The new immigrants arrive, eager to work, often with families in town. The situation they find themselves in is far different from the image they held in their minds. White collar workers, especially in medical professions but also in others such as education, cannot transfer their skills seamlessly.
Unless a new immigrant is hired internally by a Canadian company prior to their arrival, skills are deemed untransferrable. This has forced a number of white collar immigrants to work at blue collar jobs, taking a radical cut in pay and lowering their rung on the socio-economic ladder. The same immigrants find themselves living in low-income neighborhoods with ironically few opportunities for upward social mobility in spite of a wealth of good education and professional credentials. As Wente (2010) points out, “Immigration has helped make Toronto one of the most successful and diverse cities in the world. Thats the good news. The bad news is, a lot of immigrants arent doing well.”
Stories like these are heartbreaking and yet, the issue of the enrollment controversy and the restrictions on immigrant medical residents in Quebec show that Canadians may be mistrustful of non-whites encroaching on the labor market. As the immigrant debate has become increasingly volatile in the United States, it is becoming so in Canada as well.
Gender issues are also at stake, as the intersection between gender, ethnicity, and power reveals itself in Canada. In “Failing boys and the powder keg of sexual politics,” Carolyn Abraham of the Globe and Mail discusses the growing achievement gap between females and males in grade school and universities. Rather than congratulate the girls and facilitate their holding positions of economic or political power, Canadians are focused only on the boys. The gender gap that has been omnipresent in politics and in the upper echelons of economic power in Canada continues to haunt females, who achieve so much in school but who have a glass ceiling to contend with after graduation.
Instead of lamenting the boys lack of competitive verve, it may be time to recognize that females and non-whites alike are part of Canadas culture — like it or not.
Therefore, much of the discourse on Canadas changing demographics comes across as whining. The power so often enjoyed by white men is slipping through their fingers and being distributed more evenly across the demographic landscape. Ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other variables are even becoming less meaningful in the construction of individual and collective identities. Ironically, though, divisions between genders and between different ethnic groups are creating polarization. The University of Toronto is now known as an “Asian” school, and on more diverse campuses, Asian students are self-segregating (Findlay and Kohler 2010). The labor market is ready and willing to accept any qualified applicant, except in the case of Quebec, where being a doctor in residence basically requires that one already be a resident of the province. In the future, the shifting demands of the labor market will override lingering fears and prejudices.
Abraham, Carolyn. “Failing boys and the powder keg of sexual politics.” Globe and Mail. Oct. 15, 2010. Retrieved online: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/failing-boys/failing-boys-and-the-powder-keg-of-sexual-politics/article1758791/
Findlay, Stephanie and Kohler, Nicholas. “The enrollment controversy.” MacLeans. 10 Nov 2010. Retrieved online: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/11/10/too-asian/
Ibbitson, John and Friesen, Joe. Globe and Mail Oct. 04, 2010. Retrieved online: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/multiculturalism/part-2-conservative-immigrants-boost-tory-fortunes/article1738150/
“Stop doctor discrimination in Quebec.” (nd). Globe and Mail editorial. Retrieved online: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/stop-doctor-discrimination-in-quebec/article1807427/
Wente, Margaret. “A few frank words about immigration.” Globe and Mail. Oct. 07, 2010. Retrieved online: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/multiculturalism/a-few-frank-words-about-immigration/article1746816/.