've graduated from an accredited program, they have met the educational requirement. There's also an experience requirement. Right now, four years of experience are required, and then you have to be working under a professional engineer and have references.

Senator Bellemare: For those four years, they have to work under a registered professional.

Ms. Sutherland: That's exactly right. There's also the requirement to write a professional practice exam, which is alaw on ethics, before they get their licence to practise. There're also some language requirements, depending on the province, and you have to be of good character.

The first comment I want to make is that right now, four years of experience are required. In order to demonstrate that, a young engineer will show what they have been doing for four years. They may file a log of what they have been doing and where they've been working.

The engineering profession is shifting their focus from that to a competency-based assessment model where you have to show that you're competent to practise as opposed to showing you spent X number of years sitting at a desk. It's a bit of a different philosophy about showing competency, but that's for a new engineer.

Senator Bellemare: Does that mean that all those young people working without the supervision of somebody from the order can go to your order?

Ms. Sutherland: The way it is now, you still have to be working under a professional engineer. Someone has to be able to say that you were doing engineering work and that you were applying the principles of engineering.

Senator Bellemare: Do the immigrants who come here and have been working as engineers have to work under supervision too?

Ms. Sutherland: That's a more complex question with two parts. If an engineer comes to Canada and has been working someplace for many years, they are obviously very experienced and very knowledgeable. It depends on where they come from, whether there's a mutual recognition agreement or memorandum of understanding in place, and whether their credentials are recognized when they get here.

If someone has been working for 25 years, you'd be hard pressed to say that person hadn't developed some good engineering knowledge and engineering experience. They probably should not be assessed in the same way that you would assess a new graduate coming out of university.

It has to be a fair, open and transparent assessment, but it has to give credit for what they've done. You don't come to Canada to go back to square one. When you come to Canada, you have to be given credit for the knowledge and information you already have. They don't necessarily go through the same number of years of experience, et cetera.

One of the requirements now to be licensed in Canada is that you need one year of Canadian experience in order to ensure that people coming to Canada have the knowledge of the codes, standards and laws in Canada in order to practise professionally with competence.

Senator Greene: Ms. Sutherland, I'm from Nova Scotia. You mentioned an agreement between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on that a bit, as to how it came about and whether it is new or old, and also why, perhaps, New Brunswick hasn't joined?

Ms. Sutherland: Certainly. This is a brand new agreement. The Maritime provinces work closely together and are supportive of each other and are a strong voice in the engineering profession. They're proactive and forward thinking. In 2015, Engineers P.E.I. and Engineers Nova Scotia decided that this would help to expedite things. And why not? It is a great way to move forward. As it is new, the other engineering regulators are learning about it and seem to have a lot of interest in participating in the same plan.

Senator Greene: Does New Brunswick or other provinces have an interest?

Ms. Sutherland: British Columbia has indicated that they're interested in participating. They're going to sign on in May. The Yukon as well is going to sign on in May. I haven't heard either way from New Brunswick or any of the other provinces yet, but I think it is a great opportunity for all of them.

Senator Greene: Great.

Senator Campbell: Fifty years ago, I became a hand riveter in a boxcar plant in Hamilton, and that crew had a heater, sticker, bucker, riveter and two welders. If one of the welders didn't show up, then one of the riveters became a welder, and that's how we learned. I hope things have changed. In saying that, the welds were always inspected. It wasn't like you were just slapping it together.

I think welding is integral to Canadian industry, period. It doesn't matter what you are building, you have got to have a welder there. I find it really disheartening that there is this discord between Canadian provinces to allow interprovincial movement of a welder. I can't understand why, after all these years, we can't come up with a uniform solution to this. It is incredible. Fifty years ago, you learned on the job. That's not the way you should learn, but that's how it was. Now it is 1200 or 1500 hours. Surely to God we can standardize an apprenticeship leading to a certificate for welding in this day and age.

The engineers have done an amazing job. Again, nothing moves without an engineer. Who would think that somebody from wireless would be between engineers and welders? Ten years ago, it would never have happened, and yet you now are an integral part of trying to pull everything together. So we have the old, the old, and the new. Are there still those barriers between all of you? It seems like you and you have barriers for certain, and you seem to be moving forward rather rapidly.

