Toronto : In an effort to attract more foreign skilled workers to Canada, a new project was launched by the government to help professionals from countries like India have their credentials assessed and recognised even before they arrive in the country.
The Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO) launched Thursday will help newcomers navigate through the complex system of foreign credential recognition.
"Too often I run into people who spent two to three years waiting to come to Canada," said Diane Finley, the minister of citizenship and immigration.
"Then they come here and it takes them two years to find out where to get their credentials assessed then they find out they have to go to school for two years, by which time they can't afford it," she said.
As a pilot project the Canadian government has opened similar offices in India, China and the Philippines – that Finley said might be expanded if results are positive, the Star reported.
A new website has also been set up to help newcomers identify occupations for which they are rightly qualified. The project is expected to cost the federal government $32.2 million in the first five years.
The FCRO's branch offices have initially opened in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax and Winnipeg and the federal government plans to have them up and running at 320 locations across the country by 2007.
Wai Young, the head of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, which represents 450 immigrant and refugee agencies, called the new project a step in the right direction.
"Newcomers will now be able to actually go to one website instead of surfing around," said Young.
But she urged the government to do more, because providing information to newcomers does not mean they are actually getting a job, she said.