Skip to Content

Applicant Experiences

[ Video ]

Video Transcripts

Wladimir Araujo

Engineer, Ottawa ON

My name is Wladimir Araujo. I am originally from Brazil. I work in the computer software engineering in the telecommunications industry in Ottawa, and I have been in Ottawa for about 10 years.

Engineering is kind of weird, because it requires you to have engineering experience before you get a licence, which works fine if you graduate here in Canada, because you have what they call an engineering internship program that you can do in engineering. And then you can prepare your work under the supervision of another engineer 'til you can have your licence. So there is a process for people that graduate here. But if you are not a recent grad, if you come from another place, you can't enter into that system.

The licence for me is still optional but I thought it was a good thing to have, because regulations change and people might want to regulate this software profession.

If somebody is needing that for a job, it should be quicker. Understand that if you have people that are already employed they don't really need a licence right away, this can wait. That's fine. But for people that really need that to get their first job, there should be an expedited process, to just put them at the head of the queue and address their application, do quick feedbacks so the people can proceed in their careers.

I would advise for all immigrants to research what's required for their professional practice, to look at the licensing bodies and what their requirements are. The second thing - even more important than the first one - to have a job lined up. Today, it is the only way for you to get in, and if you need a licence to start working you have to look at going to another place. Don't come to Canada. That's all I have to say.

People go through a very difficult process to get their professional licence. People that had many, many years of experience in their fields of practice, and they can't work. And it's very demeaning for a person that was, for instance, a professor of medicine in a university to come here and not being able to even do basic family practice. And the same thing for the legal profession, which is in the case of my wife, by the way. She used to be a professor in Brazil, the law department of the university, and here she needs to go through law school all over again. There is no way for a person to take a test, even if she had a legal background before, and get their licence. So in that sense it is not a fair requirement.

If I were to do it again I would definitely come to Canada. It was a very good experience for me. However, if I were to ask my wife, this would be a completely different answer.

Top ›

Erenia Hernandez Oliver

Teacher, Ottawa ON

Well, my name is Erenia Hernandez Oliver, and I am originally from Cuba.

Everybody kept telling me that if you had the Canadian degree you can find work. So I went back to school, and I became a teacher.

September arrived. I couldn't get a job. Then I came in contact with the Ontario College of Teachers, to be told that I am not a Canadian trained teacher and that I am considered a foreign trained teacher. Well, I began dealing myself with them. I asked, of course, what do I do, what am I missing? And they told me that, because my previous degree - which anyway was good enough to be admitted at the university - is not a Canadian degree, you have to prove to us that your degree is valid in Canada in order for us to process your application.

When I had to pick up the phone every week to call and say 'how is the process going, what guides are you missing?' That was before I met the lawyer. So I would be talking to this call centre. I guess this was a call centre because they told me 'we are not the Ontario College of Teachers, we are dealing with you on behalf of Ontario College of Teachers.' In one opportunity they told me 'lady, you already called this week, and we are not going to talk to you twice a week, only once a week you can call here', something like that. Because they were rude in the way they were addressing me: why? Basically, why? Because I thought I was playing by the book. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. I am trying to make a better life for myself, and why was this happening?

Maybe I felt singled out at the time. But now I know it was just not me. Maybe, at the time, if I knew there were other people in a very similar situation I would have been stronger. But when you don't know, you don't know.

I would say I am no in no position to advise people to come to Canada. In my case, I love my profession. If I were to do it over again, I would not come to Canada. In principle, I would not.

Top ›

Amy Jiang

Engineer-in-training, Toronto ON

My name is Amy Jiang. My profession is engineering. I am an immigrant to Canada. I left China at the age of seven, I went to England and from there I came here when I was 14 years old, and it has been really great both educational and work experience here in Canada. I find for me, because I did do part of my high school and my university education here, the process to get licensed has been easier, which I am really glad about. I am glad I came at a younger age, because I feel like if I were educated elsewhere and came here to work then it would have been more difficult. I talked to a lot of my colleagues. They recommended a course [to] take before I take the exam, and so I passed the exam and at this point all I really need to do is submit my work experience to the Professional Engineers of Ontario, and after that it should be fairly straight forward to get my licence.

My parents were educated in China, and so in order for them to get their licence they would need to prove that their degree is acceptable here, which means they would have to submit a description of all the courses they took in university to the board over here so that they can vet it and make sure that all the fundamental principles were covered. In my father's case he did try to go for the licence at one point, but in the end the requirements were a little bit onerous so he ended up deciding not to go for it. My mother has since left the profession. I think my parents would still have come to Canada. I think they probably would have gotten the ball rolling before they came to Canada in terms of preparing their papers and their course descriptions, so that as soon as they came they would be able to start their licensing process and maybe have other career opportunities open to them.

