Canada considers loan for skilled immigrants

The Canadian government could revive a programme to loan money to help skilled immigrants land jobs in certain fields.

The programme, which was first piloted in 2011, would loan money to newly arrived doctors, dentists, engineers and high-tech professionals to help them pay for the required licensing fees, exams and training upgrades.

Skilled immigrants who arrive to live in Canada often need to have their credentials assessed to Canadian standards before they can start work. An inability for many to be able to afford to undertake this process means that thousands of immigrants end up working in low-skilled sectors, or not finding employment at all.

“We’re doing a horrible job in that we bring very high human capital individuals to Canada, then we throw away their potential by not letting them work in what they are trained and educated to do,” said Herb Emery, a labour market economist at the University of New Brunswick. “When these immigrants are taken out of low-skill jobs and converted into high-paying ones, the impact on the federal treasury is huge.”

Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, spokesperson for minister of employment, workforce development and labour, Patty Hajdu, said that there was a 47-per-cent increase in full-time employment the last time the micro loan scheme operated.

“We were very pleased with the results of the pilot, and we’re working hard on a framework for a more permanent policy,” he told CBC News.

This is not the first time the current government has floated the idea of making this programme permanent. In the 2015 budget, it earmarked CDN$35 million over five years to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans programme permanent, although it was never implemented.

Canada is set to welcome more skilled immigrants than ever before this year. The 2017 immigrant intake targets boosted entries for those in the ‘economic’ class — skilled workers, businesspeople and caregivers — to 172,500 from 160,600 previously.

Article published 7th March 2017