As 56 million Americans undertake the painful realization that conservatism has taken a stronghold against liberalism until at least 2008 in the United States, many are considering alternative and perhaps greener pastures as recent inquiries to our web site (www.immigration.ca) has shown. Canada seems to present an interesting option.
Indeed, the ideological differences between the two countries are pronounced as the US election results as well as recent developments in Canada confirms. Canada’s Liberal government is getting set to nationalize the legal right for gays and lesbians to marry and to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Even Canadian immigration policies often at the forefront of political and social debate, differ for the most part from those of the United States, which is one of the only countries in the Western world where natural population growth occurs without the need to rely on immigration to ensure labour market growth. Unlike the United States which requires family or employer sponsorship as a condition for long term admission, Canada promotes the world’s largest permanent immigration program, a cornerstone of its immigration policy, admitting some 150,000 economic class immigrants each year including about 6,000 from the United States (from a peak of around 23,000 during the Vietnam war years) with minimal emphasis on employer sponsored employment.
Using a point system, an applicant is assessed under the federal skilled worker class according to various factors that will indicate whether there is a strong likelihood that the applicant and dependents will successfully establish in Canada. Ideal applicants under the skilled worker class will possess employment skills and experience compatible with occupations “open” to prospective immigrants to Canada. Applicants must also possess sufficient settlement funding.
And Canada’s revised residency rules are now more flexible than ever. Canadian permanent residents are only required to demonstrate physical presence totaling two years during the first five years of residency and in any subsequent five year period. For many, Canadian status is really a secondary option against having to return to a third world country in the event that their temporary working status ironically in the United States or elsewhere is not renewed. Indeed, Canadian policy makers have now come to understand that economic migration is a commodity pursued by many OECD countries in the face of growing demographic changes which member nations face including an aging population, a growing elderly dependency ratio and a shrinking labour force. A flexible residency rule is a perk needed to attract a limited supply of qualified individuals and to offset application processing delays averaging 18 months at many Canadian visa offices.
Canada’s ultimate appeal perhaps lies in the quality of life it offers: Canada’s largest cities consistently rank high in annual ratings of the world’s top scoring cities in areas measuring quality of life criteria including political, social, and economic and environment factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services.
Perhaps the recent political developments in the United States just might convince a number of liberal minded Americans to consider Canada as a viable alternative while America continues to come to grips with an ongoing identity crisis. With the benefit of time we will soon begin to appreciate whether an interesting demographic development is actually taking place in Canada.