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200,000 workers on permanent break

The sky is falling according to Jason Kenney in reference to Canada’s immigration system. The drone from Ottawa as of late is that everything good is bad and up is down. The immigrants that we are processing are not good enough… not going to work for us anymore. They will never be economically gainful and will waste their time and more importantly (to the government’s eyes anyway) Canadian’s time. To this end the government has annulled the dreams of over 200,000 workers who have applied to come prior to 2008, wiping our hands of their potential in one draconian stroke of the pen, which in this case is indeed mightier than the sword.

It is true that for some reason in the past several years, that the pool of immigrants has not been doing as well economically as their predecessors or as well as the original hopes were for them. Why this is happening has, to the best of my knowledge, never been fully scrutinized and most certainly due to myriad factors, not the least of which could be the reverberations of the recession not to mention cyclical anomaly. It is however a matter that needs to be studied with input not just from the usual suspects from government and social “do-gooders” but also from the most interested and knowledgeable parties being immigrants past and present.

At present we have large labour shortages in the West and glaring unemployment in other regions. We also have a mismatch of employed/unemployed Canadians and corresponding employed/unemployed immigrants. Kenney is attempted to draw conciliation between all of these deviations in the labour pool and by his predictable conclusions is alluding to the fact that maybe some of the 200,000 temporary foreign workers who were in Canada last year were taking the jobs that could be done by Canadians. To me it seems that Mr. Kenney is contradicting his own assertions that immigrants are not lucratively integrating economically yet they are taking the very jobs that Canadians are supposedly fighting for.

The job skills that the erased foreign workers had are of no use to the Canadian labour market Mr. Kenney has deduced, so he has now decreed that business will play a prominent role in the selection of new foreign workers. Mr. Kenney, representing the federal government, business, representing its own profit line and the provinces are going to be the ones from now on deciding and playing prognosticator as to the forthcoming labour needs. And while this looks somewhat good on paper, just the thought of the federal and provincial governments working together, never mind adding business to the mix, seems unlikely to produce rapidity in any bureaucratic musings.

The sky is not falling and up and down, good and bad, though maybe slightly skewed, are still relatively intact. Improvements, changes and modifications are needed to the immigration system but let’s not mask social planning with economic goals.

Andrew W. McLennan
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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