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May 19, 2011 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Recognize Immigrant Credentials is a series of Canadian PSAs that are at once funny and heart-breaking.
posted by Cool Papa Bell (62 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah. It is sad.
posted by GuyZero at 4:07 PM on May 19, 2011


Why is this happening? I'd like a Canadian to weigh in.
posted by Avenger50 at 4:08 PM on May 19, 2011


I assume that, if a U.S. version of those PSAs were made, they would all involve a cop pulling someone over and asking for their credentials.
posted by The World Famous at 4:10 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was very different from what I thought it would be. In a good way.

And still heart breaking.
posted by zizzle at 4:11 PM on May 19, 2011


Put simply, the bodies that control the credentials of many professions, for example medicine, law and engineering, to not recognize the certifications of those trained overseas. Thus, immigrants from places like India etc. are unable to practice as physicians and end up in less-skilled trades.
posted by docgonzo at 4:11 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


er, "do not," not "to not," obvs.
posted by docgonzo at 4:11 PM on May 19, 2011


Well, for doctors and engineers there are provincial licensing bodies that simply don't recognize foreign credentials without basically re-educating yourself. For MBAs this is kind of misleading, since I never met a foreign MBA without "real" work - you don't need a license to optimize cash flow unlike practicing medicine or professional engineering.

On the flip side, it's not totally crazy that the PEO and OMA (both in Ontario) don't just recognize every random graduate from everywhere as there is obviously a standard to maintain, but in general the costs and time are prohibitive for most immigrants.
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Maybe it's not the OMA that approveds doctors in Ontario, but then I dunno who it is. You get the idea)
posted by GuyZero at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2011


As that clip is from 2009, facts from 2007 aren't that out-of-date:
A recent report tells us that foreign credentials of 340,000 Canadians or permanent residents of visible minorities have not been recognized, and Canada is losing $4.1b every year because of that.
...
One of the stunning conclusions this report has made is that "racism and discrimination continue to be identified as a contributing factor to the unemployment and underemployment of visible minorities and their lack of advancement in the workplace."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:15 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yep, Canadian here with a degree from an overseas University. The Canadian government refused to acknlowedge my degree, even from a credentialed university, unless I ponied up $200 to some outfit in Toronto that issued me with a certificate "authenticating" my degree.

What's happening to these people is highway robbery, and for those provinces screaming for more doctors to make up the shortage, it should be rectified immediately.
posted by LN at 4:16 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey LN, I'm curious about the degree and where it's from. Not that I doubt you at all, just curious.
posted by GuyZero at 4:19 PM on May 19, 2011


If Canada is a land of opportunity, why are it's citizens stupid enough to re-elect Stephen Harper who has one of the worst track records when it comes to immigration?!
posted by Fizz at 4:20 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


This could also be solved with well-designed assessment exams, to find out what people really do know - what skills they really have - instead of making people repeat their entire professional education over again. "It's about the *learning*, stupid!" It's not about the damned credential, which is more a barrier to progress and a protective device against competition, than anything, these days. It's part and parcel of the "we're better than they are" attitude that plagues America and Canada, and some other "developed" nations.

Also, notice that all those immigrants spoke English. How many Canadians and Americans know a second language (leaving out French, which is mandatory in Canada)? We're too haughty for our own britches!

Man, most of North America is going to take a beating as the rest of the world develops; we're just hicks when it comes to a lot of this stuff. We've been sitting on our arses enjoying the fruits of post WWII hegemony, and becoming obese in more ways than one.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:20 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Last Sunday night my cabbie was a physicist from Turkey and on Tuesday a high school teacher from India approached the reference desk where I was working and asked me for help applying for a number of menial jobs (listed on an impossible-to-navigate government website). The situation with doctors is especially infuriating, given that it is extremely difficult (in Toronto, anyway) to find an MD who is actually taking new patients.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:20 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Canadian government refused to acknlowedge my degree, even from a credentialed university, unless I ponied up $200 to some outfit in Toronto that issued me with a certificate "authenticating" my degree.

