No more doctors driving cabs

NationalPost.com – Opinions/Editorial – No more doctors driving cabs
Published: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Talk of making it easier for foreign-trained professionals to have their credentials recognized so they may practice in Canada has been around since at least the 1980s when the Mulroney government more than doubled the number of immigrants admitted to Canada every year. Now, instead of just talk, it appears as if Ottawa and the provinces are finally going to take action. Yesterday, federal Human Resources and Immigration ministers Diane Finley and Jason Kenney announced that they have agreement from the provinces that by the end of 2012, most skilled immigrants will have to wait no more than a year after they arrive to have their academic credentials evaluated.

Among the nearly one-third of new Canadians truly in the “economic class,” 87% have university degrees, compared to just 26% of the Canadian population as a whole. Not all foreign degrees are worthy. Many foreign universities lack the rigour and academic standards of those in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Singapore.

Speeding up credentials reviews will not ensure all newcomers win approval to engage in the careers for which they have trained. But it should reduce the number of engineers driving cabs and research chemists working the midnight shift at the neighbourhood convenience store.

Initially, the federal-provincial agreement will cover foreign-trained architects, nurses and engineers. By the end of 2012, though, doctors, dentists, teachers and others from abroad should be fast-tracked as well.

Those bestowing credentials cannot be hasty. They must take the time they need to ascertain whether foreign professionals have the ability Canadians expect of members of their professions, especially in health care. But for too long, either understaffing in provincial credentials offices or resistance from professional associations has led to needless delays in this process, sometimes lasting several years.

Such unacceptable hold-ups should now be a thing of the past.

In a growing country short on many essential professionals — especially doctors — this long-overdue reform is most welcome.

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