April 9, 2021
By Claudia Hepburn, The Vancouver Sun
About 18 months ago, I met Ashraf, when he responded to my click for an Uber. His sunny disposition was striking in contrast to his story. Ashraf had been a successful dental surgeon in Sudan for years before the dictatorship issued a death warrant and he’d been forced to flee with his pregnant wife and daughters.
When I met him that morning, Ashraf had just started his shift, after spending the night in the ICU with his new baby. Ashraf made light of his hardships, and the juggling required to put food on the table, with a sick child, in a new country. “I can’t practice as a dental surgeon in Canada, so my only option is driving. My wife teases me because I only know how to do two things, driving and dentistry.”
Most of us have met someone like Ashraf — a highly skilled immigrant who isn’t able to put their talent to work in Canada. It’s time we changed that.
Each year, Canada welcomes hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the majority of them skilled. But too often, newcomers can’t put their professional skills to work here, even when they are needed to fill labour shortages in health care and other sectors.