By Bimal Sharma
(Due to privacy concerns and relentless pressure, the name of the author is changed)
TORONTO: As I read the news this week about 257,515 people migrating to Canada last year, I had a chill running down my spine as I considered the fate of these immigrants who would have to start their job hunt the very next day of their arrival. Their imported money would soon run out and if they have to survive in this country, they will have to get a job quickly.
Personally speaking, my family had a great life in Dubai. We managed to get a good education for our kids. My husband and I had satisfying jobs and a good bank balance thanks to our tax-free salaries.
Then suddenly, this Canada bug bit us as we did not want to return to India after working for about two decades in Dubai.
So we decided to apply for immigration to Canada. After a few years of waiting, we got our PR Cards. When we told our friends that we are going to settle in Canada, many of them warned us. They narrated horrific tales of new immigrants in Canada.
They warned us that highly skilled and experienced people, who have worked in managerial positions in Dubai or India, are working as cab drivers or factory workers in Canada. We were also told that even if you did get a job, you will have to work much below your professional rank, which will deeply hurt your ego and self esteem.
In fact, some friends suggested that we would be better off going back to India to the warmth of our family. But we suspected that they are fooling us and we paid no heed to their advice.
So in April 2009, we left Dubai and landed in Toronto to start a new life, against the wishes of these family friends. We were in a hurry to get back into our former profession. But it took me more than a couple of years to get a teaching license. Then I spent more money on upgrading my qualifications and membership fees. Then I had to do a lot of volunteer work as I waited and waited for a school job.
But nothing happened.
So here is my story: even after spending four years in Canada and upgrading my skills and using up all our savings, I am still without a job. Actually, this IS the story of thousands of fellow immigrants.
School boards are on perpetual strike. Teachers are being laid off. It is a very frightening situation for teachers. But the school boards keep training more and more teachers and making money!
Most of these teachers are jobless or they are doing jobs that pay them peanuts and kill their self-esteem.
My husband, who had three decades of work experience in construction in Dubai, was reduced to doing odd jobs which are not even worth mentioning.
Chasing this so-called Canadian dream, we have ended up using all our savings. We have already spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars to live a descent life, so that we will not lose the will to survive in this struggling country with no job prospects.
Having spent almost all our life savings, we don’t know what to do next – whether to stay here or go back. Our life is in a limbo.
My advice to people who are itching to migrate to Canada to give a better future to their children is this: Think hard before you take any decision and don’t fool yourself by painting a rosy picture in your head. You may end up working in factories, call centers, security agencies, Tim Horton’s or packing factories. You will lose your savings. Your will lose your morale and self-esteem. Tensions will destroy your marital and family life. Finally, if you are lucky enough, you may get an entry-level job and then pay someone else’s mortgage while living in their basement as you dream of buying your own little nest.
And buying your little nest in a hurry (with your saved money) could be your worst mistake, for God forbid if you are laid off, as it happened to my dear friend, who will pay the mortgage? Your house dream will collapse and you will be buried under it.
And if you do get a job – which most probably you won’t enjoy doing, but you will do it anyways to survive and pay the mortgage – you will end up wasting the prime of your life paying back the mortgage. It is not worth it, believe me.
Our struggle for survival continues to this day. We don’t know when we will wind up this fruitless venture and head back to India. This is the story of many immigrants to Canada.
(Due to privacy concerns, the name of the author is changed)