Agreement on Internal Trade

Chapter Seven - Labour Mobility

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Agreement on Internal Trade
September 1994

Page Index

  1. Article 700: Application of General Rules
  2. Article 701: Purpose
  3. Article 702: Scope and Coverage
  4. Article 703: Extent of Obligations
  5. Article 704: Relationship to Other Agreements
  6. Article 705: Right to Establish Occupational Standards and Requirements
  7. Article 706: Residency Requirements
  8. Article 707: Licensing, Certification and Registration of Workers
  9. Article 708: Recognition of Occupational Qualifications and Reconciliation
  10. Article 709: Legitimate Objectives
  11. Article 710: Emergency Safeguard Measures
  12. Article 711: Consultations
  13. Article 712: Implementation, Administration and Assessment
  14. Article 713: Definitions
  15. Annex 703.1 - Non-Governmental Bodies that Exercise Authority Delegated by Law
  16. Annex 708 - Occupational Qualifications and Standards
  17. Annex 712.2 - List of Work Plan Priorities for Action

Article 700: Application of General Rules

  1. articles 401 (Reciprocal Non-Discrimination), 402 (Right of Entry and Exit), 403 (No Obstacles), 404 (Legitimate Objectives) and 405 (Reconciliation) do not apply to this Chapter.
  2. For greater certainty, articles 400 (Application) and 406 (Transparency) apply to this Chapter.

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Article 701: Purpose

The purpose of this Chapter is to enable any worker qualified for an occupation in the territory of a Party to be granted access to employment opportunities in that occupation in the territory of any other Party, as provided in this Chapter.

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Article 702: Scope and Coverage

  1. This Chapter applies to measures adopted or maintained by a Party relating to occupational standards, licensing, certification, registration and residency requirements of workers, which create barriers to labour mobility.
  2. This Chapter does not cover differences in social policy measures including, but not limited to, labour standards and codes, minimum wages, unemployment insurance qualification periods and social assistance benefits.

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Article 703: Extent of Obligations

  1. For the purposes of Article 102(1)(b) and (c) (Extent of Obligations), each Party shall, through appropriate measures, seek compliance with this Chapter by:
    • its regional, local, district and other forms of municipal government; and
    • its other governmental bodies and by non-governmental bodies that exercise authority delegated by law, as described in Annex 703.1.
  2. Where a Party has been unable to secure voluntary compliance with this Chapter by an entity referred to in paragraph 1 within a reasonable period of time, it shall adopt and maintain measures to ensure such compliance.
  3. Whether an entity has voluntarily complied with this Chapter and the reasonable period of time referred to in paragraph 2 shall be determined by reference to the assessments made and annual reports prepared by the Forum under Article 712.
  4. Each Party shall, through appropriate measures, seek compliance with this Chapter by non-governmental bodies other than those described in Annex 703.1.

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Article 704: Relationship to Other Agreements

In the event of an inconsistency in a particular case between a provision of this Chapter and a provision of any other agreement between two or more Parties respecting matters covered by this Chapter, the agreement that is more conducive to the free movement of workers in that particular case prevails to the extent of the inconsistency. It is understood that any such other agreement may prevail only as between the Parties that are party to that agreement.

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Article 705: Right to Establish Occupational Standards and Requirements

For greater certainty, each Party may, in accordance with this Agreement, adopt or maintain any occupational standard or occupational requirement to achieve a legitimate objective and may, in pursuing that objective, establish the level of protection that it considers to be appropriate.

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Article 706: Residency Requirements

  1. Subject to paragraph 2 and Article 709, no Party shall require a worker of any other Party to be resident in its territory as a condition of:
    • access to employment opportunities;
    • licensing, certification or registration relating to the worker's occupation; or
    • eligibility for the worker's occupation.
  2. Subject to Article 709, in providing access to employment opportunities, each Party shall accord to workers of any other Party a treatment no less favourable than the treatment it accords, in like circumstances, to its own workers.

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Article 707: Licensing, Certification and Registration of Workers

  1. Subject to Article 709, each Party shall ensure that any measure that it adopts or maintains relating to the licensing, certification or registration of workers of any other Party:
    • relates principally to competence;
    • is published or otherwise readily accessible;
    • does not result in unnecessary delays in the provision of examinations, assessments, licences, certificates, registration or other services that are occupational prerequisites for workers of any other Party; and
    • except for actual cost differentials, does not impose fees or other costs that are more burdensome than those imposed on its own workers.
  2. Subject to Article 709, in the case of regulated trades, each Party shall provide automatic recognition and free access to all workers holding an Interprovincial Standards (Red Seal) Program qualification.