What's happening to these people is highway robbery, and for those provinces screaming for more doctors to make up the shortage, it should be rectified immediately.


Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. There are medical doctors working as cabbies in Canada because they cannot or are not willing to pay $200 for authentication of their degree?
posted by The World Famous at 4:23 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


> If Canada is a land of opportunity, why are it's citizens stupid enough to re-elect Stephen Harper who has one of the worst track records when it comes to immigration?!

A lot of immigrants voted for the Tories, in part because many tend to be culturally conservative.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:26 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are medical doctors working as cabbies in Canada because they cannot or are not willing to pay $200 for authentication of their degree?

No, there are a series of tests to take on both the federal and provincial level. I really don't know much about it, but it's along series of hopps to jump through and it's a combination of time, money and what some say is a biased system that doesn't even approve people after they jump through the hoops. An Ontario report on improving the process from 2008. [PDF]
posted by GuyZero at 4:31 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Federalism" is why it is happening. Doctor's and engineers from other provinces can barely work in different provinces. From another country? Fuggetaboot it.
posted by dobie at 4:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Canada isn't a land of equality and smiles and friendly people all the time. There's prejudice and hate up here too. Thankfully the government and associated groups have the balls to call people out on it occasionally.


Even if they could be doing a hell of a lot more.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:33 PM on May 19, 2011


These promo spots make me angry, but not because immigrant credentials are sometimes not recognized in Canada.

I've helped skilled immigrants find work here in Canada, and I have also counselled dozens more who are looking for work. For most skilled immigrants, there are a lot of roadblocks that are preventing them from finding work here, and credentials are low down on the list.

The culture of work is different here. Because there are so many more skilled and professionally trained workers in Canada, it's more competitive compared to perhaps their home country, where they stand out because of their education. Many immigrants that I have helped expect that submitting a resume (or something resembling a resume) is enough. It is not.

There's also different communication styles (call it "networking") in Canada, plus an entirely different way about finding work. Plus, the local labour market is key. People with MBAs are more suited to working for very large companies, and many labour markets in Canada don't have these companies. People with a lot of experience in auto-manufacturing and industrial processes are not going to easily find work in Vancouver.

People often arrive equipped with "IT" experience, but where I live anyway no one has any great use for server administrators, or people who can wire up a computer network.

As for doctors, I am perfectly happy that Canada does not always accept foreign credentials; it's impossible to verify the medical credentials of med school grads from every country out there.

If you are a cleaning lady with an MBA, credentials are not the problem, it's your communication style.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Slow your role Canada, everyone knows that the United States is the Land of Opportunity™.
posted by birdherder at 4:35 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) costs $1550 to take. All the MCCEE does is puts you in the Canadian Resident Matching Service (Carms) selection pool. Most of the residency spots are taken by Canadian medical students. Assuming an IMG gets a residency spot, they will usually have to redo all of their residency training.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:35 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It should also be said that HRDC and ICTC are continuously engaging industry about making better use of skilled immigrants, and have helped initiate one such program in Victoria, BC. Vancouver has a great one offered through SUCCESS (in partnership with ICTC).

So there is government will, and there are government programs out there.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:37 PM on May 19, 2011


For non-Canadians: this issue has been floating around for at least 25 years. The basic arguments you hear from the "no recognition" camp are usual a mix of the following:
- not all degrees are equal: for example, a medical degree from a university in Gaza isn't the same as one from McGill
- claiming otherwise would result in a flood of immigrants running to get medical, law, engineering etc degrees from the cheapest, easiest universities in the world as their ticket into Canada
- many parts of the world don't hold students to the same standards as Canadian institutions.
- seriously well qualified would-be immigrants can apply to get their degrees recognized: it's just hard, and is almost never granted for doctors, for example.

