You might think that a doctor in, say, Ontario would automatically be allowed to work in neighbouring Manitoba. But you would be wrong. Currently, doctors must apply to the regulatory body in each and every province or territory where they want to work. This often requires months of gathering paperwork and filing requests, and can cost thousands of dollars in fees. These restrictions serve as barriers to the free movement of labour, and therefore count as barriers to interprovincial free trade.
Alberta recently tabled Bill 49, the Labour Mobility Act, which is meant to entice trained and skilled professionals, like doctors, to the province by capping the amount of time regulatory authorities can take to assess and process the credentials of workers already certified elsewhere in Canada. While this doesn’t address some of the bigger labour mobility challenges caused by administrative and regulatory barriers, such as the monetary cost of having designation, training, or experience from other provinces recognized, it is a step in the right direction.
We also need to consider how to ease labour mobility restrictions more generally in Canada, perhaps by looking to the successes of the Red Seal Program across the country as a guide.
Research shows that when Canadians can move freely from province to province, the whole country benefits. Even unilateral moves by a single province to lower barriers can have benefits for the whole country. So, what are we waiting for?