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Article 708: Recognition of Occupational Qualifications and Reconciliation of Occupational Standards

Subject to Article 709, each Party undertakes to mutually recognize the occupational qualifications required of workers of any other Party and to reconcile differences in occupational standards in the manner specified in Annex 708. The Red Seal program shall be the primary method through which occupational qualifications in regulated trades are recognized.

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Article 709: Legitimate Objectives

  1. Where it is established that a measure is inconsistent with Article 706, 707 or 708, that measure is still permissible under this Chapter where it can be demonstrated that:
    • the purpose of the measure is to achieve a legitimate objective;
    • the measure does not operate to impair unduly the access of workers of a Party who meet that legitimate objective;
    • the measure is not more mobility-restrictive than necessary to achieve that legitimate objective; and
    • the measure does not create a disguised restriction to mobility.
  2. The Forum shall develop a framework for the Parties to establish and review annually a schedule listing specific measures permissible under paragraph 1.
  3. Where a Party adopts or maintains a measure permissible under paragraph 1, it shall give written notice to the Forum of the measure. The notice shall indicate the Party's justification for the measure and the anticipated duration of the measure.
  4. Where necessary to achieve a legitimate objective, a Party may, as a condition of licensing, certification or registration, require a worker of any other Party wishing to practice an occupation in its territory to:
    • post a bond or other form of financial security;
    • establish or contribute to a trust account;
    • maintain a particular type and amount of insurance;
    • provide other similar guarantees; or
    • provide access to records.

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Article 710: Emergency Safeguard Measures

  1. A Party shall provide written notice to the Forum and the other Parties where an exceptional circumstance, including a severe economic dislocation, emergency or natural disaster:
    • results in a serious disruption to a Party's labour market or a sector of that labour market; and
    • materially affects that Party's ability to comply with one or more obligations under this Chapter.
  2. The notice shall provide details of:
    • the exceptional circumstance and the serious disruption referred to in paragraph 1(a);
    • the obligations under this Chapter referred to in paragraph 1(b); and
    • how non-compliance with the obligations may address the situation.
  3. On delivery of the notice to the Forum, the Party may suspend the obligations it is unable to comply with for a period of six months, only to the extent necessary to deal with the serious disruption to its labour market.
  4. On receipt of the notice, the Forum shall contact the Committee for a decision on the need for an emergency meeting under Article 1601 (Committee Structure and Procedures).
  5. If, after a period of six months, the exceptional circumstance which gave rise to the serious disruption in the labour market persists, the suspending Party shall give written notice to the Forum and the other Parties of its intention to continue the suspension for a further six months.
  6. A Party may request consultations with the suspending Party under Article 711 at any time following the suspension of an obligation with respect to whether:
    • the obligation suspended is related to the serious disruption referred to in paragraph 1(a); or
    • the suspension is more extensive in scope or time than is necessary to address the situation.

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Article 711: Consultations

  1. Each Party shall designate an official contact person for receiving complaints that may arise between the Parties regarding the interpretation or application of this Chapter.
  2. Each Party shall designate a contact point for receiving complaints from persons including, for greater certainty, workers, employers, public bodies, sectoral associations, trade unions or other bodies in its territory, regarding any actual or proposed measure of another Party that a person considers is or would be inconsistent with this Chapter.
  3. A Party may make a written request for consultations with another Party on its own behalf or on behalf of a person mentioned in paragraph 2 regarding an actual or proposed measure that it considers is or would be inconsistent with this Chapter. The Party requesting consultations shall deliver notice of its request to the other Party and the Secretariat.
  4. Consultations shall begin within 30 days after the date of delivery of the request.
  5. Where consultations have failed to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the Party making the request for consultations within 60 days after the date of delivery of the request under paragraph 3, or within such other period as the consulting Parties may agree, it may request the assistance of the Forum in resolving the matter.
  6. Where a consulting Party has requested the assistance of the Forum, the Forum shall attempt to resolve the matter through conciliation or mediation or by making such other recommendations as may assist the consulting Parties.
  7. Where the matter has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the Party making the request for assistance within 90 days after the date of delivery of the request, or within such other period as the consulting Parties may agree, recourse may be had to Chapter Seventeen (Dispute Resolution Procedures).

