|March 25 - Greece Independence Day (Photo credit: Aster-oid)|
June 28 2012 by Paul Jones
With Greece’s economy and its political life in turmoil, more Greek nationals are considering living and working in Canada.
Peter Kletas, President of the Hellenic Community of Vancouver, says after Greece imposed drastic austerity measures, he has received many inquiries about immigration to Canada.
He told Canadian radio station News 1130, "In the past month with the strictest austerity measures, we're getting a lot of telephone calls and emails from people in Greece and they're asking about how they can immigrate to Canada and what the job prospects are like.
Inquiries are coming from people with different backgrounds, he explains.
"We're seeing people with university degrees that are looking to move their family for a better future here in Canada; from labourers to university professors."
Mr Kletas is not the only Greek community leader who has received inquiries from nationals wanting to obtain work visas in Canada. Other Hellenic organizations have also been inundated.
John Yannitos, President of the Hellenic Society of Calgary, told the Metro News newspaper, “A while ago, it was in the dozens [of calls]. Now we’re approaching a hundred-plus inquiries, and that’s just in Calgary.”
This year, Canada plans to admit 250,000 immigrants and to target those who have a good grasp of English or French and have studied at higher education levels.
This is good news for those Greeks who have received a good education subsidised by the state. With more than 1 in 4 Greeks unemployed, rising to 2 in 4 young Greeks, it is no wonder that many are looking to Canada, where the economy has remained relatively strong.
In fact, the financial news service Bloomberg says 53% of university age Greeks plan to emigrate and 17% are already taking active steps to do so. At the same time, the National Technical University of Athens says 4 out of 10 of the current graduating civil engineers are aiming to emigrate.
Former Greek restaurateur George Varvarigos has begun a new career in car sales in Toronto after immigrating from Greece 7 months ago.
He told the Vancouver Sun newspaper, "Everybody works hard for every daily expense... and the bills they have to pay. Nobody is lazy... So they're fighters.
"[Canada] is a better environment with better chances for people who would like to do something in their life, to have a family, to have their job and to get paid for that and to look straight to the future.”
According to John Yannitsos, a few dozen Greek residents are arriving in Calgary every week. The majority are Greek citizens with Canadian relatives, along with some Canadian citizens who had been living in Greece and are now starting to return.
"You can sense the desperation in their voices and in the inquiries. [They say] “can you help us with opportunities? How can we get there? We'll take our chances when we get there.”