I think that if the licensing process started before they come, have an idea of what they will need to go through and maybe get some of the paperwork rolling, because once they come here life becomes a lot busier. And often times they just decide that it is not worth their while, when in fact I think that it would be.

Top ›

Stephen J Maddex

Lawyer, Ottawa ON

My name is Steve Maddex. I am a lawyer. I was born in Canada, I was born in Manitoba, and my dad was in the military so we moved around a fair bit. Lived Nova Scotia for while, lived in St. Louis, Missouri when I was a kid, and then I finished high school here in Ottawa. I did my undergrad in Victoria. I did my law degree in Arkansas and then I practiced law in Houston, Texas for a while, about eight and a half years.

The process for me to practise law in Ontario took about two, maybe three, years from beginning to end. Beginning, with the process of applying [for] accreditation with the, it's called the NCA, the National Committee of Accreditation, which basically, once you finish that process, gives you the equivalent of a Canadian law degree. The NCA doesn't have - as near as, at least at that time, and this was probably 2006 - didn't seem to have any rational criteria to base its determination on, so as near as I can tell. Any student who is educated outside of Canada for a law degree, anywhere in the world, whether they are Canadians who go to Australia, or the US or the UK or whether you are a foreign born person who's educated in their domestic country, they all have to go through the NCA. And there didn't appear to be any rational criteria they would use to assess your credentials. There was nothing objective about it.

So there was no way for me as a candidate to assess, before I submitted my application, what the outcome or result would be. And there was no indication from anybody at the NCA that they had any idea how to assess your credentials. So, how is that an objective assessment? So, you take somebody that has been practising law for a long period of time like I was, who had already finished law school and had done very well in law school, and was practicing at a big firm, what's the rational connection between their requirements, and what it takes to do the job? And as near as I can tell there wasn't one.

You can't argue with them, they have absolute total control over how you make a living And it's not like I wanted a free ride, but I just wanted to feel like I was being treated fairly, honestly. And after all I was born here, and that's not to say that the people that aren't born here should be treated differently - I'm not saying that at all - but you'd think that there would be a sense of wanting people to come here, that you'd be welcomed back. The most frustrating thing for me was that I didn't get that feeling at all, quite the opposite, that I wasn't wanted back.

When you say you went to law school, in the UK or Australia or some place in Africa or the Middle East, that that's not the same, or not good enough, or not the equivalent of a Canadian law degree. You ought to have some facts to support that, so what are they?

Then you had to apply to the Law Society of the province where you want to practice to be admitted to practice. And so dealing with the Law Society of Upper Canada was again another layer of bureaucracy that was extremely frustrating to deal with. They have nobody to answer to. They've no incentive to do the right thing.

And then they gave in and I got licensed. You have to know your rights and be prepared to enforce them.

Top ›

Mauricio Marin

Physician, London ON

So my name is Mauricio Marin, and I come from Colombia. I came nine years ago, and I have been in London since I came. Back in Columbia I did regular medical education. Once I finished I did health management so kind of to be the manager in a hospital or any hospital organisation. But I really worked in an emergency room. So I was kind of the director of emergency room in the hospital where I used to work for pretty much nine years before coming.

I am not licensed, so I cannot work as a regular doctor. I always have to work under the umbrella of the doctor that I work with, and I only do the clinical trials in diabetes. So it is kind of research assistant for this doctor.

You know, I am not blaming one side or the other but it is a lack of communication between South America and North America, between Europe and North America, between Asia and North America. Once we talk - sit down at a table and talk - we will realise we are the same. We are doctors here, we are doctors there. But everyday I talk to Canadian patients who come to the studies, and they ask me when I am going to be their family doctor. There are a lot of people in line, so you are not the only one. It is 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 foreign doctors in Ontario. So you are still thinking that if they have not changed this, am I able to change this or am I wasting my time trying to change this?

Ontario has the opportunity to share with these foreign doctors who already know what they know through the medical school. They just need to do two things: one is let them get into the field, let them get into the hospitals even as volunteers. But let them go and show what they know. Secondly, teach them the few things that you want to change in them: the mind-set that I am saying, the steps, the guidelines. It is going to be much cheaper, it is going to be much faster if you work with them in the aspects that you want to change.

We have the tools, we have the doctors, we have the shortage, we need to fulfil those positions. Let's work together in a quick, faster pathway and put these doctors to work in their fields.

