A new loan program was launched recently to help the immigrants who were dentists, nurses, engineers or other skilled workers in their home countries put their experience to use in Manitoba by offering a micro loan to help meet the Canada’s re-accreditation and training requirements.
Recognition Counts! Micro-Loans for skilled immigrants is a two-year pilot program that will offer loans of up to $10,000 to low-income skilled immigrants and provide them with career and financial counseling. Recognition Counts! was designed by SEED Winnipeg and Assiniboine Credit Union in collaboration with the Manitoba Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Federal’s Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot Project of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) fund program. HRSDC is providing SEED Winnipeg with $1.2 million, including $1 million for a loan loss reserve that will guarantee 80% of each loan. SEED plans to grown the loan loss reserve.
“We all know dentists, engineers or nurses who are driving cabs or cleaning offices so they can support their families,” said Cindy Coker, executive director of Supporting Employment and Economic Development (SEED) Winnipeg. “This program helps ensure that immigrants who want to work in their chosen field can get the certification, upgrading or training they need to have their education and experience recognized here. This program is built on a broad immigrant support network that will be key to each individual’s success.”
“Our government’s top priorities are job creation and economic growth and we need to address the growing skills and labour shortages faced by many regions of the country,” said Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skill’s Developments. “By partnering with the Government of Manitoba and organizations like SEED-Winnipeg to help internationally trained professionals put their skills to work sooner, we are working together for Canada’s long-term prosperity.”
“Manitoba continues to work on initiatives that help internationally educated immigrants work in their field sooner,” said Christine Melnick, Manitoba’s Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister. “These loans are another example of Manitoba’s commitment to help overcome barriers to qualifications recognition that prevents skilled workers from entering the labour market.”
Nigel Mohammed, director, ACU’s Community Financial Centre stated that these loans will help skilled immigrants to move out of poverty. They will now be able to get better paying jobs to support their families. “At Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU), we know that stable families create stable communities and help build a stable province,” he said. According to Mohammed, offering these loans is another ACU’s ongoing commitment to provide financial services for the benefit of people and communities.
Highlights of the new micro-loans for low-income skilled immigrants: 1) loans of up to $10,000, with some payments of as low as $10 a month during the Career Action Plan period; 2) loans can be used to cover costs associated with the Career Action Plan period including registration and exam fees, living allowances during study time or to cover household expenses and child care; 3) recipient will have up to five years to repay the loans and will pay only the interest during the Career Action Plan period; 4) recipient will have 90 days after landing a job in their field or six months after finishing their Career Action Plan- whichever comes first- to begin paying back the principal, making it a uniquely flexible and affordable loan.
With this great opportunity, the 1st three loan applicants took advantage of the micro loan. The skilled immigrants include Abelardo Domingo, an engineer who worked in the Philippines and in Saudi Arabi for more than 30 years; Esam Beshay, a dentist, who worked with the Egyptian government and in his own private practice for 7 years; and Xin Hu, a nurse, who worked in China for 4 years.
Abelardo had worked from retaining walls to 33-storey buildings from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia. He worked for some of the world’s largest construction companies. He is back at school now to become a certified engineer studying five days a week at the University of Manitoba. He and his wife and sons came to Canada and already worked across Canada’s north as a design and construction project manager and construction designer working under an engineer. “Growing up in North America is much better for our children and has greater advantages for them,” he says. Beshay had a trip to Winnipeg to visit his wife’s family and turned into permanent residency in 2010, and then he faced a different life entirely. Getting certified as a dentist in Canada takes more time and money than his family had. The clinical exam, which is very expensive and also being held once a year, is a great burden for skilled immigrants who had worked as a dentist in the home country. With the family of four to support, Esam turned to Recognition Counts for a loan to cover living expenses. “i have been blessed,” he says adding he hopes to practice in Northern Manitoba when he is certified. Xin, in her early 40’s, decided that she needed to come to Canada to give her 12-year old daughter a different education. She was a practicing nurse in China and her career plan is to apply her passion for health care and become a lab technician in Manitoba. However, studying in a full-time program was a heavy load for her, and with her husband still in China, she could no longer hold down his part-time job as a support worker for a disabled couple. The course is very intense and she couldn’t keep the job. “If i didn’t have this loan my life and my daughter’s life would be very difficult,” she says. Xin will use the loan to pay for tuition and to cover simple living costs like paying for rent, phone bills and food.
For more information about this micro loan, please contact: Shirley Muir, for SEED, ACU and the loan applicants: 204.771.7523