Mr. Martin: It has changed, to answer your first question. You wouldn't be able to find a job as a riveter anymore.

Senator Campbell: I know. I changed careers.

Mr. Martin: I would suggest that although it is not perfect yet, I think we can turn around any perception about being disheartened about the future. The industry has changed a lot over the last 25 or 30 years. There was a time when having a unique system in each province made sense because the mobility of workers really didn't take place. People were born, raised, educated and worked in the province in which they came from.

That has changed, with the advent of large-scale mining projects and oil and gas in Western Canada and the resurgence of the shipbuilding industry. We now are looking at the potential in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario. There's many places where, number one, there may not be many people living in the first place, and the volume of work in the short term on construction projects requires a large influx of workers, including welders, at any given time.

As I said in my opening statement, we are pleased to see that there is a fair amount of progress at the provincial level to get coordination. As an example, British Columbia and Alberta joined together to have a recognition of their individual welding apprenticeship and trade programs. The Atlantic provinces are in the process of identifying that welding is one of seven trades that they want to harmonize in that area. They are recognizing that this is a challenge to industry and a challenge to their local economies.

To be a welder, you essentially have to do some training combined with some experience. The experience levels do vary, and I think that's probably the easier thing to deal with. The harder thing to deal with is defining what training is required to become a welder, and that's where our movement on what we call Acorn as a natural curriculum is coming in.

Behind that, there are problems on the ability of the provinces to keep up the education material. If we can deal with the education, then provinces will find an easier time to get together and say we use the same national program you use. If we can come to agreement on the hours, then it should be much easier to put in agreements across the country.

I wouldn't be disheartened because there has been so much movement in the past few years. Our push is that, at a federal level, there's a continued focus or pressure on making sure that on issues like trade certifications, but also engineers and other things where there are provincial jurisdictions in play, that those provinces get together and make decisions on how they can work together.

I am pleased to say that in the welding trade there are a number of provinces which have done exactly that, and we're there to support them as they move forward.

Ms. Sutherland: In the engineering profession, we see it differently. Our current model of self-regulation at a provincial and territorial level is extremely strong. All of the regulators work together very closely, they support each other and they complement each other very well.

For example, we facilitate groups across the country. All of the admissions officials get together, work together and collaborate on sharing best practices, making sure that everyone has the same consistent, high standards for all of the work that they're doing, for all of the requirements for licensure, and to make sure that all of the engineers that are licensed are capable of practising with competence and integrity. There are also the discipline and enforcement officials, the officials from across the country, that share best practices, information and support each other.

There are a couple of challenges, and I will mention one of them. Perhaps this is something that would be of interest to the committee. It would be helpful if the federal privacy laws made it a bit easier to share information about the members. I will give you an example of an instance where a complaint had been filed against an individual in many jurisdictions, but the regulators were constrained in being able to share information about complaints. If it was a discipline matter that had come to fruition, then that would be different. But it would be helpful to make sure that the regulatory system is more robust and a little easier.

We think that the model that we have now that's provincially and territorially regulated is the strongest model because it gives 12 equal voices at the table to work together and to make sure that the engineering profession is very strong.

The Chair: Could you expand a little on that complaint issue? If someone in Saskatchewan, my home province, files a complaint against an engineer, and if that person is working in Manitoba or wants to work somewhere else, is there no access to that information, or is there no access because it is just a complaint and there's been no finding?

Ms. Sutherland: A regulator might not know that an engineer is working someplace else. If we were able to share that information more freely than we do, it would be a lot easier to regulate some of the potential hazards in the profession. Of course, personal and private information can't be openly shared unless there's an active investigation underway. Right now, there's nothing that says that public safety is paramount and no matter what the circumstances you should share that information. We can't do that now.

The Chair: You are saying the engineering body can't do that.

Ms. Sutherland: That's correct. That's what I mean. The members of Engineers Canada are the 12 regulators. We don't have individual engineers that are members of Engineers Canada. It is the 12 regulators that are the owners and the members of Engineers Canada.

