Immigration policies should serve immigrants better
A leading researcher told to a Toronto audience of academics, policy-makers and front line immigration workers, that the immigration policy of Canada is too focused on short-term labour market and therefore shortchanges the new Canadians as well as the long term economic development of the country.
Naomi Alboim, vice-president of the Policy Forum at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies, said that historically, immigration policies of Canada have always focused on nation building rather than short-term labour market needs, but that is not the case now. She said this at an event organized by the Institute for Research and Public Policy and Maytree, a non-profit immigration assistance agency.
Alboim said that there has been immense increase in the number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada in recent years as compared to skilled worker applicants who generally work and settle in Canada permanently.
She said that at least 40 percent of the economic class immigrants, rated more favorably on their education and work experience, end up leaving Canada within a year of their immigration. She said that this happens because of shifts in specific labour markets, such as the recent turndown in the manufacturing sector of Canada. This can leave temporary workers virtually abandoned without any job once the sector for which they migrated starts to go downwards.
In addition to this, some Canadian companies are bringing in skilled immigrants as temporary workers and giving them permanent positions at lower pay scales. And as a result of this, long-term jobs are taken away from Canadian citizens and also drive the wages down for citizens as well as immigrant workers.
Alboim said that such great emphasis on short-term labour market needs and increased policy making power of the provinces in matters of immigration has happened without any evaluation or debate. She believes that a public debate is necessary on the issue.
She said that the federal and the provincial government should aim at creating a more consistent immigration framework, and that immigration policy should look beyond the short-term needs and benefits.
Alboim also recommended an efficient system to track immigrants to make sure that the system supplies properly based on the demand.
Alboim said that by the end of 2025, Canada will be completely dependent on immigration for its net labour force growth as there is continuous fall in the Canadian birth rate.
She said that immigrants who are coming to Canada now feel as if they are not welcomed here.