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“Sure, I’ve heard people say it’s an old boys’ club trying to protect our turf. When I hear that, I’m like, ‘Here — you want some turf? Take it. We could use the help’ ”

Canadians naturally wicked to the core, and just love consign- ing immigrants to the dustbins of our work world? What kind of immigrant was Canada looking for in the past?

Clifford Siſton, the federal minister charged with peopling the vast tracts of arable farmland in the western provinces back at the end of the 19th century, said the ideal peasant would be “in a sheep-skin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children.” Canadian immigration has always been very tightly disci-

plined, blending the skills and temperaments of newcomers with what government planners saw as the needs of the economy. In Siſton’s day, Canada specifically sought Scotsmen over Englishmen because the former were believed to be much better farmers of the sort Canada required at the time. Recent emotion-laden efforts such as bringing in Syrian refu-

gees reinforce Canada’s public image as a rich, generous uncle welcoming needy relatives, but refugees only account for about 10% of this country’s newcomers any given year. Another 25% of newcomers fall into the family-class category, i.e., joining relatives here. But the biggest group — about 60% of all immi- grants — falls into the economic category. On average, for the past decade, Canada has accepted about 250,000 legal immi- grants. Experts feel that number will be par for the course at least in the near future, too. So why do newcomers work at jobs they’re overqualified for? First, they’ll do whatever it takes. Unless they’re indepen-

dently wealthy or have a job in their field upon arrival, immi- grants have no social safety net here. You can’t move back into mom’s basement when mom’s in Kazakhstan. Second, many of them were badly misled by rapacious immi-

gration consultants back home. Phil Schalm is the associate director of Tri-Campus Expansion and International Pro- fessionals Initiatives for the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. He is also a member of the Conference Board of Canada’s Leaders Roundtable on Immigration. “Years ago, we’d have information sessions for newcomers.

I’d say, ‘Give me a show of hands. How many of you feel you were lied to by your immigration official or your immigration consul- tant?’ I’d say 80% of them said, ‘If I wasn’t lied to, they withheld information from me.’ They were coming here not knowing how complex it was going to be to get into their chosen profession.” That’s a problem the Internet is quickly solving. Furthermore, immigrants who’ve already established themselves in Canada oſten don’t admit to the folks back home how tough it was to set up here. The biggest worry a pediatrician from Pakistan working as a truck driver in Brampton, Ont., has? “I don’t want my daddy to find out. He would be deeply disappointed.”

Also, studies show that North American companies tend to

hire locally. If a factory is looking at two resumés of equal heſt but one has a foreign surname and foreign experience attached, it will get eclipsed by the local talent. More importantly, economists, forecasters and government

planners whose job is to find the right bodies to fit the country’s economic slots can’t predict the future. Five years ago, who would have thought the unemployment rate in Fort McMurray, Alta., would spike by 40% in 12 months? Finally, immigrants arrive with degrees and diplomas from

such a wide variety of societies and institutions in so many far- flung countries, it is incumbent upon Canadian accreditation bodies and overseers to ensure that foreign credentials are up to standard. If they are not, newcomers must upgrade to gain the academic or experiential qualifications to meet the same stan- dards as their Canadian-educated counterparts. “When it comes to doctors, to qualify in Canada, in most

cases you have to do a residency,” Noorani says, adding that the odds are stacked against newcomers. “Colleges of physicians and surgeons carefully regulate the number of residency seats available because they have an old boys’ club. If you have more seats then the demand for doctors would go down and the earn- ings per doctor would go down.” “Sure, I’ve heard people say it’s an old boys’ club trying to

protect our turf,” says Newmarket, Ont.-based physician Norma Carter. “When I hear that, I’m like, ‘Here — you want some turf? Take it. We could use the help.’” “Yes, some of the doctors who come to Canada are never

going to practise,” says Fleur-Ange Lefebvre, CEO and executive director of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, which is the national association of provincial and ter- ritorial medical regulatory authorities. “But we’re not going to compromise our high standards to get more people in.” Christine Nielsen is the CEO of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, which certifies medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants. The technolo- gists are the people who analyze lab tests on your blood and tissues and they comprise the fourth-largest healthcare profes- sion in the country. And because there’s a shortage of these professionals in the country, Nielsen is a huge advocate for skilled immigration — but not compromised standards. “In many countries,” she says, “when it comes to a nation’s

blood supply, there isn’t one. In Canada we have Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. In many places in the world if they need a donation they phone a friend or they pull one or two names off a hospital roster and hope for a match.” Lab technicians in some countries process about 20 lab samples a day, she said, adding, “Here, we do 200 samples by


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