New Canadian Media
Saturday, 05 November 2016 11:54

High on Immigration, Low on Citizenship

News Analysis by NCM Newsroom

Days after being sworn in as prime minister on November 4 last year, Justin Trudeau listed priority tasks for his ministers.  

Like that of his colleagues, the list for John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, drew much from the Liberal party’s election promises.

While resettling Syrian refugees was the number one priority, McCallum was told that his overarching goal was “to reopen Canada’s doors to welcome those who want to contribute to its success.”

The wording was clever. While it tried to highlight the previous Conservative government’s reluctance to open Canada’s door to refugees, it retained the essence of what the country’s need for immigrants has always been: It’s the economy, stupid.  

And, McCallum has stuck to the time-tested script. Tabling this year’s report on immigration targets in parliament, he said the government is boosting the base number of immigrants to be admitted next year to 300,000. The previous annual targets from 2011 to 2015 was 260,000, but it swelled to 300,000 this year on account of the Syrian arrivals. The last time this base figure was reached was way back in 1913.

Attempting to give this annual setting of targets a more long-term view, the minister told reporters that it “lays the foundation for future growth." What was unsaid is that last year’s election rhetoric for letting in more refugees was a one-off political gesture meant to to induce a feel-good across the country and reinforce the "Canada is back" mantra.   

Although the 2017 intake targets includes 40,000 refugees and protected persons, it is down from nearly 56,000 this year. Also slightly down is the number of people who would be let in on humanitarian or compassionate grounds: 3,500 against this year’s 3,600.

And when it comes to government-assisted refugees, the numbers are far lower. The number for 2017 is 7,500, down from nearly 20,000 admitted so far this year, and still fewer than the nearly 10,000 admitted in 2015.

Like the previous government, the targets focus on boosting entries for those in the "economic" class. It has been increased to 172,500 from 160,600. In the family class, the number of sponsored spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents will climb to 84,000 from 80,000.

Signalling left, turning right

While people in the settlement sector would bemoan the cuts to refugee intake given the continuing crises around the world, others would call it pragmatism. Those less charitable to the Liberals would say they are back at their game of signalling left, turning right.

The Liberals know that Canadians will not continue to be supportive of refugee resettlement. Reports about the government being caught off guard by the large number of children each Syrian family had in tow would cast doubts about the whole manner of bringing them in, starting from the vetting process.

Keeping both public perceptions and capacity constraints in mind, the government has astutely kept in abeyance its own economic growth council’s recommendation to raise annual immigration levels to 450,000 over the next five years.

However, it is doubling down on bringing in economic immigrants. Early on, Ottawa indicated that it would be more positively inclined towards international students becoming permanent residents, with McCallum terming them as “the perfect immigrants.”

The Express Entry immigration selection system, the key change to the economic immigration stream made by the previous government, is now being seen as a tool to also promote family reunification. The idea is to give candidates with family members already in Canada additional points.

Discounting citizenship

The unsettling thing about the emphasis on immigration levels is the indifferent attitude towards the very feature that makes our system unique: one of the shortest paths to citizenship, that over 80 per cent of immigrants eagerly choose to take. At least until recently.

The number of citizenship applicants has plummeted for the second year in a row after the more than a doubling in the application fee from $300 to $630. For a while it was $200, after being at $100 for a long time.

Evidently, citizenship applications are down. Only 36,000 citizenship applications were received from January to June this year, a little more than one-third of the number for the same period last year, according to data obtained for policy analysis by Andrew Griffith, a retired immigration department director-general. In 2015, a total of 130,000 applications were submitted compared to an average of 200,000 in the previous years.

While $630 itself is a hefty sum, the actual cost incurred could be much more if one includes the fee (around $200) for a language proficiency test that many applicants would need to take, and further for the Canadian passport (minimum $120). And, in the case of persons from source countries like India that do not allow for dual citizenship, the expenses add up. The fee to process the giving up of Indian citizenship and obtaining a new visa would take the costs to well over $1,500.  

Self-defeating

Imagine a family of four needing to spend $6,000 when struggling economically to put roots in a new country. No one is suggesting that citizenship should come cheap, but forcing those on the cusp of becoming citizens to bear the whole cost of the process is rather unfair. Especially when the government is ready to waive or subsidize fees for refugees. How much more do new Canadians need to do to become citizens of a country they cheerily chose?

More importantly, isn't ultimate citizenship the whole point of welcoming new immigrants in the first place?        

