Meeting Canada's demand for microfinancing
Published May 17, 2021.
Over the next three years, Canada's federal government has committed to welcome over 400,000 immigrants annually. While Canada urgently needs them to fill labour shortages, it is apparent that they are not receiving sufficient information about getting into their professions before moving to Canada. A 2019 Statista survey shows that 57.65% of immigrants arrived via the economic immigration stream, yet many of these internationally trained professionals discover their credentials are not recognized and face high certification or licensing costs. This unanticipated expense is where microfinancing comes in.
If internationally trained professionals access and use microloans, they can achieve career success more quickly than if they need to save the money required to complete their accreditation. Through these microloans, skilled immigrants can pay for their licensing, exams, upskilling or professional development despite holding down a minimum wage job.
Skilled immigrants in Canada often hear that they do not have a Canadian credit history to access Canada's credit or loan mechanisms. Without access to these loans, many lose hope and end up wandering in the underemployment maze, in most cases oblivious of the existence of affordable microloans, resulting in untapped potential going to waste.
Because internationally trained professionals do not meet essential eligibility criteria for established financial products such as credit cards and student lines of credit, they often turn to storefront loans out of desperation. Accessing loan products where they pay very high interest and fees only adds to their financial struggle and makes coming out of debt even more challenging. To protect them from taking loans from high risk lenders, the government should provide skilled immigrants with information about affordable and reputable microloan programs.
In 2017, through the Foreign Credential Recognition Program (FCRP), Canada's federal government invited organizations and governments to apply for funding through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Through this program, various non-profit organizations across Canada received funds to disburse micro loans to skilled immigrants to get their credentials recognized. However, microfinancing demands continue to rise as more skilled immigrants are admitted into the country, oblivious to the realities discussed.
Availing microloan programs to skilled immigrants results in their potential not being wasted. They can thrive in the careers they have earned before coming to Canada. The result? Skilled immigrants move from underemployment, Canada collects more tax revenue due to increased incomes, resulting in an inclusive, sustainable economy.
Although the anticipated immigration numbers have scaled-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many skilled immigrants are already in the country needing access to microloans. Many industries are desperately in need of skilled workers. We need to get those that are here into the positions they have studied for to get the economy growing post-Covid. A thriving Canadian economy should ensure that the sacrifices of immigrating to a new country pay off.