France and Québec sign historic understanding
Québec City, October 17, 2008 - Québec Premier Jean Charest and French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed an unprecedented understanding today in Québec City governing the recognition of professional qualifications. Under the Understanding, France and Québec will adopt a common procedure for recognizing professional qualifications, thus making it quicker and easier to obtain a permit to practice a regulated profession or trade in either jurisdiction.
Premier Charest and President Sarkozy entered into the Understanding with the goal of removing one of the primary obstacles impeding access to regulated professions and trades. This issue is all the more important in light of increasing bilateral investments, business partnerships and flows of workers, researchers and students.
“This Understanding will enable businesses in Québec and France to recruit needed qualified workers more quickly and easily amid intense global competition. In a context of globalization, we must work to develop new ways of operating while upholding the core principles of public protection, service quality, transparency and reciprocity. That is the choice that President Sarkozy and I have made. Moreover, I am very pleased to note that our respective regulatory organizations have followed suit and embraced this initiative,” said Premier Charest.
Under the Understanding, all Québec organizations responsible for regulating or issuing authorization permits or certificates for regulated professions or trades will be required to conclude mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) setting out the applicable criteria. The Understanding covers slightly more than 100 professions and trades in France and Québec.
“Under the Understanding, individuals will be able to begin work more quickly, instead of having to resume their studies. We also hope to reduce the permit waiting period by 50% to 80%. This is an unprecedented and practical solution,” said Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, Québec's Minister of International Relations.
Following the signing of the Understanding, the French and Québec representatives of more than 20 professions and trades announced that they have already begun working together on the initiative; they also provided written undertakings that MRAs would be finalized over the next few months for lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, pharmacists, veterinarians, carpenters, bricklayers and heavy equipment operators. The organizations subject to the Understanding will have two years to conclude such arrangements.
“This Understanding is a perfect reflection of the new economic space we are seeking for Québec. It represents nothing less than a new freedom: the freedom to work, to be recognized, to create and to build without undue constraint in both Québec and France. We are promoting inventiveness and innovation, and we are doing so in French,” concluded Mr. Charest.
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