Whereas the Liberals were critical of all the changes to immigration rules made by the Harper government, they were coy about reviewing the citizenship fee during the election campaign. Now that they hold the reins and are reviewing Bill C6 to amend the Citizenship Act, there is still no mention of any adjustment to the fee.

While tax-paying permanent residents are already an underclass unable to vote even in local elections, this disenfranchisement is now set to grow and become a permanent feature of our polity. It calls into question our own understanding of democracy and surely not something we should be proud of.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all NCM columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of New Canadian Media.

Published in Policy

Commentary by Pradip Rodrigues in Mississauga

Last week, Canada’s innovation minister Navdeep Bains all but conceded that the Liberals needed to craft a positive message about boosting the number of immigrants into Canada. In other words those in favour of a massive increase need to put a spin on it. There is resistance to that idea from sections within the Liberal party as well as from Canadians worried about the effect more immigrants will have on their job prospects, let alone their children’s job prospects.


Following public consultations with Canadians coast to coast, Immigration minister John McCallum not so long ago insisted that wherever he went, Canadians were telling him they wanted more immigrants. Some might have literally been begging, especially in immigrant-rich places like Brampton.


It is the position of many Liberals, the business community and the elite at large who are for a massive intake of new immigrants, refugees, foreign students who they insist are needed to fill labour shortages. Any day now a new three-year immigration plan is expected to be unveiled, and it looks increasingly likely that the annual number of immigrants for 2017 will be a lot higher than in previous years. By the end of 2016, Canada will have welcomed well over 300,000 immigrants.

A minority favour higher immigration levels

In a Nanos Research poll conducted in August 39 per cent of Canadians felt Ottawa should accept fewer immigrants in 2017 than in 2016, 37 per cent were satisfied with the current levels and just 16 per cent thought we should accept more immigrants.


But then again, a Canadian, both old and new is for or against higher or lower immigration levels depending on their current financial situation, their social status and place on the food chain.
If the Canadian is a new immigrant trapped in a precarious work cycle or at the mercy of temp agencies, talk about Canada’s desperate shortage of workers and the need to import more immigrants would seem like a cruel and ongoing joke, after thousands of immigrants made that fateful decision to immigrate based on such ‘reports’ only to find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

Immigration is favoured by the elite

If you are a corporate CEO or business owner who stands to gain richly by bringing in skilled workers rather than invest and train young Canadians, increasing immigrant levels is in your interest.
The Liberal elites who often happen to be civil servants with job security and generous pension plans , university professors, media professionals and the affluent who aren’t threatened by waves of immigrants love the idea of a human flood. It makes for a feel good story about great success of Canada’s stunning diversity, generosity and multiculturalism. It contributes to a sense of national identity.

Neither are their jobs threatened by immigrants who won’t ‘qualify’ as they lack ‘Canadian experience’ and the demographic composition of their neighborhoods won’t be affected by immigrants seeking jobs and homes.
Currently there are many media commentators who are encouraging the government to heed experts and business leaders who support higher immigration levels. In other words, they infer that the tremendous pushback against the idea comes from less educated and racist Canadians. Some media commentators might almost want to call them ‘deplorables’ for their anti-immigrant mentality. After all how can Joe Sixpack know what’s good for the country?


In earlier times it was easier to defer to elites and experts on complex issues like the economy, there were few questions raised by the 50 per cent or so of the population who either had an average IQ, lower education and fewer skills. The reason was many of them had decent to well-paying jobs in manufacturing and the trades that didn’t require a college degree. But in 2016 this is not the case.

Technology is eliminating job categories

More jobs than ever before require complex skills and higher education. Even a car mechanic needs to be computer savvy and it may not hurt to have programming skills in the future.
But even if free training is available, can a person without the aptitude and mental agility master complex change? This new technological age is especially cruel to those in the arts as well as those not cut out for higher education.


There are millions of Canadians and Americans, mostly men who are currently unemployed, stagnating at dead-end jobs or have simply stopped looking for work. These are victims of technology changes and outsourcing. While the new report released recently by the Conference Board of Canada discusses the affect of an aging population on the economy and the need for higher immigration levels may have some merit, it simply baffles those at the lower end of the food chain. And no one pushing for more immigration seems to have taken into account the fact that technology is set to get rid of entire job categories . Between outsourcing and redundancy hundreds of thousands of jobs could disappear just as immigrants appear over the horizon.

Prepare for short-term employment

Our Finance Minister Bill Morneau recently told Canadians to prepare for an era of short-term employment he also noted that some people will see their jobs disappear in the years to come — truck drivers and receptionists, for instance.


