Immigrants Face Barriers to Work in Chosen Field
Alfredo Restar and his wife were both dentists in the Philippines when they decided to immigrate to Canada and create opportunities for their three children.
Their oldest, then 16 years old, wanted to follow in her parents’ shoes and study dentistry. Doing this in the Philippines would mean long family separations, and possible safety risks. “We lived in Quezon Province, in the countryside. Our daughter would have been separated from us for six years in Manila, and if she wanted to work in another country someday, her qualifications wouldn’t be recognized.”
Before arriving in June 2011, Alfredo already knew they wouldn’t be able to work as dentists in Canada, as their qualifications wouldn’t be recognized here. “We knew we’d have to start from the bottom. We prepared ourselves.”
The barriers of returning to a skilled profession are massive for immigrants. Unable to work in their chosen field, many take lower-paying jobs to support their families while developing language skills and building financial stability.
Our biggest challenge has been understanding taxation and financial regulations… Everyone here has helped us with business communication, culture, and regulations, explaining differences when we had questions. Thank you SEED Winnipeg.
Costs for the dentistry credential recognition process can exceed $10,000. Once the process is completed, a very competitive application process limits spots for foreign-trained professionals. If accepted, students must then pay $100,000 for tuition and dental instruments, and are unable to work during the two-year program.
For Alfredo, with two dentists in the family…these costs are doubled.
A referral from Success Skills brought Alfredo to SEED’s Recognition Counts program, which provides skilled immigrants with low interest loans (up to $10,000) to help pay expenses related to qualifications recognition, upgrading and training.
Together with SEED’s Program Coordinator, Dennis Mamattah, Alfredo explored potential financial supports and educational career paths that would help the couple return to dentistry. Alfredo and his wife chose the Dental Assistant program at Red River College, and used the loan to pay for tuition and exams needed for the qualifications recognition process.
“Without this loan,” explains Alfredo, “we probably would have had to stop at the Dental Assistant program and not be able to return to dentistry. This program has helped bridge us to get to the next level. And Dennis has encouraged and motivated us to keep working toward this goal.”