The Sharon and Her Grievance

Canada Immigration Forum (discussion group)            
Subject: The Sharon and Her Grievance
  Sharon I think I found an insight into your displeasure with the Canadian Government. I never knew you are such a disssenter!!! But I laud your forthrightness in the article below than your pretense on this site, and perhaps in your real life.

I am a white Canadian, born and raised in this country and have been interested in reading this site to see how others, via immigrants experience Canada.

Firstly I would like to say that I am very disappointed in our government in that it encourages people to immigrate under false pretenses. This is not fair and often detrimental.

Secondly, myself, and other Canadians like myself ALSO struggle in our country paying enormous taxes and living expenses. We live here because we love our country and have family etc. Yes, we may be more connected via jobs etc., but then my question is: Is every country not like this? Does your home country not give priority to it´s original citizens? Would you not be upset if you graduated with a professional degree and a new immigrant was given the job instead of you. As a citizen of Canada, I have been paying enourmous taxes ALL of my life here, and if I get the job over a new immigrant, then am I not deserving of that?

Finally, as a Canadian citizen, I have no oportunity to immigrate into any Asian or most other countries. There are no doors open for us and we are not wanted as residents, but rather as tourists where your country can benefit from us spending money. This is just a fact of life.

I feel very badly for new immigrants who have lost money and lost face and recognize that our government must be more honest in what it is advertising to potential professional immigrants.
Sharon. British Columbia.

Righteous Man
(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
I don´t remember writing it but it sounds good!
(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
Ah, so you can discriminate against immigrants and you think they should come to Canada and work as indentured servants for you!

Now, I know why you hate everything anyone says about the fraud in immigration in Canada!

I bet if a person came on here and sang the praises of how wonderful Canada is towards people [even if not true] you´d never, ever call them a ´troll´ no matter how many things they repeated over and over.

Biased, biased, biased, shame shame shame on you Sharon.

You people give out bad information to immigrants. Why not put your money where your mouth is? Would you pay the plane ticket for each person you advise, to go home, when they are homeless at the soup kitchen getting a handout because no Canadian employer would talk to them, let alone hire them?

shame on you. shame on Canada.

(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
Well, clearly Sharon is but one Canadian voice amid a sea of immigrants, therefore she is an easy target. Call her biased, call her racist, call her whatever makes YOU feel better about yourselves.

But as ANOTHER native Canadian, I echo her sentiments 100%

And before you want to call ME racist, I´ll tell you I have friends of many race/religion/colour. I embrace other cultures, my child plays with and goes to school with children of various ethnic backgrounds, and I do my utmost to educate her about other cultures that exist in our society. I teach her everyone is the same inside, as human beings, we are all equal.

Heck, I´m a white Canadian woman and last night I cooked a Chicken Vindaloo dish for dinner, HA! :D

In the workplace, I HIRE people of ethnic minorities. I believe in giving people a chance. And for the most part, those people work damn hard to build a good life for themselves and their families. The ones who work hard and stick with it succeed. The ones who expect the world right off the bad and start screaming discrimination whenever it suits their purpose are the ones that end up crying to anyone who will listen on internet forums.

My voice, and Sharon´s is just one of millions of Canadians who share our views. You can slam us if that makes you feel better, that´s fine, but if you can open your eyes and see the bigger picture, you will understand what we´re saying. Because it´s not that we don´t welcome newcomers or regard them as inferior to us. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is the attitudes of some once they get here. What we love the most about our Country is also sometimes what works against us. Freedom and rights. It should never be abused.

(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
David, formerly from BC.: you know what you sound like? a spoiled child on the playground.

People can join this forum, and leave this forum any time they like. If you go back through the archives there are plently of threads that bash Canada, immigration consultants etc. they are all still there.

You have so much good to say about the US immigration policy. Do you know anything about it? I could flood this forum with horrible stories of how people are treated in the US not only by its people but by the government too.

So, you continue to repeat your message but never take the time to answer my questions about your situation.

That would suggest to me that your story is not what it seems.

(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
Sharon, I´ve answered tons of your questions...and I´ve never claimed the USA immigration system is any better.

What I do claim is that Canadian immigration laywers misleed newcomers and Canada markets itself in ways to attract people, who then go there and can´t even get a job.

That´s the issue Sharon.

So stop bashing me. Better yet, ignore everything I post on here from now on. You say your thing, I´ll say mine. But arguing with you is ridiculous.

D in USA
(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
London Free Press

Armed with degrees, they drive our cabs

Thousands of professionals have been lured to Canadian cities like London with promises of lucrative careers and a prosperous, secure future in a new land. Once they get here, the reality is sobering. And dream-shattering.
Jennifer O´Brien, Free Press Reporter 2004-01-17 03:30:12

Maybe he picked you up one day. Maybe he took you to work on a rainy morning.

