By TOM GODFREY
Thousands of newcomers to Canada will have a better chance of getting licensed and finding jobs in this province with the expansion of a successful training program, says Ontario’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Michael Coteau.
”This is a game changer,” Coteau said of an expansion of the Bridge Training Program. ”All highly skilled newcomers will benefit from this program.”
The program provides clinical or workplace experience, occupation-related language training and exam preparation for professional licensing.
Foreign-trained nurses, engineers, accountants, bankers, optometrists and IT specialists are among those getting the support, licensing and certification needed to connect them with jobs in their profession or trade, the minister said.
Coteau said the program has supported 50,000 highly-skilled immigrants by providing vital services such as education, skills assessments and other services.
”This really enhances something that has been in place for a number of years,” he told Share on Tuesday. ”We have conducted a massive expansion of the program so more people can benefit from it.”
Coteau, a former school board trustee who was elected MPP for Don Valley East in 2011, said the province will contribute $63.6 million and the federal government $16.6 million over three years to the program.
He and his federal counterpart, Chris Alexander, were at York University last week to launch the enhancements of the highly-touted program.
”Bridge training is about making the journey easier for internationally-trained individuals who want to put their skills and talents to work in Ontario,” Coteau said.
“I am proud of the innovation associated with this program and the important role it plays in growing our economy and making lives better for immigrants and their families,” he said.
Alexander, the MP for Ajax Pickering, said the Conservatives are focused on economic growth and ensuring all immigrants become successful members of society.
”This program will help thousands of newcomers get the training they need to work in jobs in their fields of expertise,” Alexander said in a statement ”Our government is providing newcomers with the tools they need to thrive and become members of the workforce.”
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri called his university a community of 60,000 people who can trace their roots to 160 countries.
Sunitha Kshatriya, of India, who holds a PhD and is a Bridge graduate, said she had difficulty finding a job.
”The Bridge program at York University helped me reach my career goals, by giving me the training I needed to be successful in the workforce,” Kshatriya said. ”I would recommend Bridge training to any internationally-trained professional who has the drive to succeed.”
Immigration officials said nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s immigrants settle in Ontario, which has invested more than $240 million in the Bridge program.