On the other side you hear the argument that it's all basically about closed shops protecting their rackets, with the result that, say, well-qualified foreign doctors drive cabs while people die in rural communities for lack of a local GP or specialist, all so that Canadian-trained doctors can earn big bucks and not have to move away from the big cities.
posted by senor biggles at 4:40 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


BC also have something called the "Provincial Nominee Program" that fast-tracks immigration for skilled workers. At the end of the day, it's all about the law of supply and demand.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:40 PM on May 19, 2011


These ads seem to be old (oldest version on youtube is from dec 2006), and the URL doesn't work.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:41 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the other issues is that the federal immigration regulations are somewhat out of sync with provincial accreditation programs - we (the Feds) are happy to let doctors immigrate but then we (the provinces) don't actually let them work as doctors. You can imagine that it makes immigrants somewhat unhappy.
posted by GuyZero at 4:46 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Try practicing medicine in India with a medical degree from Russia or China (two countries where many Indians go to study medicine). Let me know how that goes.

Leaving medicine aside, recognition of educational degrees (not limited to professional degrees) from outside the country is an issue that affects immigrants in all countries. Canada is not unique in this. I see it every day here in Australia, just as I saw it in Russia and India a few years ago.

The world has not even agreed on standards of electricity supply and what kind of electrical plugs to use for powering devices made in and used across countries (your "Made in China" plug probably has pins that can't be plugged-in in China). We are a long way off from global recognition of qualifications that would make it easier for people to move across countries seamlessly.
posted by vidur at 5:03 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fizz: "If Canada is a land of opportunity, why are it's citizens stupid enough to re-elect Stephen Harper who has one of the worst track records when it comes to immigration?!"

The Harper government got 40% of the popular vote with a 60% voter turn-out. 6,000 votes could've swung the election. Elections, like countries, are complicated and imperfect.
posted by Phire at 5:22 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw it in Russia and India a few years ago.

Russia and India are not one of the top immigration destinations in the world and they do not actively court immigrants like Canada does. Canada has an internal national narrative about being multicultural and not just welcoming but actively desiring immigrants. Except then we don't really make it easy for them to find meaningful work.
posted by GuyZero at 5:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The 'well, surely an MD from India or Pakistan isn't as good as one from Ontario or Alberta' argument would hold a good deal more water if we didn't reject people who practiced for years in the UK. And if my mother's nursing home weren't entirely staffed with nurses from the Philippines -- many with 20 years experience -- all of whom are paid the same as someone who has completed a 20 week 'practical nursing' certificate course.
posted by jrochest at 5:36 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I encountered quite a few internationally-trained doctors when I worked as a recruiter. Basically, their career success correlated with their language skills. Those who could communicate clearly were in high demand ( $100K+ jobs) in the pharma sector. Those who could not, struggled.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:42 PM on May 19, 2011


I'm surprised Americans are surprised this is an issue in Canada. How do you think this works in the US? Have you tried to get licensed as a doctor in the US with a Turkish or Polish medical degree lately?

This is a universal problem. The woman who cleans my house is literally a nuclear physicist and speaks 6 languages. OK so we don't have a booming nuclear industry here, what with being a nuclear free zone and all, but I think we can probably do better with her skills here than cleaning homes and offices.

My closest butcher was Algerian. His wife was a doctor. She was unable to get licensed here, and locals seemed reluctant to buy from him because the shop proudly proclaimed it was a Halal butcher. My suspicion was that there was little understanding of what that meant besides "different" and when buying raw food, different is bad. She worked there until the shop closed. We are, by the way, desperately short of doctors here.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've worked with a lot of foreign engineers; probably a 50/50 mix or something close to that. They become professional engineers; it's not as simple as for those who have done their education under the control of our system, but it's a handful of exams or a Master's degree, not starting from scratch. And there are loads of issues with some countries' credentials.

For instance, one guy I worked with graduated near the top of his class in his country's largest university. He was a decent engineer. But my colleague had a B average. Surely, the student who did better in that class and got A's was an even better engineer. Canada would be totally missing out if we didn't recognize this other guy's credentials, right? Turns out, he wasn't that smart at all, but he was the son of the president.