And while his windshield wipers slapped water away from your view of the outside world, maybe you didn´t see the pile of medical books on the passenger seat of his cab.

His name is Dr. Mohommad Farhad Bayat. He´s a London taxi driver.

He´s happy here because his family is safe.

He´s happy here because his children grew up with Storybook Gardens instead of landmine fields, and they go to good schools and will never be forced to fight for any army.

He´s happy because his wife won´t be killed or threatened, even though her hair shows.

His prayers have been answered.

But not his dreams.

They lie between the covers of the medical books Dr. Bayat still studies in his taxicab, while parked between fares.

The books are from Kabul, Afghanistan, where he earned his medical degree and set up practice as a family physician. They helped him continue his practice for four years in Pakistan, where he lived in a refugee camp after escaping Afghanistan´s brutal regime.

And the knowledge from those books helped him get to Canada in 1991, when he applied as an immigrant to forge a better life for his wife and daughters.

But once he arrived, Dr. Bayat´s books -- and his credentials -- were as helpful as his used airline ticket. Despite them, he couldn´t get work as a doctor, a nurse, or in any other medical profession. Employers wanted Canadian certification and Canadian references -- re-education that would have cost thousands of dollars he didn´t have.

So Dr. Bayat joined thousands of other foreign-trained professionals in an occupation he was qualified to do. He became a taxi driver.

* * *

Hundreds of professionals like Bayat drive London´s streets.

Hundreds more deliver pizza. More clean buildings.

Some are doctors, some are lawyers, some are engineers, some are economists and some are teachers.

Most of them have lived through famines, wars and tragedies too horrible for native Londoners to imagine.

Most of them came here because Canada wanted them for their skills.

* * *

Some are judges.

Aboutown taxi driver Abdalla Abosharia spent several years in the Sudan judicial system, backed by a law degree as he worked his way from legal assistant to lawyer to provincial court judge.

"I was living a very sophisticated life," the large man says. "I had a nice house, I had a nice car and I was very well respected . . .

"That´s one of the hardest things about driving a taxi. The way people talk to you, some people think drivers are hired servants.

"It is not a good feeling when you are treated badly," he says, stooping to place a pink-coloured Sudanese fruit drink in front of his visitor. "Is it worth it? For my family it is."

As he speaks, voices of his teenage children float down the stairs into the simple living room. "My kids are getting a Canadian education. For them, life will be good."

Abosharia had only one son when he fled Sudan in 1984, after then-president Muhammed Nimeiri had ordered all courts to follow Islamic law -- sharia.

It was not a good situation for civil court judges who had been educated according to the British system -- the same one Canada uses. Sharia law is based on Islamic regulations and values and includes severe penalties such as stoning to death.

On top of the new rules, judges found themselves under threat of arrest by government officials who requested friends be treated leniently, Abosharia says.

Judges who didn´t comply were jailed. Some disappeared.

"I knew they were going to arrest me, so finally -- in my 30s -- I went to Yemen, to work as a legal consultant."

Abosharia left his wife and one-year-old son, who followed him later. He remained in Yemen until 1992, when political instability and job insecurity there made him fear again for his future. He knew returning to Sudan was out of the question, especially now he was considered an activist.

But he had heard of peace in Canada.

With his education and law background, he was a shoo-in. He settled in St. Catharines. But to become a lawyer, he would need two years of law school, despite his law degree.

"I was not a landed immigrant, could not get OSAP, and had no money to pay for law school," he says.

He would have been happy to work in any legal capacity. But no Canadian references meant no work.

So Abosharia found other jobs -- as a paper boy, then a pizza deliverer.

Desperate to support his wife and three children, and save enough for school, Abosharia moved in 2001 to London, where many immigrants were taxi drivers.

Driving cab at night, he completed Fanshawe College´s courts administration and tribunal agent program with 12 As and four Bs.

The diploma yielded him no job, despite dozens of resumes, he says, but it did give him the background and references he needed to shorten his re-certification period in law school.

He is to attend the University of Ottawa in September, where he must pass 12 courses before he can take the Canadian bar exams.

He´s on his way, but still frustrated with the system.

"We have to go back to school and the problem is . . . getting the money to go to school and finding a school that will accept us with our foreign credentials."

It´s not that he doesn´t appreciate life here. "The most important thing is my kids´ education," he says. "Canada is a better place in every other way, but I am a qualified judge."

* * *

"It´s a complete paradox," says Alexa McDonough, federal NDP foreign affairs critic.

