Immigration Minister John McCallum questioned as he visits Winnipeg
Here are 3 questions immigration lawyer Reis Pagtakhan hopes minister will answer
Immigration Minister John McCallum gets a chance to explain in detail his government's recently announced shift in focus from job-ready immigrants to family immigrants and refugees when he addresses the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
Here are three questions I hope the minister will answer:
Why did the federal government decrease the number of job-ready economic immigrants?
While the federal government's choice to increase the number of family immigrants and refugees comes as no surprise, what is surprising is that it came at the expense of job-ready economic immigrants.
Job-ready economic immigrants are those chosen for their age, education, work experience, language skills and ability to become economically established in Canada.
There is no good reason to decrease the number of these immigrants in order to increase the number of family immigrants and refugees. Immigration to Canada does not have to be a zero sum game. Since job-ready economic immigrants must pay fees that equal the government's cost to process these applications, processing more of them should be revenue neutral.
By bringing in more family immigrants and refugees, Canada is bringing in more people who are not necessarily job-ready upon arrival.
Will the government fix the chaotic process for parent and grandparent immigration?
Currently, Canadians who wish to sponsor their parents and grandparents to Canada are subject to a chaotic application system that resembles rush seating at a rock concert.
Under the current system, the federal government only accepts 10,000 parent and grandparent applications per year. While the federal government should be congratulated for increasing the number of parents and grandparents who can come to Canada, this program is still oversubscribed.
Because of the large demand for this program, many Canadians paid couriers exorbitant fees this year to wait in line at the Mississauga case processing centre to ensure their applications were received right away. Many more Canadians saw the applications for their parents and grandparents not accepted once the quota was reached.
Is there a better way? The answer is yes.
Second-year University of Manitoba law student Adriel Agpalza recently shared with me his innovative idea to manage the application process for parents and grandparents.
Under Agpalza's system, Canadians and permanent residents who have been in Canada the longest would get the first option of sponsoring their parents and grandparents. This "seniority" system would bring more fairness as it would allow people separated from their parents and grandparents the longest to have their applications processed first.
Instead of requiring applications to be filed as soon as possible, the federal government could provide a three-month window in the initial year to file an expression of interest to sponsor parents or grandparents in a manner similar to the existing express entry system for job-ready economic immigrants.
The parent and grandparent express entry system could then sort applications based on the seniority of the Canadian-based sponsor and then send out invitations to apply.
Will the federal government increase the number of provincially and territorially selected immigrants?
While the federal government announced a reduction in the overall number of job-ready economic immigrants that it would accept in 2016, it also chose to leave the number of provincial and territorial selected immigrants at about the same levels as in 2015.
What this means is that provincial and territorial nominees — job-ready economic immigrants chosen by provincial and territorial governments — will now make up a larger share of the overall number of job-ready economic immigrants to Canada.
This is a good sign. If the federal government will not be part of the solution for job-ready economic immigration to Canada, Ottawa should get out of the way and let the provinces and territories do their job.
A system that promotes immigrants chosen by local governments is much better than a centralized system run by a federal government. After all, who knows the local job market in Winnipeg, Calgary and Halifax better — Winnipeggers, Calgarians and Haligonians or folks sitting in Ottawa?
Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration lawyer with Aikins Law in Winnipeg.