Doctors and engineers have credentialing boards for a reason. If we fuck up, innocent people die. The public depends on a level of self-regulation to ensure that every single doctor and every single engineer is competent and trustworthy. It's hard to ensure that graduates of Canadian programs are all competent to do their jobs; it's a lot harder to ensure the same for graduates from every other university in the world. Progress is being made, for instance Canada recognizes engineering education from over a dozen other countries. We're doing this by partnering with the appropriate accreditation organizations abroad, so this is dependent on the other countries having a sufficiently strict accreditation program themselves. There are some countries that don't do a good enough job of certifying their own professionals, and I'm not sure it's really reasonable for Canada to be able to tell if professionals in Uganda (hypothetically) are qualified, if the Ugandans can't even tell.

Another aspect is that the actual practice can differ from place to place. A well-trained civil engineer with a master's degree from Tehran University (to cite the video) may be a completely suitable engineer in Iran. But they may know nothing about snow loads, or freeze-thaw damage of concrete. That's not a flaw in their training; we barely covered high temperature pavement or seismic design in my courses, and I couldn't do a good job in Iran dealing with these issues. But it is a risk -- an engineer trained abroad may not have the tools to ensure that a building will not collapse because of the snow load, and it's the credentialing board's job to make sure that they do.

I'd like to see more action from our professional organizations to streamline the way for immigrants to gain professional status in Canada. It seems to me that the medical profession is lagging engineering on this front, I may just not appreciate the issues involved. But it seems we have a decent supply of engineers and accountants, but a chronic lack of doctors and nurses.

Doctor's and engineers from other provinces can barely work in different provinces.

This is wrong. Professional engineers have had free movement within Canada for over a decade, and since the Agreement on Internal Trade now permits free movement of almost all professionals with a few exceptions; the biggest is lawyers to/from Quebec, since Quebec uses a different legal system.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:45 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


To clarify my second paragraph (which was a lot clearer in my head), my colleague, the B student, was a decent engineer. His straight-A classmate, Uday Hussein, was a terrible engineer but a highly-skilled torturer/embezzler.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:48 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh sweet fancy moses, a thousand times yes. Both my parents are foreign MDs (from South America). The immigrated to Canada in the late 70s, when there was already a shortage of qualified MDs (thanks, brain-drain to the US!) and Canada was recruiting. Both my parents had to re-qualify by repeating their residency training and passing the entire battery of licensing exams. While my father, a family doctor, only needed a couple of years to complete his re-residency, my mom's specialization (pathology) took many more years. In the meanwhile, they lived on a combined income of $600 in the late 70s with 3 kids. When I was born, there was no such thing as "maternity leave" for doctors ("oh, those lady doctors and their uteri, AMIRITE?"), and so my mother was given 3 days to recover from delivering me before returning to round-the-clock on-call service, and she was told that they were being "generous."

We moved from Alberta to Saskatchewan in the mid-80s, when my mother finally finished her residency. Despite the re-certification, no pathology department at a major research hospital was interested in hiring a latin-american woman (the irony being that she was trained at a top-notch medical in Lima, Peru, where she came from a veritable dynasty of doctors), so she found an appointment in Regina Saskatchewan. At the time, the Saskatchewan health system was actively recruiting foreign medical graduates, since this underpopulated prairie province was experiencing an acute form of the brain-drain towards Western and Central Canada. We only lasted two years there; both of my parents were making really good money, finally, but the mid-80s was not a good time to physically resemble métis people and speak with a foreign accent. The racism was pervasive, and we were treated like dangerous animals in school.

My mom got a gig at a highly reputed research hospital in London, Ontario, (UWO), where she spent most of the 90s slowly climbing up the medical hierarchy while frequently getting passed-over for the department chair position by older white guys. My dad, on the other hand, wasn't able to get certification for practicing as a family doctor in Ontario. Each province manages the certification process for their doctors (at least, at that time in the 90s), and the organization run by already-certified family doctors had a certification process that created Catch-22 situations for foreign grads and conducted licensing exams that were geared towards the quirky details of Canadian medical pedagogy (i.e., narrowly nationalist)…which just had the coincidental side-effect of maintaining a level of fasle scarcity that drove clinics and hospitals to offer lucrative "bonus packages" and salaries over and above the fees set by the universal health care system.

