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Shaping the Future: Canada’s rapidly changing immigration policies September 2012 By Naomi Alboim The Maytree Foundation Presentation by Naomi Alboim Policy.

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Presentation on theme: "Shaping the Future: Canada’s rapidly changing immigration policies September 2012 By Naomi Alboim The Maytree Foundation Presentation by Naomi Alboim Policy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Shaping the Future: Canada’s rapidly changing immigration policies September 2012 By Naomi Alboim The Maytree Foundation Presentation by Naomi Alboim Policy Workshop Labour Migration and Integration Carleton University October 26, 2012

2 Overview of presentation 1.Pace and scope of change 2.Changing powers and roles 3.Policy and program changes 4.Cumulative impact 5.What Canada needs 2

3 Pace and scope of change Period of unprecedented change in federal immigration policies from 2008 to mid-2012 with no signs of stopping Changes affect: –Every aspect of immigration policy and programs –Process for immigration reform –Powers and roles of players –Discourse on immigration Potential individual and cumulative impact is shaping the future of Canada 3

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5 Overall federal directions Tighter requirements for permanent entry of all classes Facilitation of temporary entry as foreign worker or international student More opportunities to transition to permanent residence for some temporary entrants Tougher rules for citizenship Changing powers and roles 5

6 Increased Ministerial Power ( via budget and omnibus bills) Power to make significant changes through Ministerial Instructions to: –limit applications processed; –accelerate or return applications; –impose conditions on applicants and employers; –create programs; –retroactively apply instructions; –establish classes for sponsorship, permanent and temporary applicants, work permits, study permits 6

7 …Changing powers and roles Unilateral decisions that strain federal-provincial relations Provincial nominee programs; occupation lists; international students; settlement; Increased role for third parties Two step immigration: selection role for employers and educational institutions but no requirements for settlement, or to consider best interests of nation Third party assessors (language, education credentials, trades certification) 7

8 Mix of policy/program changes Some seem positive (eg. new selection criteria for FSW, new trades program) Others problematic (eg. increase in low-skilled temporary workers, pay less than prevailing wage) Most too early to tell, policy and implementation details unknown, will need close monitoring and evaluation Some evidence based (eg. language requirement for PNPs) No evidence for others (eg.4 year limit on low skilled TFW) Others seem counter to evidence (eg. occupation list for skilled workers, no transition to permanent residence for low skilled TFW) 8

9 Economic class Proposed changes will make it harder to qualify but possibly better short term results –Federal Skilled Worker Program –Provincial Nominee Program –Immigrant Investor Program –Immigrant Entrepreneur Program Caps or moratoria on new applications while re-design underway Federal Skilled Trades Program to be introduced 9

10 Emphasis on language, education and age are supported by evaluation – but nuances important: –Language standards will change source countries without consideration of second-generation success and other objectives –Those at height of career may be penalized; youth over-valued –Third-party educational assessments may be more objective but could cause problems for those in regulated professions Return of applications and fees creates uncertainty Proposed trade program good but problematic certification issues Federal skilled workers 10

11 Changes Implemented Imposition of caps Language requirement for low and semi skilled Changes Proposed Focus on economic objectives Common standards for PNP good given mobility rights No occupation list and FSTP may reduce demand, but target should be negotiated Provincial nominee programs 11

12 Investors –Doubled requirements - $1.6 million net worth and $800 thousand investment –Temporary closure of program –Proposed switch to “high value global investors” with active involvement, risks transferred to individuals Entrepreneurs –Moratorium pending redesign –Potential 5 year pilot for limited numbers (2,750) over limited period on “start-up visa” following consultation –Conditionality? Business immigration 12

13 New Zealand model: two step application process adapted by Australia Initially for FSW, potentially beyond (all economic class? PNP? TFW?) Pre-screened pool available for review by FPT governments and employers If of interest, invited to apply; if not within time period, application returned Intake management tool: no backlogs Consultation ongoing Many operational questions Expression of interest model 13

14 Temporary foreign workers Very heterogeneous group Demand driven: no targets, caps Significant increase in entries and stays overall: domestic worker and resource implications Accelerated LMOs for higher skilled, 15% less than prevailing wage will result in more TFWs, depress wages Significant increase in Low Skilled Pilot despite evidence. No legal transition to permanent residence Little enforcement of new protections: complaint based No employers on “ineligible” list Future of LCP? SAWP? LMO exemptions? 14

15 Temporary worker must leave after 4 years - may go underground (April 1, 2015) Instead of LMO extensions and new LMOs, better to hire people already here and to invest in training, wages, benefits and working conditions Loss of status if work for “ineligible” employer is punitive …Temporary foreign workers 15

16 Strategy to attract more students: work permits May apply for permanent residence (PNP or CEC) Open work permit for three years post graduation BC pilot to extend open work permits to graduates of private career training programs International PhDs may apply to Federal Skilled Worker program earlier than under CEC Proposal: eligible institutions, pursue studies, work permits for valid student permit holders International students 16

17 Efforts to attract and retain international students have had limited success Biggest increase is in “other PSE institutions”. Questionable institutions could be offering poor quality programs to non-genuine students Change regarding PhDs students is promising …International students 17

18 Canadian Experience Class Easier transition for high skilled temporary foreign workers (reduced work experience requirement from two years to 1 year) and for international students is welcome But two-step immigration should not become the norm –need support to be successful –are ineligible for federally funded settlement services –no requirements on employers or educational institutions to provide common supports Better to enter with full rights, access to services, and on track for citizenship 18

19 Cumulative impact The cumulative impact of all these changes is reshaping the future of the nation. 19

20 …Cumulative impact Focus on short term labour market gains –Economic class growing at expense of others –PNP receive priority processing over FSW –Occupational screen for FSW –TFW increases, no caps Despite: –Relationship among classes –Second generation success –Evidence re FSW: human capital vs occupation –Over-reliance on TFW - long term domestic implications –Evidence: stayers and leavers Impedes long-term nation building 20

21 …Cumulative impact Lack of Policy Coherence, Consistency, Predictability Relationship within and between permanent and temporary groups Use of low skilled pilot for agricultural workers Time limits for temporary workers, but not for employers Costs for work permits for workers, but not for LMOs for employers Uneven enforcement Caps, moratoria, returned applications, changed criteria, retroactivity 21

22 …Cumulative impact Weakening the Democratic process Budget bills and omnibus legislation Ministerial powers diminish role of parliament Limited or piecemeal consultation by invitation or online Growing numbers who cannot vote or fully participate 22

23 … Cumulative Impact Less Welcoming Environment Tightened criteria for permanent residence, increased upfront costs on spec, unpredictability, less family reunification Law and Order agenda and enforcement focus Mixed messages: ‘we need immigration’ but ‘queue jumpers’, ‘taking advantage of Canada’s generosity Harsh treatment of most vulnerable Makes Canada a less attractive destination 23

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25 It's time for a national conversation on what kind of country we want to be, how immigration policy can help us get there, and implications for current and future immigration policies. 25

26 Principles for immigration policy Focused on long-term social and economic objectives and a commitment to citizenship Evidence-based, comprehensive, fair and respectful of human rights Developed through public and stakeholder engagement, meaningful federal-provincial-territorial consultation, and democratic processes Able to enhance Canada’s reputation around the world 26

27 Conclusion Immigration policy is central to achieve economic, demographic and regional objectives Decisions today will shape the future of Canada for generations to come Too important to be done quickly, piecemeal, without adequate evidence, impact analysis and public debate 27

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