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  Attracting Skilled Immigrants

Attracting skilled immigrants:

Canada needs to attract hundreds of thousands of skilled workers from abroad to make up a labour shortfall. Since the 1990s, the federal immigration program has targeted people who have the experience and training that are in demand, including medical doctors, nurses, cooks, electricians, welders and other professionals.

The number of them who gained permanent residency during the past decade has also jumped - but it hasn't been enough. Many doctors and other skilled workers in regulated professions who are now in Canada work hard to get recognition for their foreign credentials and temporarily making a living in unskilled jobs.

As well, smaller communities have a hard time luring these valued workers. Skilled immigrants tend to flock to the biggest cities, most of them moving to Toronto and Vancouver, and mostly Frehcn speakers moving to Montreal.

Doctors struggle for accreditation

Although many Canadians list health care and doctor shortages as top concerns, foreign-trained doctors and other health professionals complain that they can't work in the country.

There are many international medical graduates in Canada - mostly from Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe - and many have been unable to land residencies or training that leads to jobs.

The process to have international medical credentials recognized is long and arduous. Foreign doctors must first pass the Medical Council of Canada's examination of basic medical knowledge. Then they take certification exams by the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In most provinces, graduates of foreign medical schools must take two to six years of postgraduate medical training at a Canadian university.

Speeding up the accreditation of foreign doctors is important. Critics also want Ottawa to create national standards for accreditation, and pump more money into upgrading skills of these professionals.

IHealth Canada provides considerable funds to establish a better procedure for professionals, i. e., to develop common screening area, evaluation tools, a better access to information for international medical graduates, to help provinces and territories assess unlicensed medical graduates living in Canada.


Construction boom worsens trades shortage

Construction boomed in Canada during the last few years, worsening a long-standing shortage of workers in certain trades. The construction industry has historically depended on immigrants, especially from Portugal, Italy and, more recently, Poland. The demand for more bricklayers, cabinetmakers, welders, plumbers and others remains strong.

Immigration changes favour skilled workers

When the federal government introduced new immigration to Canada laws in 2008, it made a number of changes that made it easier for skilled workers to come to Canada.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act places a sharper focus on education, language ability and skilled work experience. It made it easier for people with a trade certificate or a second academic degree, as well as for highly educated younger workers to qualify.

Skilled workers, under the new act:
  Fall under the economic class of immigrants, which also includes entrepreneurs, investors
   and the self-employed.
  Have professional or technical abilities that are highly sought after or transferable.
   Sometimes they already have job offers from a Canadian company.
  Must meet criteria that give points for education levels, official languages ability and
   occupational skills. They need at least a year of related full-time, paid experience and
   enough money to support themselves in Canada.

Statistics Canada shows that two-thirds of IT workers came under this class, compared with one-third of doctors and health managers, and only a fifth of trades workers.

Other skilled workers immigrated under the refugee, family or other classes.

Provinces try to fast-track foreign professionals

Most provincial and territorial governments have signed immigration deals with Ottawa to fast track the citizenship applications of skilled workers.

Under the Provincial Nominee Program, provinces and territories may nominate a person for a permanent resident visa on the grounds that the individual's skills are in particular demand there.

These immigrants are expected to live in the province that nominated them in order to contribute their particular employment skills.

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