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agosto 24, 2005 a las 5:02 am #209346sofiputaMiembro
Tue, August 23, 2005
The heartbreaking experience of a couple who left a comfortable life in London and ended up bitter and broke in Canada is a shameful rebuke to our immigration system.
Ottawa beckons tens of thousands of skilled workers to Canada annually on the understanding that the country desperately needs newcomers who will fill labour shortages and bolster the nation’s economic growth.
The reality, however, is that enormous numbers of immigrants are having a terrible time either finding jobs in their areas of expertise or getting their foreign educational qualifications recognized by Canadian employers.
Their savings gone and their credit cards maxed out, Selladurai and Nesa Premakumaran now have to rely on relatives to help out while they continue hunting for work.
Prem (as he calls himself) and Nesa came to Canada with their three young children in 1998 (a fourth child was born here) in the belief that they could have a better life here.
They couldn’t have been more wrong. Thousands of job applications and a failed lawsuit later, they’re at their wit’s end.
Prem, an accountant, and Nesa, a bookkeeper, sued the federal government several years ago, alleging immigration officials misled them into believing their qualifications would be recognized and that their skills were needed.
Last week, after lengthy pretrial proceedings, a Federal Court of Canada judge ruled that the suit is not worthy of a trial.
The courts don’t wade into policy issues, Justice Konrad von Finckenstein explained.
“It is not the role of the courts to order that agencies be set up to assist immigrant workers, nor can the courts order that the municipal, provincial and federal governments recognize certain skills or credentials,” he noted.
Those kinds of issues have to be settled at the ballot box, he added.
He was ruling on a request by lawyers for the federal government that the plaintiffs’ claim be dismissed.
“I find that nothing would be gained by allowing this issue to proceed to trial,” von Finckenstein declared. The federal government owes a duty of care to the public as a whole, and to the individual plaintiffs, he said.
Quoting a previous court decision, he added the government should be able to govern without worrying about being sued.
“Government, when it legislates even wrongly, incompetently, stupidly or misguidedly, is not liable (for) damages.”
Comforting thought, isn’t it?
“If the government is not liable for anything they’ve done, then why did we have the Gomery inquiry at taxpayers’ expense?” wonders Prem, 52.
He and his wife have had a series of mostly menial jobs over the years to try to make ends meet. When they apply for work in their fields, they are told they’re either under- or over-qualified or that that they need Canadian experience.
“We have all these resources. We are capable of working,” says Nesa, 48. “We did not come to this country to go on welfare.”
The house they owned in London is now worth 300,000 pounds, they note grimly as they look around their cramped basement apartment.
It’s too late to move back to England, they say. Besides, they have no money.
“If we knew that this is what we were going to face here, do you think we would have left England? Nobody would have taken a step to come here,” says Nesa.
In some respects, our immigration system seems to be fatally flawed. We emphasize the importance of education and work experience, but employers and professional licensing bodies throw up roadblocks.
A C.D. Howe Institute report on the issue last year suggested we place greater emphasis on employer sponsorship when admitting skilled workers.
Instead, we welcome newcomers and then largely abandon them. It’s an appalling waste of immigrant talent.
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