On October 19, Canadians will vote in a federal election. With just a few weeks to go and with the latest polls suggesting a tight race, issues surrounding immigration, settlement and citizenship are coming to the fore — not only among Canadian voters, but also among immigrants and those interested in immigrating to Canada over the next few years.
“Whether we are talking about economic immigration, integration, citizenship, refugee settlement, temporary foreign workers, or investor immigration, it is clear that changes to Canadian immigration policy will form a part of the next government’s plan,” says Attorney David Cohen. “Now is the perfect time for the major parties to answer some specific questions about issues that are hugely important to Canada’s future.”
Over the coming weeks CICnews.com will be bringing you exclusive election coverage, beginning this week with a summary of the national federal parties’ immigration platforms. Our next few newsletters will feature a specific question relating to Canadian immigration, settlement or citizenship, with parties having the opportunity to give details on its position.
The Conservative Party has proposed the following measures.
- Work cooperatively with the provinces and municipalities on policy relating to settlement support for immigrants.
- Address the need for adequate and equitable resources to provide language instruction (in order to allow immigrants to achieve functional capability in one of the two official languages), encourage adaptation to Canadian values and traditions and community mentoring, build job search skills and offer other settlement services to meet the needs of immigrants, including children.
- Work to streamline the funding process to deliver enhanced funding stability and allow long-term planning by service providers.
- Examine the feasibility of having federal funds for settlement services follow the movement of newcomers from one region to another.
Temporary Foreign Workers:
- Continue development of pilot projects designed to address serious skills shortages in specific sectors and regions of the country, and that attract temporary workers to Canada.
- Examine ways to facilitate the transition of foreign workers from temporary to permanent status.
- Work to ensure that temporary workers, especially seasonal workers, receive the same protections under minimum employment standards as those afforded Canadian workers.
Entry Applications, Permits and Landing Fees:
- Ensure that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is properly staffed, trained and resourced to improve the processing of people wanting to come to Canada.
- Reorganize the applications process so that applicants are given accurate information about what to expect, are readily able to obtain information on the status of their files, and are given service in a considerate and professional manner.
- Reverse the policy of separating married couples while the application of the non-status partner is being processed.
- Extend automatic Canadian citizenship to children adopted from abroad by Canadian parents once the adoption is final.
- Provide options such as the posting of a bond to allow higher acceptance rates for family and other special visits while protecting the integrity of the system from queue jumping.
- Reduce the need for Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) issued by the Minister by making the applications process more fair and efficient, and make the use of TRPs by the Minister both transparent and accountable through a process of independent review.
- Refrain from using the term ‘resident’ or ‘residence’ in temporary, student and visitor visas to ensure greater certainty for those temporarily visiting Canada.
Recognition of International Credentials:
- Ensure that equivalency exams are fair and that they accurately reflect the level of understanding expected of individuals educated in Canada.
- Develop, in consultation with Canadian professional and trade associations, criteria for obtaining equivalent Canadian professional status, transition and bridging programs for integration of foreign qualified individuals into the Canadian workplace.
- Work with recognized professional bodies to prequalify internationally trained individuals for certain occupations as part of the immigration process.
- Streamline the process of validating refugee claims.
- Where the Immigration and Refugee Board finds claimants do not qualify as genuine refugees, ensure such individuals are escorted from Canada in a timely manner and provided with the information they need to start the proper process of applying for an immigration permit from abroad.
- Give greater priority to refugees identified pursuant to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
- Implement a fully merit-based process for Immigration and Refugee Board appointments.
- Develop a refugee appeals process that is fair and timely.
The New Democratic Party (NDP or Nouveau Parti démocratique, NPD) has proposed the following measures.
Rights of immigrants and refugees:
- Promote the reunification of families as the main priority of the Canadian immigration policy while respecting the diversity of family models according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- An annual immigration level of 1% of the population to meet workforce needs and family reunification requests.
- Eliminate application and landing fees.
- Provide language training in English or French as appropriate.
- Work with the provinces and territories to recognize foreign diploma and professional credentials.
- Reform Immigration Canada procedures to eliminate arbitrariness in processing of requests and appeals.
- End the exploitation of temporary migrant workers.
- Simplify the issuing of visitor visas for people coming to visit family members.
- Make international adoption simpler and quicker.
- Allow Canadians a one-time opportunity to sponsor a relative who is not a member of the family class to come to Canada.
- Ensure that tough laws against corrupt immigration consultants are enforced.
- Fast-track family class sponsorship from disaster areas.
- Eliminate Bill C-24, also known as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.
Temporary Foreign Workers:
- Prioritize nation building and access to permanent immigration over temporary worker programs.
- Implement a regularization program that would allow for a moratorium on deportations of non-status workers and their families until their individual cases are adjudicated through a transparent and impartial appeal process.
