The Conservatives were applauded during their election campaign when they promised to help new immigrants get their professional credentials recognized.
A review of the evolution of this promise now suggests that these poor folks have been utterly abandoned.
In their “Stand up for Canada” platform, the Conservatives promised to create an agency “to provide pre-assessment of international credentials and experience.” By employing the word “pre-assessment” the Conservatives suggested that their goal was to ensure that intending immigrants would know prior to coming here whether or not they would be able to work in their field.
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The Tories also promised to “work with the provinces and professional associations” to ensure foreign-trained professionals start “working in Canada quickly.” This promise recognized that while it is the federal government that has the power to run our immigration program, it is the provinces that have the exclusive power to license the professions. The promise implied that the Conservatives were ready to “take on” the provinces and use its influence to persuade the provinces and territories to give these professional immigrants a fair shake. This is no small undertaking given how jealously the provinces guard their constitutional turf and how exorbitant the demanded concessions would have been.
In their 2006 budget the Feds did not “create” the agency as promised but rather declared that they would be “taking steps” towards its establishment and that they would be “setting aside $18 million over two years” for this noble cause. In this budget they dropped the term “pre-assessment” in favour of the word “assessment” suggesting that they would now be focusing on immigrants only once they arrive here.
In their 2007 budget the Conservatives dropped their commitment from $18 to $13 million over two years. However, much more importantly, the mandate of the agency would not come close to its architect’s original plan. Gone was the possibility that the Conservatives would be taking on the provinces. Instead, “the new office will provide … information about the Canadian labour market and credential assessment and recognition requirements. As well, it will provide immigrants with path-finding and referral services to identify and connect with the appropriate assessment bodies.”
Are they kidding us?
Are we really going to spend $13 million telling new professional immigrants what the labour market conditions are? They already know. They are here … some driving cabs. They don’t need help ascertaining the requirements; they need help making them fair. As for help connecting with the appropriate assessment bodies, that’s why we have Google.
If the Conservatives bit off more than they can chew and cannot “Stand up for Canada,” they shouldn’t squander $13 million to make it look like they are either keeping their promises or doing something worthwhile.
Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org