Federal funding for foreign training recognition

Embattled government announces $269 million

In a move to reduce the barriers facing highly trained foreign professionals, Ottawa has unveiled this week a wide-ranging Internationally Trained Workers Initiative.

Much of this money is contained in the 2005 budget, which hasn’t been passed in Parliament. Despite appearances, government representatives denied the announcement has to do with vote-courting in anticipation of a spring election.

The initiative includes:

• $75 million over the next five years to improve the integration of internationally trained health-care professionals.

• The launch of the government of Canada’s foreign credential recognition program, costing $68 million over six years. The program will help assess and recognize foreign qualifications for both regulated and non-regulated occupations.

• The development of a web portal called, Going to Canada, to be launched in conjunction with the provinces and territories. “The portal will help prospective immigrants make informed decisions about coming to Canada and prepare for the Canadian labour market and society before they arrive,” according to a government statement.

• $20 million a year for language skills training. This is in addition to the $140 million a year already going toward basic language training for immigrants outside Quebec. Called Enhanced Language Training, this program will provide job-specific language training. It will also contain some “bridge-to-work” measures such as mentoring, job placement, and other assistance accessing the labour market;

• $56 million over five years for the government’s action plan against racism, which consists of a series of measures to combat discrimination, including discrimination in the workplace. The action plan was already announced on March 21.

The initiative represents a joint effort pulling together 14 federal departments, including Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Health Canada and Heritage Canada, according to a government release.

Present at the unveiling of the program, which took place simultaneously in Toronto and Vancouver, were Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Hedy Fry, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health; and Raymond Chan, Minister of State for Multiculturalism.

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