Trent: Immigration is Good – But Only if We Deal With it Correctly

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen recently unveiled the government’s immigration targets for 2018 and beyond. But why bring in skilled foreigners if we won’t allow them to earn a living off those skills? ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

When the government of Canada announced this month that it is increasing the number of Canadian immigrants by 10,000 a year to reach 340,000 annually by 2020, it was once again stressing quantity over quality.

Don’t get me wrong. My wife is noted for helping to integrate countless refugees and immigrants over the past 40 years. So we are not against Canada receiving more immigration. What worries us is the way we treat them. There are two enormous problems: We confirm to prospective immigrants that there are great opportunities waiting for them in Canada, then we stop them from getting adequate jobs.

We knew one doctor, who had specialized training in the United States and practised in Columbia for 15 years, who was forced to go back to the beginning of his studies in Ontario. Another doctor from Australia, who specialized in England, was never allowed to specialize in British Columbia. My neighbour just bought a car from a microbiologist from Burundi who trained at Laval University, a refrigerator from a researcher who did his studies in Europe, and a table from an engineer from Turkey.

I know. You are going to tell me these are anecdotes. But hasn’t everyone met a taxi driver who has a PhD from a foreign country? And what about the figures they were reporting a few years ago that showed there were 1,000 foreign-trained doctors unable to practise in Quebec and another 1,000 in Alberta when both provinces needed about 1,000 doctors each? Do we not still read every day of a terrible lack of doctors in Ontario and Quebec?

So my Canadian doctor friend asked me how I would like to be treated by a presumed doctor from Africa or India. My answer was, if I am travelling in Africa or India and I fall sick, am I going to refuse treatment from a local doctor? And would it not be a service to our whole health system if we had doctors with foreign languages to serve all the other immigrants?

By John E. Trent for OTTAWA CITIZEN
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