So on one hand Canadians who want to work will find themselves working even less if at all and on the other hand we are reminded or a looming labor crisis.


As I write this column, there are thousands of Canadians trapped doing jobs they hate simply because there are few options out there. There are any number of university-educated millennials struggling to find jobs or hold down jobs that barely utilize their skills. Barristers are baristas at coffee shops in Toronto. Walk into temp agencies and you will find an endless stream of educated and mostly new immigrants hoping to luck out with a dead end job.
Big corporations may talk about the need for more highly-skilled immigrants, but they won’t promise not to ship jobs off to India and China when its convenient or more economical.

Most immigrants compete in crowded job categories

And one problem with skilled workers is that while they come into Canada as the principle applicant, they bring along spouses who may in all probability have skills that aren’t in high demand, in which case he or she will end up competing for scarce jobs with other Canadians. So technically for every one immigrant with skills, comes another who will join the crowded general job category. This could end up depressing wages at the lower end of the job market, naturally or add to the unemployment numbers. Why would a small businessman want to give his employees a livable wage that is well above minimum wage when there are any number of new immigrants and foreign students willing to work for less? Late last month a report from new survey from Aon Hewitt, a Human Resource firm, said Canadians could forget about getting a raise in 2017. They ofcourse refer to those in the private sector. Civil servants and others can expect good raises, not surprisingly, these are the ones most in favor of bringing in more immigrants.


Even brown Canadians are wary of increasing the number of immigrants, unless ofcourse they have family who’ve applied for immigration or student visas. There was a time small businessmen loved new immigrants who were willing to work for minimum wage and absolutely no medical benefits, now many of them are keen on a steady supply of foreign students. Why? Who else will work for $6 an hour?

Republished with permission

Published in Policy

Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum is touting Canada as the go to place for Asians, especially Filipinos and Chinese nationals, saying the country needs them.

On a recent tour of China and the Philippines, the minister said that before he can 'substantially increase' Canada's immigration levels beyond record levels, he will have to take his plan to cabinet and convince Canadians it's the right thing to do.

Pointing to an aging population and looming labour shortages, McCallum made the pitch in Manila during a speech to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the CBC and Manila media reported.

The Trudeau government is already seeking to admit between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016 — a record increase from the 260,000 to 285,000 newcomers the previous Conservative government had planned to welcome by the end of 2015.

In Manila, McCallum promised to cut the processing time of the applications of sponsored spouses, partners, and children, given that it is "way too long" at present.

The usual two years will be shortened to reunite families more swiftly, with the target to be announced in the fall.

For Express Entry, which covers experienced professionals, skilled workers, and international students, McCallum placed the processing target at six months. Such "economic immigrants" are given points based on having a job offer, a good education, language skills, and others.

Although this was not a bad system, it could be improved, he said.

One of the improvements involves removing the labor market impact assessment for many of the applicants. Usually, economic immigrants have to prove that no Canadian can do the job that they have been offered. Removing this requirement will make it easier for them to go to Canada.

Another improvement is giving more points to international students since they are "very valuable contributors" to the country and would make "very good Canadians" in the future, McCallum said. Certain other restrictions will also be removed for such applicants. Doing so will bump up the proportion of students going to Canada under Express Entry compared to other applicants.

He added that he was talking to Canadian officials in the Philippines to approach students and encourage them to study in Canadian universities, instead. Thus, they will have a better chance to work and stay in Canada if they wish.

"Our general desire is to increase the number of immigrants," McCallum said. He added that they wanted to attract "the best and the brightest" from around the globe, making Canada "a better place".

According to McCallum, Canada welcomed more than 50,000 new permanent residents from the Philippines last year – more than any other country. He added that there are over 700,000 Filipinos living in Canada, and that their contribution to society is appreciated.

"It doesn't matter how newcomers first arrive in Canada – as refugees, as family members, or as economic immigrants – we know from decades of experience that they, their children, and their grandchildren, will inevitably make positive contributions to our country," McCallum said.

"Experience shows us that immigrants' contributions to Canada result in jobs, innovation and growth – newcomers tend to be highly motivated to be part of a larger society, to be accepted, and to achieve economic success. With an aging demographic and challenges retaining young people, immigration is becoming critical in certain communities and provinces," he added.

This year, Canada targets to welcome 300,000 immigrants, the largest projection by the government recently.