Mr. Eby: I'm glad you raised that because anything that would be a barrier for either of my colleagues for their industry would ultimately impact our industry as well, because we need engineers and welders.

One area we see it specifically is on the safety side. With respect to safety regulations, say you are a climber and you are going up on a tower to work. You are under the National Safety Code because it is a federally regulated industry. But that might not be the only working at heights work you do and you might be going up other structures that would be under provincial.

There's confusion in the industry about the training you need, the requirements, or do you have to take a training course to be compliant with provincial and then another one to be compliant with federal? We have a council at the association now that's made up primarily of engineers and contractors and construction companies, and so we're looking at all of those discrepancies in the requirements and we're going to try to come up with best practices and best of breed to say that if you meet all of these, you will be good in every province.

There's a wide variety. If you are driving a truck to a job site and it is a telecommunications job site, you would fall under the national commercial vehicle regulation, not provincial. So it is helping people navigate that. It is always a barrier when you don't know which requirements you fall under.

Senator Bellemare: I have a question on the welding. I think what you are doing is great, and I congratulate you. I think you will come out with a model of mobility that comes out of the private-sector initiative. I suspect that most of the barriers that you encounter with the provinces come from the education system, the colleges. I know in Quebec the education system has a lot of problems with respect to training and on-the-job training and recognizing that it delivers competency and that it is not always in schools that you learn the best way to do a job. What do you do with immigrants that want to be welders? Do you give them tests?

Mr. Martin: As with my earlier answer, the answer depends on which province they would like to work in. As a minimum, the welder would have to pass the industry segments certification or test. If you want to work on buildings or bridges or on pressure vessels or pressure piping, the safety standard defines a minimum level of competence that you have to demonstrate to work on those types of structures or products. It is usually determined based on the level of risk to the public. If you are welding a pressure vessel or a bridge, that's a high level of risk if it should fail, so the number of hoops or the level of qualification of the welder is quite high.

If an immigrant comes to Canada and is identified as a welder, if they move to Ontario, as an example, in which it is a recognized trade but not a mandatory trade, they do not have to apply to become a journeyperson, welder or someone who has finished a formal apprenticeship. They can use the education they have in their own country and, provided they can pass the practical tests for the industry segment that they wish to work in, then they can get to work fairly quickly. Of course, there are other safety qualifications that they may have to achieve, depending on the industry.

However, if they move to a province where the trade is mandatory, such as Alberta, then there would be additional steps they would have to go through. There is a process for the recognition of foreign-trained people, but there would be additional steps to go through around the training and evidence of that training, evidence of number of hours to apply to achieve the equivalent of the journeyperson qualification in Alberta.

That's an example of the challenge. If I get the phone call from someone who has just come to Canada and they're at the airport, the answer to their question says, well, where are you taking your connecting flight? Because that changes.

Senator Bellemare: When you started your initiative, you said it is an industry initiative.

Mr. Martin: Right.

Senator Bellemare: How many companies or efforts or private-sector interests united to do this initiative? In other words, would it have been possible in a sector where there are a lot of individual firms or is there a lot of concentration?

Mr. Martin: I would say we're an example of a sector where, as I mentioned, we have over 6,000 certified companies, so organizations that are certified by us to the national standard to perform welding activities. On top of that, we work with over 60,000 individual members, so people that are involved in some aspect of the welding profession — engineers, inspectors, welders. We also deal on a regular basis with the educational community. Each and every year, as an example, we hold what we call our national educators forum, and we bring together typically around 80 instructors from coast to coast to coast to talk about the challenges that they're facing.

We had a number of outlets to reach out to them to ask what the issues and barriers are in terms of the mobility, but also what are the skill sets that are not being trained well enough because the industry has evolved? As an example, 20 years ago, robots were very few in Canadian industry. Now the adoption of robots to the welding operation is quite extensive. That requires a different type of welder.

The training material that we have developed deals with the latest and greatest, if you will, and the technological advances because that is what industry is demanding. We had the ability, even with the large cross-section of industry that we deal with, because of the network that we have through our certification program, to reach out to them, as we do on a regular basis, and ask them what challenges they are facing.

