Nfld. & Labrador

$800K to help foreign-trained workers in N.L. get jobs

The federal government is investing the money in the hopes of helping newcomers and bringing more immigrants to the province.

Immigrant says long wait for credentials causes frustration, reduced income

Gerry Byrne, provincial minister of advanced education and skills, and MihMaryAnn Mihychuk, federal minister of employment, workforce development and labour. (CBC)

The federal government is pledging $800,000 to help foreign-trained workers in Newfoundland and Labrador find work in their field, thanks to an agreement signed between Ottawa and the province Friday morning.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, the federal employment minister, said often times immigrants will wait years before they get Canadian accreditations in their line of work.

She said this money will go largely towards helping regulatory bodies recognize or upgrade newcomers' credentials more quickly.

"We have an existing skilled workforce that is not firing on all cylinders," said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Gerry Byrne, who said this will also help grow Newfoundland and Labrador's population.

'Not the dream I was thinking about'

Jalil Hussin, an immigrant from Iraq, said he was excited to hear about the funding.

He came to Canada in 2009 as a professional interpreter. It took two years before he got his Canadians certifications.

His wife, a doctor, waited three years before she could work.

Jalil Hussin had to wait two years before he could get his Canadian credentials as an interpreter. (CBC)

This is common among immigrants, Hussin said, many of whom have to work as taxi drivers or in other lower-paid jobs while they wait.

"It creates frustration for individuals, especially those who have families and children. They need to get a faster source of income to support themselves," he said.

"At certain points you just feel like this is not the dream I was thinking about. I mean I was dreaming to come to Canada and find easy life, but the reality it's not that easy until somebody gets their credentials and finds a job."

Targeting certain professions

Byrne said the government is looking at labour market data to determine which professions are in short supply, and will target bridging and mentorship programs towards those fields. 

The money will also go towards giving internationally trained immigrants information and tools to prepare for licensing exams.

The money is part of an immigration pilot project for the Atlantic Provinces, acknowledging that Newfoundland and Labrador is facing job pressures and aging demographics.

The occupations given priority through the federal government are:

  • architects
  • engineers and engineering technicians
  • accountants
  • medical lab technicians
  • occupational therapists
  • pharmacists
  • physiotherapists
  • registered and practical nurses
  • dentists
  • medical radiation technologists
  • physicians
  • teachers

Ten other occupations, including trades such as carpenters, electricians, welders, heavy equipment operators and midwives, are being added to the list.

According to Statistics Canada, less than a quarter of newcomers to the country who have qualifications in a regulated profession, are actually working in that field — compared to 62 per cent of their Canadian-born equivalents.