"This reflects our deep belief that immigration is critical to our country's future," McCallum said. "It also reflects our determination to open Canada's doors to those who want to contribute to our country, and to those in need of our compassion and protection, and to welcome everyone with a smile."

According to a transcript of his remarks obtained by CBC News, Canada seeks to double visa offices in China to attract more high-skilled workers.

Earlier, McCallum was in Beijing, where he sought to open more offices where Chinese can apply for visas, in the hope of attracting more high-skilled workers.

He is also reviewing what is known as a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) — a document all employers need to hire foreign nationals over Canadian workers — and could do away with it in some instances.

Businesses have said it is the biggest flaw with express entry, a requirement the previous government borrowed from the temporary foreign worker program.

"Now, we have to convince Canadians of this. But I think it's a good idea."

The Liberal government also tasked a parliamentary committee with a review of the controversial foreign worker program, but Parliament adjourned before the report was tabled. It will now be made public in the fall.

McCallum, who worked as a chief economist at one of Canada's Big Five banks and a professor of economics before he entered politics, also acknowledged he has his work cut out for him.

"Not every Canadian will agree. But I think with our mindset of welcoming newcomers in the beginning, with the facts of the labour shortages, aging population, we have a good case to make, and I think we will be able to convince a higher proportion of Canadians that this is the right way for Canada to go."

Published under arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post

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Published in Policy

OTTAWA—The fact some newly arrived Syrian refugees are turning to food banks to supplement their own pantries can be partially explained by a “cultural element,” the immigration minister said May 19.

Food banks from Halifax to B.C. have reported serving hundreds of Syrians who have come to Canada since November, the month the Liberal government launched a major resettlement program to bring 25,000 people by the end of February.

Immigration Minister John McCallum acknowledged that the income assistance is not high, but said that’s not the only reason Syrians are showing up at food banks.

Epoch Times

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Published in Top Stories

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) resumed receiving sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents (PGP) of Canadian citizens and permanent residents on Monday morning.

The case processing centre in Mississauga, Ontario opened its window for receiving the applications at 8 a.m. (EST). Only 5,000 new and complete applications will be accepted this year.

By capping the applications number at the same level as in the previous two years, the new Liberal government would seem to be going back on a crucial poll promise to double the number.

Unveiling his party’s promises on the immigration file during the federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the “Liberals will reform our immigration system, and make family reunification a core priority of our government.”

Trudeau then went on to say that his government will immediately increase the number of applications under PGP to 10,000 each year and double the budget for processing family class applications to reduce the waiting time.

This pledge resonated with immigrant families who were not pleased by the previous government’s efforts to limit permanent residency offers to elderly family members or by unduly long processing times extending to 47 months.

The IRCC website currently says the department is working on applications received on or before November 4, 2011.

‘Irresponsible promise’

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative Party’s immigration critic, said it was totally irresponsible of Trudeau to promise more than his government is able to deliver.

"This is just a further example of the mismanagement of the immigration file and another item to add to the list of broken promises," Rempel, MP for Calgary Nose Hill, told New Canadian Media in an emailed response.

"While we were in government, Canada welcomed more than 70,000 parents and grandparents from 2012-2014. This number represents the highest level of parent and grandparent admissions in nearly two decades. Thanks to the Conservative government's Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, the backlog was reduced by nearly 54 per cent," Rempel said.

"Keeping a realistic goal of 5,000 applications a year was part of our Conservative government’s initiative to be prudent managers of government."

Late this evening, Immigration Minister John McCallum offered this defence: "We are committed to reuniting families and we intend to meet the commitment to double the intake of PGP sponsorship applications from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. To achieve this I will be consulting with cabinet colleagues early in the new year."

Recent phenomenon

The brief annual opening of the application window in the New Year is a recent phenomenon. It began in 2014 after the previous government had frozen the process for two years in November 2011. The stated purpose was to first clear a backlog of nearly 165,000 applications before taking in new ones.

Generally, a citizen or permanent resident is allowed to sponsor parents and grandparents to become permanent residents under the Family Class immigration stream. Family reunification is one of the three pillars of IRCC’s immigration program, the other two being economic classes and protected persons (refugees).

The moratorium on PGP applications was expected to reduce the backlog to about 50,000. In the meantime, the quota for actual admissions into the country under the program was increased by 60 per cent to 25,000 a year to help clear the backlog.

Major changes

Before lifting the freeze, the Harper government had also introduced major changes to Family Class immigration in May 2013. They were designed to align entry under this category with economic outcomes.

