A new academic paper is stirring questions over whether Canada should look to Australia as a model for successfully integrating newcomers.
The paper, which was jointly written by Canadian professor Mikal Skuterud and Australian professor Andrew Clarke, examined recent changes to Australia’s immigration system to see if these changes were responsible for the country’s successful track record of newcomer integration.
Australia, like Canada, has a points-based immigration system. They also have a fairly open immigration policy which has led, again like Canada, to one in five people being foreign-born.
However, in the 1990s Australia changed its immigration policy by imposing two strict requirements that have apparently resulted in newcomers, on average, finding better employment than their counterparts in Canada. The changes were a strict English language requirement and pre-screening of credentials.
Skuterud and Clarke tested whether or not these two requirements made a difference and found that they did so but not directly in the way intended. The rules actually deterred many non-English speaking migrants, and resulted in increased immigration from places like the U.K. The success has been due to quick assimilation more than the requirements themselves.
Though many Canadian policy makers have referred to Australia as a possible model for immigration reform, the paper argues that such a policy would be difficult to duplicate in Canada.
Canada is not as likely as Australia to attract people from the United Kingdom (weather is a large factor) and the already strong Asian and South-East Asian immigration patterns are unlikely to dissipate soon.
Instead, say Skuterud and Clarke, Canada’s government should focus on youth immigrants such as foreign students, as the data demonstrates that the younger the immigrant is, the better their prospects for the future.
Source: Globe and Mail