By: Danielle Taylor, MPC 2015 and Monica Batac, MPC 2015
The ProCom Alumni Association (PCAA) caught up with Monica Batac, MPC Class of 2015, to discuss communication as it relates to Canadian immigration following a recent research panel discussion.
With various changes in political leadership, the recent arrival of over 25,000 Syrian refugees, and ongoing debates about the Citizenship Act, Express Entry system, and Temporary Foreign Worker program, it’s no wonder Canadian immigration has been making national headlines.
In the midst of these debates and deliberations, one thing remains certain: thousands of people immigrate to Canada every year and many of them want to settle in Canada for good. In 2014, over 94,000 people held valid Temporary Foreign Worker work permits and more than 165,000 ‘economic immigrants’ obtained Permanent Residency status. Despite these high numbers, newcomers and immigrants continue to face various challenges when it comes to settling and integrating in Canada.
At the third annual RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion event held at Ryerson University on March 11, faculty members and graduate students discussed various issues related to immigration. Several research projects funded by RBC Foundation focus on immigrant employment. “The research is clear: despite being better educated than the average Canadian-born resident, immigrants tend to have higher rates of unemployment and underemployment,” says Wendy Cukier, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University and founder of the Ryerson’s Diversity Institute. Addressing the challenges of de-professionalization and underemployment in the Filipino-Canadian population, MPC alumna Monica Batac discussed her research on settlement and employment supports for Filipino newcomers.
For the past year, Monica has been working with Kababayan Multicultural Centre (KMC) on a community-based research project on the employment support needs of highly skilled Filipino newcomers. She secured funding for this work through Partners for Change: the RBC Immigrant, Diversity, and Inclusion Project at Ryerson University.
Employment is one of the most pressing issues for Canada’s Filipino population. Despite the vast pool of skilled workers—with the Philippines recognized as the top source for new Canadian immigrants in 2014—the underemployment of newcomers continues to be a cause for concern. And for Monica, communication can be part of the solution.
In engaging with newcomers and staff from settlement and employment agencies across the city, Monica advocates for increased communication with a range of stakeholders, including front line workers at these agencies and the clients they serve:
“We need to figure out how to communicate the right information to these new immigrants about employment challenges and opportunities in Canada. Especially for internationally-educated professionals, they need to know the required steps and potential pathways they can follow to access their professions here in Canada.”
There are major improvements to how that information is being shared with newcomers and immigrants. Monica shared that, “There are amazing agencies and organizations supporting this process – for instance, HealthForceOntario is a great government office that helps internationally-educated health care professionals understand the licensing process and pathways for regulated healthcare professions. Dispelling common misconceptions, they conduct face-to-face meetings and workshops, and leverage a range of online tools and resources to communicate this information and, ultimately, recruit and train talent for the province!”
Monica also sees the importance of engaging with employers about immigrant employment. “Educating employers about the value of a diverse workforce is paramount. It is important to engage employees in understanding and celebrating cultural differences in the workplace.”
Ryerson University’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and the newly founded Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation (OCWI) are two examples of innovative organizational initiatives supporting immigrant employment. Chaired by Wendy Cukier, the OCWI fosters research and evidence-based training services to support the needs of both employers and jobseekers alike. Surely, communication will be an integral component of this work.