Immigration system failing another independent restaurateur
Victor Woo has spent the past year renovating Blowers Street space but cannot hire an Indian chef
Another Halifax restaurant owner has come forward to say Canada’s immigration system is failing him.
On Monday, CBC News reported that the head chef at a popular Thai restaurant in Halifax has been told to leave the country.
Victor Woo is an independent restaurateur who wants to open an authentic Indian restaurant in downtown Halifax.
Woo spent the past year renovating his Blowers Street space himself — installing cabinets and laying tile. He's even travelled to India several times looking for a skilled chef to work at his new restaurant, Mirchi Tandoor.
"In cities like Calcutta, they've been there for years and I've recruited some of the cooks from these establishments," he said.
The recruiting is easy, it's getting the chefs to Canada that’s impossible, said Woo.
The citizenship and immigration office in New Delhi has turned down work visa applications from two different chef applicants.
"You were not able to demonstrate that you adequately meet the job requirements of your prospective employment,’” read the application denial.
“It's garbage," said Woo.
He said regardless of what immigration officials think, the chefs he found are exactly what he wants.
"Obviously they are not very educated, but they have a great skill on their hands of making fantastic food," he said.
Woo has hired an immigration consultant to investigate and help him wade through the red tape.
"Because the officer is not going to go to buddy's house to see if you can really cook Chinese food or Indian food so it is really, really important that you can demonstrate that through paper," said immigration consultant Peter Cheng.
Woo said it's unfair corporations like Tim Hortons or Subway have an easier time bringing in foreign workers.
"They have a thicker wallet, they have a bigger budget, operating costs,” said Cheng.
According to the recent Ivany report, Nova Scotia must find a way to attract immigrants and keep them.
Provincial Immigration Minister Lena Diab said in a statement, "Immigration is a top priority for this government. I am optimistic we are making progress."
Before Woo started looking for an Indian chef, he had to apply to the federal government for this labour market opinion. It's good for six months and it gives permission to go hunting for foreign workers.
His expires at the end of April, but Woo said he's too fed up to try again.