Saturday November 04, 2017

Opposition highlights concerns with Ottawa's new immigration plan

(CBC)

Listen 11:06

The Conservative and NDP immigration critics aren't all that impressed with the government's new multi-year immigration strategy.

This week, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen released the government's plan to raise the number of immigrants from three streams — economic immigrants, family reunifications and refugees — to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and then to 340,000 in 2020.

The 2017 target is 300,000.

Hussen said the new targets will help offset Canada's aging population and strengthen the economy.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and the NDP's Jenny Kwan spoke to The House about what they argue are big holes in the Liberal government's plan.

Rempel said these immigration goals are focused on numbers, but fail to address how the government will help newcomers integrate into Canadian society with language training and resources to find jobs.

"How do we take those people from all of those different streams, and then match them with the employment needs in the country?" she said.

"When we just focus on numbers in immigration policy, that's where I think we really fail," Rempel added. "We have to treat these numbers as what they are, which is people."

Kwan said the Liberals' targets simply aren't enough.

"We have an aging population…people are having less babies," Kwan said. "We rely on the immigration to ensure that we have healthy communities, strong communities and…to ensure that we have strong economies."

She added that the NDP has been calling of immigration target to be at least one per cent of the Canadian population, at about 350,000 individuals a year.

"In fact the conference board of Canada…went to say that the number should be 450,000 and that's also echoed by some of the advisors from the government side as well," Kwan said.

"So this levels plan, if just strictly talking about the numbers, falls short."