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Article 712: Implementation, Administration and Assessment

  1. The Forum shall:
    • develop a work plan for the implementation of the obligations of the Parties under this Chapter;
    • coordinate the implementation of the work plan; and
    • produce an annual report on the operation of this Chapter and submit it to the Committee.
  2. In the development of the work plan referred to in paragraph 1(a), the Forum shall ensure that the work plan addresses the areas of priority for action listed in Annex 712.2.
  3. The Forum may establish any committees that it considers necessary to assist it in the coordination of the implementation of the work plan. The committees may be composed of representatives of the Parties and, where appropriate, of relevant public bodies, non-government organizations, trade unions and other interest groups.
  4. The Parties recognize that responsibility for the implementation of the work plan shall be assumed by appropriate intergovernmental committees of ministers in accordance with Cabinet and legislative responsibilities.
  5. The annual report referred to in paragraph 1(c) shall include:
    • an assessment of the effectiveness of this Chapter, together with appropriate recommendations to address concerns identified in the assessment, including recommended amendments to this Chapter;
    • a list of measures for which notice has been given under Article 709(3), together with a description of heir respective justification and their anticipated duration; and
    • a report on any disputes that have arisen between the Parties during the year concerning the interpretation or application of this Chapter and the results of any consultations or other dispute resolution procedures resorted to by the Parties concerned to resolve the disputes.
  6. The Parties shall develop plans for funding by the appropriate bodies of the costs of implementation, administration and assessment of this Chapter.

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Article 713: Definitions

In this Chapter:

Forum
means the Forum of Labour Market Ministers;
legitimate objective
means one or more of the following objectives pursued within the territory of a Party:
  1. public security and safety;
  2. public order;
  3. protection of human, animal or plant life or health;
  4. protection of the environment;
  5. consumer protection;
  6. protection of the health, safety and well-being of workers;
  7. affirmative action programs for disadvantaged groups;
  8. provision of adequate social and health services to all its geographic regions; and
  9. labour market development.
for greater certainty, "legitimate objective" includes cost containment in the health sector, such as limiting the number of workers in a given occupation in order to limit public expenditures;
non-governmental body
, with or without delegated authority, includes professional corporations and associations, hospitals, health units, long-term care facilities, clinics, other health care/service organizations and authorities, professional regulatory bodies, school authorities, universities, colleges and other educational and training institutions, trade unions and industrial associations;
occupation
means a set of jobs which, with some variation, are similar in their main tasks or duties or in the type of work performed;
occupational qualifications
means the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience of an individual;
occupational requirement
means a condition other than an occupational standard, imposed by a recognized body for the practice of an occupation;
occupational standard
means the skills, knowledge and abilities required for an occupation as established by a recognized body and against which the qualifications of an individual in that occupation are assessed;
worker
means an individual, whether employed, self-employed or unemployed, who performs or seeks to perform work for pay or profit;
worker of a Party
means a worker resident in the territory of a Party.

For the purposes of interpreting the definition "occupation" in paragraph 1, the Parties shall be guided by the classification of occupations contained in the 1993 publication of Employment and Immigration Canada (now called Human Resources Development Canada) entitled National Occupational Classification (the "NOC"). In this regard, "occupation" shall include, where appropriate, any recognized separate and distinct occupation that is described in an occupational title under an occupational unit group listed in the NOC.

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Annex 703.1
Non-Governmental Bodies that Exercise Authority Delegated by Law

For the purposes of Article 703(1)(b), "non-governmental bodies that exercise authority delegated by law" means any organization, institution, corporation or association to whom authority has been delegated by provincial or federal statute to set or implement measures related to:

  1. the establishment of occupational standards or requirements for licensing, certification or registration;
  2. the assessment of the qualifications of workers against established occupational standards or requirements for licensing, certification or registration; or
  3. the official recognition that an individual meets established occupational standards or requirements for licensing, certification or registration.

