Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to Motion No. 195 put forward by the member for Brampton—Springdale. The motion is with regard to the recognition of foreign credentials. I want the House and the Speaker to know that the opposition party has been holding round tables on immigration matters.
As we all know, the immigration system in Canada requires a great deal of help and renewal. We have many challenges and many problems. It seems that we laud ourselves as a country that welcomes immigrants and yet we have so many hurdles for them to overcome once they come to this country and even to get into Canada.
However regarding the recognition of foreign credentials I would like to say that during these round tables, and as the chair for the Ontario group, we heard many stories of those who have come to this country expecting to be fully welcomed, to contribute to Canada, to ensure that Canada continues to be the country to which they choose to come, to contribute to its welfare and its well-being and add to the quality of life that they so much want for their families and for the next generation.
As far as the credentialling challenges are concerned, the first challenge is to have a program that welcomes immigrants to the country because of their professional background, their credentials and their experience. They are encouraged and worked with in their own countries to come to Canada. However once they come here, even with all these expectations, all the difficulties and the hard decisions they have had to make to leave their home countries, they find that those very criteria, the experience, their background and their credentials, are not in any way a stepping stone to being a full and contributing member to Canadian society.
Every member in the House can tell us about people in their home riding who have to come to Canada to be part of this country, who have full credentials, who have education levels to be lauded, who have years of experience and who were leaders in their homelands, and yet they come to Canada and find that they are not able to contribute in the same professions and nowhere close to the same levels as they were participating in their homelands.
I also want to explain that because we have no expectations and no obligations of our foreign representatives to ensure that people do not have unreasonable expectations, we should ensure that those who are servicing those in the other lands are equipped, knowledgeable and can ensure that they do not mislead those who are applying to come here.
Second, once they come to Canada, in order to exploit their credentials, further their professions and contribute in that way, they find that most employers require Canadian experience. The question here is how does one get that experience without having some support or some program in which to work with these people so that the Canadian experience can be had and they can demonstrate that they are fully qualified and have the experience, the background and the education to ensure they can contribute.
We also find that many of the stories we are told that people with not only one degree but with multiple degrees, post-bachelor degrees from foreign countries, in order to gain that experience and have their credentials recognized, are leaving this country. I heard a story of a very qualified health practitioner who left this country in order to get the experience from the United States which has more readily recognized her credentials of her homeland which was Romania.
She then had to make a difficult decision as to whether she would stay in the United States where it seemed she was more welcomed than in Canada which encouraged her and said that she would be welcomed. When she first arrived in Canada she found that things were made impossible for her. When she decided to come back to Canada after being in the United States and get work in her field, her previous experience in Canada was a challenge.
Even though these people make hard decisions, leave family at home and get fully qualified, we do not seem to have a system that makes sure that they can stay here, participate and contribute here.
We need to put into place a faster system for recognizing people's credentials, their educational backgrounds and their work experience in their homelands. There is no reason why we cannot set up a system that does not move these people to the back of the line. They should be recognized where they deserve to be recognized and to have a system in Canada that is consistent with our overall theme and pledge of being multicultural, that we do welcome immigrants and that Canada needs immigration and immigrants to contribute to and ensure we have a brighter future.
The motion actually was amended to call for to work with, to coordinate, collaborate and assist with this challenge but the outcome of it was only to report within six months. The opposition believes that we can move forward with this. We believe that because of the complexities of the system and the collaborations that will have to be made there should be a centralized effort. We would undertake to ensure that the challenges in this area were hastily and speedily corrected.
We do not believe that six months of further study to tell us we have challenges and problems would move us forward with any speed. As I said earlier, people are reconsidering coming to Canada and staying here. Consequently, we believe a centralized force is needed, not only to coordinate the 14 federal departments involved but also foreign credentialing, and to collaborate in partnership with the provinces as well as the trade and professional associations which play a large part in determining whether immigrants are going to be welcomed within their professions and consequently become a colleague in the workforce.
We believe that working with the provinces is important. However, because of the jurisdictional challenges, we do not believe the federal government should add another layer. However we should be able to work in partnership with the provinces to ensure that all parties that are involved and participate in this process are at one table.
The coordination between 14 federal departments will be a force that needs to have a centralized focus. We cannot have each department establishing its own criteria or standards. The criteria standard should vary according to professions, not according to departments if there is to be some good thinking and coordination behind it. However we believe that a centralized approach will be more effective.
We believe that Canada is a multicultural country. We have for generations built this country on immigration. We have seen where those immigrants have built the country and contributed to the quality of life that we all enjoy. In the area of foreign credentialing, we are missing such great opportunities. We are missing the ability of these immigrants to contribute. We believe the motion is flawed and we would oppose it.