The overarching narrative spoke of reducing the burden imposed on tax payers by the entry of parents, grandparents and dependent children 18 years and above.

Announcing the new criteria for sponsoring parents and grandparents, Jason Kenney, the then Citizenship and Immigration Minister, said they were aimed at ensuring elderly immigrants didn't end up on welfare or in social housing.

Kenney also said that older immigrants are a burden on the health-care system and other social safety nets. A set of grandparents could cost the system as much as $400,000, he said.

Super visas

The new set of rules included the minimum necessary income level of sponsors going up by 30 per cent, proof of income threshold for a minimum of three years (in place of one year), only Canada Revenue Agency notices of assessment to be accepted as proof of income, sponsorship commitment period doubled to 20 years, and the maximum age of dependents was set at 18 instead of 21.

Predictably, the changes were not received well by immigration civic actors and newcomer groups adversely affected by them.

The NDP, the then official opposition party, slammed the changes. It said they will make it harder and more expensive for families to reunite. "The Conservatives think family reunification should be a luxury only for those who can afford it," its deputy immigration critic Sadia Groguhé said in a statement at the time.

Family Class sponsorship is not the only program through which parents and grandparents can enter Canada. Qualified applicants can also apply for temporary admission to Canada. They can also apply for extended, multiple-entry super visas.

The super visa was introduced in 2011 as an interim measure to circumvent the long wait times under the PGP program. A 10-year super visa allows entry periods lasting up to two years, but without any welfare benefits from the state, including health care. This visa program was made permanent in 2013.

Publisher's Note: An earlier version of this report did not include the government's response. 


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Policy
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 18:34

Govt Scales Back Year-End Refugee Target

by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver

The Canadian government announced their plan today to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of the year, with an additional 15,000 to follow in January and February of 2016. The Ministers of Health, Immigration and Defence assured Canadians at a news conference this afternoon that medical and security screening would be performed overseas, in advance of their arrival in Canada. 

This number is short of the Liberal’s original year-end goal of 25,000, but members of the ad-hoc committee on refugees emphasized that proper screening processes and comprehensive resettlement plans must be in place to meet this influx.

“Yes we want to bring them fast, but we also want to do it right,” John McCallum, Minister of Immigration explained.

“When we welcome our newcomer friends with a smile, a smile alone is not sufficient,” he continued. “We want them to have a roof over their heads, we want them to have the right supports for language training and all the other things they need to begin their life here in Canada.”

Jane Philpott, chair of the ad-hoc committee on refugees and Minister of Health, told those in attendance that the government plans to identify all 25,000 Syrians to be resettled by the end of December and will prioritize those who are the most vulnerable.

Those resettled will include a mix of both private and government-assisted refugees, but only 2,000 of the end-of-year target will be government sponsored.

In order to keep their original promise of bringing 25,000 government-assisted refugees, McCallum said that the government will continue to sponsor and accept refugees beyond February, 2016.

The price tag on the Liberal program has now been pegged at up to $678 million over the next six years, but government representatives say this is “largely new money.” The Liberal platform only originally designated $250 million for the resettlement program.

Safety of Canadians

While the Liberal’s original year-end target was commended by refugee advocates, many experts also cautioned the government against bringing approximately 5,000 refugees a week for the next five weeks to the country without a comprehensive resettlement plan.

Approximately 54 per cent of Canadians echoed these concerns, according to recent polls, raising concerns over whether this tight timeline would allow for proper screening processes to take place.

The government responded to these concerns today with an announcement that full medical exams and security screenings will be completed overseas for all refugees. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety, emphasized that they will be checking the identification of all prospective refugees at every stage of the process to ensure the safety of Canadians.

... full medical exams and security screenings will be completed overseas for all refugees

Refugees must also be registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Turkish government before being processed by Canadian officials.

“We will meet the humanitarian imperative before us, and we will do so properly so all Canadians can be both proud and confident about what we’ve accomplished together,” commented Goodale.

Last week, information surfaced that the government will be narrowing its criteria for Syrian refugees to Canada. It will only be accepting women, children and families; single men seeking asylum may be sponsored privately, but will otherwise not be approved unless they are accompanying their parents or are members of the gay community.

When asked whether the recent attacks in Paris on November 13 that killed 130 were at all responsible for this delayed deadline, McCallum said, No.

“It’s a logistic challenge that is extremely important in order to coordinate these things with our partners and other levels of the government,” he said. “It’s good to have a little more time.”

