Saturday, September 24, 2005

More Skilled Immigrants -- More Waste of Expertise

Top story in today's Saturday Star:

"Ottawa throws doors open
Canada to welcome 100,000 more immigrants each year

In a bid to counteract Canada's declining birthrate and aging population, the federal government is looking at a dramatic boost in immigration [from 235,000 per year to 320,000, 1% of the population]....The new policy is also expected to reflect the Prime Minister's emphasis on the need for more skilled immigrants." by Bruce Campion-Smith, Ottawa Bureau, The Saturday Star

There is just one problem with Paul Martin's plan to turn Canada into a "worldwide recruiter of newcomers": the provinces and industry are not interested in hiring or allowing foreign-trained skilled immigrants to work here. Ontario has had numerous Task Forces on foreign-skilled labour, the problems they face, and how to get them jobs in their areas of expertise and has done very little to rectify the inequities found. What is the point of allowing a doctor to immigrate here, based on his medical degree and experience, if the province refuses to even grant competent practitioners licenses to work here?

Every profession has their own hoops, trapezes, and obstacle courses for immigrants to get through before it gives them a license. These obstacles oftentimes have little to do with competency. Statistically, about 70 percent of people are competent in their field, and so you know a 3 percent pass rate is rigged. Competency exams measure a person's ability to perform the required tasks of his or her profession or trade. These exams are different from knowledge exams, which are typically the kind students have to pass in order to graduate. And unlike knowledge exams, competency exams are pass/fail. You're either competent or not. Another kind of exam only foreign-trained workers have to pass are language ones. Can the person function in English or French well enough to communicate with their clients and perform their tasks well in this country?

The problem with most professions and trades in Ontario is that they have set up impossible standards for immigrants to pass. A person may be extremely capable in their profession or trade and still be unable to get a license to practice here. Reasons run from "closed shop" to racism as evidenced by how they treat Canadian-trained workers. One professional association has no competency exams for Canadian-trained professionals -- that means, the professional can be totally incompetent even though knows the stuff. Another sets the bar to pass a competency exam so low, that anyone can pass. The caveat is they allow only Canadian-educated people to take it and immigrants only after they've basically gone through school again. Apprenticeships used to be closed shop -- which is ridiculous given the average age of many trades is in the 50s! -- but I'm not sure of the current situation, and just like with professions, differs from trade to trade.

To complicate matters, the federal and provincial bureaucrats who deal with immigration and licensing issues hate each others guts. Each thinks the other group is totally idiotic. And, as well, although Ontario receives about half of all immigrants and Toronto 40 percent, neither receives anywhere near enough funding to help immigrants settle in.

I agree that Canada needs more skilled workers. We are dreadfully short of doctors and nurses, skilled trades such as bricklayers, to name a few. But until the federal and provincial governments start co-operating to ensure EVERY part of Canada is working together on licensing or certifying skilled immigrants to work here, increasing skilled immigration is a total waste of time. Most skilled immigrants don't come here to drive taxis or flip burgers. That wastes our tax dollars and needlessly deprives a poorer country's need of their skills.

Tags: ,

No comments: