Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Globe and Mail Reports on "Broken Europe" and the Irish Exodus to Canada. What About "Broken" America?

funny pictures of cats with captions
Canada's Globe and Mail had an article last Friday about the Irish exodus to Canada as part of their series called "Broken Europe".

For biochemistry graduate Laura Cross, Tuesdays are special. She wakes early, wanders down to Arnotts department store on Henry Street, slips on her uniform and spends the day working in the underwear department.

One day a week fitting bras on plus-sized ladies is considered better-than-average work these days for an Irishwoman with an advanced degree and work experience; most of her fellow graduates can't even find that much.

The rest of the week, Ms. Cross, 23, waits for the dole cheque and reads up on the history and culture of British Columbia.

On Sept. 28, she will take the bus to the airport and fly to Vancouver, a work-study visa in hand and a number of job prospects in Canadian labs. Her boyfriend, a cabinetmaker who hasn't had work in two years, will join her in December.

Half a dozen of her friends and classmates are already there.

Sounds similar to the lives of most BIDER readers except better because she has a one day a week job and Ireland has a public health care system. I sympathize with Europeans who are experiencing high unemployment and no job prospects. But, being an American, I'm naturally most concerned with the plight of Americans including myself and my friends and family who are suffering because of the depression in the United States. The first thought that came into my head when I started reading this article was, how are thousands of Irish people able to go to Canada, yet, it is so difficult for Americans to live and work in Canada? I would like to know the number of Americans who have moved to Canada since the recession hit because if I could find a full time job in Canada or even temporary employment that would give me a work visa, I would accept without hesitation. Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Vancouver - I'd move to any one of those cities in a heartbeat. This article makes it seem like it's a piece of cake for anyone to abandon their home and move to Canada. I've been advocating leaving the country for months and even I know that it takes some time to work out the logistics, find a job abroad, and get a work visa.

On top of this, Ms. Cross is one of 2,500 young Irish people each year who are granted a work-travel visa; that number is capped but is "very heavily oversubscribed now," one official said. Before 2008, Irish visa applications fell below the quota.

A Canadian official said that the numbers for 2009 and the first half of 2010 are "much, much higher," though figures beyond 2008 are not yet available.

The new emigrants are either young and unemployed, like Ms. Cross, or they are older skilled workers with houses and established lives, who are abandoning it all in bankruptcy.

That describes electrician Gavin O'Brien, who left for Toronto this spring, abandoning his family house. In the peak of the boom, earning perhaps €150,000 a year in the overheated home-construction trade, he raised his mortgage payments to €3,000 a month in hopes of paying off the house within a few years: When the construction industry collapsed completely in 2008, the mortgage company refused to lower his payments. He offered to pay them €1,000 a month or to let them take the house, then got on a plane.

Canadians always laugh when I tell them that I need to find a Canadian man to marry so I can live in Canada. They often don't realize that I am dead serious. Five years ago when I was a naive college student who thought the world was my oyster, I would've told people that love conquers all. Now I tell people that Canadian citizenship conquers all. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been in love with Canada's natural beauty and multiculturalism. That they have national health care and is close to family and friends in the U.S. is are additional pluses. So, I'm not surprised that so many other people who are looking for better opportunities abroad are choosing to move to Canada.

I think Ms. Cross and any other young person who has the opportunity to immigrate to Canada is making the right decision to leave for greener pastures. Of course, her well-paid professors with secure jobs tried to dissuade her from leaving Ireland and to stay in school for as long as possible! That is probably the worst advice you can give to a young person. Take out more loans to stay in school and still end up unemployed and overqualified for the few entry-level jobs left out there. I really wish these professors would stop giving life advice as if they know anything about the job market outside of academia:

For young workers like Ms. Cross, the decision to migrate is less cataclysmic, but the choices are equally stark. "My professors were telling me that there was not going to be any work out there for a few years and we should just stay in school as long as we can," she said.