Resettlement in Canada

As to where refugees will be housed after they initially land in Canada, McCallum explained that there are 36 destination cities that already have the capacity to receive the refugees and provide them with the proper services to integrate them into Canadian society.

According to the Minister of Defence, Harjit Sajjan, there also exists temporary lodging for approximately 6,000 refugees at military bases, if necessary.

... there also exists temporary lodging for approximately 6,000 refugees at military bases, if necessary.

Over the previous six weeks, Canadian authorities in Lebanon have managed to screen about 100 people a day. This makes for a total of 4,000 asylum seekers in the past month and a half.

Since the Liberal government was sworn-in on November 4, only 102 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. Approximately 3,000 Syrian refugees had previously arrived under the former Conservative government, but this number does not count against the 25,000 total.

Moving forward, the government expects to receive as many as 900 refugees a day, most of whom will arrive at airports in Toronto and Montreal. A majority will be brought to Canada by private planes, although military aircraft will be used if necessary.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given his Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship a list of top priorities to work on in the coming months.

While leading efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees in the coming months was number one on the list, John McCallum was also asked to work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act [Bill c 24] that gave government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.

These goals were set out in a mandate letter sent to McCallum along with similar ones to each of the 29 other cabinet ministers. The initiative is seen as part of the Prime Minister’s promise to provide open and transparent governance.

The letter to McCallum did not provide any details about the refugee resettlement efforts, stating: "Lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months." On Thursday, the minister had said he and the rest of the cabinet had a "very good discussion" on providing "quick and substantial help to some of the most distressed people on the planet."

While the priorities draw heavily on the Liberal’s election platform commitments, McCallum was told that his overarching goal will be “to reopen Canada’s doors to welcome those who want to contribute to its success.”

Refugee health care  

Another priority listed in the letter is full restoration of the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants.

McCallum had said that the Harper government’s 2012 decision to cut refugee health care was “economically foolish” and ended up costing more in the long run. 

“It might have saved a few dollars for the federal government, but people who are really sick don’t just die in the streets. They go to the emergency (rooms) and hospitals, and the cost of that is greater than the cost of what they would have received alternatively,” McCallum told CTV.

McCallum had said that the Harper government’s 2012 decision to cut refugee health care was “economically foolish” and ended up costing more in the long run.

Family reunification

On the family reunification front, the mandate letter talks of bringing forward a proposal to double the number of entry applications for parents and grandparents of immigrants to 10,000 a year as part of the Annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2016.

It also spells out giving additional points under the Entry Express system for applicants who have Canadian siblings and increasing the maximum age for dependents to 22, from 19, to allow more immigrants to bring their children to Canada.

McCallum was asked to bring forward a proposal regarding permanent residency for new spouses entering Canada and develop a plan to reduce application processing times for sponsorship, citizenship and other visas.

He was also asked to establish an expert human rights panel to help him determine designated countries of origin (from where refugee applications will be discouraged), and provide a right to appeal refugee decisions for citizens from these countries.

Caregiver Program

Modifying the temporary foreign workers program to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers was another priority on the list. McCallum was told to work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families.

The Caregiver Program had come under fire by the previous government for its alleged misuse as a proxy family-reunification program.

McCallum was told that his overarching goal will be “to reopen Canada’s doors to welcome those who want to contribute to its success.”
 

But given Canada’s ageing population and the program’s appeal to both caregivers and families, Ratna Omidvar, the executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange, had in a column suggested that “rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” the government should retain the program and strengthen its integrity.

Omidvar said the government itself could become the first player in recruitment, assessing candidates to create a pool of qualified caregivers in the same way it was proposing to create a pool of job-ready skilled immigrants.   

Other mandates for McCallum included him leading efforts to facilitate the temporary entry of low-risk travelers, including business visitors, and lifting the visa requirement for Mexico.

Also telegraphed were restoring the credit given to international students for half of the time that they spend in Canada and not requiring new citizens to sign a declaration that they intend to reside in Canada.

In his letter, the Prime Minister said the government’s agenda will be further articulated through Cabinet discussions and in the Speech from the Throne when Parliament opens.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

   BY RATTAN MALL   LINDA Hepner will be the new Surrey head honcho – she easily beat both her rivals, garnering 43,109 votes – more than the combined votes of Doug McCallum (23,091) and Barinder Rasode (18,198). Of course, it was nowhere near as spectacular as Surrey Mayor Dianna Watts victory in 2011 – […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Politics

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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Text Color
Link Color
Background Image