Stephen Harper has announced new measures to help strengthen the financial security of new Canadian immigrants by making the process of recognition of foreign credentials cheaper, easier and quicker. The goal is to ease the process of integration of new Canadian immigrants into the workforce. The new measures include loans to recent Canadian immigrants who require accreditation, skills training and upgrading in order to take full advantage of their expertise. Harper explained that Canadian immigration understands the importance of such loans both for the financial security of individuals and their families, and for the strength of the Canadian economy.
In the last two years, the Canadian government has invested $50 million for the development and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. A major tenant of the plan has been to increase the availability of information resources to new and prospective Canadian immigrants, both on the internet and in person. Various websites feature comprehensive information about the credential recognition process, the Canadian labour market, and appropriate regulatory bodies. There have also been improvements in the realm of in-person services, such as the establishment of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office in 2007 to facilitate and expedite the assessment of the credentials of new Canadian immigrants. Information sessions – providing prospective immigrants with information on the credential recognition process – are taking place in India, China, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
Despite such improvements within the framework, there are still financial obstacles that make the process of foreign credential recognition difficult for new Canadian immigrants. Many new Canadian immigrants require accreditation programs and training upgrades in order to be qualified to work in Canada. The cost of training, exams, licensing and recertification can range from anywhere between $100 and $25,000. Many new Canadian immigrants are not eligible for private or student loans. The lack of financial assistance often prevents new Canadian immigrants from taking full advantage of their experience and expertise.
The Conservative Government, if re-elected, has pledged to invest $6 million to cover expenses associated with training materials, exams, administration and registration fees and other costs associated with the foreign credential recognition process.
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