May 2002 Volume 9 Number 5
Canada: Immigration, Asylum
In 2001, 250,386 immigrants settled in Canada, according to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; by 2011, immigrants are projected to account for most of Canada's labor force growth. Ontario received 148,000 immigrants in 2001, followed by British Columbia, 38,000; Quebec, 37,000; and Alberta, 16,000. No other province attracted more than 5,000 immigrants.
Canada has 67 offices and 1,400 employees around the world to issue immigration visas. About 80 percent of the employees are non-Canadians, making Canada one of the only developed countries that allows foreigners working at embassies abroad to issue visas.
Canada's new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Bill C-11, which goes into effect June 28, 2002, awards points for education, work experience, language skills and adaptability to determine which foreigners should be admitted as skilled workers and business immigrants, but they emphasize formal education and language, not occupation. Under the new system, applicants would have to score 80 points to get an immigrant visa, up from 75.
The Canadian government reports that there are 300,000 skilled jobs currently unfilled because of the lack of qualified workers. A new study, the Benefits of Immigration, found that refugees and landed immigrants, after five years in Canada, pay about C$2,500 more in taxes yearly than Canadian citizens.
Bill C-11 also ends a controversial and fraud-ridden mail-in refugee application program, replacing it with interviews with the applicants-- applicants sent in forged documents or gave false addresses. Mail processing took three days, and 70 percent of the applicants were granted refugee status. In 2001, a record 44,040 asylum seekers applied to the Immigration and Refugee Board:13,300 were accepted as refugees, 9,600 refused and 2,640 were abandoned and may be the subject of warrants. The backlog of unprocessed asylum applications 49,000 in 2002.
Of the 23,300 first time asylum applicants in 2001, 14,000 or 60 percent entered Canada via the US.
Every year, about 8,000 asylum applicants enter Canada over the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie. Officials with the Fort Erie Multicultural Center want to build a state-of-the-art welcome and migration health center.
Quebec residents voted in 1980 and 1995 to remain part of Canada, and the separatist Parti Québécois, which led the drive for independence, says its goal now is a "Canada-Quebec union" similar to the relationship that France or Britain has with the European Union.
The Canadian government and Alberta officials signed an agreement that allows employers to fill skilled jobs through a provincial immigration program. Under the new program, a business with an unfilled skill requirement can apply to hire a non-Canadian for the job. The Alberta Economic Development assesses the foreigner the company wants to hire and, if approved, the employer gets permission to have the foreigner admitted.
Canada's former Canadian Security Intelligence Service director, David Harris, said on "60 Minutes" that Canada's lax immigration policies and undefended US border created a breeding ground for terrorists.
Suzanne Morrison, "Giving refugees a healthy hello at border," Hamilton Spectator, April 26, 2002. Tom Godfrey, "44,000 seek refuge in Canada," Calgary Sun, April 24, 2002. Allan Thompson, "Canada tops 250,000 goal, with Ontario most popular destination," Toronto Star, April 18, 2002. "More than 250,000 New Permanent Residents in 2001," Canada Newswire, April 17, 2002. Tom Godfrey, "Meetings ordered for all refugees: Mail-in scheme nixed," Toronto Sun, April 16, 2002. Laura Ramsay, "Proposals will prevent desirable immigrants, group fears," The Globe and Mail, April 15, 2002. Andrea Mandel-Campbell, "Immigrants easing IT job shortfall," National Post, April 8, 2002. Alan Toulin, "'We need more skilled workers,'" National Post, April 4, 2002. Bryant Avery, "New Alberta program matches jobs with immigrants," Edmonton Journal, March 29, 2002.