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Immigrant Story: Don’t be Afraid to go Back to Zero and Work Your Way up


Our featured kabayan today is no other than one of the co-admins our Facebook group that was formed in March 1, 2011.


Ligaya is a graduate of BS Industrial Pharmacy from the University of the Philippines, Manila. She and her family arrived in Canada in the fall of 2011, September 24 to be exact. They were under the family stream of Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program.

Ligaya worked as a Regulatory Affairs and Marketing Executive for 10 years. When they got news about their move to Winnipeg, she became worried about certain things and she started to have a lot of questions in her mind.

Most of the Filipinos migrating to Canada do not get the chance to work in their chosen fields, especially if your profession is part of the regulated jobs in Canada. Ligaya was a Pharmacist in the Philippines and this job is part of the regulated jobs in the province of Manitoba. She shared, “When I was still in the Philippines, I prayed that I would be happy even if I just get a job as a cashier. God is so good, I got my first job as part-time cashier at Harvey’s Burger Restaurant in November 2011. Being used to sitting from my job back home, it was a very tiring job for me since I have to stand the whole duration of the shift. I prayed again and ask God to give me an office job, and so I was hired for a term position at the Investors Group as a data entry clerk processing RRSP loans. While doing the job, I realized how much pharmacists earn and that’s what got me motivated in pursuing my profession as pharmacist in Canada.

Everything that happens is really according to God’s plan. After Investor’s Group, and while working as a Call Simulation Representative in 24/7 Intouch, she met fellow IPG’s (International Pharmacy Graduates) who are already in the process of challenging the exams to become a registered Pharmacist in Canada and got inspired even more. But that didn’t end there because it is still along way to go and getting a job related to Pharmacy was very hard. Ligaya had to other jobs as well:

May 2012 to Jan 2013 – Keyholder at Dollar Tree at the same time as call center representative in Marketforce (July-Aug 2012)
Oct 2012 – Dec 2012 – Studied Tax Preparation at H&R block while studying for the Pharmacy Evaluating Exam
Jan 2013 -First Exam passed!

Jan 2013 – Mar 2013 – Worked as a Tax Preparer at OBS Financial to save for the next exam

April 1, 2013 –  Finally, got a job as Pharmacy Technician at Leila Pharmacy.

This is certainly not for the faint of heart. You can put yourself in Ligaya’s shoes. Being a UP graduate with years of professional experience, when you arrive in Canada, you will have to look for a menial job to survive because your job experience is not recognized. Any decent job is an honorable job. However, for regulated jobs, you will have to really start from the beginning depending on the regulatory requirements. Nevertheless, one will definitely find it satisfying that he/she can overcome challenges to become who you are supposed to be. Just don’t be afraid to go back to zero and work your way up. It will be rewarding for sure.

Ligaya goes by the expression “Pay it forward” After going through everything, she realized, “I want to share my story to inspire other people and for people in similar situations to continue to share their experiences to others. ” Ligaya has created another Facebook group called FilPharM (Filipino Pharmacists in Manitoba) to bring together Pinoy licensed pharmacists and those still undergoing pharmacy licensing help each other.

Professional Pharmacist Processing times
Different people may have different timelines but this can be a reference. (Note: Ligaya did all these while having full time job):

May 2012 – Document Evaluation
Jan 2013 – Took the Evaluating Exam
Nov 2013 – Took the Qualifying Exam Part 1
May 2014 – Took the Qualifying Exam Part 2 (OSCE)
Sept 2014 – Start of Internship (600 hours)
Nov 2014 – Took the Jurisprudence exam
Jan 2015 – Received License for Professional Pharmacist in Canada. (Finally!)

Estimated Expenses to become a Licensed Pharmacist in Canada: (During Ligaya’s time, now there is an extra step before you start with document evaluation. Enrollment at Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada $325)

$530 – Documents
$515 – Evaluating Exam Fee
$400 – Qualifying Exam Part 1 Fee
$1560 – Qualifying Exam Part 2 Fee
$630 – Internship Fee
$300 – IELTS Exam Fee
$125 – Juris Exam Fee
$870 – License Fee

Total: $4,930

If you are wondering if it is worth it to upgrade and obtain your license, the answer is YES. It is true that in order to get by, a minimum-paying job is enough but you would want more, right? The average salary of a Licensed Pharmacist in Canada ranges to $80,000-$95,000 a year, depending on the province and the size of the community where the Pharmacist works. With this kind of salary, you definitely won’t be looking for more.


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About Jonats

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