Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Failure of Canadian Immigration Services

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The initial title of this post was "The Ignored Failure of Canadian Immigration Services." Attentive readers will note that the word "Ignored" has since been dropped. The failure, as I see it, is that we spend countless time, energy and money attracting foreign professionals to our country, yet let them flounder and tell them they have to manage on their own once they get here. There is no proper government encadrement for these people, save that of their own ethnic communities, should one already be established. Even then, the aid is often insufficient, and the result is PHDs driving taxi cabs, living in subpar conditions, and having a generally poor state of affairs. As if we didn't have enough people overqualified for the work they do!
The solution, therefore, is to allow these people to work in their own domains. Like the saying goes, it's one thing to give people charity by donating money; it's quite another to give them a job.

To my great, and quite pleasant surprise, I opened the newspaper today to read that Stephen Harper has announced a policy initiative to speed the recognition of foreign professionals's credentials. As Conservative Immigration Critic Diane Ablonczy said, in an interview with the Indo-Canadian weekly, Voice,
"We do have a clear policy on how to do it. We do have a broad policy in the recognition of international credentials. The federal government has to use a combination of carrots and sticks policy. Because there are many players involved besides the Ministry of Immigration, there is the HRDC, Industry Canada, Provincial governments, professional bodies and trade bodies etc. You have got to bring them all on board. Some of them do not want the recognition of foreign credentials because they like to keep the door very closed. In that case, the Federal government will have to use a very strong package of both carrots and sticks, more sticks than carrots. We must initiate studies to show that the urgent need for people in different fields and professions. We know that we need these people, but these studies will make it clear to all. We need to give money to the professional bodies to enable them to create the mechanism needed for credentials recognition. Of course, you have to show some stick too. We have to tell them, look here if you are not willing to make these changes so that newcomers can quickly integrate into our workplaces, then we wouldn't be able to accommodate you in some other areas. It will involve a series of negotiations. The big thing that we need is a Credentials Recognition Body of experts from the professions, universities. Not a huge body, but a few very capable people who are well-respected and who can also talk to the educational institutions back in the home countries and who can say this is how good they are and suggest ways on how to bring them to equivalency. If you have a central clearing agency like that, it would be the best way to solve the foreign credentials problem."
Her carrots and sticks thing sounds a bit ungrammatical and awkwardly phrased, but the gist of her idea is common sense, the type of Centrist dialogue that I applaud, as do the rest of Centrerion's team, I'm sure. We need to have foreigners professional credentials recognized. Creating a body to do this just this, and that will work with the various players in the field, is exactly what's needed. Assuming it is a feasible project (if I'm wrong on that count, I'd be happy to hear why, and a counter-proposal of how to get these people's credentials recognized), this is policy that's got to be put through. And that seems to be just what they intend to do, as Ablonczy herself said in the interview:

"My first act would be to deal with the credentials issue. To get all the players together, with a clear plan, ask them what we can do address this issue. The needs of our country and the newcomers have to be dealt with. We can no longer just talk shop. We have to make progress on behalf of these newcomers. Of course, it's not going to be an overnight process. But that certainly is No.1 on my list. If you fix that problem, you fix a big issue that affects this country."
Interesting to note, however, is that the idea was initially brought by Liberal Ruby Dhalla. In the interview, Ablonczy says it was a Private Member's Bill, rejected by the Liberal Party until they saw it would pass, whereupon they jumped back on the bandwagon.

Another reason why I dropped the "Ignored" from the title is that a few days earlier, I read that the Greens (that name always makes me think of my mother trying to force-feed me vegetables) have put this down as their policy goal too. Naturally, they share the applause.

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