Top ›

Frederick Mawalla

Engineer, Ottawa ON

My name is Frederick Mawalla. I am a satellite engineer. I was born in Tanzania in Kilimanjaro. I received my education in United States, Canada and Tanzania as well. In United States I got my master's degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University, and in Canada I got my IT technological diploma from Everest College. In Tanzania I got bachelor's equivalent from a polytechnic in electronics and telecommunications engineering.

Right now I don't have my professional work, but I am working at Home Depot as a part time sales associate. I started working at Home Depot from November 2006 up today, part time. But it is very hard. I have a family. I have boys and girls, some of them going to university. I live like a beggar. I have loans to pay; I have a government loan to pay for my education in Canada. I keep on asking for help, as someone who has no qualifications. It is very frustrating. My wife works three jobs to support the family, to pay the rent, and she pays all the bills. My daughter understands, she doesn't ask for pocket money. My children have no allowances, and the school helps me and my children understand. They do not request things which we do not have.

The process of getting approved, certified in Canada, is not straight forward. Another thing is the process of getting certified in Canada is not the same process for everybody. Now they are asking me to provide what I did as an engineer. What I did as an engineer with 13 years experience in engineering is big. It is pages and pages; therefore you cannot summarize 13 years working as an engineer in one paragraph above the resumé.

I am proud of one thing. The process of getting approved in Canada is not static, it is dynamic. It allows flexibility - maybe that is why I am here - and any process which allows flexibility is a good process, excellent process. I thought maybe the thing they should improve in this process is to assign specific people - professional people who can do a valuation to an individual - and then this person can work one-on-one per person for an approval.

The Ontario Fairness Commissioner did something which is very good. This is a proof to what I said is a system which is dynamic. It is a system which gives opportunities for changes. And this is our opportunity to make sure that the Commission can tell where there is a loop hole so that it can be fixed, and I am proud to be part of it.

Top ›

Michael Pinnock

Chartered Accountant, Aurora ON

Well, I am Michael George Gordon Pinnok, and I am a chartered accountant, also CPA in the States as a Certified Public Accountant. Currently I work full time with the Region of York as a budget advisor, and I do a part time practice at home.

My experience in and of itself was not bad. I think of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario as a very good blue print, a very good road map as to how you get started, the process you go through and what is the end result. It has a beautiful website that actually lists the very details, what is a pre-qualification you require if you haven't got it, how you can get it, the institutes they have reciprocity with, the timeline, the curriculum you need to prepare it for and all of that is really beautiful. So I followed that. I got in the process. However, what I found out, though, is that for licences you really need three criteria, and it is standard throughout the world. You need to have basic academics for a second degree, 120 credits or so. Then you need to sit a professional exam like the UFE or the CP. And then you need a practical experience and in most countries 30 months - three years to 30 months - at a office that is trained for CAs or CPAs.

What I didn't know at the time was that sometimes the committee that sits down and decides on these things can actually apply their own personal interpretations. Now, I got a letter saying they have challenges, I don't know what it was. I need to go before an Applications Committee Board. I was so mad, they gave me I think 90 days to respond. And for the first two weeks, I didn't do anything because I was really, really mad. And as I calmed down it took me the other two weeks - and it was three months - other two and half months to write my response, because I didn't want to write it with a lot of emotions. I wanted it to be factual. I wanted the language to be clear, simple and straight forward because I thought it was crap! Eventually it went to the Appeals Committee, and it changed its mind. Sanity prevailed, so I was accepted as a member.

In Ontario they are short of chartered accountants. Why are you keeping an accountant who is trained just because you figure the guy is from Jamaica and it is a small country? As I say I just felt that it is a big country, small country bias.

If you want foreigners to come and retrain, tell them that. If somebody had said to me, 'Mike, if you come to Canada with your CA license, you have to do two years of practice before we give it to you', that would be ok. Then I would do that. But don't give us a blue print that says 'have the academics, pass the exams, have the previous experience, here is the licence', but as you reach here they say 'we need to look at this thing, there is something not right here, you can't be going through all these steps so easily'.

I am glad I came to Canada because my objective was mainly for my kids, and they have done well. The system has worked for them. In my case, I wanted to upgrade my skills while I am here. There were a couple of hiccups along the way, but I had faith in the Institute that sanity would prevail. And I would do it all over again, all over again. No regrets in doing that.

Top ›

Tangu Sichilima

Physician, London ON

My name is Tangu Sichilima, I am a paediatric resident and I am from Zambia. I was educated in England at Manchester University. I've been in England since I was 16 or so. I did my primary and secondary school in Africa then moved to England when I was a teenager. So I've lived in Canada almost six years now. I am married with one daughter who is almost eight months. Well, right now I am in the fourth and final year of paediatric residency training so that is specialty training in paediatrics, which means once I get through my exams in the summer I should be a fully qualified paediatrician.

