Ontario’s political parties need to take a stand on foreign-trained professionals

We have all heard the stories – doctors working as taxi drivers, engineers working retail, lawyers working in call centers. If you live in Ontario, chances are you know someone who was admitted into the country on the basis of his/her academic and professional qualifications but who, in a cruel turn of irony, was denied the opportunity to practice in the very field for which he/she was admitted.

This is a problem all too common to Ontario’s newcomer communities who have personally lived these stories. In addition to facing racial discrimination and xenophobia in the job market, immigrants are also faced with formal systemic barriers to employment, barriers that are often legally backed by the provincial government.

The negative moral and social consequences of this state of affairs are clear. How can we as a country and as a province claim to be proud of our inclusivity and diversity when we do not even treat the qualifications of all of our members equally? How can we admit individuals on the basis of their education and devalue that same education as soon as they set foot in our country?

And, we should make no mistake, immigrants not working in their fields is bad for all of us. Denying the immense degree of skills and expertise that these individuals possess is extremely harmful for our competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy. As entire industries are destroyed and created in increasingly short order, Ontario needs to be a dynamic and inclusive economy that leads the world through innovation rather than a crumbling old boys club too concerned with protecting its privileges against newcomers to recognize how they can cooperate for mutual benefit.

Unfortunately, Ontario’s professional organizations have shown that they are unwilling to do anything about this issue. This is where the provincial government needs to step in and correct what is, in all respects, a catastrophic market failure. And, we should make no mistake, Ontario voters demand this.

If any party wants to win in June, especially in the GTA’s crucial ridings, they will need to appeal to immigrant communities and their allies on the issue of foreign-trained professionals. If any party decides to continue to ignore this issue, they risk sinking into irrelevance among the province’s largest and fastest-growing communities.

Pouyan Tabasinejad is the Policy Chair of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC), a grassroots, non-partisan, and non-profit community organization that seeks to safeguard the interests of Iranian-Canadians. One of  ICC’s policy priorities is to press Ontario’s major political parties to take a stand on foreign-trained professionals.

Wynne Liberals block bill to ban pre-pay hydrometers

In December 2017, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government prevented an NDP bill which would have immediately banned pre-pay hydrometers in Ontario. Pre-pay meters force individuals to pay for their electricity before they can use it. Hydro One included a plan to use pre-pay meters in their application for increases for the next few years. Pre-pay meters can potentially lead to disconnections of electricity in the winter if the electricity bill has not been prepaid. Disconnecting electricity in Ontario in the winter is currently illegal.

“Today, we had an opportunity to do the right thing and put an end to the privatized Hydro One’s attempt to force families to feed the meter or face having their electricity cut off,” said Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP. “By rejecting this bill, Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government have sided with the privatized Hydro One and let families down once again.”

The Ontario NDP has also announced their plan to bring Hydro One back into public hands while bringing hydro bills down by about 30% for residents and businesses, and ending mandatory time of use pricing which charges people different rates depending on the time of day.

“Hydro prices are out of control thanks to years of Liberal mismanagement and their sale of Hydro One, a plan that Ontarians strongly rejected,” said Tom Rakocevic, Ontario NDP Candidate for Humber River-Black Creek. “If allowed, these new pre-pay hydro meters could leave many out in the cold.”

The Ontario Liberals sold Hydro One in 2015 which has resulted in a large increase in the hydro bills of Ontarians throughout the province. They had originally opposed selling off Hydro One during the previous Ontario PC government.


The 26th Commemoration of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Nearly 28 years ago, 14 women lost their lives in a mass shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, a tragedy widely known as the Montreal Massacre. In just 20 minutes there were 28 casualties. The massacre marks the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history to date. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is observed on December 6th.

When Marc Lepine committed this murder-suicide, he claimed to be “fighting feminism,” more specifically, women’s ambitions in the field of engineering.  This hate-crime has been a pivotal point behind organizing many women’s groups and the feminist movement in Canada as a whole.

There are those who insinuate that feminists have appropriated the Montreal Massacre as an excuse to promote a leftist agenda. Upon examining the facts, one can comprehend that Lepine’s motives were specifically to harm women. His inability to tolerate and respect women directly led to his hatred and violent resolve. Feminism, a movement for gender equality, was his target.

Anti-feminism is continuing to manifest and show its face in public spaces. The massive social media backlash refuting women taking a stand to share their experiences as victims has brought to light that the fight for gender equality is not nearly over. Women face multiple barriers in their education and employment because of their gender. The point is for people to work together to remove these obstacles so that everyone can flourish according to their skills and talents. Advocacy for women’s rights is truly advocacy for human rights.

December 6th is not only a time to remember the deaths of innocent people but also a time to reflect on our current progress in the struggles of gender issues.