Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nova Scotia wants you! .... uh .... and $130,000

There was quite an amazing story on The National last night.

Apparently Nova Scotia has had a program in place for some time whereby would-be immigrants can pony up $130,000 to have their application fast-tracked and get 6 months of on-job mentoring to gain Canadian work experience.

Well, as with many government run projects, this one had a few tiny issues, resulting in a $60 million payback to 600 of the original 800 participants whose experience was, shall we say, less than optimal. The Iranian plastic surgeon whose mentoring experience was selling cars is but one extreme example.

And how was that $130,000 per person spent? Well, $10,000 went to the company that won the untendered project to run the program. $20,000 went to an agent for finding the work assignment. $80,000 went to the employer who was supposed to be providing the mentoring and skills training (a real nice income boost for that car dealership, I’m sure). And the final $20,000 went back to the immigrant as salary, WHICH WAS TAXED!

This whole program just seems wrong on so many levels:

1. Fast-tracking the immigration applications of people who have $130,000. Doesn’t anyone see an issue here?

2. Paying anybody $80,000 to “mentor” someone for 6 months seems just a bit excessive. More so when they don’t have to pay a salary or any other costs.

3. Paying an agency $20,000 per person to find employers willing to take an $80,000 boost to the bottom line in return for virtually no effort. Giving away free money is not that hard.

This is one government program that deserves to have the media shine a real bright light into all the corners.

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