Immigration minister says foreign engineers, doctors no longer need ‘to drive cabs’

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Give us your poor your tired your hungry...

That's not the speech immigration minster Jason Kenney used in a press conference in on Wednesday morning. Instead, Kenney went the other way.

As part of his six-year long common sense revamp of Canada's immigration system, Kenney announced a new point grid for the skilled worker program which, if successful, would give us younger, more highly educated immigrants who speak English or French.

"The reforms we are making are designed to dramatically improve the economic outcome of newcomers and to help Canada's productivity," he said.

"As our workforce shrinks and our population ages, we need the talent and energy of newcomers from around the world. The best and brightest to help us bring a strong and prosperous economy."

[ Related: Skilled worker program to emphasize language ability, youth ]

Kenney outlined the new point system which would favour younger immigrants and those who have English or French language proficiency.  There will also be a more rigorous review of an applicant's credentials to ensure they transfer to Canada.

"Over 70 per of economic immigrants to Canada end up working in fields other than those for which they were trained. And unacceptably the unemployment rate for new immigrants to Canada as the general population's unemployment rate," he said.

"In other words rather than bringing engineers to Canada to drive cabs or doctors to be corner store clerks, we want the engineers we select to actually be able to work as engineers and doctors."

Kenney's concern is warranted.

Earlier this year, the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration built a profile of who was behind the wheels of cabs on Canadian streets. Steve Mertl from Yahoo! Canada News wrote about it for the Daily Brew blog:

The special study, entitled "Who Drives a Taxi in Canada," was obtained under Access to Information legislation by Toronto immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. It surveyed more than 50,000 cabbies based on income tax forms.

The study found more than 200 taxi drivers, mostly from the Toronto area, had been doctors in their home countries, the Toronto Sun reported.

Since the Conservatives won their majority in May 2011, Kenney has embarked upon a strategic and systematic transformation of Canada's immigration system.

[ Related: New immigration system puts greater emphasis on language, age ]

The overhaul of the points system is part of an overall re-set of the federal skilled worker program — which remains the largest and most important stream of immigrants coming to Canada.

"I can't tell you how many medical doctors I've met who immigrated to this country with great optimism only to find themselves, in one case, cleaning hotel rooms," Kenney said on Wednesday.

"I'm saying lets stop that movie. This is a waste of human potential. It's an embarrassment for Canada."

The new point system will come into effect next May.