Immigration policy played part in gas station attendant’s death

By Admin Wednesday September 19 2012 in Opinion
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Certainly the life of Jayesh Prajapati, a 44-year-old father, husband and immigrant to Canada, had to have greater worth than the $112.85 – more than his day’s pay – that cost him his life after someone filled his gas tank at a Shell station on Marlee and Roselawn Avenues last Saturday and then drove off without paying.


Prajapati reacted to the ‘gas and dash’ by chasing after the thief, but ended up being dragged by the vehicle and, according to reports, was also run over by it.


This sudden and violent loss of this individual, who was cherished by many, is even more tragic when the question is raised of why a chemist with a master’s degree was working as a gas station attendant.


According to a Toronto Star report: “He was determined to find a job in his field but realized it would be harder than he thought. So he took a job at the Shell station… and worked full time Monday to Saturday to pay the bills.”


The story is that Prajapati came to Canada six years ago with his wife to give his son, now12 years old, a better life. Sadly, his son’s life is now poorer for the loss of his father.


It is hard enough to get into the issue of gas station attendants who earn minimum wage being made to pay if motorists fill up and drive off without paying.


What is also maddening is the fact of Prajapati’s experience and education background going unused while he worked fulltime in a low skill job.


Many second and third generation Canadians criticize new immigrants for having high expectations for employment. They tell with pride how their grandparents came here from the old country and expected to do the grunt work and work their way up. But past Canadian immigration did not have a point system that gave priority to people with executive level skills and education.


People allowed in with low skills knew where they would find work. If they were being invited to homestead in the wilds of Saskatchewan, they knew they were coming to do hard labour to establish their farms. If they were allowed in as domestic workers, they didn’t have expectations that they would be doing anything other than that, at least initially.


But when Canada’s immigration system signals that potential applicants are being welcomed to immigrate because they are chemists with master’s degrees, or doctors, or dentists, or economists, the understanding is that such skills and knowledge are needed here.


It is unfair to unemployed chemists here who can’t find work in their field to allow chemists in other countries to immigrate here. This enterprise cheats the countries and sacrifices the job-seeking professionals on both sides of the immigration line.


That is why current immigration policymakers must adjust entry criteria to be more in line with Canada’s genuine as well as forecasted employment needs. Provinces must also have more say since each has its own particular employment trends.


If it is the case that Prajapati could not get a job in his field because of language difficulties then it is also the responsibility of Canada’s immigration ministry to ensure that those coming here for work can function professionally in one of the two official languages.


A ‘gas and dash’ was the cause of Prajapati’s death, but the system of immigration that gives hope to highly skilled and educated foreigners that there is a place waiting for them here in their chosen profession has laid the road map that led to his death.


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