Recent scandals involving the temporary foreign workers program has left many Canadians upset. Researchers at Ryerson University, in partnership with the prestigious Migration Policy Group, are updating the Migration Policy Effectiveness Index (MIPEX) for Canada, a tool that compares and rates countries based on their immigration policies. Canada placed among the top three in 2011, but the Ryerson team made some disturbing discoveries about what has been happening since then. In a clear shift from the country’s path-breaking immigration policies, a system has emerged that exists to serve employers, treating immigrants not as future citizens but merely as convenient or cheap labour.
Following the Immigration Act of 1967, Canada began selecting immigrants on the basis of characteristics including education, work experience and proficiency in English or French. To overcome the racism that had dominated the system in previous years, a points based system was devised in order to make the selection process as transparent as possible. This system was highly successful given its mix of practicality and equality, and gained the respect of other countries with several considering it as a model for their own immigration policies.
Now, however, if the current government has its way, the points system will be gone from Canada by 2015 and shall be replaced with “Express Entry,” which is essentially a job bank serving government and industry, matching prospective immigrants with employers seeking workers.
Canada’s 1967 Immigration Act emphasized the importance of family by ensuring that immigrants could sponsor a spouse, dependent children, parents, and grandparents. A drastically different system now requires a 30-per-cent higher minimum income from immigrant families who wish to sponsor people. Whereas immigrants were previously required to support sponsored family members for 10 years, the new requirement is for 20 years. In addition, the number of sponsorships is capped at 5,000 per year.
The Conservative government has not only made it more difficult to enter Canada, but also to remain in the country and become a citizen. Citizenship Bill C-24, currently before Parliament, increases the residency requirement from three to four years, triples the application fee, removes the right to appeal a negative citizenship decision, revokes citizenship from naturalized persons if an official believes that the person never intended to live in Canada, and strips citizenship from dual citizens if convicted of certain crimes, even if those convictions occurred outside Canada..
Such radical changes to immigration policy should require full and transparent national debate. Should economic contribution be the only criterion for selecting immigrants?
Canadians need to ask themselves if they really want pragmatism to take absolute precedence over ethical considerations in immigration policy.
Source: The Star