Doctors Driving Taxis
The Problem with Immigration and Education in Canada
The Canada eZine - Education


In Canada immigration rules are such that only educated people or refugees are allowed to immigrate into Canada. The idea is to ensure that immigrants who do arrive will be able to find jobs, hopefully in fields where we need more highly-trained workers, especially doctors because we have a shortage.

But instead of letting these well-trained people immediately enter the workforce we encounter a problem: Because they were trained outside of Canada, and because our rules and training differs from their rules and training, many immigrants end up in jobs that they are over-qualified for.

Namely, doctors driving taxis and engineers running convenience stores.

In my old neighbourhood in North York there was a man from South Korea whom I conversed with regularly (I speak Korean) and he told me that back in South Korea he used to be an engineer, but he makes more money here working in a convenience store than he would over there as an engineer. Why isn't he an engineer here then, I asked him. Because the government won't let him. His training is different and he would have to be re-trained to work in Canada.

And thats where we come to the problem we are currently facing.

Canada allows in roughly 200,000 new immigrants every year, and has been doing so since the early 1990s. That means that during the last 15 years we have embraced 3 million new Canadian-immigrants, plus any children they've had while in Canada. During the 1980s, it was about 80,000 to 100,000 new immigrants, but due to cheaper airline tickets, a surging global economy and the widespread instruction of English in foreign countries as a business/tourism language.

Indeed, by 2010 Canadians can be expecting to have close to 300,000 new immigrants per year.

55% of Immigrants settle in Ontario, making the populations of Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph and London grow.

14.5% of these new immigrants have university degrees, and this is the percentage we need to worry about. How many of these new immigrants are entering their chosen fields, and how many (like doctors and engineers) are being held back because they need to be retrained.

If politicians want to set high standards for our immigrants, sure, but they need to step up to the bat when it comes to retraining these immigrants so they end up helping out in our hospitals/etc and not driving taxis or running convenience stores.

Problem #2: 15% of adult immigrants have LESS than a grade 9 education. These immigrants end up doing grunt work and jobs that no one else wants to do. Many immigrants find that this is the equivalent of slavery, because they can't go to highschool (they're too old) and they can't get into university very easily because they didn't finish highschool. Thus what is needed is highschool diplomas that can be studied on the weekend or evenings.

Immigrants do not come to Canada hoping to clean floors. They are the kind of pioneering spirits who want to build a better, brighter future and have the drive and determination to do so. The Canadian government should be embracing these immigrants and help facilitate educational programs in the effort to help these people attain their goals.

The politicians in Canada, both Liberal and Conservative, have their own agendas and largely ignore immigrants coming into Canada. However, if you consider that during the last 25 years (1980 to 2005) Canada has welcomed 4 million new immigrants (plus any children they had, plus immigrants from previous time periods), that is still a sizeable portion of Canadian society. Far too large to ignore.

The fact is that we have plenty of people able to do menial jobs. It is sheer stupidity to let skilled workers slip through the cracks and end up doing such jobs. The government needs to be doing more to help retrain these workers so that they can do the jobs they are meant to be doing.

Afterall, if we really wanted people to do menial work, shouldn't we just be letting anyone immigrate?

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