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Annex 708
Occupational Qualifications and Standards

Part I
Recognition of Occupational Qualifications and Reconciliation of Occupational Standards

  1. To achieve mutual recognition of occupational qualifications and the reconciliation of occupational standards that have been adopted or maintained in their respective territories, the Parties shall implement the measures mentioned in paragraphs 2 through 9.
  2. As a first step, the Parties shall undertake an assessment of occupations which they regulate, based on existing information or occupational analyses, to identify occupations on which they can readily agree there exists, within their respective territories, a high level of commonality in the occupational standards required to be met in order to practice these occupations. Parties also agree to invite other regulatory bodies to do the same.
  3. Where a high level of commonality has been determined to exist in the territories of two or more Parties, the occupational standards that have been established in those territories shall, as between the Parties concerned, be considered mutually acceptable without further examination for the licensing, certification or registration of workers who meet those standards.
  4. If the Parties determine that there is insufficient information currently available on which to make an initial assessment of comparability, or that the information available suggests that there may be significant differences in the level of commonality between the occupational standards that have been established in their respective territories in respect of an occupation, the Parties will, as a next step, undertake an occupational analysis to determine the extent to which the occupational standards for that occupation differ between the territories of the Parties.
  5. The occupational analysis referred to in paragraph 4 will be carried out by experts in the relevant field, representing interested bodies and relevant regulatory bodies, who will compare the standards and assess and measure the extent of the differences, both in terms of scope and of required level of performance. Thresholds will be defined for comparability. By way of example only, 80 per cent similarity might be considered a high level of commonality while 60 to 80 per cent might be considered a moderate level of commonality.
  6. It is understood that the occupational analysis will examine, among other areas: the scope of practice, generic skills, specific skills, licensing, certification or registration requirements and other entry requirements and qualifications pertaining to the occupation. The occupational analysis will not consider differences in training methods since it is recognized that competencies and abilities can be acquired through different combinations of training and experience.
  7. Where, as a result of the occupational analysis, a high level of commonality has been determined to exist in the occupational standards that have been established in respect of the occupation in the territories of two or more Parties, the occupational standards that have been established in those territories shall, as between those Parties, be considered mutually acceptable without further examination for the licensing, certification or registration of workers who meet those standards.
  8. Where there is a moderate or low level of commonality, the Parties may pursue the development of mutually acceptable occupational standards. In the interim, it is understood and agreed that a moderate or low level of commonality will allow a Party to assess incoming workers against its own standards.
  9. In cases referred to in paragraph 8, each Party shall also seek to make accommodations to its licensing, certification or registration requirements to give appropriate recognition to the training, skills, experience and education of out-of-province workers. Such accommodations may involve the development and implementation of alternative systems for the assessment of their qualifications such as systems that allow workers of another Party to reach the required qualifications through additional modular training or supervised work experience.
  10. Parties shall initiate the process described in this Part within 12 months after the date of entry into force of this Agreement in order to implement the provisions of this Annex within a reasonable period of time.
  11. Notwithstanding the achievement of mutual recognition, the Parties may pursue steps to achieve further uniformity of occupational standards.

Part II
Development of New Occupational Standards and Changes to Existing Standards

  1. If occupational standards have not been established in the territory of a Party in respect of a particular occupation but exist in the territory of any other Party, the Party without the standards will develop its standards in a manner that will facilitate future reconciliation, taking into account the existing standards in the territories of the other Parties.
  2. If occupational standards do not exist in the territories of any of the Parties in respect of an occupation and a Party considers it necessary to establish occupational standards for that occupation, the Parties agree that the process of development of new occupational standards should occur in a manner that will facilitate future reconciliation and avoid the creation of new barriers to mobility. A Party intending to develop new standards shall notify the other Parties of its intent and afford them an opportunity to participate in the development of those standards.
  3. If a Party considers it necessary to make changes to existing standards in respect of an occupation, the Parties agree that the process for making such changes should occur in a manner that will foster reconciliation and avoid the creation of new barriers to mobility. A Party intending to make such changes shall notify the other Parties and afford them an opportunity to participate in the modification of those standards.

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Annex 712.2
List of Work Plan Priorities for Action

In the development of the work plan for the implementation of this Chapter, the Forum shall ensure that the work plan, at a minimum, addresses the following areas of priority for action:

  1. discussions with associations and corporations to invite them to participate in the development of reconciliation mechanisms and report periodically to the Forum;
  2. support of the initiatives of those associations and corporations;
  3. development of a strategy for the collection and coordination of information on labour market conditions, professional standards and occupational requirements relating to licensing, certification or registration of workers by jurisdiction (such information will be disseminated in a timely and accessible manner, for example, through Canada Employment Centres and provincial employment and training offices);
  4. acceleration and streamlining of the Interprovincial Standards (Red Seal) Program and of its examination processes; and
  5. mechanisms for ensuring the availability of information in both official languages of Canada.

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