The Honourable Chris Alexander MP, Mr. Robert T. Chisholm,
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Associate Member – OSPE,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 251 Ridgepark Private,
65 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa,
Ottawa, Ontario K2G 1H1,
Ontario K1A 1L1,
June 12th 2015
Dear Mr. Alexander,
OVER-SUPPLY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS IN ONTARIO, INEFFICIENT ECONOMY AND JOB MARKETS,
AND MIS-GUIDED IMMIGRATION POLICIES.
1. For some time now the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) has been attempting to arrange a meeting with you about a long-standing problem. This concerns a gross over-supply of professional engineers to Ontario and Canada as a whole, relative to what the job markets for engineers can absorb. At the same time, your immediate predecessor, The Honourable Jason Kenney, has shown serious interest in this since OSPE’s Ray Givens, P. Eng., drew his attention to it in April 2013.
This is not an official OSPE letter but I maintain close contact with OSPE, for the purpose of ensuring that I have the facts right when these originate from OSPE and certain other sources that I will be referring to. The other information and analysis that I will be referring to is my own responsibility, but is all backed with comprehensive supporting documentation.
2. I would attribute Mr. Kenney’s impressions prior to April 2013 concerning an engineering skills shortage, to the following:-
2.1. Big business leaders were lobbying Mr. Kenney and the federal government about the need for more immigration as the “only” solution to these alleged skills shortages.
2.2. Lack of on-the-job training offered by Canadian employers, because they were relying on large numbers of applicants for every position advertised.
2.3. Popular disinformation and myths about people out of work in Canada.
2.4. The so-called “official unemployed” only account for a relatively small part of the overall problem of unemployment and underemployment in Canada.
Apart from the above, I would also comment as follows:-
3. In 2010/2011, I approached federal Minister for Industry Tony Clement - through federal M.P. David McGuinty - with some questions about the measurement and reporting of unemployment and underemployment in Canada. The answers received were dismissive and un-clear and included an un-qualified and glib statement about “... those who have ceased looking for work for various reasons...”.
4. On November 20th 2014 I participated in a live chat session with Statistics Canada and raised certain questions about the same subject area. Again, the answers were dismissive and un-clear.
5. I also think that until we can see satisfactory proof to the contrary, the business and government behaviours referred to earlier have been going on partly because too many people in the business community are really only interested in procuring cheap labour and cheapening people, based on false pretences that this is the way to get best value for money from employees or people out of work, and foreign-trained professional immigrants.
6. So far as working immigrants are concerned – meaning engineers and everybody else - quite obviously, successful immigration policies are possible only in the presence of an economy that is actually generating enough jobs relative to the numbers of people applying for them.
7. With regard to the Report from the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians, "Survival to Success: Transforming Immigrant Outcomes", already referred to, I consider the report to be very good work - as far as it goes.
8. However the comments made under para. 1, paras. 2.1 to 2.4 above and paras. 3 to 6 above represent an additional set of dimensions to the challenge of economic development of Canada which must be addressed and which are unavoidable.
9. There are additional facets to the job search issue that have always been generally over-looked - or deliberately ignored for political reasons, by those who find this “inconvenient”. Example: the “...who you know...” factor.
10. I can re-state para. 9 above in another way, founded on a probability and statistics–based view of the job seeker’s conundrum. The probability of any one job application succeeding might, for example, be between 1 in 300 and 1 in 800 – or even less than that.
11. A second problem area arises from mistaken perceptions within Canadian workplaces to the effect that there are “...lots of jobs...”, or some such, for EVERYBODY – but when this is actually not the case.
12. As indicated already, a third problem area arises from the effects of mathematical probability, chance and previous experience in determining the success probability for any one job application. Low success probabilities for “outsiders” having persistent trouble getting work, caused by them not having a retinue of professional referees, represents a self perpetuating situation for which they are then criticised based on tradition and incompetence. The said critics are ignorant, wish to remain so and employ office politics based on obfuscation and superciliousness in order to cover themselves up. .
13. A fourth problem area concerns gross over-emphasis on resume-writing and other aspects of “appearances” involved in the job application process. Meanwhile, nobody does anything serious about the supply-demand situation already referred to. On top of that, there are serious and inexcusable bureaucratic obstructions placed in the way of people needing retraining to acquire new skills relevant to current job market needs. These obstructions are rooted in dysfunctional E.I.-related rules concerning “insurable weeks of employment”, Ontario Works eligibility rules and so on.
14.1 Change the method of reporting in the media about people out of work. Stop the use of deceitful and pejorative terms such as “...given up looking for work...” and “...dropped out of the labour force...” This can be done immediately.
In the longer term, institute an improved system for information gathering and reporting on unemployment and under-employment.
14.2 Entice foreign trained professional immigrants (such as engineers) to Canada through employers offering contracts of employment that are legally-binding under Canadian law, and by NO OTHER METHOD. With the regulated professions, the contracts of employment must guarantee work for at least the period necessary to meet the Canadian experience requirements component for official licensing to practice in Canada.
While this may give rise to certain concerns for the business community on account of certain economic and social trends in Canada going back at least as far as 1982, legislative action on this issue is still necessary. The issue is one of stopping a massive wastage of people being caused by bad information and legalistic chicanery at their expense.
14.3 Retraining must be made available for all people out of work in Canada, without any E.I. – related restrictions or provincial social assistance-related restrictions.
14.4 The objectives and priorities of economic development in Canada must be changed to include full employment – meaning satisfactory jobs for everybody who wants one. Satisfactory conditions for start-ups to grow and create jobs are an important part of this; start-ups involving engineering and technology are arguably among the most important because new jobs in those drive the creation of jobs in the rest of the economy.
In this context, the need for satisfactory incentives to better oneself is NOT confined just to the rich (1% or less of the general population) who already have a gross excess of incentives relative to actual needs. Economies depend on PEOPLE and not just money for those who are already rich..
14.5 All actions geared to economic development in Canada must reflect the objectives and priorities noted in para. 14.4 above. The set of challenges as a whole extends far beyond simply fixing what is wrong with our immigration policies.
There have been some changes of Directors at OSPE in the past month or so, following recent elections within OSPE. Please respond to me directly in the first instance. I will then relay your response to the appropriate people at OSPE.
(signed) Robert T. Chisholm
The Honourable Michael Chan,
Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade,
400 University Avenue,
Ontario M7A 2R9.
Copies for Information – general.
In the coming days I will be circulating this letter to additional people whom I think need to be aware of the situation and what should be done about it. The full list will be appended to the Web version of this letter, located at the URL already given.
Tuesday June 16th 2015 – new recipients of the URL’s for the letter:--
Sandro Perruzza – C.E.O., Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE)
Dr. Ray Barton - C.E.O., Vitesse Re-Skilling, Kanata, Ontario