Loans aim to help immigrants return to skilled fields

A new program has been launched to help Manitoba immigrants who were dentists, nurses, engineers or other skilled workers in their home countries get back into their professional fields.
The two-year pilot program, Recognition Counts! Micro Loans for Skilled Immigrants, will offer micro loans of up to $10,000 to low-income, skilled immigrants and provide career and financial counselling to help them meet Canada's re-accreditation and training requirements.
"Recognition Counts! gives our province's newcomers the resources they need to get their qualifications recognized, enter our labour market sooner and build a life for their families," said Manitoba Immigration Minister Christine Melnick.
"These microloans are good for our economy and they'll make a real difference in the lives of these families."
The program was designed by Supporting Employment and Economic Development (SEED) and Assiniboine Credit Union in collaboration with the province and federal government.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is providing SEED with $1.2 million, including $1 million for a loan loss reserve that will guarantee 80 percent of each loan.
The province is contributing $250,000 for administration costs over three years.

Highlights of the micro loan:

  • Up to $10,000.
  • Can be repaid over five years.
  • Interest rate is fixed at prime plus two per cent.
  • No loan fees.
  • A credit history in Canada is not required.
  • Repayment is interest only during the immigrant's certification/study period (minimum $10/month).
  • Repayment of principal and interest starts 90 days after the applicant finds employment in their field or within six months of finishing the Career Action Plan, whichever comes first.

The loan can be used for:

  • Living expenses (e.g. food, shelter, transportation, childcare, etc.).
  • Tuition, textbooks and computers.
  • Expenses associated with costs of registration or licensing with a professional regulatory body or association or Apprenticeship Manitoba.
  • Tools, equipment, work clothes, personal protective equipment.

Facts on immigration:

  • 15,962 — number of immigrants to Manitoba in 2011.
  • 3,725 — number of immigrants to Manitoba in 1999.
  • 6.4 per cent — number of Canada's total new immigrants who came to Manitoba in 2011.
  • Top 4 destinations for immigrants in 2011 — Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg.

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