Workers enticed to go west
Booming Saskatchewan hosts event to draw residents to province's 10,000-odd available jobs
Sep 30, 2008 04:30 AM
Rafiq Muhammad and other members of Thorncliffe Park's ethnically diverse community came to a neighbourhood barbecue with some questions about Saskatchewan.
"Saskatchewan is a booming economy but I don't know much about it," said Muhammad, who has a degree in electrical engineering from a university in Lahore, Pakistan. "I'm here to see if we can really fit in."
Muhammad was typical of those who showed up to a meal of tandoori chicken and curry hosted by Saskatchewan's worker-hunting labour ministry yesterday evening in E.T. Seaton Park. He arrived in Canada recently, had gone through an initial period of hardship, but was now underemployed and worried about how he would raise his children.
He, like others, came to see whether it was possible to escape Ontario's lagging manufacturing economy, Toronto's fierce competition among skilled new immigrants, and the crime and hassle of the big city. And they wondered whether they might find a better life out west, in Canada's fastest growing provincial economy, among Saskatchewan's 10,000-odd available jobs.
"We have a people shortage," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall told the crowd.
Someone should tell Muhammed that mass immigration makes the competition among skilled new immigrants so fierce and has contributed significantly to the crime and the hassle of the big city.
Anyhow, I think I know what Muhammed's problem is. Would you, as an employer, hire someone with a degree from a University in Lahore, Pakistan. I didn't think so. You'd wait for something better to come along and since Canada literally doubles the number of engineers looking for work each year through immigration you probably wouldn't have to wait very long. This is why so many immigrants with engineering degrees are driving taxis or are underemployed as is Muhammed's case. It has less to do with a lack of recognition of their credentials and more to do with the fact that there were no jobs for them in their field when they arrived here. And what makes Muhammed's situation all the more dire is that year after year after year Canada imports more and more engineers who will compete with Muhammed and other immigrants as well as Canadians for a finite number of electrical engineering positions. That's how Canada's immigration system is a disservice to immigrant and Canadian alike. It is out of touch with the reality of the existing labour market.
I should also point out that the immigration points system grants equal weight to a degree from a University in Lahore, Pakistan to one from, say, Oxford University. Should we be allowing immigrants to come to Canada with false hopes knowing that they will be competing with people who hold western degrees and may well end up being underemployed? Should we be more picky and weed out immigrants with degrees from lesser universities - for lack of a better way to put it - to favour those who will most likely succeed in the Canadian labour market because they hold western degrees? And even some immigrants who hold degrees from western Universities are having a tough time. We like to say it is due to systemic discrimination but the real reason may be the most obvious and logical one: there are no jobs for them here. Canada is just wasting their lives.
So far the article seems like a puff piece reminding Canadians how much they need immigrants to fill job vacancies, a ploy to entice Canadians to begrudgingly support a policy they otherwise disagree with. The question that needs to be asked are what kinds of jobs are going unfilled? This paragraph, albeit a short one, is the most telling one of the piece:
The premier, for his part, admitted that many of these new Canadians were overqualified for the jobs his province needs to fill.
What do you think he means by that? Are "booming" Saskatchewan's 10,000 odd jobs mostly counter help at fast food restaurants, nannies, general labourers, security workers, truck drivers, retail sales staff, and a myriad of part-time and temp positions? If immigrants knew that these were the only jobs available to them before they applied to come to Canada would they still apply? Is Canada lying to immigrants and ruining their lives? Canada needs to be more honest to immigrants before they make a big mistake and decided to come here. It's the compassionate thing to do is it not?