BC’s new premier David Ebyvisited Surrey this week to interact with the South Asian media representatives and answer concerns of the residents living in the fastest growing city of the province. Along with housing, inflation, public safety and health care, the biggest concern faced by immigrants especially the South Asian skilled immigrants, is finding a job in the profession they were trained in their home countries. Dentists, health care professionals, accountants, vetsand many more skilled workers have found it hard to pursue their career due to lags in foreign credential recognition processes.
Ebywhile elaborating on his government’s plans to deal with housing affordability, health care and public safety, talked about how he wants remove the barriers limiting skilled immigrants. He said it was something he was ‘extremely passionate’ to deal with.
“We moved this issue from the ministry of municipal affairs to the minister of state for workforce development Andrew Mercier. It will be his responsibility to work across government and regulators to set a clear path for foreign credential recognition.”
He said the government would be working on a new legislation that would require regulators to set a clear path for the recognition of the skills and abilities of internationally trained professionals.
According to Eby, building a strong, secure, and sustainable economy that works for everyone means ensuring all British Columbians can put the skills they have worked hard to learn and master to work for their communities, families, and our province. “We will not succeed by leaving people behind or wasting their potential and ensuring new arrivals to British Columbia can put their training and abilities to work as quickly as possible is essential.”
He acknowledged that new immigrants who are qualified in their skills are still not connected to their profession. “One of the big challenges facing our provincial economy is employers looking for skilled workers in various professions. We have people with those required skills unable to take the jobs because their credentials are not recognized.”
He said these gaps are costing BC economic growth. “This is costing our immigrants who chose BC as their home with a hope but since their skills are not recognized, they lose that hope. This is a very serious problem.”
It was during one of his visits to Chilliwack, he met a South Asian couple from Pakistan who were trained as dentist and doctor in Pakistan. But after moving to Canada, they both were working in a school board. “We want such people to be in health care. I felt passionate to give them the support they need to get back to their profession.”
Ebyin his mandate letter to minister Mercier has asked him to take action on this critical issue. According to the mandate letter, along with a legislation, the province will evaluate approaches taken in other jurisdictions to advance a successful foreign credential recognition program.
The minister responsible would be working with Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills to strengthen resources for the evaluation of skilled immigrants’ credentials, including the Credential Assessment Improvement Fund.
The government also plans to engage with non-profit organizations, new arrivals, and community leaders to identify issues and barriers preventing internationally trained workers from working in their fields to the full extent of their abilities.
Eby has also made it clear that international students will get their fair treatment in this province by “responding quickly if private institutions promote or offer sub-standard education to international students, and develop protections for international students that support their fair treatment across the sector.”
Ebyduring his discussion with the South Asian media members said that people of Surrey were important part of BC. Be it opening a new hospital, new medical school, Surrey Langley skytrain or increasing seats in Surrey schools, BC government will be investing in this city. When asked about his response to the recent debateon Surrey police force, hereiterated Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth’s priority about public safety in making any decision.
By Surbhi Gogia