A new study finds that major changes to immigration policies in recent years could be hurting not only Canada’s international reputation, but also our own long-term economic prospects.
The study, conducted and released this month by Toronto-based think tank Maytree, looked at how recent changes to policy have placed more emphasis on immediate labour market needs rather than longer-term nation-building strategies.
Economists across the country are growing concerned about the amount of temporary workers entering the country on short-term contracts, according to the authors of the report. Not only does it make for a less flexible work force, but it also tends to produce a surplus of illegal undocumented immigrants who stay in the country after their work contract expires.
In fact, the authors recommend that the government look less at temporary foreign workers and more toward those who have already entered the country, such as unemployed skilled workers or refugees, to fill vacant positions.
“Some refugees might be very interested in doing some of the lower-skilled jobs as their entry into the labour market, and if provided with the necessary supports, would be quite capable of doing that,” says report co-author Naomi Alboim, adding that there is a disconnect between each immigration stream and thus, an incoherent overall policy.
However, what may even be more of a concern in the eyes of Alboim is the potential reputational harm that such quick and extensive policy changes could bring to Canada in the long term.
“In terms of stability and security, when immigration changes happen so quickly, if you apply and you play the game according to the rules and you’re in a queue for a number of years, and your application is sent back to you, saying “sorry, we’ve changed the rules,” that causes concern,” says Alboim.
Already, some of the effects of the recent changes are being felt. For example, China is no longer the top source of immigrants – it has now fallen to number three. Other long term effects can only be speculated on at this time, but experts say more public dialogue is needed so that all Canadians understand the implications of immigration policy in the coming years.
Source: Globe and Mail