Canada demands immigrant language skill

April 22, 2012 at 10:35 AM   |   Comments

TORONTO, April 22 (UPI) -- Advocates for immigrant workers in Canada say a looming requirement of proficiency in English or French is too harsh and unnecessary.

The language requirement comes into effect in July, but already many itinerant workers have been trying, and often failing the proficiency test, the Toronto Sun reported.

The three-hour proficiency test costs $255 and affects low-paid temporary workers in farm labor, construction and the hospitality industries, the newspaper said.

Immigration consultant Roy Kellogg represents several Jamaican men who work at Toronto's Woodbine racetrack as grooms and exercise jockeys. Several have taken the test and failed.

"I don't understand the purpose of the test because these guys only speak to horses all day," Kellogg said. "Why do workers have to know how to speak English if they come here to pick fruit or pluck chickens?"

Wilbert Gobay, 46, has been spending 10 months of the year working as an exercise jockey at the track since 2008 and told the Sun he failed his first test and is worried about his next try.

"I am from an English-speaking country and I still failed," he said.

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