O Canada

Saturday, January 6, 2007

After all isn't Canada a multicultural wonderland of maple leaves, diversity and of course, equality?

This letter was written by a new immigrant to a prospective immigrant.
Edited to protect identity of persons.

Dear ******

We are happy that you are coming to Canada. This is a very nice country to live and particularly the schooling, child care, medical attention, social discipline etc are commendable.

Again every one came here because Canada advertises itself overseas, to great heights. After all isn't Canada a multicultural wonderland of maple leaves, diversity and of course, equality?

But when it actually comes to practicing what you preach, Canadian employers practise their biases informally, privately, even quietly. That's what is behind a lot of job seeking frustration stories. Then, not finding a decent job in Canada as immigrant is their own fault - most Canadians will tell you that. Because, the only reason they can't get a job is either they don't have the qualifications or the experience, not because Canadian employers dislike them.

At the end what we learn is that Canadian equality is just for brochures; a facade that politely covers the unequal access to mainstream jobs to most of us. In reality it is a very closed country in one sense as they are not recognising any qualifications or experience gained from out side North America. Engineers (Except IT and Computer) from India is suffering a lot as their degrees are not equalised here. (I don't know about IIT engineering degrees). In normal scene we can see qualified engineers working in factory as mere casual labourers. It is stressful for an experienced professional to start from the scratch.

You can find more about recognising the qualification of engineers in Canada by searching the following Web Pages http://www.peng.ca/english/profession/ , http://www.peo.on.ca/ (for Ontario province).

Most of the experienced engineers from rest of the world opine that it takes 3 to 5 years to get P.Eng qualification. Some people can afford that, but I am not sure about you. Those who studied here gets preference to job. Job market is competitive,and it requires a lot of God's grace to land into a suitable job.

Their is subtle racism in the job market (a hidden discrimination). As they are unsure about our past performance, our education, ability - the employers are afraid to take a risk. Again at your age (aged 52) it is obviously strenuous to find out a job here. For ******(child 1), he can make up here as he is young, so to ******(child 2). Your wife (with the present B.Ed) needs to get a license to teach here, please visit the following Web Pages http://www.oct.ca/. Again to get a job takes time say one year. If interested, she may do some volunteer work till that time.

Second factor is health care.

Here medical consultation, hospitalisation (base) and emergency life saving medicines are free after 3 months through government plan (OHIP). But for prescription and non-prescription medicine you have to pay and it is expensive. You need an insurance to survive here (again, once you get a full time job, you will get insurance through the employer).

Third, Education

- up to school (12th) the education is free and the university studies are highly expensive. Here it will cost average CAN $15,000 an year for a university student (day scholar).

Fourth, Housing

- rent is a major expense (say for two bed room apartment cost$1200 a month (all inclusive), your monthly income will be 1200 or so initially. If you opt for buying one, you need to shred out a quarter (¼) of cost as down payment. The average cost of 2 bed apartment is $ 1,80,000 and townhouse(2,25,000) and independent house (3,00,000) (in the suburbs of Toronto). The monthly mortgage is 1200, 1400, 1600 respectively. Apart from that we have to pay property tax (in some cities higher) and water + electricity charges (say 300 maximum per month).


- It is very good public transport! But once you started going for job, you need a car. It is not expensive to buy a car, but maintenance and insurance are expensive. Insurance for a new driver will be around $ 300 per month, if we opt for an old car.

Sixth, it is expensive

- if you go for any purchase, remember the actual price is 15% more than advertised price. It is tax. However, there is no tax on groceries except ready made (packed) food. Here we say 'In Canada everything is expensive plus 15% more expensive'. If you earn 3,000 a month you get nearly 2400 after deduction, if you earn more, you pay more taxes and retirement contributions. For a salary of 1, 00,000 the take home is around 60,000.

Lay off is another phenomenon here. After a day's work, your employer will kindly and with a full smile say that your services are no longer required since the company is doing not so well!!!

But all these ill effects are related to one reality that is money - a job that brings money. Rest is nice here. A peaceful country, with very diversified population. You feel happy.

What some families do is this. Husband or Wife (usually husband) continues work in the home country, while the other and the children settle here for their education.