"People are very anxious to come to Canada, and if they have professional skills . . . it helps them gain entry."

About 225,000 immigrants move to Canada every year. They are the lucky ones, chosen by Canada´s Immigration Department based on education, skills and language abilities. Applicants must score 67 out of a possible 100 points to be accepted here.

And in scoring high, educated professionals have good reason to believe they´re needed here, McDonough says.

"Professionals have all the assurances in the world from Canada: ´We want you, we need you,´ then they hit a stone wall."

Six in every 10 immigrants to Canada were forced to take jobs other than those they were trained to do in 2000 and 2001, a Statistics Canada study says.

* * *

Some are engineers.

Torpikay Yusufzai and Hashim Mohommed didn´t ask to come here. They were invited.

They didn´t know much about Canada at the time. The couple and their young son were living in a refugee camp in India when an immigration officer knocked on their door.

"I was sitting at home and a person came to our house and said, ´The Canadian government chose you and your husband to go to Canada . . . You have good education, good qualifications,´ " says Yusufzai in her Wonderland Road apartment. "You´re the immigrant they are looking for."

Yusufzai, a mechanical engineer, once designed systems for the Water and Power Ministry in Kabul. Mohommed, a civil engineer, designed structures and highrises there. They were happy, successful, until 1992, when militants overthrew the government.

It was a brutal year.

That year, 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded in fighting.

Yusufzai was terrified to leave her apartment, but she wasn´t safe inside, either.

The young family fled to a refugee camp in India, where Yusufzai´s family was living at the time. Job shortages made it impossible to find work as engineers. Mohommed took work translating Russian.

They stayed three years, hoping to return to Kabul -- and to their careers -- if the fighting ever stopped.

But then there was that knock at the door.

Suddenly, Yusufzai and Mohommed had new hopes. They met with the Canadian officials, who said they could get work as engineers here.

"We came here with hope we would find something."

Not quite. The family arrived in London in 1998. They went to London´s Global House, a Cross Cultural Learner Centre resource facility that helps newcomers get essentials, such as ID, health services and English courses.

Global House has connections with employment agencies but no one who sits down to match professional immigrants with specific careers.

The government pays for food, clothing and lodging for one year for all refugees. After that, information about welfare is provided.

* * *

The problem is, there´s no follow-through, says Jane Cullingworth, project co-ordinator for Policy Roundtable Mobilizing Professions and Trades (PROMPT).

There is also a communication gap between governments. Ottawa brings immigrants in, but the provinces regulate labour.

Once immigrants are accepted into the country, they are sent on their way, without knowing what they need to do before they can get work here.

"We have a national immigration strategy, but we don´t have a national employment strategy to match," Cullingworth says.

* * *

Some just want a chance.

Torpikay Yusufzai and Hashim Mohommed studied English. Yusufzai attended London´s WIL employment centre.

She sent about 30 resumes out to places posting jobs for engineers and technicians at the London Job Bank.


"An employer said it is because I don´t have Canadian experience. All I want is a chance to show what I know, what I can do."

Yusufzai now works at a pizza restaurant.

Mohommed drives a taxi.

"I had to work somewhere," she says. "I did not come here to go on welfare."

The struggle isn´t over. In 2002, the couple got their citizenship, and Yusufzai got OSAP to pay for a mechanical engineering design program at Fanshawe College.

She did well her first year -- mostly As, she says, and is now doing a placement through the program.

Things are looking up, but she´s still has mixed feelings about Canada.

"Coming here saved our lives. We got peace and we are so thankful for that. But at the same time we lost our lives.

"The Canadian government brings educated people here. They look at education, training . . . So why don´t they have a person here who says, ´OK you are a doctor, a nurse, an engineer -- whatever -- we will place you somewhere and try you out.´

"But nobody wants to take a chance because we don´t have Canadian experience."

* * *

The biggest barrier for newcomers seeking work is the Canadian experience requirement, according to Statistics Canada.

"It´s a catch-22 because until you are licensed you can´t get experience and until you get experience you can´t get a licence," says immigration lawyer Greg Willoughby, chair of London´s Cross Cultural Learner Centre.

"The government has to put pressure on regulatory bodies . . . It is the same frustration again and again."

Ottawa has set aside $13 million over the next two years for recognizing foreign credentials and has set up a federal-provincial working group.

But critics say the fund is not specific enough.

Regulatory bodies need to recognize foreign credentials more quickly, says MP Joe Fontana (L - London-North-Centre), who chaired a committee on citizenship and immigration from 1999 to 2003.

"It is very frustrating," he says. Ottawa entices professionals to come here but "the regulatory groups are the ones who . . . see if they meet Canadian standards."