The good news: my mom eventually got the department chair post and rocked it for several years.
The bad news: my dad never successfully got a license in Ontario. He got head-hunted to Illinois and spent a few years practicing in Peoria, far away from the rest of us. He would drive 8-9 hours every couple of months to visit us. We missed him terribly and he was absent for most of my adolescence. He got tired of being away and working in a health system that he disagreed with ethically/politically, and came back to a frustrating semi-retirement in Canada. It's been that way for about ten years now.
posted by LMGM at 5:51 PM on May 19, 2011 [19 favorites]


Oh, and my aunt, who is a fully-certified microbiologist (with a research publication career in Peru) fled her abusive husband to Canada (with my mom sponsoring her immigration). Now, at 70-something, she works as a caregiver at a retirement home. This is the bad kind of irony.
posted by LMGM at 5:56 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's hard to ensure that graduates of Canadian programs are all competent to do their jobs; it's a lot harder to ensure the same for graduates from every other university in the world.

And it's even harder when on a small percentage of those who apply to become certified are allowed to do so.
posted by GuyZero at 5:57 PM on May 19, 2011


And if my mother's nursing home weren't entirely staffed with nurses from the Philippines -- many with 20 years experience -- all of whom are paid the same as someone who has completed a 20 week 'practical nursing' certificate course.

At the risk of sounding crypto-racist I don't know if I ever saw a practicing nurse in Toronto that wasn't from the Philippines. Not that I was in hospitals all that often. But on the positive side, it seems like Phillipino nurses have the system for professional accreditation figured out.
posted by GuyZero at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2011


LMGM, thanks for sharing your parents' story. I'd like to think things have improved a little but I often wonder if plus ça change...

On a more personal note, let me just say that I'm glad your mom persevered and made it to London. She's certainly very much beloved by myself and all the students I know here!
posted by greatgefilte at 6:12 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, KokuRyu. I get that you are a hardworking, conscientious person. But if this is the mindset of someone helping professionals who have immigrated, it seems they are truly ... lost.

>it's more competitive compared to perhaps their home country,

I get this one, though I'd be surprised to find immigrants don't figure it out fairly quickly...

'There's also different communication styles (call it "networking") in Canada, plus an entirely different way about finding work.'

Like, a network of people who grew up in Canada, are comfortable making racist jokes amongst themselves, and see immigrants as 'taking our jobs', while working in lily white organizations?

>People often arrive equipped with "IT" experience, but where I live anyway no one has any great use for server administrators

Where you live, unless you've moved in the last week or so, any professional at all has to take a hit in salary and employability. And there's a tremendous need for sane I.T. workers, whether a given employer with that need wants to acknowledge it or not. A spoken endorsement of a prospective hire I have heard more than once where we live is: 'he was born and raised here'.

As for SUCCESS, I was not familiar with, and have no reason to fault the organization - unless the funding it receives from the Province was previously used in more effective joint Federal / Provincial initiatives as is the case with job training in this province.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:22 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops! - continued:

>As for doctors, I am perfectly happy that Canada does not always accept foreign credentials;

We are not talking about 'not always'; rather it's 'almost never, without re-doing your education'. This, after being screened through a hepafilter about having qualifications, academic, financial, and otherwise before getting admitted as a landed immigrant in the first place. When I think about it, it's an even more horrifying waste for the country of origin deprived of its most educated workers, but it's an awful waste to Canada as well.

>it's impossible to verify the medical credentials of med school grads from every country out there.

It is not.

As you know, immigrants arrive after a mountain of paperwork has been completed. Maybe the BCMA could hire one to do this important research.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:25 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


>>'There's also different communication styles (call it "networking") in Canada, plus an entirely different way about finding work.'

