Question Period: Foreign Credential Recognition Program and Francophone Immigration

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Kings Cove, Newfoundland

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: I want to return to the question of immigration, and my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. You talked about the cost of immigration, but we have a situation where we have lots of jobs without people, and people without jobs. A certain amount of that occurs in the provincial jurisdiction, where colleges of various professions are not allowing the employment of people who don’t have Canadian education and certification. When is the federal government going to ease the entry of immigrants and professionals to be able to work here? One has to think of the medical field where there are lots of people who can’t find family doctors and nurses — yet, in fact, there are a number of immigrants who are doctors and nurses who can’t become employed.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. It’s a complex one, and I’ll try to be brief in my response.

You’re right to point out that in many areas, the issue is not the need for people or jobs, but the fact that the credentials that allow them to practise their chosen professions are regulated either by the provinces or by agencies under the authority of the provinces.

Consider health care, for example: The government does not have the jurisdiction to legislate with regard to health care, but it has an important role to play, as we all know. In this regard, through the Foreign Credential Recognition Program, Budget 2022 provided funding of $150 million over five years, with $30 million ongoing, to help up to 11,000 internationally trained health care professionals per year find work in their field. That is one small, important example, though it’s modest.

In other respects, the government and relevant ministers are in contact with their representatives in the provinces and territories in order to encourage them to adapt their particular rules to facilitate the accreditation of workers — in any field — in their provinces and territories. We’ve seen some very promising results of provincial initiatives in the Atlantic regions — I don’t have the list in front of me — but those conversations continue.

Again, the government will do its part, and will work with the provinces and territories, in the hope that we can have a more seamless, robust and generous approach to welcoming the professionals, who are trained elsewhere, to make their contribution here in Canada.

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: I note that some professions, such as engineering — due to the enormous lack of people — are beginning to make their standards more flexible in terms of newcomers.

I want to ask you about francophone immigrants.

As you may know, our Official Languages Committee proposed a bold policy for listening to francophone immigrants.

What is the federal government doing in terms of attracting francophone immigrants, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question, senator.

As for the federal government’s approach for all of Canada, as I mentioned, the program I referred to includes a measure aimed at promoting francophone immigration outside Quebec.

As far as Quebec is concerned, it gets a say — quite a bit of say, actually — in who settles there. It’s a well-known fact that the Quebec government emphasizes the ability to speak French, or to learn French quickly, to ensure that immigrants to Quebec integrate fully into Quebec society.


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