"But I decided to get out there and face the big bad world, and things are so bad that I just want to get up and get out, get away from all the difficulty. My sister's generation were probably the first one ever who could think of spending their whole life making a living in Ireland, but for the rest of us it's back to the old ways."

Have any of you considered finding work in Canada and what has been your experience thus far? I'm expecting that most of you will say it's nearly impossible to find a job in Canada right now. If any of you have found success in securing a visa to stay in Canada, please, do share.


  1. Note that there is an additional hurdle to practicing law in Canada beyond just finishing Law School: after graduation, everyone must article (basically an aprenticeship) with an established lawyer or firm.

    (The rules are somewhat different in Quebec; I cannot speak to their process. Note also that that Province largely functions en francais.)

    This process takes about 8-10 months, depending on the jurisdiction. At the end of the articling period, the student writes the bar exams and, if successful, gets their license to practice.

    Unfortunately, securing articles in a major urban centre is extremely competitive. Connections and/or top grades are determinative. It is a bit easier to get on in smaller communities (fewer positions, but also less competition).

    Non-Canadian Law School graduates must pass an extra series of qualifying exams before they can even apply for articles. It is not impossible to secure a legal position in Canada, but there are some very significant barriers to entry.

  2. I love Canada, but my Canadian first husband (who yes, I married in part because I wanted out of the U.S.--yes, even in 1996 it was clear that this train was headed off the rails) was an abusive creep. I guess I would recommend trying to rack up enough immigration "points" on your own to make the leap if possible....

  3. Thanks, anon, for that very useful information. I had a feeling practicing law in Canada would be very difficult for American lawyers. But, I am willing to work in almost any field for a Canadian visa. I think it is very difficult in general for Americans to secure any type of Canadian work visa.

  4. Also, specifically re lawyering in Canada. If I recall correctly (and this is based on the research I did after graduating from an American law school in the '90s, so perhaps the rules have changed), you can't just go into an articling position with a U.S. J.D. only -- I think you may have to re-take at least a couple of law school classes, such as (Canadian) con law, first. So that was another bit of a hurdle.

  5. I'm sure you've noticed that the American J.D. degree is possibly the most inflexible in the world. Moving from one state to another is hurdle enough - another country - another story. I'm reading up on emigrating myself though I'm looking at the UK and France, right now.

  6. What about not practicing law, but just getting a regular job in Canada? I've been wanting to leave the U.S. for years.

  7. Another great advantage of Canada is they have same-sex marriage, so legally you're not limited to marrying a man there...

  8. I'm not an expert on Canadia, but a couple things come to mind with regards to whether it is harder for an American to migrate than an Irishman/woman.

    1-Immigration quotas might be different for the respective countries. I believe the U.S. immigration system is like this as well. There are certain nations which have a higher allowable quota than others, even if put in proportion with the size of that foreign nation's population. Not sure what factors go into the determination of quotas.

    2-Ireland used to be ruled by Great Britain, and so might belong to the Commonwealth. It is my understanding that moving between Commonwealth nations is relatively easier than from a non-Commonwealth. (even though America used to be ruled by the British, we're not a Commonwealth nation). I remember vaguely that a lot of Chinese people from Hong Kong "parachuted" into Vancouver prior to 1997 because they were in fear of the communist Chinese takeover. It was easy for them to get into Canada because Hong Kong was ruled by the British at that time, and Canada was commonwealth even though technically an independent nation.

  9. Hardknocks, you are not alone. I've been trying to find a way to leave the US for Canada for the past several years (yes, years) and I am convinced it is practically impossible to do with an American law degree. Canada absolutely does not want American lawyers. The only way I would be able to do it would be by finding a Canadian wife.

  10. Join eharmony in Canada, maybe? :) There's got to be some dating website for Americans to meet Canadian. American men are far more studly.

  11. I've never dated a Canadian but I don't see any major differences between Canadian and American men. It really depends on the individual. There are abusive creeps in both countries.

  12. Of course! But I like our men at the end of the day. :)



Blog Template by YummyLolly.com - Header Image by Arpi