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New Canadian government to help new immigrants

Canada's federal Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to work with Canadian provinces to help immigrants have their foreign credentials recognized in Canada.

"That's one of things Harper raised last night as an issue that he would like us to collaborate with him on, which is the recognition of credentials from the foreign community," Premier Dalton McGuinty said Feb. 25.

"We're more than pleased to do that."

Ensuring new Canadians can use their training overseas to help them gain employment in their field of expertise is key for Ontario if it wants to attract the brightest and most educated immigrants, McGuinty said.

"We're going to be competing for immigrants," McGuinty said.

A big question for any person choosing to leave their home country for another is: "how long does it take me when I'm over there to get up and running," he said.

"How long does it take me to have my credentials recognized and for me to be employed at my highest level of ability and training?

"We're going to have to be able to answer that effectively and competitively" to attract top notch immigrants to Ontario and Canada, McGuinty said.

McGuinty stressed that he received written assurances from the Harper government that the landmark immigration and labour market deals it reached with the former Liberal government won't be tossed out.

The five-year, $920-million immigration deal means Ottawa will dole out more cash to help immigrants settle in the province, including language training and other services. The $300-million, six-year labour market agreement will help new Canadians in the province find the right kind of work for their skills and education.

"We have those commitments now, it's just a matter of ensuring that he delivers on those," McGuinty said, referring to Harper.

"We have no reason to expect that he won't do anything other than deliver on those."

Ontario wants to ensure immigrants to the province have the services they need and the chance to make a good living in the province while using their skills gained in foreign countries, said Immigration Minister Mike Colle.

A proposal coming from big companies such as Ernst & Young is to boost the number of mentorships and internships for immigrants so they can quickly get work experience in Ontario and more quickly get hired into their field of training, he said.

"We really need to get into this in more and more ways (and) be bold on the mentorship front," said Colle, adding that companies benefit from having workers with international experience and a variety of language skills.

"We need everyone to open their doors and give newcomers a chance."

The Ontario government has done little in its past two years of office to help the province's immigrants, argued Conservative Tim Hudak.

"As long as we're seeing doctors, engineers with training driving taxicabs, it shows that Dalton McGuinty is not addressing the real issues for new immigrants."