- Implement a fair and transparent model for the recognition of and assessment of international credentials.
- Call for a review of the mobility restrictions now in place for housing temporary foreign workers.
- Allow temporary foreign workers to bring immediate family members to Canada.
- Ensure that any temporary foreign workers including those working under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), who works in Canada, should they choose, have the ability to apply for permanent resident status along with their immediate family.
- Ensure that temporary foreign workers including those working under the SAWP are covered by all applicable employment legislation of the respective province in which they are employed including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.
- Create an effective inspection mechanism to ensure that temporary foreign workers are not being exploited and subjected to poor and illegal working conditions.
- Work with foreign embassies of sending countries to ensure temporary foreign workers coming to Canada are informed of their rights; working with the provinces to institute a licensing system for foreign recruiters (as is done in Manitoba) and a registration system for employers of temporary foreign workers; and providing access to federal hearings for temporary foreign workers who face deportation.
- Launch a national strategy to eliminate poverty in Canada, including an analytic framework which takes into account various factors that put some at greater risk of living in poverty, such as immigration or refugee status.
- Institute a National Children’s Advocate, appointed by Parliament, to promote and protect the rights of children under federal jurisdiction, including immigrant and refugee children.
- Stop discriminatory practices against LGBT persons in immigration and refugee procedures.
- Stop discriminatory practices against persons with disabilities in immigration and refugee procedures.
- Employ multiculturalism as a tool of integration, consistent with immigration policies.
The Liberal Party has proposed the following measures.
- Repeal bill C-24, also known as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, and ensure a strong and united Canada where all citizens are treated equally.
Temporary Foreign Workers:
- Increase accountability and transparency in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
- Establish a mandatory complaint tracking system.
- Ensure compulsory and regular workplace audits.
- Require mandatory disclosure of investigations into abuses of the program.
- Require mandatory disclosure of federal employer compliance reviews.
- Establish a monthly disclosure regime that indicates the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada by (i) region, (ii) National Occupation Classification code, and (iii) employer.
- Provide more help in Iraq and Syria through a well funded and well planned humanitarian aid effort.
- Expand the target number of Syrian refugees to 25,000.
- Expand refugee targets and give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.
- Increase funding and a more welcoming attitude by the government to improve Canada’s record on family reunification, refugees, and citizenship.
The Green Party has proposed the following measures:
- Eliminate the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and increase immigration where labour shortages are established.
- Lead a national discussion to define ‘environmental refugee’ and advocate for the inclusion of environmental refugees as a refugee category in Canada and accept an appropriate share of the world’s environmental refugees into Canada.
- Eliminate the valuation of foreign credentials for immigration purposes except in those cases where such credentials are recognized in Canada or a clear and expeditious path to Canadian accreditation is established, and instead establish realistic criteria for immigrants based on existing job opportunities for immigrants to Canada.
- Press professional societies to remove unnecessary barriers hindering the recognition of valid professional credentials of immigrants.
- Ensure professionals being considered for immigration will have the licensing requirements for their professions clearly explained before entry. Landed immigrants with professional qualifications will be supported and given the opportunity to obtain Canadian licenses consistent with public safety.
- Allocate much greater funding for training in official languages (ESL and FSL) for new immigrants, knowing that many new immigrants are not fluent in either official language, through earmarked transfers to the provinces for primary and secondary public school and free night school programs.
- Establish a program to deal with the estimated 200 000 people living in Canada without official status that leads to full landed immigrant status for those who have become contributing members of Canadian society.
- Work with municipalities and provinces to improve the integration of new Canadians into the multicultural fabric of our country.
- Support multicultural communities by assisting cultural organizations to obtain charitable status.
- Seek to have the regulations governing the practices of immigration consultants toughened and enforced and increase penalties in the Criminal Code for those convicted of human smuggling.
- Amend the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act to require that, after a reasonable length of time, formal charges be brought against all those detained.
- Repeal recent changes that encourage rapid deportation, ignoring rules of due process and natural justice.
- Open an investigation into allegations by the United Nations Human Rights Committee of Canadian officials cooperating with foreign agencies known to use torture.
- Ensure the ‘lost Canadians’ quietly being denied citizenship through archaic laws are protected and their citizenship restored. Although some significant progress has been made, some are still ‘lost’.
- Implement the recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to immediately allow those who have refused or left military service regarding a war not sanctioned by the United Nations permanent resident status in Canada.
- Repeal legislation imposing jail time retroactively and targeting people who arrive by ship.
- Reverse the Harper administration’s policies to place barriers on family reunification.
Join us next week as the four featured political parties respond to the question: Is Canada currently accepting around the right amount refugees, or too many or too few?
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