Since we arrived in the summer, we feel better adjusted. Apart from the heat, I think summers are better on the whole than the coming 3 months (about winter)!!! January is the coldest, so we have been told. December and February are less cold, and in March, it will be better. Spring starts by April till May-June, summer-July, august-sep, autumn-September to October-November....so the cycle goes. It snowed once in December, after that till today no snow. But it’s very cold. But ok, since it is not windy. (talking about year 2003). But on the whole, we like it here. Once we settle with our own professions,I think life will be much more easier. Right now, we can just afford our expenses. I started work only 50 days back, but I already feel a lot better,even though I am working in the factory, as I can manage our own expenses, like car, internet, rent etc. All these are affordable even to a person with my income!!!

I hope to study MSW by next fall, provided I get admission. I plan to take student loan (OSAP), which we can apply for after one year stay in Ontario. The economy in Canada seems to be boosting, although it is much shorter when compared to US. So, we can hope for more positive changes within the economy. Our son is doing well in school. We had a chance to witness their class sessions for one day, and we are impressed. And for the first time after landing in Canada, we felt happy that we have come here. About the higher grades (classes), we still have to find out more.

I think I will stop now. Only after receiving your replies, will I be able to better clarify things for you. I may not be able to reply immediately, but try to reply ASAP.

With love and prayers


Friday, January 5, 2007

Nothing is free

This advertisement was a real surprize for me... If you buy salad, you get water free...

Am I really outdated? I was thinking that 'water' and 'air' are free for all humanbeings!!

In most part of the world.... if you buy food, they give you water..... it is always free and no gimmicks....

Who is who in Harper’s Cabinet

The cabinet expanded from 27 members to 32 members.....

Who is who in Harper’s Cabinet – updated as on January 5, 2007

  1. Stephen Harper - Prime Minister
  2. Robert Nicholson - Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  3. David Emerson - International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics
  4. Jean-Pierre Blackburn - Labour
  5. Greg Thompson - Veterans Affairs
  6. Marjory LeBreton - Leader of the government in the Senate and Secretary of State (Seniors)
  7. Monte Solberg - Human Resources and Social Development
  8. Chuck Strahl - Agriculture and Agri-food and wheat Board
  9. Gary Lunn - Natural Resources
  10. Peter MacKay - Foreign Affairs
  11. Loyola Hearn - Fisheries and Ocean
  12. Stockwell day - Public Safety
  13. Carol Skelton - National Revenue
  14. Vic Toews - President of the Treasury Board
  15. Rona Ambrose - Intergovernmental Affairs and Western Economic Diversification
  16. Diane Finley - Citizenship and Immigration
  17. Gordon O’Connor - Defence
  18. Bev Oda - Canadian Heritage and Status of Women
  19. Jim Prentice - Indian Affairs and Northern Development and federal interlocutor for M├ętis and Non-Status Indians
  20. John Baird - Environment
  21. Maxime Bernier - Industry
  22. Lawrence Cannon - Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
  23. Tony Clement - Health
  24. Jim Flaherty - Finance
  25. Josee Verner - International Co-operation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages
  26. Michael Fortier - Public Works and Government Services
  27. Peter Van Loan - Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
  28. Jay D. Hill - Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip
  29. Jason Kenney - Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)
  30. Gerry Ritz - Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism)
  31. Helena Guergis - Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)
  32. Christian Paradis - Secretary of State (Agriculture)


The following is my presentation to the Standing Committee on their deliberations on Bill 124, Fair Access to Regulated Profession Act, 2006 (November 21, 2006)


I would like to thank the Hon. Minister of Immigration Mike Colle and South Asian Women’s Centre, Toronto and its executive director, Kripa Sekhar for this opportunity to make a submission on this important topic.

My name is Prasad Nair; I immigrated to Canada in July 2003 with my wife and our 4 year old child. We both have MSW and LLB degrees from India. Before coming to Canada as skilled immigrants, we were both working in the field of Social Work.

I would like to use this opportunity to share my personal experience of surprises here in Canada.

I came to Canada in summer 2003, the moment I stepped out from the Airport, I fell in love with this country, and the brisk air just passed me assured me that I found a good place to live.
After initial settlement, we started our job search... We came to know that the social work profession is controlled in Ontario by Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. And to be recognized and to practice as a social worker, a registration with OCSWSSW is mandatory. The internationally trained social worker’s qualification is to be assessed by Canadian Association of Social Workers as equivalent to that of a Canadian qualification. Both of us submitted our applications for evaluation.…..

