MARKHAM, Ont. — A re-elected Conservative government would offer loans to immigrants so they can get the training they need to have their credentials recognized in Canada, Stephen Harper said Wednesday.
Many recent immigrants have trouble getting jobs in the field in which they were educated because their credentials often aren't recognized by professional regulatory bodies.
It's a persistent problem that, according to some studies, has increased the gap in standards of living between immigrants and Canadian-born workers with similar education levels.
The Conservatives hinted at addressing the issue in the budget unveiled last month. On Wednesday, Harper said the Conservatives will offer loans to help immigrants pay for the skills training or upgrading required for credential recognition.
"These bridge loans will make it easier for new Canadians to find jobs that take full advantage of their experience and expertise," Harper said in a statement.
The loans will cover expenses associated with training, training materials, exams, administration and registration fees, and other costs associated with the foreign credential recognition process.
The measure will cost about $6 million annually and won't be delayed until the budget is balanced, like other announcements the Conservatives have made on the campaign.
The Tories hope the measure will help their chances with the large population of immigrants in Canada's biggest city. The Conservatives are optimistic they can increase their seat total in the Greater Toronto Area, especially in the suburban ridings that encircle the city.
Led by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the party has been aggressively courting various ethnic communities in the GTA.
Harper announced the measure in the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham, where Conservative Paul Calandra is the incumbent. Harper will later address a rally in Ajax-Pickering, where Liberal incumbent Mark Holland is facing off against Conservative star candidate Chris Alexander, Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan.
The Conservatives note that many immigrants have trouble paying the tuition and training costs needed to go through the credential-recognition process.
Many such individuals don't have a credit history that would enable them to take out private loans, and their training courses might not qualify them for federal student loans.
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