Time for public consultation on immigration, says report

By Pradip Rodrigues

A study Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada presents a startling and depressing outlook for immigration to Canada. In the future fewer highly-skilled immigrant knowledge workers from developing countries like India and China are expected immigrate to Canada given their countries’ burgeoning economies and job prospects compared to the uncertainty of their professional future in Canada.

But as things stand today, a good 35 per cent of all male newcomers end up working abroad or returning back to their home country. Furthermore the labor market is changing rapidly and so there needs to be a corresponding change in the immigrant-selection system as well.

Immigration experts are now encouraging Immigration Minister John McCallum to initiate a “national conversation” on the future of Canadian immigration. The government is reportedly already in the process of reviewing immigration programs involving temporary foreign workers as well as the Express Entry processing system. But what really needs to be done is to look at the entire immigration system very critically and from all angles. Some of those angles should include its impact on the economy, the social and economic integration of immigrants.

“Ottawa must take a step back to do a review of the whole immigration program and reach a national consensus in moving our country forward as a nation-building exercise rather than as an economic imperative.” Says Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

The report is also delves into the issue that has often come up- Canada’s lack of competitiveness in retaining and giving highly-skilled professionals opportunities to contribute their skills. But for that to even happen, businesses need to be enlightened about the potential and skills these new immigrants possess. Skills that could enrich and benefit Canada are being squandered. Simply bringing in thousands of immigrants each year and then leaving a large number of them to languish professionally doesn’t make for a sound immigration policy.

Some immigrants and experts believe it is morally imperative for Canada not to contribute to brain drain from emerging economies simply to have it wasted here. So bringing in skilled engineers from India only to have them work at jobs that don’t utilize any of those skills is a loss for both countries, not to mention a loss for the immigrant.

Many immigrants who are professionally crushed luckily have families they can go home to and so the current immigration minister McCallum is correctly committed to improving family reunification, bringing in more seniors and other dependents. Besides there is an emphasis on humanitarian efforts like bringing in as many Syrian and other refugees as possible. Nothing like having family and extended family to commiserate with one’s professional misery.

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