Major chances to immigration policy, says Minister John McCallum

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Toronto, February 26 (CINEWS): Last week, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum announced that all refugees and asylum claimants could once again be entitled to full health-care coverage through a restored Interim Federal Health Program beginning April 1, 2016.
It may be recalled that in 2012, the Conservatives had made controversial cuts to refugee healthcare.
Rejected refugee claimants, as well as claimants from so-called “safe countries,” could only access care if they posed a public health risk. It was estimated to have saved $20 million annually.
The Interim Federal Health Program will provide health-care coverage for all eligible beneficiaries – including basic, supplemental, and prescription drug coverage. Similar to provincial/territorial health-care insurance, the coverage will include hospital and physician services. Coverage for supplemental health-care services, such as vision and urgent dental care, and for prescription drugs, will be similar to what the provinces and territories provide to Canadians who receive social assistance.
In an interview with Can-India, Minister McCallum added that by April, the IFHP will include refugees who’ve been approved for resettlement before they head to Canada. “The new component of the medical exam will include inoculations and other medical examinations. The focus for now will be the Syrian refugees and privately sponsored refugees,” he said.
While the Syrian refugee crisis has made the resettlement of the sponsored refugees in Canada the focus of the immigration policy, there is clarity being sought for other issues such as creating and maintaining an easier pathway to citizenship for foreign students who wish to settle down in Canada which Minister McCallum is committed to ensuring. “The previous Conservatives changed the rules which penalized foreign students here. We will work to improve the chances for these students to become citizens,” he said.
Minister McCallum also reaffirmed the importance of the three categories of immigrants- economic, family and refugees. “It is important that economic immigrants find jobs and start contributing soon. Family re-unification is extremely important and bringing down the processing time it currently takes is important. It takes two years for foreign spouses to join their partners here. In the UK it takes 6 months. We are going to invest more money into the system, hire more staff and make the system efficient and faster,” he promised.
There is a perception that in the zeal to make the immigration system fairer, more transparent and generous, people trying to enter Canada using fraudulent documents could slip in. “We will obviously ensure that people committing immigration fraud or indulging in fake marriages will be rooted out before they get here. We will do it while ensuring processing time doesn’t take forever,” he said. Having adequate staffing could ensure that proper investigations are conducted in a timely manner, thus upholding the integrity of the immigration system.
On the issue of Syrian refugees now scattered across the country, McCallum reiterated that bringing them here was one part of the story, the other now is to ensure they are integrated in Canadian society. “Many of the government sponsored refugees are uneducated or don’t know either English or French. Our priority is to teach them one of the two national languages and then it will be easier for them to find jobs,” he said.

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