We started our job search also… within a short span of two months, I had generated around 14 interviews…. I got selection as a child protection worker with London CAS and they asked me to provide the CASW equalization….Seemed like life is easy…

Then came my next surprise, my application got rejected and no equalization was granted and the other surprise,….my wife got equalization…. They said in their letter that my qualification is not equal to Canadian social work degree…I have a MSW…. And that not even equal to Canadian BSW…. And no suggestion was given to me about how can I regain my qualification. I called the CASW office…. They said CASW assesses each application separately and independently. That time, I thought it may be because of my electives for MSW are different from my wife….I started asking other immigrant social workers and , I came to know that CASW had given equalization to one of my seniors previously and to another junior later with my same degree and electives.” I pointed this out to CASW authorities; the response was that ‘it may be an honest error’ and they asked me to prove the allegation rather than proactively looking into the matter. How can I do that, I am new to the country… new to the system…. How can I gather evidence against a professional organization? My fellow professionals were not ready to help pointing out that since CASW is saying about honest error… testifying for me may put them at risk of loosing their accreditation. CASW did not provide me any information about how I should challenge that decision. I was wondered at that time ‘‘if CASW has not given accreditation earlier why should they say that it may be an honest error?’’ And as I started studying about the issue, I understood that the independent and separate evaluation of each application creates, at times, dissimilar results for those who studied the same course with the same institution. In my case I lost my hard earned qualification… Again to my surprise, my qualification rejected by CASW was accepted by University of Toronto, York University and World Educational Services as equivalent to a Canadian social work degree.

Agreeing to the terms of fate or destiny…. I started working with a temporary agency in night shifts…day time searching for better jobs… baby sitting…. Cursing my decision of immigrating to Canada.. I saw Engineers, Doctors, Chartered Accountants and other esteemed professional around the globe, sweeping the factory floors, lifting and sorting in our warehouses…and trying to recreate their shattered dreams in this Promised Land.

In many occasions on the past three years, I felt an alienation from this society. I had brought my life savings to this country and I felt that I lost it. Back home I had bank deposit, land, a house and everything and in other words “I never thought about my next day’s food…but here, yes I was afraid about my ability to provide food for my children”. Thanks to the local food banks and their generous help… I stood in their queue for three hours after a whole night’s job to get a basket of food for my children. I was earning 9 dollars an hour and paying a rent of 1200 dollars and a car insurance of 300 dollars per month (a bonus rate for a new immigrant). My wife who was in her third trimester gave birth to our second baby… Another surprise… The odd jobs, unfamiliar work, sole supporter of the family and moreover the trauma of loosing my well merited qualification, my health is on stake…I lost my energy…Me and my wife argued with each other about my decision of immigrating to Canada… At times, we both thinking of ending our lives….Now looking back I know may be we were depressed and our skills as counsellors and social workers may have helped us to overcome that crisis… Now I am thinking about others who may be in other professions….

During that time we decided to pursue studies… here in Canada… For me honestly, I only know social work and the second best I know is to study…. We prepared out applications amidst this stress, the night jobs and job search… The next surprise… York University offered me an admission to their prestigious MSW program…But money..? I applied OSAP… applied for all scholarships, bursaries, started working part time…I spend all my bank balance… I even borrowed money from my relatives… planned to finish the master’s within eight months…. We planned it and we implemented the plan…. I was so interested to take an elective about family mediation… but since it was offered during summer… I had to compromise and had to take an elective in the winter in order to finish the course by summer…. Drove my car alone to the classes in the evenings… and from class room to midnight shifts…

My wife…. Started job search…. As usual not able to find the job… even after her MSW being recognized… she joined with the then newly offered bridging program for the social workers at Ryerson University… Both of us studying… betting ourselves against odds of destiny…. With the support of good friends… we both completed the programs successfully…

My next surprise…. After spending hard worked eight months and life savings…and a total debt of 10, 500 dollars, thanks to the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant… I got job as a child protection worker… the job that I was selected 2 years back and lost because of an unfair assessment….

I made it... but at what cost…. A seat in the University for an Upcoming Professional to do the MSW…. My life savings that I may have invested here otherwise…..The taxes that I would have contributed to the national and provisional exchequers… My time….my energy…. My belief towards the fairness of the system…and the haunting memory of the faces that I met in the factory corridors…. Warehouses….driving seats of taxicabs… further the anger and frustration to know the estimation and reports of agencies like conference board of Canada that not recognizing immigrants' learning and credentials costs our economy somewhere between $3-billion and $5-billion annually..

I am taking this opportunity to congratulate the Honorable Minister for his initiative on Bill 124 to ensure Fair Access to Regulated Professions and thereby helping aspiring immigrant professionals to better integration into our society.

For more information about the new Act visist: FAIR ACCESS TO REGULATED PROFESSIONS ACT, 2006