Foreign-trained architects, nurses and engineers are among new immigrants who will get first crack at having their credentials recognized within one year under a new federal-provincial accord being announced Monday.
Canwest News Service has learned the agreement will be implemented in two stages, and that by the end of 2012 a total of 15 occupations will have access to a fast-track system of foreign-credential recognition.
This means foreign-trained workers who submit an application after that date to be licensed or registered in those fields should be advised within one year whether their credentials will be recognized.
Canada is accessing the skills of immigrants after they have landed and that is the root of the problem. Their skills should be accessed before they are allowed to immigrate and satisfying the assessment should be a requirement for entry. Not only will this save Canadian tax payers money but it will negate the need for more layers of bureaucracy and the adding of more laws to an already convoluted immigration system. Also, it will save immigrants' time, money, and grief. Currently immigrants are lawfully permitted to come to Canada after successfully completing a dated and arbitrary points based application where recognition of their credentials is not an issue.
The federal budget earlier this year earmarked $50-million over the next two years to make the process of assessing and recognizing foreign credentials more efficient. The work involves pressing many of the 440 professional licensing and regulatory bodies across the country to participate in streamlining their systems for foreign-credential recognition.
The House of Commons immigration committee released a report last week calling on the federal government to step up efforts to improve recognition of newcomers' education, skills and training as a way of alleviating the poverty, unemployment and underemployment that, it said, too many are forced to endure.
Among other things, the all-party committee called on the federal government to consider providing such financial incentives as tax credits and wage subsidies to employers who provide short-term "work-experience" opportunities to newcomers in their areas of expertise.
The simplest explanation for why highly educated immigrants are driving cabs in Toronto is that the jobs they intended to take upon arrival in Canada never existed. The lack of recognition of immigrants' credentials and the nonsensical "Canadian experience" excuse is just smoke and mirrors. When Fortune 500 companies like Intel and Microsoft have outsourced skilled work to India and China you have to ask if "Canadian experience" and non-recognition of credentials really have anything to do with it.
The tax dollars to be funneled to assist immigrants who shouldn't even be in the country is money wasted. Why are Canadian tax dollars to be spent to subsidize the education of immigrants to upgrade their skills when so many Canadians are currently out of work or underemployed? Shouldn't that money be spent on them instead? Is Canada importing immigrants so that Canadians can invest tax dollars in skills upgrading for immigrants so that these immigrants can then compete with Canadians in the labour market?
And how odd it is that Canadian businesses need to be bribed with tax payer funded incentives to hire the immigrants Canadian businesses say they need in order to stay competitive.
The existence of affirmative action programs, equal opportunity employment, government sponsored incentives to businesses to hire immigrants, and the Maytree Foundation's "DiverseCity" program (a hypocritical program advocating discriminatory hiring practices that favour racial minorities) are all proofs that jobs for skilled immigrants do not exist and that Canada is taking in more immigrants than it needs.
The Toronto Star reviewed this latest Conservative government initiative to buy immigrant votes in an editorial. Aside from misstating that the immigration systems is "is skewed to benefit skilled professionals" it gets a couple things right.
When foreign-trained doctors apply for accreditation to work in Ontario, they generally wait four to six weeks to get an answer. Pharmacists wait about two weeks and engineers six weeks for decisions from their professional regulatory bodies on whether their foreign credentials will be recognized here.
So how, then, will a requirement to give applicants an answer within one year "speed up foreign credential recognition for newcomers to Canada," as Ottawa claimed this week under a much-ballyhooed framework agreement with provinces.
And most importantly this:
The real problem is not how fast the paperwork is processed. Rather, it is lack of access to the necessary training and skills upgrading programs, as well as unreasonable requirements imposed by professional bodies, which have little incentive to let in newcomers.
Exactly. Canada's professionals have put up barriers by way of their professional bodies to protect their incomes from the negative effects of mass immigration. This is a luxury denied most Canadians, especially Canada's poor, who have no one defending them. The labour unions have proven themselves too cowardly to demand less immigration to not only protect working Canadians but also to safeguard their futures since mass immigration will undermine their influence and strength by creating a surplus of desperate labour.
Jason Kenney went so far as to accuse physicians' groups with putting up discouraging hurdles to prevent foreign trained doctors from practicing in Canada.
"It's no secret that a lot of foreign-trained medical professionals have significant hurdles in getting their credentials recognized," he said. "It's a huge opportunity cost that's lost to us, to encourage foreign-trained medical doctors to come to Canada and have them end up cleaning hotel rooms."
"There are some of the major professional agencies, let's make no bones about this, who are less willing to collaborate, less willing to streamline the process and cut the red tape," Kenney said.
"Some of them appear to be acting in a way to keep closed labour markets and to keep closed the doors of opportunity for foreign-trained professions, and that is a shame."
The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons claim to have made improvements in this area but this came about only after political pressure.
I know, not all standards are created equal, that there is document fraud, and there may be some validity to denying many foreign trained professionals the opportunity to practice in Canada. But when immigrants educated in western nations have to jump through hoops just to get licensed to practice in their fields then you can't help but get suspicious.
These problems can be avoided if an immigrant's skills and credentials were accessed before they are allowed to come to Canada. If they don't pass an assessment then they should be denied entry regardless of how well they scored on the points based application. Doesn't that make much more sense?
As a side note I wonder how many politicians pushing for credential recognition will have an Indian trained doctor as a physician or go under the knife of a Pakistani trained surgeon? I wonder indeed.