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John McCallum, right, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, helps Syrian refugee Ramez with his glove at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Monday, February 29, 2016.
Photo Credit: CP / Nathan Denette

Immigration “shift” to benefit refugees

Immigration Minister John McCallum, announced changes to Canada’s Immigration policy last week, that will alter the landscape this year, including one of the largest refugee allocations in years, but it does not signify any great change in the long-run according to Toronto-based immigration lawyer, Guidy Mamann. “Whether we’ve had a liberal or conservative government he says, “nothing new is happening… there has been some tinkering in the numbers.” 

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The changes announced amount to an overall increase to 305,000 permanent residents for 2016, one of the largest totals in years. But according to Guidy Mamann, when one looks at the details, the welcome to Syrian refugees, with 25,000 more to come this year, account for much of this, and the increase of 14,000 people in the family re-unification stream, tends to occur when the economy is slow.

A total of 75,000 refugees, including 25,000 from other troubled locations around the world, is a signifiant change this year, but in the wake of the Alan Kurdi tragedy, the little boy whose lifeless body was photographed washed-up on a Turkish shore last September, Canadians are open to respond.

“You also have to remember that this entire plan, this entire vision, was conceived of planned and executed more or less immediately before  a federal election… and that honeymoon may not necessarily be here twelve months from now” Mamann cautions. “There’s always about 25 thousand refugees of the 250,000 (on average) but that number has been boosted to 50,000 in 2016. An extra 25,000 Syrians this year too!”

Guidy Mamann says Canada is moving beyond the days of skilled and educated immigrants arriving only to have to make a living doing something well-below their skill-set. This is due in part to a new program brought in by the previous Conservative government, called the ‘Canadian Experience’ class.  He says it’s working efficiently as the government is drawing from a whole new pool of people, foreign students.

“We have foreign students who come to Canada and who are studying here. Once they have completed their Canadian education, they’re given an opportunity to get a work permit and to gain Canadian experience. And once they have that Canadian experience and that Canadian education, they’re eligible to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence status.

Mamann says the logic behind the program is, that if they’ve got a Canadian education they already speak one of the languages, and if they’re working, their credentials have been recognized, and they’ve already been here for a few years so have a residence established, and are much more likely to fit in and continue to contribute.

This is in contrast to some of the former economic class immigrants who looked good on paper in the points sytem, but didn’t fare very well once they arrived and had to start from scratch to get established; the transition to life in Canada was a major challenge.

“The Canadian Experience class is a class of people that are probably going to represent the great future of Canadian immigration where there is no risk in actual settlement, or prospective settlement, because they’re already actually settled here.”

Mamann says the universities and colleges understand their new role as “a great carrot”, and the first stepping stone to Canadian immigration.

As for Temporary Foreign Workers, Guidy Mamman says the system will be in the spotlight again, He describes the program as “broken”. He says the over reaction of the former Conservative government to abuses in the system by a few companies is now preventing other companies from using it. Instead of prosecuting the individual companies, the Conservatives overhauled the entire system to the detriment of many employers who are now facing major barriers to recruiting the talent and labour they need to remain competitive.

Guidy Mamman says Canadians must understand that the ‘Foreign Worker Program’ has nothing to do with ‘Foreign Workers’. “The ‘Foreign Worker Program is designed to assist Canadian industries and Canadian employees and employers to make sure that they remain competitive and their employees remain employed. If a Canadian company cannot bring in a person from overseas and keep their products competitive globally, their products are not going to sell; if they’re not profitable there’s gonna be no company and those Canadian employees are gonna’ have no jobs.”

In the meantime, the new Syrian refugees, particularly the government sponsored families, will be observed closely to see how they are settling in and adapting to life in Canada. But the majority of Canadians are aware of the last time the country acted along with the larger global community in helping a desperate population, and the successive generations of what were known as “Vietnamese Boat People”, have thrived in Canada.

Posted in Economy, Immigration & Refuge, International, Lifestyle, Politics, Society, Work & Labour

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2 comments on “Immigration “shift” to benefit refugees
  1. Sterling says:

    Canada created around 100,000 new jobs in the whole of 2016, most of which were part-time/self-employment.

    In the case of refugees they may have a high net worth and good skills but language, culture, medical issues (PTSD) from what they have witnessed and other factors such as converting education into Canadian standards may all be barriers to success. I feel we could help more refugees if we provided more aid to neighboring countries such as Jordan. Canada is spending billions on creating passports, documentation, liaising with embassies, sending staff to the Middle East to process applications and then flying the refugees to Canada and helping them with language training, education, housing, welfare, medical, counselling etc. We helped 25,000 but if we sent this money to Jordan for example I am sure we could have helped ten or twenty times more people. Once the conflict in Syria is over they will need people to return and help rebuild the country and even many of the refugees we have accepted and given permanent residence and eventually citizenship to will return to Syria so I’m not sure its in our best interests.

    We should limit temporary foreign workers too. Only to skilled jobs in clearly identified shortage occupations.

    What Canada needs is entrepreneurs who will invest money and create jobs. The startup visa hasn’t quite worked out. A program which involves the government putting clear plans for infrastructure in place such as roads, bridges, airports, hospitals, schools etc would be good. A foreign investor would then invest $500,000 in this in these pre-approved projects in return for Canadian permanent residence. This would create jobs in construction/engineering and also in the long run for teachers, doctors, nurses etc and bring clear economic benefit

  2. DS says:

    Temporary Foreign Worker program suppresses wages to the extent that it makes it impossible to support a family in Canada with that wage. TFW must be scrapped. Race to the bottom is not the answer to being competitive.