Micro-loans coming for Manitoba immigrants 0
The Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. (Winnipeg Sun)
Immigrants who were dentists, nurses and engineers will get help to be re-certified and practice their professions in Manitoba, thanks to a new micro-loans program.
New Manitobans will be eligible for loans of up to $10,000, with payments as low as $10 a month to start, under Recognition Counts! Micro Loans for Skilled Immigrants, a two-year pilot program.
“We all know dentists, engineers or nurses who are driving cabs or cleaning offices so they can support their families,” said Cindy Coker, executive director of Supporting Employment and Economic Development (SEED) Winnipeg. “This program helps ensure that immigrants who want to work in their chosen field can get the certification, upgrading or training they need to have their education and experience recognized here.
The loans will cover the cost of re-accreditation and upgraded training, though recipients can also use the funding to pay for living expenses while they focus on school.
Recipients will start paying back the loans 90 days after getting work in their chosen field, and have up to five years to repay the loans.
Assiniboine Credit Union will administer the loans. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is providing $1.2 million, including $1 million for a loan loss reserve that will guarantee 80% of each loan.
Ideal applicants are permanent residents or Canadian citizens from a low-income household (below $23,298 per year) and can get the certification they need within two years.
The micro loan:
- is up to $10,000
- can be repaid over five years
- interest rate is fixed at prime +2%
- has no loan fees
- a credit history in Canada is not required
- repayment is interest only during the immigrant’s certification/study period (min $10/mo)
- 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.
IMMIGRATION BY THE NUMBERS:
- Number of immigrants to Manitoba in 2011
- Number of immigrants to Manitoba in 1999
- Increase in immigrants in the last 10 years
- Of Canada’s total population was made up of Manitobans in 2011
- Of Canada’s total new immigrant population came to Manitoba in 2011
Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg
- Top four most popular destinations in Canada for immigrants in 2011
- Manitoba Provincial Nominees that become homeowners after five years
- Manitoba immigrants that have post-secondary education and solid work experience
Health professionals, trades people and accounting professionals
- Top occupations of Manitoba economic immigrants
— Source: Manitoba Immigration and Multiculturalism
THE FIRST APPLICANTS
Experience: 7 years
Esam Beshay credits his mentors Dr. Salama, Dr. Louka and Manitoba Fairness Commissioner Ximena Munoz with inspiring him to get accredited as a dentist in Manitoba.
For seven years Dr. Esam Beshay worked every morning at the Egyptian government health clinic. And then he worked every afternoon and evening at his own private practice. Six days a week.
Needless to say he’s very experienced.
But when a trip to Winnipeg to visit his wife’s family turned into permanent residency in 2010 he faced a different life entirely.
Getting certified as a dentist here was going to take more time and money than the family had. One clinical exam alone is $4,000; some of the dozen of dental instruments he needs are $2,000 a piece. And then once all the exams are passed the dental association registration fees and insurance is going to be over $3,500.
To compound things, most of the exams are only offered once a year. Esam says it’s critical to be well prepared for those rare opportunities, so he’ll need to stop working as a file clerk at a local dental clinic to study.
“All our savings are gone,” Esam says. With a family of four to support, Esam turned to Recognition Counts! for a loan to cover living expenses.
“I have been blessed,” he says adding he hopes to practice in Northern Manitoba when he is certified.
Experience: 4 years
Xi Hu credits SEED staff like Dennis Mamattah with making the skill upgrading process so much easier.
In her early 40s Xin Hu decided she needed to come to Canada to give her 12-year-old daughter a different education.
“Chinese children have to study very, very hard. They go to extra classes outside of school all the time. She wasn’t able to have a life there.”
Now Xin is the one studying very, very hard and struggling to have a life here in Canada.
She was a practicing nurse for years in China. Her career plan is to apply her passion for health care and become a lab technician in Manitoba.
However studying in a full time program was too heavy a load for her, with her husband still in China. She realized she could no longer hold down her part-time job as a support worker for a disabled elderly couple.
“This course is very intense so I couldn’t keep the job. So I applied for this loan,” Xin says.
“If I didn’t have this loan my life and my daughter’s life would be very difficult.”
Xin will use her loan to pay for tuition and to cover simple living costs like paying her rent, phone bill and buying food.
Engineer: Philippines and Saudi Arabia
Experience: 30 years
Abelardo Domingo has engineered everything from retaining walls to 33-storey buildings from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia. He’s worked for some of the world’s largest construction companies.
But when he looked into the future he saw the lives of his young sons and knew he needed to do better by them.
“Growing up in North America is much better for them and has greater advantages for them,” Abelardo says.
He, his wife and sons came to Canada two years ago. He’s already worked across Canada’s north as a design and construction project manager and construction designer — working under an engineer.
He’s back at school now to become a certified engineer studying five days a week at the University of Manitoba.
But living on his wife’s salary as an independent living attendant, while he goes to school, means they need other income. He’s turned to Recognition Counts! to help make ends meet.