4.10.3 Immigration and new Canadians

Canada is a multicultural society with a strong history of welcoming immigrants and celebrating cultural diversity. Canada currently accepts about 300 000 new immigrants annually.

Opportunities for new immigrants, however, vary. Studies show that immigrants from some countries do a lot better than others in securing jobs with decent incomes and opportunities for advancement. Access to immigration itself varies, as well. The criteria for granting landed immigrant status to refugees and other immigrants seem at times arbitrary and the process is frustrating and stressful for many. The backlog of files is too long. Over-cautious security officials have in some cases put the civil liberties of new Canadians at risk.

The whole immigration and refugee regime has been subjected to transformational change. Laws and regulations change so rapidly that many prospective Canadians and their families are experiencing unacceptable delays and increased costs.

Recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act have fostered a culture of fear and discrimination. Canadian citizens, like Maher Arar, have had their rights as Canadians discarded by allies who are too willing to break international law to fight a ‘war on terrorism.’ Our immigration policies must be revamped to ensure we stay true to our identity as a just, fair, and open country, and to be prepared for new challenges that are predicted to arise with increased numbers of environmental refugees seeking a safe new home in an increasingly perilous world.

Canada’s multicultural diversity is an essential part of our national identity. New Canadians are a source of incredible skills and potential for our country. Immigrants and refugees come to Canada in search of a safer, more fulfilling life for themselves and their families, and to be full participants in Canadian society. We must make sure they are supported in achieving their hopes and ambitions as new Canadians. Our national tradition of welcoming newcomers and embracing social and ethnic differences gives us a unique opportunity to exert a positive influence on the rest of the world. Canada must embrace the energy and creativity of all our cultural communities and ensure genuine equality of opportunity and equal treatment of all Canadian citizens, regardless of their country of origin.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Eliminate the Temporary Foreign Workers 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.