Many of my friends are surprised when I tell them who I believe has been the best party for immigrants. Before you jump to conclusions, read this right to the end and then decide. I will also explain why I believe this election will be critical for the future of Canadian immigration!
When I launched the Canadian Immigrant magazine in 2004, the Liberals were in Ottawa. Several times one tried to have a dialog with the different MP’s and Ministers about the challenges immigrants faced, but nothing happened. Recently when Justin Trudeau was asked his views about immigration, all he spoke of were refugees and this is indicative of the lack of insight into the challenges of immigrants.
I came to Canada under the Federal Skilled worker Program that required me and my wife to meet the points needed in order to qualify. So why then did that lead to the most well educated taxi fleet in the world or a backlog nearing a million who were dreaming about life in Canada that could well take eight years to happen?
Under the former Government’s point system, you could be a bio technologist in say Thailand with a PhD, have fifteen years’ experience in your field were 48 years old and have a relative in Canada and below average language proficiency and you would get in! Needless to say, not many corporations in Canada could hire this brilliant and experienced bio technologist who unfortunately didn’t have the requisite language skills. It wasn’t his fault – it was how the points system worked.
To make matters worse, an MP from the Liberal party had a bill passed that every application must be scrutinized! I can hear the wheels grinding to a halt! The result was that the backlog just couldn’t keep up with the avalanche of applications coming in and wait times swelled to eight years! This was the Liberal legacy of their open door policy.
So what changed? In 2008 a new Minister of Immigration was appointed – Jason Kenney. In no time at all word was that the new Minister was someone who rolled up his sleeves and did some heavy lifting. Not just that, he immersed himself in the numerous ethnic groups gaining the moniker ‘best loved Minister’ by immigrants. More importantly, he changed the entire immigration system in just five years with a focus on positive outcomes for both immigrants and an economic advantage to Canada.
Here are some facts:
- Highest sustained levels in immigration in Canadian history.
- Immigration settlement funding rose from $368 Million in 2005 to $925 Million in 2014. This has benefitted hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
- Took action on Foreign Credential Recognition helping immigrants start the process before coming to Canada
- Created free pre-arrival orientation for economic immigrants improving employment outcomes
- Cracked down on crooked immigration consultants.
- Cracked down on immigration marriage fraud
- Created the Super Visa that would help immigrants bring parents and Grandparents in much faster with average processing time of three months. The cumulative numbers admitted under Super Visa and family sponsorship were three times that during the previous Government.
- Cut Right of Landing fee in half
- Introduced the Canadian Experience Class, allowing students and skilled temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents.
- Introduced for the first time the Skilled Trades category
- Introduced a new point system with language as the biggest scorer
- Introduced a new computerized visa management system Express Entry that allows Canada to bring in the skills that are needed and employers who can hire them immediately.
- Lastly, the Government has a loan program that helps immigrants get their credentials recognised with a low interest loan.
My life in Canada is around immigration. I am honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to my adopted country. In the past seventeen years, I have met and listened to hundreds of thousands of immigrant in my journey. This is a critical subject and I believe the Conservatives have done a great job in helping immigrants succeed in Canada.
When I hear hollow promises from the other parties who have not bothered to understand the file, I cringe. Will we go back to the dark ages of cuts (do the research. Liberals actually reduced family visas!) in funding and immigration numbers?
Canada needs immigrants. We immigrants bring generations of tax payers to this country. Surely we deserve better.
Nick Noorani is Canada’s leading immigration champion and social entrepreneur. He is founding Publisher Canadian Immigrant Magazine, Author bestseller Arrival Survival Canada and several more books.