Naseem Ahmed Pasha, 44, from India, finished medical school at Mysore University and practised for three years in India, followed by nine in Saudi Arabia. He's passed the Canadian exams but can't get into the requisite residency.
Every evening after dinner, Naseem Ahmed Pasha would don his dress pants and dress shirt, and say goodbye to his three boys, telling them he was leaving for work in hospital.
By the time Pasha, a family doctor from India, got to his worksite, he would change into his uniform, the uniform of a security guard, for his 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at a Toronto condominium – for $8.50 an hour.
Before Pasha arrived Canada in 2006 under the skilled immigrant program, he was confident he would soon be able to use his skills and contribute to this country in a meaningful way.
After all, he has a medical degree from India’s University of Mysore and practiced medicines first in India and then in Saudi Arabia for 15 years. In his two years as a security guard here, he studied and passed all the qualifying exams and had his credentials certified.
Yet today, instead of treating patients and curing diseases, Pasha is sweeping floors and lifting heavy merchandise at a Toronto home improvement hardware store on survival wages.
“It’s a very tough pill to swallow,” said the 44-year-old, choking back tears. “I wasn’t prepared for this kind of jobs. But coming here, you have to survive and put bread on the table.
“I didn’t tell my kids because I come from a culture where being a doctor is an honourable and noble profession. Now my status has dropped, doing blue-collar jobs. It would have a bad impact on my kids.”
On the same shelf:
The federal government’s new plan to hire a private firm to assess the educational credentials of potential immigrants is wise....
This is a far cry from a solution to Canada’s problem with smoothly integrating immigrants into the labour market, however.
In some ways, it’s beside the point since it has no impact on the biggest challenge for new Canadians seeking work: the protectionist provincial, municipal and professional occupational licensing requirements that make entering a trade or profession an unnecessarily long, expensive and difficult (if not impossible) process.
These regulations are more about raising government revenues and coddling industry insiders from competition than they are about helping the public.
The problem is that they get so little attention or scrutiny that they remain in place unchallenged year after year – at great cost to both the country’s economy and new Canadians trying to make a living for themselves and their families.
At a minimum, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney should commit to assembling statistics on the economic impact of the country’s professional licensing requirements.
Here is a small sampling of Ontario’s occupational licensing regime and the hoops through which foreign-trained workers have to jump in order to get a job in the province:
Someone who wants to do any teaching, researching, selling or giving advice about crops or livestock must register with the Ontario Institute of Agrologists as a “professional agrologist.” ...Is it any wonder there are so many immigrant professionals driving cabs?
Someone who wants to work as a dietician must register with the College of Dietitians of Ontario.
Someone who wants to work as an accountant must become a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario.