Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Saturday, March 04, 2006

�1 in 6 male immigrants leaves Canada�

Some signs of Canadians cluing into the problems they face in absorbing imported skills in their labour market. Regular readers of b-gen would, of course, not be surprised at the findings of the study. I have blogged about this issue a number of times.

What are the chances of Canada getting this right? I remain skeptical. Stephen Harper did make this issue a part of his electoral platform, but until I see any tangible action I'd consider it as just a cynical ploy to attract immigrant votes from Liberals and NDP. Besides, the real problem is at the provincial level because professional regulation in Canada is a matter of provinical jurisdiction. Unfortunately, provincial professional associations are very powerful lobbies whose main interest is in preventing competition from imported skills so that their existing members can continue to earn high wages. They make it extremely hard, tedious and expensive for new immigrants to practise their professions in Canada by creating a labyrinth of regulations whose sole purpose is to keep as many immigrants out of their professions as possible. Of course, they hide behind pseudo-concerns of "assuring safe practices" and indulge in not-too-subtle fear-mongering about third-world educated furriners let loose in Canada. The provinces leave it up to them to work out the procedural details, which is kinda like asking union hacks to come up with procedures to qualify scab labour for work. Essentially, this creates a market failure that allows current members of professional associations to seek rents.

This is a huge structural problem with the Canadian economy. On one hand, immigrants are making up the shortfall in Canadian population growth : if Canada were to stop immigration, its population would fall and the economy would shrink due to low birth rates. For many years the replacement of retiring workers and growth in new skills has been accounted for by the immigrant labour. However, the creation of entry barriers by professional accreditation bodies creates a structural impediment for the new supply of labour and skills in connecting with the growing demand. Therefore, you have this ridiculous situation where many parts of Canada are running short of doctors, engineers and nurses but many well-qualified doctors, engineers and nurses educated in foreign universities continue to drive cabs or deliver pizzas in Toronto and Vancvouer. Clearly, this cannot go on indefinitely and as other destinations open up and compete for a share of the same migrant labour skills, Canada would lose its attractiveness.

This leads me to believe that perhaps the real problem is the separation of federal and provincial powers in Canada. Immigration is federally regulated and works in its own little silo to meet its targets of attracting targeted volumes of skills. Once those people come into the country, they are left to fend for themselves and there is no coherent strategy to ensure that Canadian society actually benefits from the increase in labour pool. The provinces are not particularly involved in helping immigrants integrate into the labour market, although they have jursdiction over regulation of professions, and thus an indirect control over such integration.

Solution? There are a few obvious options to solve the problem : get the provinces involved in immigration, or create federal accreditation standards, or help immigrants qualify for specific provincial jursidictions even before they enter the country, or change the immigration policy so that only people posessing relatively easy-to-absorb skills are brought into the country. The time to do it is now. Too many lives are being ruined by false promises held out by Canada. I have heard enough tales of woe from frustrated cab drivers in Toronto and Vancouver to see first-hand how painful this is. Of course, such retarded policy is also hurting Canada's long-term economic interests and destroys one of the few macroeconomic competitive advantages the country has. Canada must leverage the attractiveness of its otherwise tolerant and peaceful society to attract global talent and let it flourish in its beautiful, cosmopolitan cities if it wants to have any chance of creating a post-resources, post-industrial economy. $60 oil is not going to last forever, Alberta.

-- Mahashunyam // 4:50 PM // 4 comments


Some of that number includes many who never intend on staying in Canada, but use it as a stepping stone to getting into the US--I have worked with a few people who did just that.

That aside, I could agree more. Such wasted opportunities both in term of economics and plain old human decency.
// Anonymous niblettes // 4:03 AM

we came to Canada looking for better opportunities.
However the reality that Canada that preaches about immigration and how we are wanted,practise institutional racism was hard to chew.
I am a medical doctor, while fraser health authority employs nusrses as doctors, masquerading under the title of "nurse practitioners", i am sitting at home. Some how the white majority think that only the white countries(AKA former white britih colonies) like australia, NZ and SA teach better medicine and the rest of us just sprouted out of the ground as quacks. The system stinks.
Yes I will leave for my country the moment I get my covetted Canadian passport, but not because I haven't tried..
But I know my kids will study in Canadian universities paying the Canadian fees.. And yes I will have the last laugh.
// Blogger Sarah // 11:00 PM

I am so terribly sorry to hear about your story, Immigrant-In-Canada. Unfortunately, it does not surprise me as this problem is all too common among Canadian immigrants. Things are a little easier if your qualifications were earned in other anglophone countries like UK, US, Australia or New Zealand but most immigrants to Canada are not from these countries, rahter they tend to be predominantly from Asia - specifically, South East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

This is the brutal reality in Canada and it's one that I find a most horrible practice of institutionalized discrimination - it's little short of a professional apartheid. Unfortunately, I don't see the political will to tackle this as the professional associations are extremely powerful lobbies. Unless there is a grassroots movement like Gandhi's non-violent protests to shame these oppressors into changing their practices, nothing is going to happen.
// Blogger Mahashunyam // 12:59 AM

Even the grass route level change wouldn't happen.. because the white Canadian lives under the fear of Asian rather i should say non white invasion of Canada. he intends to protect his territory, be it his job, house or for that matter education. He forgets that he too was a visitor to this land. Some how he forgets history when it suits him. He gets angry when he is reminded that Canada is a land of immigrants.. he claims it is his own..He forgets how kind the Native Indians were to him, he returned the kindness by destroying their culture and language.. Now even after 2 centuries the white man is still doing it..and he pretends that it is not happening.. Racism survives in Canada..
// Blogger Sarah // 4:48 AM

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