Canada’s immigration system undergoing quiet, ugly revolution

posted on May 12, 2014

By Morton Beiser Harald Bauder, the Star | Link to Article

By Morton Beiser Harald Bauder, the Star | Link to Article

Canadians are rightly upset about recent scandals involving the temporary foreign workers program. But let’s not fool ourselves: this program and its mismanagement are only part of a massive and stealthy reform to a system that may or may not need fixing.

Researchers at Ryerson University, in partnership with the prestigious Migration Policy Group, are updating the Migration Policy Effectiveness Index (MIPEX) for Canada. MIPEX compares and rates countries based on their immigration policies. Canada placed among the top three in 2011, but the Ryerson team was shocked by their discoveries about what has been happening since then.

Canada’s once path-breaking immigration policies are being transformed into a system that mainly serves employers, treating immigrants not as future citizens or members of Canadian communities and families but merely as convenient or cheap labour. This is a clear shift from previous policy.

Following the immigration act of 1967, Canada began selecting immigrants on the basis of characteristics such as education, work experience and proficiency in English or French. The points system made immigrant selection transparent, and it overcame the racism that had heretofore dominated the system. The point system’s blend of pragmatism and equity has gained the respect of other countries; more than a few are considering it as a model for their own immigration policies.

If the current government has its way, the points system will be gone from Canada by 2015 and replaced with “Express Entry,” which is essentially a job bank serving government and industry, matching prospective immigrants with employers seeking workers. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the program will select “the best candidates . . . rather than the first person in line.” Ironically, the same government accuses refugees of being “queue jumpers” and denies status to people most in need of Canada’s protection.

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