Canada to begin national debate on immigration

July 5th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, July 5 (IANS) After making sweeping immigration changes last month, the Canadian government Monday begins nationwide consultations to identify occupations needing manpower from countries like India. The passage of Bill C-50 gives sweeping powers to the minister for citizenship and immigration to fast-track immigration in certain categories and delay or stop it in others. The minister can now issue instructions to Canadian missions abroad to give priority to certain category of applications, return others with refund or keep them for future consideration.

Currently, Canada gets about 250,000 new immigrants from around the world each year, with China and India being its two biggest sources.

But Indian, Chinese and other ethnic groups here feel that under the new law, skilled categories will get preference, not family reunifications. They fear this will force their relatives back home to wait much longer to come here.

Under the old rules, it takes just months for a spouse or child or a parent to join his or her family in Canada, but skilled applicants wait for up to five to six years to come to this country.

Diane Finley, minister of citizenship and immigration, intends to change this under the new law, arguing that the old process has led to a backlog of 900,000-plus applications.

Under the new law, the fate of the applications will be decided within six to 12 months.

“The changes to Canada’s immigration law allow us to bring to Canada more quickly those immigrants with the skills that match Canada’s labour market needs,” the minister said.

“We are now consulting to make sure we accurately define those needs. This will help our economy and help newcomers better support their families.

“I believe this inclusive approach will help identify the categories of workers who get priority, and will allow us to prepare instructions that reflect the knowledge and expertise of the provinces, territories and stakeholders.”

As part of the consultations, her department will hold face-to-face meetings and videoconferences with provincial governments, industry, business bodies, academic institutions, labour organisations and non-governmental organisations.

They will focus on identifying areas facing manpower shortages and how immigration can respond to it and remove barriers to foreign credential accreditation so that immigrants start their work immediately.

The consultations will end with a roundtable with the minister in August.

Following it, she will issue instructions on the new immigration plan for 2008.

However, applications received before Feb 27, 2008 will be processed under the old system.

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