The Needs of Visible Minorities in P.E.I
by Leti La Rosa
Literacy, training, equity and, finally, employment. Is it that easy in Canada? Easy for women? What is literacy? It is a complex skill, developed from the time you start to walk right up to your use of language today. Reading, writing, listening and speaking not only in your mother tongue but also in English or French, if you want to get a job in Canada. Language training is the first tool if you are an immigrant and can be the basis of your acceptance in this country if you are a woman and of colour.
Prince Edward Island, like the rest of Canada, is becoming more and more culturally diverse. The percentage of immigrants and of those who are visible minorities is increasing each year, and the sources of immigration have changed from the western European countries to other parts of the world. At present, there are about sixty different countries represented in the population, but information about training or regulations addressing accreditation are provided only in English or French. If a person cannot speak either of these languages, they cannot access further information for their employability.
Immigrants to P.E.I. must acquire fluency in one of either English or French, in reading, speaking, and writing. The education they received in their country of origin is not accredited and jobs are difficult to find. Many experience humiliation and depression, and this affects their health and morale.
Canada Employment and Immigration recognizes these difficulties and provides language training. However, the new Immigrant Language Training policy should be revised to ensure that it is accessible to all immigrants. Allowances should be provided for participants in basic language training; the maximum length of training should be more than twenty weeks; a more comprehensive Labour Market Language Training program should be developed.
Today women comprise more than 42% of the labour force and projections are that women will account for over half the labour force in ten years' time. The importance of women's participation in meeting the demands of the national economy is becoming more evident, yet women are not equally represented in all occupations. The presence of immigrant women is even worse.