Anywhere but here

It’s no secret that Canada’s immigration system makes no sense at all. After spending much time and energy selecting highly-skilled, highly-educated immigrants, we leave them to their own devices, with few job placement programs in place and a patchwork of “bridging programs” that range from expensive, sometimes redundant re-training courses at universities to humiliatingly basic skills upgrading through community groups. In the meantime, the employers clamouring loudest for workers are small and medium-sized businesses looking for less-skilled labour.

It’s not that there aren’t jobs to be had; it’s that it requires far more work to get one than should be necessary. Part of the problem is the disconnect between skills, education, and the available opportunities in the labour force. Labour market information in Canada is not good, and often out of date. Add to that a backlogged immigration system that on average takes years to approve an applicant, and it’s no surprise there’s no demand for any given profession by the time the professional has actually arrived (if there ever was).

No surprise, then, that there’s a thriving website warning would-be migrants about the drawbacks of choosing Canada. (Bears, I hasten to mention, are not mentioned.) NotCanada features news stories, links to Stats Can reports, and a punchy list of the top 8 reasons not to immigrate to Canada. “Weather” is just #2, although it is described as “horrific and disgusting”. The top spot goes to “No jobs”:

Yes, coast to coast, there are no jobs. Immigrants are highly qualified (MD’s, PhD’s, Lawyers, Engineers etc.) but they are driving taxi cabs, delivering pizza’s or working in factories. Even people with bachelors degrees from Canadian Universities cannot find jobs after graduation.*

The site’s forum is an interesting, literate exchange of tales of woe, escape plans, and survival strategies that provides a wealth of insight into today’s immigrant experience.

*This highlights the biggest barrier to immigrant employment — the overall structural problem with the Canadian labour market itself, which deserves its own post.