Quebec vows to break down barriers immigrants face finding work in their professions

Why do more than half of professional new immigrants abandon their attempt to get recognition of their training once they arrive in Quebec? Premier Philippe Couillard says he's determined to find out - and change it.

'We can no longer let anyone be cast aside,' Philippe Couillard tells professional orders

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told a meeting of professional orders, universities, CÉGEPs and regional health authorities that they must find a solution to the difficulties immigrants face in getting their qualifications recognized. (Radio-Canada)

A first-of-its-kind meeting is underway in Quebec City, aimed at confronting one of the greatest barriers newcomers to Quebec face when they try to find work in their fields.

Most foreign-trained professionals never obtain the certification from one of Quebec's professional orders which they need in order to continue in their chosen careers.

Five cabinet ministers are meeting representatives of all 46 of the province's professional orders — from the Order of Antique Dealers to the Order of Engineers.

The province's universities, CEGEPs and regional health authorities are also taking part in the attempt to tackle why so many immigrants are facing this barrier.

Every professional order in Quebec, from the Order of Midwives to the Order of Sommeliers, is meeting in Quebec City to discuss how to lift barriers to foreign-trained professionals. (Radio-Canada)

"This is the first time all the actors involved in this question have met on this topic in the same room," Premier Philippe Couillard told the roughly 130 participants before closed-door talks got underway.

Couillard said unemployment in some regions is so low, the problem now is finding workers.

"We can no longer let anyone be cast aside," he said. "We need to find solutions."

Most foreign-trained professionals never recognized

Statistics show more than half of foreign-trained professionals abandon their attempt to obtain Quebec certification for their skill.

According to a workbook distributed to all the participant's of Thursday's meeting, one of the main explanations immigrants provide is that that recognition is too hard to obtain.

The premier said why this is the case is difficult to answer. For example, even some people who have been trained in world-recognized European universities still face obstacles, he said.

The president of the Quebec College of Physicians, Dr. Charles Bernard, said the province needs a centralized source of information for would-be immigrants, because some are receiving conflicting information. (Radio-Canada)

The president of Quebec's College of Physicians, Dr. Charles Bernard, said his professional order has been making improvements. 

However, Bernard said the crux of the problem is that would-be immigrants are being given information that does not fall in line with what they later learn from both the orders and employers once they arrive.

"People aren't talking to each other, and they aren't all saying the same thing," he said.

The Liberals set aside $179 million in their last budget to help foreign-trained professionals gain access to the workplace. That includes funding for a one-stop-shop for information on gaining recognition for their skills.