Fontana says Ottawa and the provinces should look at providing hiring incentives and a voucher system for loans to help new Canadians get schooling.

In Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government is committed to removing barriers, and has promised $20 million over four years.

But there is a tangle of 38 regulatory bodies for professions and trades in Ontario.

* * *

Some are teachers.

Hasan Savehilaghi taught elementary school for five years in Iran until 1988, when a new regime began enforcing strict religious laws.

"I love teaching, I absolutely love it," says the Aboutown driver, his eyes sparkling as he remembers his first class.

"When you walk into a roomful of kids and you know they are curious and they will learn from you, it is the best feeling in the world."

But it was a volatile time in Iran and, as a teacher, he was in a volatile position.

"It didn´t matter whether you were a teacher or a lawyer or whether you were an adult or a child," he says. "Everyone was expected to go to war in the name of God. Anyone who opposed was in danger.

"If you were listed as being anti-government, you could be killed in your house or on the street, or anywhere. As a teacher and a political activist, Savehilaghi says he "had no choice but to leave."

Savehilaghi went to Turkey in 1988, to Istanbul as a refugee, and remained there until 1991, after an immigration officer contacted him to say Canada was interested.

"He told me Canada wanted me. I got points (in Canada´s immigration point system) because if you were young and well-educated with good work experience, you scored high and Canada wanted you."

* * *

Slowly, things are changing. For example, last year in an effort to lower barriers, the Professional Engineers of Ontario dropped a requirement that to get licensed you needed at least one year of Canadian experience.

Engineers make up about 60 per cent of the 100,000 immigrants who come to Ontario each year.

London´s Cross Cultural Learner Centre saw 139 new engineers between April 2002 and March 2003. It also helped 76 medical professionals and 54 teachers that year.

If they follow the province-wide pattern, less than a quarter of the professionals are working in their field.

* * *

Some are tiring of trying.

Upon arrival in London, Hasan Savehilaghi took English courses and looked into becoming a teacher.

In 1994 and 1995, he did a co-op placement at Princess Elizabeth elementary school. He did well, but working among other teacher assistants -- all of them Canadian without accents -- Savehilaghi became discouraged.

"At that time, the (Conservatives) came to power and planned to start having teachers write exams." Job counsellors told him he needed education documents from Iran to get into a Canadian education program -- "which I didn´t have at the time because I fled the country," he says.

Even with the documents, he would need Canadian university training and teachers´ college -- another four years.

"I still dreamed of being a teacher, but at the time I couldn´t afford to take that risk -- without working to pay for my family to live here."

So he drives taxi. And it´s a better life here, he says. But he takes the bad with the good. He has traded in curious and respectful students for indifferent and sometimes disrespectful passengers.

"People get into the cab and they slap me on the shoulders, say, ´Hey cabbie, where you from.´ I don´t understand how people can talk to another human that way.You don´t walk into a store and say that to a person helping you."

And he doesn´t understand how governments can make it so hard for professionals when it needs them so dearly.

"When I hear on the radio about a teacher shortfall, it is frustrating because I am driving in my cab and listening to this."

* * *

Canada expects to be short a million workers in the next 20 years, according to Voices For Change, a study by groups in London and Kitchener.

The country already foresees a lack of health, education and construction professsionals, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has found 50 per cent of businesses are worried about labour shortages.

London is a model city of the big picture, already short teachers, engineers, doctors and nurses, the report says.

* * *

Last month, MPP Deb Matthews (L - London-North-Centre) brought up the report in the Ontario legislature.

"I wanted to know what are we going to do about it. It´s time to get to the specifics of this problem," she says.

"It´s an issue I really care about. It is relatively easy to fix and it just doesn´t make sense to waste that human resource."

* * *

Some have all but given up -- some like Dr. Mohommad Farhad Bayat, even if he still carries his medical books on the seat of his cab.

Bayat treated thousands of patients his first year of practice, but that wasn´t enough for the Afghani government.

As an educated male he was required to join the military or risk prison. He was jailed several times, but when government agents made it clear he and his family could be killed, he fled in 1985.

In Pakistan, where he lived as a refugee for four years, still working as a family doctor, Bayat and his wife were harassed by Pakistani police and Afghani militant groups that had infiltrated the refugee camps.

He was threatened and beaten for not supporting the militant group, his wife for not wearing Afghani headdress.

"They came into my office and told me my family would be killed," he remembers. So he turned to Canada.

He spent months preparing with English classes and applied at area hospitals.

He was told to get Canadian training, but the $5,000 cost seemed incredible to a man who´d fled refugee life without a penny.

