Toronto Sun
July 29, 2008

An $800,000 federal project to provide online job information for new immigrants is “not enough,” opposition critics and immigrants say.

“With the changing demographics and the future of Canada … we have to be creative at finding the people we need to achieve our business objectives,” said Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, who made the announcement yesterday in Toronto’s financial district.

Half of the city’s population is comprised of immigrants — 1 in 5 have arrived since 1991, he said.

The project will be run by Maytree Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that connects foreign skilled workers and Canadian employers. The program is aimed at creating online tools to help newcomers navigate the web for jobs.

Language issues

Employees often see immigrants as “barriers vs. assets,” Maytree chairman Alan Broadbent said, adding newcomers find language and the lack of Canadian work experience a challenge.

“Many newcomers don’t have a lot of money when they come here so it is difficult for them to go back to school and re-learn their skills,” NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow said.

Though Chow believes online tools are important, she said more attention needs to be paid toward direct work integration.

“The foreign accreditation program still needs to be standardized and expedited, spending on retraining, ESL support and helping employers connect with workers,” she said.

But Raveendhrian Thurairadah, 42, a taxi driver originally from Sri Lanka, doubted the online tools would work for him.

When he came to Toronto in 1994 employers did not recognize his accounting degree or experience.

With a family to support, he doubted he could take time off for retraining.

Reference: Toronto Sun