British Columbia has taken the National Agreement on Internal Trade ("AIT") one step further by tabling Bill 9, the Labour Mobility Act. The Bill is the first piece of legislation in Canada which gives barrier-free access to Canadian tradespersons and professionals who want to work in British Columbia.

The AIT was signed in 1994 by the federal government and the governments of the provinces and territories (excluding Nunavut, which remains an observer). The AIT was designed to eliminate barriers to free movement of goods, services, investments and people throughout the country. Chapter 7 of the AIT specifically seeks to remove labour barriers, while allowing each province and territory to maintain responsibility and authority for regulated occupations in its province, including engineers, trades people, doctors and lawyers.

The BC legislature is now making good on its commitment to the AIT within its provincial barriers. Bill 9, which was introduced by the BC Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, received first reading on March 12, 2009.

Generally, the Bill provides that a worker who holds a certificate, license or registration from a regulatory authority in any of the provinces or territories, may practice the equivalent occupation in BC without having to obtain a BC certificate, license or registration. The worker is permitted to use the title or designation of the BC equivalent, and holds the same rights, restrictions and obligations as if he or she had obtained the designation in BC. The "nuts and bolts" of the system, including the procedure for applying for and granting a BC certification, will be contained in Regulations, yet to be drafted.

The BC Government is predicting that the current number of post-secondary students in BC falls short of the number of expected retirees in the province over the next decade. The Government is therefore counting on this Bill to facilitate and encourage the movement of skilled human resources to the province.