Saskatoon Star Phoenix
March 1, 2008

Iris Winston
for Canwest News Service

“I was very lucky,” says Valencia, a software architect, who came to Canada from Mexico in 2001 on an exchange program with the Universite de Quebec in Montreal.

Jorge Valencia has found his niche in Canada.

“I was very lucky,” says Valencia, a software architect, who came to Canada from Mexico in 2001 on an exchange program with the Universite de Quebec in Montreal.

During his studies, he was on three co-operative education assignments with CAE, which has been named one of Canada’s top 20 employers of new Canadians. Before he completed his degree, the company hired him full time and helped him to advance his studies.

“I was allowed to take some working hours for my studies and CAE paid for my remaining courses from the moment I was hired,” he says. “That was a big help because university fees for immigrants are very high.”

The company’s human resources department also helped him to obtain a work permit.

“They paid for that too and helped me with all the processing and paperwork. CAE is a company that knows how to help employees and facilitate their adaptation when they come from outside,” he says.

The 30-year-old says he hopes to stay with the company for the rest of his career.

“I really like my job. We work on projects all around the world and I have the opportunity to meet a lot of people from many places. I have even met customers from Spain a few times and have been able to take advantage of my native language.”

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The path to permanent employment in the Canadian workforce was not so smooth for Arlene Lorico.

Lorico came to Canada from the Philippines in 2002 under the live-in caregiver program. Despite a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Philippines and experience as a public health nurse, Lorico faced difficulty obtaining recognition for her nursing qualifications.

Lorico completed the caregiver program’s requirement that foreign employees work with a specific employer for two years before applying for permanent resident status. She also passed the licensing examination set by the College of Registered Nurses.

“But there were still some challenges to overcome,” says 34-year-old Lorico, who is now a permanent resident of Canada and is applying for Canadian citizenship.

The College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia claimed she did not have the required 150 hours of nursing education needed to obtain a licence. Lorico appealed the decision and won, but faced still another obstacle. Potential employers balked at hiring her because she lacked nursing experience in Canada.

Eventually, after a short time as a casual worker in long-term care, Providence Health Care — another company identified as one of the 20 best employers of new Canadians in the competition created by Mediacorp Canada — hired her.

“Providence is willing to accept foreign-trained nurses after they have taken a short training in Canada,” says Lorico, who has now been with Canada’s largest Catholic-owned health care organization for a year. “It has been a struggle, but I am now working as an RN in Canada, thanks to Providence.”

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The process was faster for audiologist Sandra Toms, who came to Canada from England in 2005.

“I was quite proactive and did it in six months,” says Toms. “I was lucky to be a hearing instrument practitioner as well as an audiologist in England, so I was able to approach the licensing board and they let me take the exam for B.C. It worked out really well for me, but it is very restrictive — my work permit is tied to my job — and B.C. is one of the most heavily licensed places in the world.”

Although she handled most of the immigration and licensing requirements herself and was helped by the current shortage of audiologists in Canada, she says that Island Hearing Services, another of the 20 best employers of new Canadians, smoothed the way for her.

“Island Hearing sought permission to issue the work permit and they were willing to wait for all that to be sorted out,” she says. “Their flexibility was really helpful.”

Toms is now preparing to upgrade her work permit status and is applying for permanent residency in Canada.

“Island Hearing will also help me there by supporting my provincial nomination for the upgrading,” she says.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

Reference: Saskatoon Star Phoenix