I would like to express my support to the letter from Immigration Consultant Anika Henderson published on February 25 under the title “My Canada includes all families”. I have observed that in the last three years the Minister for Immigration has consistently dictated new policies, all of which seem designed to make it harder for people to immigrate to Canada or to settle here. As opposed to countries with hundreds or thousands of years of history, all Saskatchewan was roughly unpopulated only one hundred years ago, except for First Nations. Apparently some people have forgotten that quite soon.
The parent/grandparent sponsorship program two-years moratorium and the later opening with a limited capacity and more stringent requirements are outrageous for immigrants. One of the new requirements, for instance, was to increase the number of years for which a tax return must be presented with the application, from one to three years. This automatically disqualifies sponsors with less than three years in Canada. Add five or six more years of application processing times, according to the CIC webpage, and you will find that immigrant families are forced to be separated for at least eight years, which discriminates immigrants with respect to Canadian-born in clear violation of the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights. Before closing the program, the Minister did not mention these changes, only alleged that the moratorium would allow processing the accumulated applications.
Just to mention a few more regulations that CIC has applied in the since 2008; adding to what Mrs. Henderson correctly pointed out; the professions included in the NOC for immigration of skilled workers were reduced in early 2008 from more than 100 to 29 professions and in July 2012 this program and the immigrant investor program were temporarily closed, the job contract visa added an international English exam as a requirement for temporary workers, and all immigration programs were capped.
Even the waiting times for spouses to be able to reunite have increased. A friend of mine who lives in Swift Current had to go to Colombia to get married because CIC would not give her future husband a visa to come to Canada and celebrate the wedding. When she complained about it, the authorities disrespectfully suggested her to marry a Canadian instead. Last month, changes were announced to “strengthen” the 1977 Canadian Citizenship Act in order to make more difficult for permanent residents to obtain the Canadian citizenship.
In an article published on May 8, 2012 in The Globe and Mail, Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, summed up the ethical issues of these changes by saying: “The changes are coming at a furious pace on an almost daily basis. By seeking to eliminate the backlog by expunging those waiting in the queue, we choose efficiency over fairness. By moving to ‘super visas’ and away from permanent residence for our immigrants’ parents and grandparents, we choose transience over inclusion. When employers select workers who will become future citizens with little guidance, we choose head-hunting over nation-building. When we raise the bar on language, we choose homogeneity over diversity. By streamlining the refugee adjudication process, we may well be choosing efficiency over human rights. Finally, when we say to employers, ‘Pay temporary foreign workers less than you might pay Canadians’, we choose exploitation over fairness. And yet, no one has asked us what we think about these changes.”
These xenophobic instructions can only come from a Minister who is a non-immigrant, and apparently forgot where his ancestors came from. Their final consequences will be visible in a few years, if we continue to miss the point that most people brewing the coffee at Tim Horton every morning, extracting the oil from the tar sands to move our vehicles or building the pipelines to transport the natural gas that heat our houses were not born in Canada.
All immigrants have to face a cultural shock. Additionally, they face the problem that their credentials and qualifications are demanded for immigration application purposes, but once in Canada they are worthless. For Canadian Law they will be underqualified, yet many employers will consider them overqualified and therefore will not give them a job. This waste of talent, education and investment is more dramatic in labours accusing shortage, such as Public Health. I cannot understand how it is possible that dozens of International Medical Graduates resident in Saskatchewan are struggling to get their credentials recognized; while the institutions designed to help them settle down waste the taxpayers’ money travelling to Ireland or India to recruit doctors in job fairs.
I wonder how many Canadians, after studying several years in a University, would be willing to give up their credentials and start it all over. That’s what many immigrants have been forced to do. Unfortunately, we cannot just blame private employers for that ruthless practice. Take a city like Swift Current, where eight per cent of the population are immigrants according to the 2011 NHS, and ask which percentage of the City employees are immigrants. Multiculturalism must become something more than a long word to pronounce in election campaigns and touristic brochures.
I urge you and all Canadians to let their voices be heard so that the Immigration Minister stop thinking that he can change all immigration laws and policies without hearing our opinion.
Roberto Camba Baldomar - Cabri