Ontario eases licensing process for immigrants while Hong Kong eliminates licensing exams
The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. In this week's news, Hong Kong passes a law removing licensing exams, Ontario makes it easier for immigrants to get and keep licenses, and a California bill expedites relicensing processes.

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Hong Kong’s legislature passed a law eliminating a local licensing exam ostensibly in order to tackle a doctor shortage. On Thursday it passed a law allowing overseas-trained doctors to practice in the city without having taken a local licensing exam. Though the move is said to ease a medical staff shortage, it raises concerns over future healthcare standards. Some have called the legislation a first step towards replacing local doctors with those from mainland China, where health and safety concerns linger.

Ontario is planning to enact legislation to ease the licensing process for immigrants and better enable them to work in professions that match their areas of expertise. The legislation would prevent regulatory bodies from requiring immigrants seeking licenses to possess Canadian work experience. The legislation would also standardize English-language testing requirements and accelerate license application processing. The proposed legislation would not affect licensing for medical professions, including doctors and nurses, and would only apply to regulators overseeing architects, teachers, engineers, accountants, and social workers, among others.

Kentucky drivers will now have to obtain their licenses from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) instead of circuit clerks, Spectrum News 1 reports. In-person appointments can still be requested, but they will also be handled by the KYTC, a state-funded agency that builds and maintains federal and state highways and also regulates transportation-related matters. The new system will be rolled out in regional offices by mid-2022, and 25 regional and pop-up offices have been set up to issue licenses in the interim.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that expedites the relicensing process for a number of professions and vocations for military spouses. The now-enacted bill also expands the amount of job opportunities that military spouses may qualify for. More than 25 states have approved similar legislation, but California receives the most money in national security investment.

The Indiana Center for Recovery has landed approval from state regulators to start a career education program to support the training of addiction and mental health professionals. The recovery center plans to launch the Indiana Center for Recovery Education Institute this coming winter. The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency recently approved the center’s program to offer continuing education credits to licensed healthcare professionals working in substance abuse and mental health treatment.

In Illinois, midwifery has inched closer to becoming a licensed profession courtesy of a measure by state senators who presented legislation to allow for certified midwives to enter a licensing process. It would create standards for midwifery qualifications and create education and training criteria for those seeking to be licensed as a certified professional midwife, the Sun-Times reports.

Also noteworthy:

• Burned-out health care workers are nearing a breaking point, the W.H.O. warns. (New York Times)

• Experts say remote work should be the future of government (Government Technology)

• How Government Is Failing Public Servants (Government Executive)

Got a news tip? Write us at editor@ascend.thentia.com.

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Paul Leavoy
Written byPaul Leavoy
Paul Leavoy is Editor of Ascend Magazine and writes on occupational licensing, regulation, digital government, and public policy.

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