Years of Conservative foot dragging has led to systemic underemployment of newcomers, say New Democrats.
VANCOUVER – New Democrats accused Stephen Harper’s Conservatives of taking half measures and failing to act quickly enough to recognize the foreign credentials of internationally trained professionals. This hurts newcomers, leads to systemic underemployment and costs Canada up to $5.9 billion a year.
“Once again Conservatives are only taking baby steps in the right direction on recognizing foreign credentials,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “Unfortunately while they dragged their feet for years, qualified professionals new to Canada have struggled and fallen behind.”
Since 2007, New Democrats have called for a concrete plan to accelerate and streamline the recognition of foreign credentials, overseas degrees and previous employment experience, in conjunction with provinces and licensing authorities.
“When qualified professionals arrive in Canada ready to work, but get lost in the system, Canada loses out,” Turmel said. “They want to help build our communities and contribute to our economy—but they aren’t allowed to.”
Turmel pointed to an RBC poll from last year which found that nearly half of newcomers are underemployed. The poll found that, even after 10 years in Canada, one-third of immigrants still feel underemployed.
“Thanks to years of inaction by Mr. Harper, we’ve got qualified doctors forced to drive taxis while millions of Canadians can’t find a doctor,” Turmel said. “It’s about time the government take action.”
Conservatives announced this week the launch of a three-year pilot project that will make it easier for internationally trained professionals to have their credentials recognized and find jobs in their fields.
The announcement was made by the Honourable Diane Finley,. The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism also participated in the announcement.
“Our government’s top priority is job creation and economic growth,” said Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley. “In the Economic Action Plan, we made a commitment to help internationally trained professionals cover the costs of having their credentials recognized. Today we are delivering on that commitment.”
For many internationally trained professionals, the cost of licensing exams, training and skills upgrading can present a significant barrier to credential recognition. The Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot will develop and test innovative projects that provide financial assistance to internationally trained professionals to lessen some of these financial burdens. Delivered in partnership with community organizations, the loans will make it easier for internationally trained professionals to find jobs that best suit their skills and experience.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. British Columbia, where Minister Finley made the announcement, is one of several partners across Canada to receive support through this pilot. Similar agreements were also announced in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“Through our partnership with the Government of Canada and our years of involvement with bridge programs such as foreign credential recognition, we look forward to providing services for flexible, easily accessible and low cost loan applications to internationally trained professionals.” said Thomas Tam, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S