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Interprovincial Barriers to Labour Mobility in Canada:Policy, Knowledge Gaps and Research Issues

Grady, Patrick and Macmillan, Kathleen (2007): Interprovincial Barriers to Labour Mobility in Canada:Policy, Knowledge Gaps and Research Issues.

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The purpose of this paper is to identify the most important knowledge gaps on interprovincial barriers to labour mobility in Canada, and to shed some light on potential conceptual, methodological, and data issues associated with research in this area. Consequently, it provides an overview of the current state of play with respect to the most important issues relating to inter-provincial barriers to labour mobility within the Canadian internal market. The three main barriers to labour mobility in Canada, which are considered, are: residency requirements; certain practices regarding occupational licensing, certification and registration; and differences in how occupational qualifications are recognized. These are the main regulatory barriers that are to be removed or reduced under Chapter 7, the Labour Mobility Chapter of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). It also reviews critically the recent relevant research in Canada and in some other jurisdictions (the United States, the European Union and Australia) on barriers to labour mobility. The paper finds that the most important knowledge gap concerns the extent of the regulatory barriers to labour mobility and their impacts and costs. It also concludes that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the approach of mutual recognition being pursued in Canada to eliminate such regulatory barriers. However, while there has been a fair degree of success in Canada in achieving occupation-specific Mutual Recognition Agreements for occupational qualifications and reconciliation of differences in occupational standards, this progress has been too slow. Moreover, the functioning of the dispute resolution mechanism with respect to Chapter 7, is overly complex and inaccessible. The dispute resolution mechanism in the Alberta-B.C. Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement is stronger and simpler than that of the AIT, and definitely one to be considered as a model to improve the AIT.

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