In a district as diverse as Don Valley East, helping new Canadians and students get established are cornerstones of Conservative Joe Daniel’s new role as MP.
Daniel beat Liberal incumbent Yasmin Ratansi taking 36.7 percent of the vote compared to her 34.5 percent.
After adjusting to a hectic schedule of training, seminars and consultations, Daniel is now looking at how he can bring a number of residents’ concerns to Parliament.
With 61 percent of Don Valley East’s population composed of immigrants, the recognition of foreign credentials was a frequent concern among residents. Daniel, originally from Tanzania, sees himself in an ideal position to help immigrants integrate into Canada.
“Just the fact that I am a new Canadian and I have been through all these processes, of getting my qualifications recognized, putting a resume together and finding appropriate jobs,” he said. “I know what they’re going through.”
Daniel said that a good solution is simply pursuing Canadian education, because credentials vary so widely from country to country.
“One of the ways is to get some financial help from the government, which will allow them to retrain with Canadian qualifications, which can’t really be disputed,” he said.
Daniel said the government is currently working on legislation that would allow up to $10,000 in student loans for new Canadians to pursue new training or education. He also suggested that immigrants look into avenues they may not have anticipated for jobs, such as politics.
“There are opportunities that we as new Canadians don’t even look at sometimes,” he said. “We can fully participate in the political system. I’m a prime example of that.”
Daniel has frequently heard from residents about the riding’s high levels of unemployment, especially among youth. Don Valley East’s unemployment rate is 8.8 percent compared to the national average of 6.6 percent.
Daniel said he has been in talks with local businesses and Ryerson University to help create opportunities for the district’s young people.
“We’ve managed to wrestle close to $380,000 of funding for students, for summer programs in our riding,” he said.
Apart from new Canadians and students, seniors are a demographic that feature prominently in Don Valley East, making up 15 percent of the district. Daniel said that while the pension system could use some tinkering, he feels a larger mandated annual contribution would go further toward helping seniors.
“The onus is on us as individuals to manage our own retirements,” he said. “The only way the government can give more money is if they collect more money. It’s a double-edged sword.”
He said established Conservative policies such as income splitting can help significantly.
Daniel acknowledged that he has a big job ahead, but expressed optimism in being able to find solutions in the House of Commons.
“There are many issues,” he said. “My goal is to talk in detail with as many people as I can to see what I can do to improve the situation and make life better for residents in Don Valley East.”