Newcomers exploiting the system
By MINDELLE JACOBS
Last Updated: October 12, 2010 12:00am
Anyone who dares suggest Canadas immigration system is overly generous, easy to abuse and frighteningly unmonitored is automatically deemed a bigot in certain circles.
Its a perverse attempt to shut down debate and pull the wool over Canadians eyes about the enormous social and economic problems that can accompany unrestrained immigration.
There are those who see nothing wrong with Canada absorbing more newcomers per capita than any other country about 250,000 people annually.
Perhaps they havent noticed that our largest cities, particularly Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, are bursting at the seams with immigrants and refugees. The federal government lets these tens of thousands of people in and then pretty much washes its hands of them.
Cash-strapped municipalities are left with the difficult task of integrating the new arrivals, many of whom can barely speak English or French. As experts have warned, newer cohorts of immigrants are not faring as well economically as previous generations of people who arrived on our shores.
In fact, newcomers are now costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year, says the newly formed Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, which argues that our immigration standards and selection criteria should be related to our economic needs.
Consider that only about 18% of the 250,000 people who immigrated to Canada last year were assessed for their ability to work or speak English or French. The rest were dependents, extended relatives or refugee claimants.
Thats an awful lot of people who come here who are not qualified. How does that help the country? asks Julie Taub, an Ottawa immigration lawyer whos on the board of the new think-tank.
Taub, who does regular duty counsel work at a legal aid immigration clinic, says she was astounded to see immigrants who were supposed to be self-supporting come in for free legal assistance.
These were skilled workers who were accepted into Canada on the condition that they had enough money to live for a year. Yet, several months after arriving, they were on welfare. If Immigration Canada says they have to bring enough money to live for a year, shouldnt they be letting the provinces know that theyre not entitled to go on social services for a year? says Taub. Theres a sense of entitlement that is unbelievable.
Immigration officials barely do security checks and, incredibly, there is no security screening of foreign workers or foreign students, adds Taub. Dont you find that a little bit astonishing?
There has been a reluctance to discuss immigration policy, as if to do so is xenophobic. We can no longer afford such lumpish political correctness.
We cant continue sweeping the issue under the carpet and pretending there is no downside to high volumes of immigrants, many of whom have poor language and work skills.
There is no dialogue, says a frustrated Taub. The topic of immigration is taboo. If you want to discuss it objectively, youre immediately branded as anti-immigrant.
Its your tax money, folks. Let the debate begin.
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In a column last week, I included wrong information about the divorce rate. In fact, four out of 10 couples divorce.