Canada hints at reducing immigration

February 12th, 2009 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Feb 12 (IANS) Canada may reduce the number of immigrants to be admitted this year in light of the prevailing economic crisis.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney hinted at this possibility at a meeting of an all-party parliamentary committee on citizenship and immigration in the capital Ottawa Tuesday.

The current Conservative government, which is perceived by immigrants to be unfavourable to them, last year raised the number of newcomers to be admitted each year from 247,000 to 265,000.

But with the national unemployment rate reaching 7.2 percent, the immigration minister said his government would look at reducing the number of immigrants so that newcomers don’t face hardships after landing in Canada.

The minister told the committee that the government was keeping a watch on the situation.

“We don’t want people coming to Canada and facing unemployment. We need to be sensitive to the changing labour market, and if we need to make modifications, we will,” he said.

But he was quick to add that the government will be “flexible, prudent and ensure that our response to short-term conditions does not counter our long-term goals, in which immigration will play a significant role”.

As per the annual target of 265,000 immigrants, 156,600 were to come in the economic category, 71,000 in the family category and 37,400 on humanitarian grounds.

The opposition parties criticised the move as a ploy by the Tory government to reduce the number of immigrants.

The minister said any decision to set a new target for immigration will be taken next month. He also said that Canada will admit more than double the number of Iraqi refugees this year.

“Taken together with government-assisted refugees, this means that the number of Iraqi refugees coming to Canada will have more than quadrupled since 2005,” he said.

India, which was set to become the number one source of immigration for Canada this year, is likely to be affected most by the decision to reduce the number of newcomers.

More than 30,000 Indians come to Canada each year as landed immigrants.

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