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Opinion: Don Curry, India and Philippines driving immigration to North Bay

‘My Filipino clients are predominantly in the health care field, and the ones from India are more focused on business careers'
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A Globe and Mail story December 28 confirms what we are seeing locally—India and the Philippines are the top two source countries for international students, and China is falling back.

The article, by The Globe’s post-secondary education reporter Joe Friesen, points out something else I am seeing in my local immigration practice. The most significant growth in the last few years has been from students whose primary goal is permanent residence, again, with India and the Philippines way ahead of the pack.

He points out another trend I see locally.

Students from India and the Philippines predominantly take shorter courses, one to two-years, rather than a full university degree program. His article pointed out the reasons for taking shorter programs, but left out a major one I see. Most of them already have a university degree, and many have more than one.

Statistics he used noted that of the 197,000 study permits approved for students from India, only 6.5 per cent were for a university bachelor’s degree.

Of students from the Philippines, 60 per cent enroll at the college diploma or certificate level, with only three per cent at the university bachelor’s level. The remainder would be in elementary or high school, or taking graduate or post-graduate degree programs.

His article observed that students are taking shorter programs so they can get a post-graduation work permit quicker and move toward permanent residence. That is exactly what I see with all my post-secondary clients. They are already well educated, speak English well, and came here to start a new life.

My Filipino clients are predominantly in the healthcare field, and the ones from India are more focused on business careers.

Clients from the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, plus nursing experience as RNs, take health care courses they don’t really need, just to get into the labour market. Regulatory bodies and our antiquated health care system where the left hand doesn’t work well with the right hand, can hold them back for years until they finally once again become an RN.

They will take jobs as Personal Support Workers, nurse’s aides, and practical nurses until they finally get accredited, once again, as RNs.

But, they do it with a smile and a can-do attitude, because Canada is where they want to be.

The Covid epidemic with its country-wide lockdown has likely skewed the numbers from China, along with frosty diplomatic relations between Canada and China, due to the Huawei and two Michaels’ issue, plus Canadian critiques of human rights in China.  University and college officials don’t know if there will be a rebound.

Hong Kong study permits, tracked separately, are up, likely as a result of China’s more forceful involvement in Hong Kong affairs.

I am now into the fourth year of my immigration consulting adventure and I thought it time to review where clients are coming from and how they are changing the demographics in North Bay. It was no surprise to see that the Philippines is number one, with 34 clients, and India is right behind with 33. The numbers reflect principal applicants only, and not the members of their families.

Bangladesh is number three with 11 clients, Mexico is number four with 10 and Nepal and Jamaica right behind with nine each. There were five from Colombia, China and Pakistan, four from Brazil, and then it drops to one or two each from France, Germany, El Salvador, Morocco, Sweden, Japan, Iran, Syria, Israel, Ghana, the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Chile, Guadeloupe, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Central African Republic, Russia, Bhutan, and New Zealand.

As I have written previously, when I moved to North Bay in 1978 there was no noticeable diversity anywhere. Now we see it in the arts community, health care, business, technology, hospitality, academia, the non-profit sector, and in our schools, at all levels.

With all that, the city’s immigrant population is still only five per cent, so there is lots of room for growth.

See related: Canada welcomes the most immigrants in a single year in its history

Editor’s Note: Don Curry is a Regulated Immigration Consultant living in North Bay and a member of the Bay Today community advisory committee.

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Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
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