This past week's announcement that Canada would raise its immigration targets for 2007 to help reduce a backlog of about 750,000 people wanting to immigrate to Canada is not good news for the country. However, Canada can fight back against immigration backlog pressure.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg has said that Canada is legally obligated to take the number of people in the backlog. These people are presumably mostly in the Skilled Immigrant category. The figures really mean that around 40% of the 750,000 are actually skilled workers. The rest are spouses or children of the skilled applicants.
If the total yearly intake of all immigrants is around 260,000, the backlog can be reduced by about 155,000 per year. In such a plan, it would take at least 5 years to eliminate the backlog. This plan assumes that the other three immigration categories (Family, Refugee and Humanitarian Classes) remain at combined current levels of around 105,000 per year. It also assumes that no new skilled immigrants enter the line-up.
However, reducing the backlog does not deal with the most important issue: Does Canada really need these 750,000 applicants?
The answer to this question is realistically, “No.” Here are some suggestions which might bring relief to Canada and encourage some realism in the prospective 750,000:
(1) Review Canada's current immigration programme to ensure that it serves Canadian interests. Make this goal clear to immigrants. This major point continues to elude a number of people. Among these are members of Canada's immigration industry who believe that serving Canada's interests amounts to ideological heresy.
(2) Announce to skilled worker applicants that they not only have to sign Form IMM 1455 which indicates that they are willing to accept employment not in their field (and probably at a low unskilled level in some unconnected field). But in fairness to these people, also tell them honestly that their chances of obtaining employment in their fields may be very limited for a long time.
(3) Announce to all immigrant entrants the realities of Canada's cost of living. This will include cost of rented housing, cost of food and clothing, cost of transportation, our tax syatem, etc. Tell them that unless they have a guarantee of employment at a fixed salary, their chances of being able to pay monthly expenses here may not be good. Make sure that immigrants understand the term “working poor”, that half of the immigrants who have arrived since 1990 are living below the poverty level, and that the immigrants in question may become part of this group.
(4) Request Statistics Canada or Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to compile an inventory of Canada's so-called “labour shortage” and the wages that employers (who say they are short of labour) are willing to pay. Make this list as up to date as possible, clearly tell the date to immigrants, and make the list available to immigrants. In the case of jobs involving permanent immigrants, determine whether these jobs can be filled within Canada. Point out to employers that when immigrants come here, they come at considerable expense to Canada's processing system and to the immigrants themselves. Before immigrants are approved for entry, require that employers post bonds to ensure that the immigrants are paid the advertised wages. In order to determine the validity of employers' claims, require that employers pay part of the costs of bringing immigrants into the country.
(5) Request Statistics Canada to do surveys of Canada's education system to determine how many students will be entering Canada's labour force in the next few years and in what fields they will be looking for employment. Our federal government already knows that past surveys showed that this figure was in the millions. It should take steps to ensure that competition of several million graduating Canadian students with prospective immigrants for the same jobs does not occur. Tell these numbers to prospective immigrants. Re-connect Canadian immigration policy with realistic labour goals.
(6) Remind all employers that they must demonstrate that they have looked in Canada for employees. Inform immigrants of the large number of Canadians who are underemployed (and thus searching for higher level employment) and tell these prospective immigrants that Canadian citizens will have priority over them in all employment.
In other words, when the 750,000 become aware of the realities they will have to face, they may decide that coming to Canada is not in their interests.
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See www.notcanada.com for the opinions of immigrants who feel they have been deceived by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.