We determined through that consultation that one of the root causes around mobility and the recognition of trades in different provinces was a disconnect in what it meant to be trained. That came back to the curriculum, so we focused our efforts on that, understanding that if we can truly have a national curriculum that is adopted and recognized in each province, then when you phone one province and say that you did your training in province A, province B says that's exactly the same training that we they so there's no problem.

There may be other regulations that the provinces want to make sure are in place around safety before they issue the qualification, but we're trying to remove as many barriers as we can to make sure that happens.

Understand that on an industry certification level, the certifications we provide for the welder are transferable right across the country. It only comes down to that recognition of the trade. If I'm building a bridge in Ontario, Alberta, B.C. or the Northwest Territories, the industry certification that I need is exactly the same, and it is mobile all around the country. It is only that definition of whether I can call myself a welder in that province where some of the barriers crop up.

We are well down the road for harmonization. We have been very pleased and impressed at the efforts we have made over the last five to the years in that area.

Senator Bellemare: Could it be a model that could apply in many occupations?

Mr. Martin: Absolutely. I represent welders and the welding trade, but certainly in other skilled trade areas, the challenges in many cases are exactly the same that we're facing, and this approach of a national training curriculum could benefit other trades as well.

The Chair: Do you certify robots? I am kind of half joking, actually.

Mr. Martin: We certify the operators of the robots to recognize that unique skill, because the robot may be doing the welding but, to set it up properly, the programming and that type of stuff, requires a special certification.

The Chair: You can ship a robot from one province to the other without too many problems.

Mr. Martin: As of now, there's no problem with robots going across provincial borders.

Senator Ringuette: Ms. Sutherland, in one of your comments, you said that an immigrant coming from an engineering background had to work for one year in the Canadian field in order to be recognized by you, the national entity, or any of the 12 regulators?

Ms. Sutherland: I have been sitting here thinking that I missed a big component of that answer when I gave it. All engineers are required to have at least one year of Canadian experience, not just foreign-trained engineers.

Engineers Canada does not recognize the credentials or do any licencing. Only the regulators do that. In my comment about assessing the qualifications of foreign-trained engineers that come to Canada, what I was trying to convey is that there may be accommodation made that they don't have to go through the same stringent, structured this much experience, this much education, because there may be a more holistic approach to permitting that person who is a qualified, experienced engineer to be licenced more expeditiously than someone who goes through the Canadian system.

Senator Ringuette: Who decides that?

Ms. Sutherland: Only the regulators.

Senator Ringuette: Nationally, you have no input?

Ms. Sutherland: That's right.

Senator Ringuette: I was thinking, gee, it is a Catch-22 situation. If you come to Canada as an immigrant, with a background in engineering and having been certified in another country as an engineer, you are required to work in the engineering field for one year before you can apply to a regulator, because there's also a question of risk and insurance and so forth. It is quite an undertaking, especially for an immigrant, to be able to identify a sponsor. That's what it is — a sponsor that will provide Canadian work experience for a year.

Ms. Sutherland: It is extremely challenging. That's correct. Part of the challenge is making sure that people who come to Canada believing that they have the qualifications to be licenced as an engineer in Canada have the correct information to make an informed decision before they make the decision to come to Canada.

Sometimes in other countries you may be called an engineer and may be qualified as an engineer, but it is not the same education system as in Canada, and you might not qualify. Maybe it is a technologist, maybe it is a technician, I'm not sure, but it is very difficult.

One of the things that Engineers Canada has developed is a website that is called the "Roadmap to Engineering in Canada,'' and you can go on that roadmap. It has an academic assessment tool. You can put in that you graduated from this university in Afghanistan, it was a four-year civil engineering degree, you didn't take it online, and you will get a response as to how your credentials will likely be viewed.

Senator Ringuette: May be.

Ms. Sutherland: Correct. Because it is really the regulator that makes the final licencing decision. It is an effort to give people more information before they come.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate your testimony today and your frank answers.

(The committee adjourned.)