Mr Hudak has decried this as an unfair affirmative action program for “foreign workers”. If McGuinty is pandering to the immigrant vote, who is Hudak pandering to in using the term "foreign workers'? Mr Hudak’s unbecoming and divisive statements are xenophobic to say the least, and unworthy of a real leader.
We’re talking about well-educated people, these immigrants who came to Canada; full of professional ambitions and who, in a great many cases, have had to settle for menial work, if any, and a mundane existence.
In pursuing their careers, they found the doors to full employment in their fields slammed shut once they arrived in Canada: their English isn’t good enough, they don’t have Canadian work experience, etc. As a member of the board of the Halton Multicultural Council, I’ve heard a great many of their stories.
Immigrants who have been in Canada five years or less are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their Canadian-born counterparts. But recent immigrants with master’s degrees or higher are more than five times as likely not to have jobs. And, recent immigrants are more likely to be harder hit by a recession.
A board of trade report last year estimated the province loses billions in potential GDP thanks to underutilized skills.
The Conference Board of Canada is on record as saying that immigration is necessary for Canada’s future economic growth, and that recognizing foreign learning and credentials would add $3.4 to $5.0 billion to the Canadian economy every year .
John Tory, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and former honorary chair of Career Bridge has said that small and medium sized businesses would benefit from the human assets that immigrants bring and the immense contribution they would make to their growth and success (Jermy, Diane. “The business case for hiring skilled immigrants”. Globe and Mail. September 25, 2009).
The Conservatives propose a modest training program for new Canadians, providing a small tax credit for language training worth up to $400 per employee. There are already many hundreds of these courses available throughout the province. But the resistance to hiring goes beyond language.
Until we start “turning off the tap” (reducing immigration), or finding a way to ensure immigrants have Canadian validation before they arrive in Canada, Mr McGuinty’s employment tax incentive program will help.
It is clear that there is some discrimination among employers in hiring. At least McGuinty is addressing problem.