Canadian immigration minister to travel to India

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Diane Finley, the Canadian Immigration Minister, will be heading to India on 31 October 2007 to assess Canada's immigration operations there.

In an interview with Rediff News, Finley said, "I will see our operations, and how things are working on the ground. I hear a lot of stories. I want to see firsthand what's happening."

She also said that she would "send out a message that Canada is looking for talented [Indian] people, looking for the best and the brightest to come here."

Finley alluded to Canada's problems with recognizing foreign credentials and the insistence of employers that migrant workers have Canadian work experience. Because of this, many immigrants are forced to take any job they can get when they arrive in Canada, whether or not it's related to their profession.

"We had some problems in the the last 21 months our government has taken a lot of steps to make it easier firstly for new comers to to get in, and secondly, once they are here, to integrate as productive members of our country," Finley said.

Finley announced the opening of a "referral office" in New Delhi and Beijing which will allow people to test how they qualify compared to Canadian standards for various regulated professions. Prospective migrants could contact the office through the Internet, by phone, or in person.

"The regulated professions have different standards from province to province and so we can't directly influence them," Finley said.

"We can't do credential assessment, but what we can do is provide newcomers and would be newcomers with a map as to how to get through the maze," she added.

Finley said the Canadian government has "put $300 million new money into settlement funding as we know how important it is to help newcomers to integrate into the new community, to learn Canadian ways while applying for jobs, to learn the English language as it applies to their professions."

Finley said more details of the new initiatives would be announced during her trip to India.