Still hoping to use his skills, he applied for other positions: nursing, research, processing. "The response was that I had no Canadian experience . . . It was the same everywhere."

Bayat sometimes spends 12 hours a day driving for Aboutown. He has all but given up on plans to save the money for school, noting he´s been out too long.

Two years ago, the College of Physicians and Surgeons put out a notice about lowering barriers for foreign-trained physicians, but only for people who´d practised within the past three years.

So he drives.

"Imagine how it feels . . . You work hard to get something and you reach a point to be successful and somebody cuts you off . . . I don´t want to say Canada is not good. It is a peaceful country.

"But the problem is I am not in the right job."

Twenty-thousand Londoners do not have a family physician. Across Ontario, the number is almost a million.

* * *

Until the system is overhauled, doctors will drive taxis and deliver pizzas in Ontario, says Joan Atlin of the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

"It is not that they have to take a few courses, the biggest problem . . . is around increasing the number of residency and assessment programs."

Before applying for residency, doctors must have passed English exams and a Medical Council of Canada evaluating exam.

By then, it may be too late. "A lot of people give up and still about 10 times more people apply than there are positions every year." About 4,000 foreign-trained doctors live in Ontario, she says. Last year, 600 of them applied for 75 residency spots.

Locally, the Cross Cultural Learner Centre is working with the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to establish a local AIPSO branch, and the Colombian Canadian Professionals Association of London is working on behalf of the internationally educated.

* * *

Some are economists.

Like so many other new Canadians, Ali did not want his last name or his picture in the newspaper.

He still hopes to one day get work as an economist, and worries future employers would be unimpressed knowing he has spent years driving cab instead of gaining Canadian experience in the field.

But his hopes are dimming.

"In six years, I have not left a stone unturned," he says. "But you cannot persist if you cannot find an interview."

In the Persian Gulf, Ali taught university-level economics and served as an international economic adviser.

When relatives contacted him from Canada to say it was a better country for his six children, he thought his experience would be enough to make him a success here.

He scored high on the immigration point system and moved to London.

And he was confident.

"In the first six months, I was so optimistic," he says. "Every day, I was sending applications by e-mail, fax and even going in person, but I could not even get an interview.

"Most of the time employers tell you -- even if they don´t say it explicitly -- they mention Canadian experience. But how can I get Canadian experience if I don´t even have a chance?"

While his children are getting a better education, he and his wife are not living the life they once did, he says.

"My wife is frustrated and disappointed. She was living a better life . . . Myself, I am used to a refined environment. I was respected and I respected others . . . It was an office environment where I worked before."

Not anymore.

"You have to put up with a lot of drunks, people who use foul language and kids who get drunk and become very obnoxious . . . Canada is a great country, there´s no doubt about that. It respects human rights and religious freedom and freedom of speech," Ali says.

"But the question asked by everybody in my situation is: ´If my credentials qualified me for education, why don´t they qualify me for a job?´ "


The federal government evaluates six factors when considering each applicant for immigration to Canada. Each area is broken into subsections and applicants receive points based on each factor with a total of 100 available points. Pass mark is 67.

For example, education is worth 25 points, but to get that score an applicant must have a master´s degree or PhD and 17 years of full-time equivalent study. A bachelor´s degree is worth 20 points, a high school education five.

The following six factors are considered:

- Education: 25 points

- Official languages: 24 points

- Experience: 21 points

- Age (between 21-49 preferred): 10 points

- Arranged employment in Canada: 10 points

- Adaptability: 10 points


A 1999 study of 1,678 immigrant professionals and tradespeople in London found a 40-per-cent unemployment rate. Of those employed, 76 per cent worked in fields other than their specialty. Top reasons that prevented people from finding relevant work were: - Lack of experience here: 38% - Lack of Canadian certificate: 28% - Lack of references: 13% - Difficulties with English: 7%

D in USA
(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
having fun? your cut and paste skills are impressive.

(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
I´m pretty convinced this IS the not-canada spammer. Same material, copied and pasted, over and over, post after post after FREAKING post. Same shit, different day.


I´ve been conversing with a spam-bot. Good thing it´s a slow day at work ;)

(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
Just out of curiosity: are there any immigrants who are dying of starvation????? I haven´t heard of any yet.
Righteous Man
(in reply to: The Sharon and Her Grievance)
none that I know of. The homeless count I did a few months back were mostly white or aboriginal. Mostly male, mostly dual diagnosis.

Is immigration harder than some people expect - of course. Canada lives with the same bad rumour that the US lives with - that our streets are paved with gold, money grows on trees and you can be a millionaire within one week. It simply does not work that way.