Downsides of the new immigration policies for Canada2012-05-09
Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you know that we are in the midst of the most dramatic changes to our immigration system that we have seen in many years, perhaps ever.
However, there are some concerning changes coming and I wonder if they have all been well thought out, as the consequences may be much different that expected in the years to come.
Proficiency in English will be front and center as part of the new immigration rules. At first blush, it seems like a reasonable approach to ensure that immigrants can speak the native language when they arrive. However, a high level of English proficiency will – in practise – mean that we will see an over-representation of immigrants from the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and other Enlgish speaking countries.
In contrast, Canada may no longer be as attractive to citizens of countries where English is not the first language such as India and the far east. The problem is two-fold: there are highly skilled inviduals from these countries that could certainly contribute a great deal to our society, even if their English isn’t top notch. The other issue is that Canada has expressed the absolute need to increase trade with far east countries in order to lessen our reliance with the United States for trade.
It seems to me that encouraging immigation from countries with which we seek to trade goods is a positive move to strengthen that relationship.
Another major change coming is to allow employers to have a much greater role in selecting potential immigrants to ensure immediate job shortages can be filled. Although I agree that employers should have a role, we should be extremely cautious about being too short-sighted in this regard. The government must balance immediate needs for certain skills, with the skills required in the years ahead. We may find that we have a paucity of certain skills in future at the expense of skills we should have been nurturing over many years.
The super visa for parents and grandparents – replacing the ability to sponsor them – is one of the more disturbing aspects of the new policy. We know through studies on the subject, that immigrant parents and grandparents play a key role in allowing worker immigrants to succeed in Canada by providing childcare and other household duties.
Aside from that, the emotional support provided by parents and grandparents, and the ability to care for them in their senior years are extremely valuable to worker immigrants but seems to be discounted in the current debate. In fact, there is a danger that this policy will discourage potential new applicants if they know that they will not be able to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada in future on a permanent basis.
There are just a few of the many unresolved issues that have arisen with the proposed immigration policy. I will address other aspects that are ripe for debate in future blog posts.