Like, a network of people who grew up in Canada, are comfortable making racist jokes amongst themselves, and see immigrants as 'taking our jobs', while working in lily white organizations?


I think you are angry about sometime, but I don't know what. To tell you the truth, most advanced technology businesses in British Columbia are fully multicultural. They have to be, because most are selling overseas, and talent is in demand.

By networking, I mean forming human relationships and participating in a professional community so that it's easier to find out who's hiring - i.e., talking to people.

As for "IT", what I'm talking about are commodified, relatively low-skill positions such as laying and plugging in cables, or "server admin" (or assembly etc). There are very few of those jobs around, but there are lots of jobs. There is a need instead for people who are creative.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:29 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Russia and India are not one of the top immigration destinations in the world and they do not actively court immigrants like Canada does.

I was talking about recognition of foreign educational qualifications being a global problem. This is a problem regardless of what a country's internal narrative may be. Another country on that list of mine was Australia. The internal narrative here is probably the same as in Canada. Again, there is really nothing special about Canada's situation. Well, except the PSAs. I haven't seen anything like that here in Australia.
posted by vidur at 7:09 PM on May 19, 2011


(@greatgefilte: thanks! I've heard that licensing has gotten marginally better for foreign grad GPs/Family docs in Ontario, but only marginally)
posted by LMGM at 7:17 PM on May 19, 2011


If Canada is a land of opportunity, why are it's citizens stupid enough to re-elect Stephen Harper who has one of the worst track records when it comes to immigration?!

yeah, I think it's fair to say that we can pin this one on the electoral system rather than the people. Stephen Harper doesn't have a majority because Canada likes him; for the most part, they hate his guts. Stephen Harper has a majority because the Liberals acted as a spoiler party in Ontario. Most everywhere else in the nation, they collapsed fast enough to get out of the way. In Ontario, they collapsed just a little bit too slowly...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:21 PM on May 19, 2011


I've heard that some of the immigrant settlement societies give immigrants misleading info. For example, a friend from Mexico was told by one such association that her degree was worthless. Well, okay, she didn't have accreditation to carry out her profession here in Canada. But it was still a degree. So I pointed to her to the local polytech institutes and various masters degree and post-bac programs that would allow her to change careers and not have to keep up with the menial labour she was doing. I helped her more in one hour than any of those settlement groups ever did.

I think that's part of the problem, honestly. You've got someone in a low paid non-profit position advising a fellow immigrant on how to find work. Except the first person doesn't know how to find a high paid job in their field....
posted by acoutu at 9:56 PM on May 19, 2011


I think the immigrant settlement societies play an important role helping ease newcomers into Canadian life, but as acoutu said, the staff are often not particularly sophisticated. They're great as social workers, and provide all sorts of info about how to write a resume or how to act during a job interview, but the knowledge of local labour market conditions is pretty sketchy. Once again, I'm speaking from experience.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:10 PM on May 19, 2011


Maybe it's not as bad as I thought:

Those with Englishsounding names received interview requests 40 percent more often than applicants with Chinese, Indian, or Pakistani names

That was in Toronto, mind - in my experience a considerably less racist place than Victoria, or even Vancouver.

Yeah, I'm probably a little angry at having to face the choice between:

- speaking up when I hear racist remarks, and thereby singling myself out, or
- biting my tongue - and then getting angry at myself for that. Also at not seeing anything like a representative number of people of colour (don't think I've ever used this term before) at the places I've ended up working.

