Special to the Sun
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Re: B.C is busy helping skilled immigrants find right jobs, Feb. 12
Contrary to Minister of Economic Development Colin Hansen's claim about inaccuracies in reporting of his government's programs, it is the minister himself who is making inaccurate statements.
While Hansen claims his government is doing a lot to help skilled immigrants find jobs, many Filipino immigrants (despite being highly educated and skilled) continue to be marginalized and economically segregated into low-paying jobs. Many find the costly and long processes required by professional regulatory bodies as impossible barriers to their recognition and accreditation.
For example, hundreds of Filipino nurses in British Columbia are trapped working under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), because nursing is not given any occupational points under the Canadian immigration system. They are forced to work as private nurses and caregivers for the elderly and sick for minimum wage or below for two years despite a dire nursing shortage in the province.
We met with the minister in 2000 to bring up this issue, but our recommendations have not been implemented.
While we agree that professional regulatory bodies have the responsibility to ensure the public's health and safety, we question the minister's rigid view on English language skills and equivalency standards. Philippine educational institutions are at par with many other countries and Filipino immigrants to Canada are already required to be competent in one of two official languages before they are admitted into Canada.
Hansen should put the money where his mouth is. While he touts increasing budgets for so-called solutions to the problem of professional accreditation, we haven't seen any of that money flowing to community-based organizations such as ours that are helping facilitate the recognition and accreditation of Filipino and other foreign-trained nurses. To date, the Filipino Nurses Support Group has conducted review classes and assisted more than 300 nurses working under the LCP to obtain accreditation devoid of any help from the provincial government.
Without the political will to recognize foreign-trained professionals, the promises of Hansen and other politicians remain empty.
Leah Diana is vice-chair of the Philippine Women Centre of B.C.