Weekly Bulletin – 2004, January 14

Hiring That Reflects Ethnic Composition: Does This Policy Make Sense?

January 14, 2004

Dear Prime Minister Martin and Fellow MP's:

Recently, a significant number of Vancouver police retired in order to avoid cuts to their pensions. In announcing these retirements, the Vancouver Police Chief stated that a large number of replacements would soon have to be hired. At the same time, he said that the new people to be hired should reflect the current ethnic make-up of the city.

The Vancouver Chief of Police is not the only public official to make such statements. Prominent officials in other large cities, at Canada's crown corporations and at both the federal and provincial levels have said something similar about their hiring policies. The big question Canadians have to ask is, “Does this policy of reflecting ethnic composition make any sense?”

Well, let's consider an employment line-up of 80 people who have been waiting in line for a limited number of job openings. These 80 will represent the approximately 2 million unemployed Canadians. Suppose another 20 people suddenly arrive. These 20 represent recently-arrived immigrants. Most Canadians would say that those 20 new arrivals should get in line behind the 80 who have been there for some time. Most Canadians would say that this would be the fair thing to do.

However, the Vancouver Chief of Police and others are saying that the new arrivals should not have to go to the end of the line, but should be put at or near the front of the line and given preference over those who have been waiting for their chance to get employment. The Chief's (and others') “reasoning”, if it can be called that, is that the new workforce should consist of both the new arrivals and those standing in line for a long time.

Most Canadians would say that such thinking was absurd. They would also become very angry at the “new and old” rationalization and at the injustice done to the people waiting in line. Yet, led by a number of Canadians proclaiming that new arrivals to Canada are automatically entitled to an instantaneous share of Canada's resources, absolutely absurd hiring policies such as the one advocating that employment reflect ethnic composition have become common. Not a week goes by without some officials trying to gain some political capital by saying they are in favour of such a policy or that they are “proud” that their agency or level of government has instituted such a policy.

Like most unemployed, Canada's unemployed are extremely vulnerable and often silent. They should be treated with respect, dignity and fairness, yet Canada's immigration policies treat them with disrespect, contempt and injustice. Literally hundreds of thousands of workers have recently arrived in Canada, even though Canada had little need for many of them, a sad state of affairs all by itself.. The advocates of “ethnic composition hiring” have poured out their sympathies on these new people and have advocated the fast-tracking of the new arrivals' credentials and the institution of other measures to see that these people become employed. Simultaneously, these advocates imply that Canada's own unemployed are disposable and unworthy of consideration.

Any society and all individuals who allow such employment policies to continue will almost certainly harvest the rage that is building. Those who champion such policies have to take responsibility for the misery they are creating. The prudent and the just will do what they can to stop the injustice.

Immigration Watch Canada looks forward to some serious immigration reform legislation in the February re-convening of Parliament to re-dress this major issue. We also look forward to hearing that all public employers have instituted hiring policies that provide justice to Canadians.

Best Wishes,

Dan Murray
Immigration Watch Canada