If you have a definition and supporting statistics on the "multiculturalism" of "most advanced technology businesses in British Columbia", pass them along. Otherwise - our experience differs. I can summon several counter examples.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mrs arcticseal's uncle, a surgeon in BC, got his MD in Dublin and had to rematriculate when he got back to Canada in the 1970s.
posted by arcticseal at 10:57 PM on May 19, 2011


Yeah, I have one of these two. My grandfather was an MD trained in the Netherlands and emigrated to Canada in the mid-70s... only to decamp for the US a few years later when he couldn't practice.
posted by zvs at 11:21 PM on May 19, 2011


Both my parents are foreign MDs (from South America). The immigrated to Canada in the late 70s
got his MD in Dublin and had to rematriculate when he got back to Canada in the 1970s.
MD trained in the Netherlands and emigrated to Canada in the mid-70s


If you're interested in how big this problem is today, check back in this thread in 2048 to figure out.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:50 AM on May 20, 2011


That's a really interesting study, not_that_epiphanius. Thanks for posting it.

The bad thing it illustrates is a degree of latent systemic racism; an equivalent Canadian-educated resume with Canadian work experience got one callback for every 6.3 resumes if the name was Anglo, and one for every 8.8 resumes if the name was Chinese or South Asian. This compares only slightly favourably to the findings from Bertrand and Mullainathan's paper [PDF] showing a slightly larger gap in Chicago and Boston; whites needed 10.5 resumes to get a callback, while blacks needed 15.5.

The good thing it reports is seemingly little impact from only having foreign education (the ostensible problem the original video points to); the same 8.8 resumes were needed for Canadian and foreign educated applicants with Chinese/South Asian names, provided their work experience was in Canada. It seems to be the Canadian work experience that is key; resumes listing the most recent job in Canada, but the previous two abroad needed 11.4 resumes per callback, and those with no Canadian work experience needed 19.2 resumes to get a callback.

It's a catch-22, of course. The key thing that improves an immigrant's chance of working for a Canadian company is a Moving into my personal anecdata, on my most recent project the majority of the team were brand-new immigrants; it took between two and ten months to work out issues seemingly stemming from cultural and language differences. There are still written fluency issues that will likely be a long term challenge for some. They may be as competent as the rest of the team technically, but there were some unproductive times due to cultural differences that I can imagine a company not wanting to invest in. I can also, sadly, imagine some companies and individuals are still just goddamn racists.

A couple of caveats I found with the study: the positions they were applying for were not so much the doctor/engineer experience that we've been talking about during this thread; the jobs tended to be more of the retail/finance/administrative nature. A second is that they weren't truly looking at Canadian versus foreign education and experience; the resumes were all submitted to Toronto companies, and the "Canadian" education and experience was entirely within the Greater Toronto Area -- while this doesn't surprise me, there is a lot of Canada outside the GTA and it's possible that some of the bias is due to a local effect, i.e. employers are more trusting of schools/companies in their own area, and similar resumes from Quebec or Alberta would have been less successful. The other is that they were examining mid-level positions that needed several years' experience, as opposed to the "purer" credentials-only situation of looking at jobs with no experience required (probably because they were looking at differential outcomes in the labour market, rather than trying to answer in advance this specific question on this specific internet board).
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:45 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is a concrete example of what immigrants have to go through in Canada:

An experienced engineer comes to Canada and would like to be recognized as a Professional Engineer (i.e. get a license to practice, which is essential in some engineering fields). In order to get such a license, aside form getting the degree recognized by some local body (which involves paying a professional translator to translate and certify the original documents), the engineer must have Canadian experience under the supervision of a Canadian Professional Engineer --- who is willing to undersign the applications. Last I heard, one needs at least 4 years of undersigned experience. Of course, the engineer cannot work as a licensed engineer, so he must be able to find an engineering job where the person working is not recognized as an engineer, but works under another engineer.

Now, imagine how long it takes to find a job that fits all of these conditions, and imagine the hole it makes in your engineering CV, and the hole it makes in your earning potential. Now imagine you are a 45 year old engineer with 20 years of experience, with a wife and two kids, and you just came to Canada with your family because you were told you were an ideal immigrant given you were highly skilled.

That is what my Dad had to face when coming to Canada. And this is the "easy" path, where his degree gets recognized, but where the job market still considers him to be a lower class of engineer precisely because of the condition it imposes on him to become an engineer in Canada.