Getting licensed took quite a bit of time. I think the process worked well for me but I think getting through it was quite nerve wracking because of the time that it took and the finances that were involved. And I would say finding the information for the process made it difficult as well. I did do some research, and luckily for me my husband came to Canada before I did. So that was a big help in terms of finding out the information on the first steps to take. Dealing with a number of different regulatory bodies made it, I think, a little bit confusing. I would have loved to have gone to one source of information or one point of contact to be able to do everything. So I think just getting my head around who to go to for what, and how the whole process worked, was what was most difficult for me.

And I think another thing that would help tremendously would be to be able to start the process before coming to Canada, because I think you come in and there is a lot of waiting to do. And I think if I had been able to maybe do some of those exams before arriving or do some of the paperwork before actually moving here, it might have made the process a little bit smoother, I think.

And I think where you come from makes a difference as well. I think, from talking to other people, coming from England, rather than say if I had done my training in Zambia, it may have been a slightly different process. I don't know if I would have had as many points or as much credit if I had come from Zambia, compared to having had come from England.

When I finally get through everything it will be a great relief. It's been a long process.

Top ›

Suresh Udupi

Engineer, Pickering ON

My name is Suresh Udupi. I used to work for General Motors of Canada. Now I am in a transition process. I had my undergraduate education in India. I came to Canada to do my master's, I studied at the University of British Columbia doing a master's in mechanical engineering. Right now I am going through the licensing processes. I was eligible for a license much earlier, but when I was working for General Motors of Canada the licensing was not required. So I started the licensing process after I was let go from General Motors of Canada.

The licensing process is quite straight forward. It follows logical steps. It is sequential. From a time perspective it could be quite long, as long as one year or more, depending on your background, depending on your education, where you had your education. I am not eligible to write the exam, I am not eligible to do anything until that is complete. So that is an additional step that is added to the whole process.

My advice for other professionals would be to start the process of getting certified as soon as possible. There may be hurdles, like if they have to complete few courses to get certified that would extend the time for getting certified. So it is better to contact PEO as soon as possible to understand the areas that need to be improved or the areas which are satisfactory and get all the questions clear before you start the application process.

I do like living in Canada and working in Canada. Canada is a very good country. It provides excellent opportunities for qualified individuals to pursue their career goals. Canada sets standards for professionals getting into their professional stream by making sure that public safety and other concerns are addressed. But once you are through that process the opportunities are limitless.

Top ›

Innocent Watat

Engineer, Mississauga ON

I have a very long name, but I usually go by Innocent Watat. I am originally from Cameroon, which is a country in central Africa, and I am a computer science engineer. I started my professional career working for a Washington-based company called Soft-Tech International for about six years, travelling the world. And then I came to Canada for two missions in Vancouver, particularly working for a Vancouver based company called Prologic and that after that long stay in Vancouver I decided to settle in Canada and in Toronto. I actually own a master's degree in computer science engineering. I have a daughter, I am not married yet but I am planning to get married soon. I work as a senior research engineer for a leading bank in Canada. And previously I worked as an engineer also for a leading telecommunications company in Canada. I have been in Canada for a little bit more than 10 years now, exactly since the 1st of September 1999. I first consulted, getting a job which I did, I worked for two years before I decided to apply for my licence. I quickly realised that as a computer science engineer the Professional Engineers of Ontario didn't like us very much, us computer science engineers. I filed for my papers and they told me that in order to move forward, I needed to have an interview, which was fine. The interviewer in the panel wasn't from my field. There were electrical engineers and others, so we were talking two different languages. When I was talking about computer stuff they were looking at it in a different perspective. So it didn't go quite well. And quite frankly I just put it on hold and I don't even want to think about it, because I have quickly realised that as a computer science engineer you really do not need that licence. I have been working for 10 years, and I don't need that licence, and I have never been asked to have that licence, so I wondered even why I was struggling to have that licence.

If I can do it all over again, I will definitely not waste my time trying to be part of an organisation where you pay a yearly membership and as a computer science engineer with no real value of having that designation. That's what I will do, I will not waste my time anyway.

My advice to newcomers to Canada is to do their homework and get the right information before coming to Canada. If I have to do it all over again, I will still come to Canada because I like the people of Canada, I like the politics of Canada, I love the snow - many people will not believe it, I love the cold - and I love the people of Canada, and I love the country.

Top ›

The opinions expressed by the applicants in these videos are their views alone. The Office of the Fairness Commissioner does not represent or warrant the accuracy of their statements.