Come to Canada: we are open: true or false?

Canada is open. As long as you are the uniquely qualified.

CIC and Minister Jason Kenney understand the need for more immigrants to this country, but they are redesigning the system into one that primarily concentrates on the intake of the cream of the crop. Whereas during the pre-Kenney era, Canada was known to allow most people into this country based on a first come first served model. Today, it’s best qualified, first served.

The doors are wide open if you bring a university education equivalent to that of a Canadian one. They’re also wide open if you bring in money and entrepreneurship. Do you speak good English or French? To the front of the line. Have a trade that is needed in Canada? Move ahead of the queue.

Canada has also been closing the door, so to speak, on the economic refugees that have always come to this country knowing they will be able to stay for years on appeal of their deportations. Compassion for those refugee claimants from other western nations has also gone out the window. The doors are now being shut for the poor medical refugees who come to this country for the taxpayer funded health care.

No more easy road to permanent residence status for parents and grandparents. The children and grandchildren now have to show that they can take financial care of their parents for several years while their relatives are visiting on the “Parents and Grandparents Super Visa” with no guarantee of PR issuance.

If you want to come to this country determined to work hard and contribute to society, that isn’t good enough anymore. The applicant, ideally, needs a job lined up, a superior education, or loads of cash.

The Conservative government has changed the system, for better and worse. Better for some, not so for others.

Opposition critics often say that having such a selective system could backfire. There may become a shortage of immigrants that have to live up to the expectations of the new and more stringent qualification rules. As well, highly educated and well healed foreigners may choose other countries where it is easier to allow their family members to be sponsored as permanent residents.

It will be interesting to see what the new “fast and flexible” system Mr. Kenney was referring to in his recent announcements1 will mean.

The consultants can relay the following to their prospective clients (what they have gleaned so for from Mr. Kenney’s many comments).

  • We must tell our future clients to brush up on their English or French language skills.
  • Try to get proper certifications for their chosen occupation (that is on the list of positions that are suffering from a shortage in Canada).
  • Cozy up to the Canadian relatives who can guarantee your sponsorship financially.
  • Be prepared for low-paying and menial work under a TWP for a while until you can amass sufficient Canadian experience points along with your other required attributes to finally earn PR status.

Some people in the immigration queue will be happy about the changes if they can jump the line because of their many qualifications and pre-arranged employment. Others will see the door slammed in their faces as their fellow countrymen with better working skills, or language abilities walk around them.

Refugees referred by UNHCR and other organizations will be pleased as more of them will be welcomed through the Canadian doors while refugees who come here deceptively will not like the quick deportations that the government has in store for them.

It will become more apparent as time goes by that when people apply to come to this country, they have to realize that policies of nations adjust to the reality brought about by world events. Currently, there is an international economic crisis that has changed the world significantly. Countries all over the world are adjusting their immigration policies to better manage their worsening economies. This means opening the doors wide open for some, and closing the doors for others.

Opposition critics berate the government for being mean-spirited and unfair. More and more people are begging in the streets of cities around the world, and we are enticing only the best prospects. Those prospects are the same best chance that their home nation has to advance economically in the future.

Many governments oppose this open-door policy the Conservative government has taken towards skilled and enterprising young members of their citizenry. Given time, these young prospects are needed in helping to bring their home country forward, out of their recessions. Those governments would rather Canada go back to the first come first served policies so that we can take some of the foreign unemployed that would find it more difficult to rise out of poverty and contribute positively to their mother country’s future.

Closing the doors to the needy and less qualified is contrary to the international view of Canada as a compassionate nation. Will this over-emphasis on work ethics and education see new voters direct their ballots to parties that show more compassion towards the down and out? Will this attitude by the Conservatives bring about a work-hard-or-leave mentality to the immigration system in this country?

Doors will open wider and close tighter as economic realities change. When the world economies improve, Canada will have no choice but to accept lesser qualified individuals to help support our aging population (through their tax contributions directed to CPP and health care) and to reverse our dwindling numbers.

Unfortunately there is no clear and easy answer to the current question of whether Canada is open. Perhaps there shouldn’t be.

Depending on one’s ideological bent, an open door policy just for some is the same as a closing the door on equality and compassion for all. While others feel a wide-open immigration and refugee system would be problematic.

Come to Canada: We are Open: True or False?

No right answer.

William Howie
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


1 Minister Kenney Hits the Reset Button: Sets the Foundation for New, Faster, More Flexible Immigration System

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