In my summer jobs in university I was probably making as much as either of my parents. In my first job out of university I was probably making more than the two of them together, even as my dad worked as a licensed engineer. The process of getting recognized and getting a license was so taxing that my dad has a really hard time thinking he can quit his exploitative job to go somewhere else where he could be earning more fairly, and I don't blame him.

I don't think people realize the sacrifices immigrants make to provide better opportunities for their kids.

I also don't think this is particular to Canada.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 6:12 AM on May 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


In my case, I moved from Peru to the US with an engineering degree. Had it evaluated for about $500.00 and got a BS instead, but that was actually lucky for me. Several acquaintances have degrees from Yugoslavia or Cuba, and they are factory workers.
posted by Tarumba at 6:35 AM on May 20, 2011


Thanks, Homeboy Trouble with the the concise and thoughtful explication of those aspects of the study that I elided with my 'it's not that bad' comment. The link between racism and the difficulty of some immigrants getting work that suits their education is somewhat incidental.

My anger (quick - someone on Metafilter is angry - fetch the soft pillows!) about the issue in particular comes from meeting a trained teacher working as a security guard, an M.A. serving me at Wendy's and an assortment of very highly trained cab drivers indeed.

TheyCallItPeace, you gave a great example of the way the system works - as others have pointed out, the problem rests with respective professional governing bodies. I liked your story because it hightlights a source of encouragement to me - in general, the kids are alright in Canada.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:26 AM on May 20, 2011


If you have a definition and supporting statistics on the "multiculturalism" of "most advanced technology businesses in British Columbia", pass them along. Otherwise - our experience differs. I can summon several counter examples.

Maybe you ought to come to the west coast.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2011


For everyone saying this problem isn't unique to Canada - so what?

Canada's goal isn't to be content to be as shitty as every other country.

The idea is to attract great people from around the world and let them help build a great nation.

Cripes some of you have low standards.
posted by GuyZero at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watched a medical documentary on the BBC where they interviewed a German doctor who was complaining about how unqualified some immigrant doctors were and how they were a threat to the health of patients.

He was talking about English doctors.
posted by srboisvert at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I worked at the grocery store, one of our Produce Managers was a guy from Morocco, who, in his home country built prosthetic limbs... and he worked in the produce section of a grocery store.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:43 AM on May 20, 2011


I've worked with an industry association, and for several years, with a Crown agency in the same space. I know most if not all of the CEOs and HR managers of advanced technology companies in the city where I live, as well as hiring managers, senior sales and marketing staff, VPs of engineering and production. It was part of my job. Because I specialized in market intelligence, I conducted salary surveys and revenue surveys (private companies would tell me if they made or lost money, for example), and I also built a database of sectoral capabilities - what companies do, where they sell, who they sell to, etc.

Since returning to my city after living in Japan, I've also had a long relationship with a local immigrant services association. I go there twice a year to give talks about the local tech sector - how to get a job.

Employment counsellors there frequently refer their clients to me. I've been really lucky to help a number of new Canadians almost immediately find work:

- someone from XX African country immediately found work as a senior IT analyst
- someone from XX northeast Asian country found work (took me 24 hours) as an ERP software developer
- someone from XX southeast Asian country immediately (48 hours) found work doing digital video encoding
- somebody else from Latin America found work at Compugen
- somebody from the Gulf found work in intl sales at a weather monitoring company
- somebody from the Ukraine with a PhD in physics found work doing climate modeling for a private company

The list goes on. I merely helped connect the dots, but they were hired because of their qualifications and their personality.

The people I could not help were the folks who a) did not have marketable skills b) have very low communication skills c) did not listen to advice and kept doing the same thing to try to find a job.

Also, as mentioned above, some of the qualifications (MBAs, etc) were unsuitable for the local labour market.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:10 AM on May 20, 2011


I should also mention that Microsoft opened a development studio in Richmond, BC (ie, Vancouver) just to attract expired green-card holders from the US.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:38 PM on May 20, 2011


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