Monday, August 1, 2011

Caregivers’ champion–but not for long

Before November 1 of each year, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is required by law to submit a report in Parliament identifying the appropriate level of immigration for the following year and the most suitable mix between economic, family class and protected persons.

The current mix stands as follows: 60 per cent come in under the economic class, 26 per cent in the family class, and 14 per cent as protected persons (refugees and others who come in for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.)
Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.Photo courtesy of No One is Illegal-Toronto.
Click the following link to view "Jason Kenney - the King of Multiculturalism,"
A total of 18 objectives are listed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) which serves as the guiding framework for Canada’s immigration program. In a briefing, the current department responsible for Canada’s immigration program has highlighted the following three objectives as the most important pillars of its program:

  •  to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy, in which the benefits of immigration are shared across all regions in Canada;  
  •  to see that families are reunited; and
  •  to fulfill Canada’s international legal obligations with respect to refugees and affirm Canada’s commitment to international efforts to provide assistance to those in need of resettlement.

Every Canadian would therefore feel proud to think that Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is doing his job well when he announced last July 12, 2011 that there would be public consultations on immigration levels and mix. Focusing on the three most important pillars of the immigration program also gives high hopes that the system which has been dysfunctional for some years would finally be overhauled for the better. That much needed reform is on the way, especially now that the Conservative government has the majority in Parliament to have its sway.

Government turnabout

But having political capital can easily make a government act arrogantly. The minute it announces public consultations about Canada’s immigration program, it instantly unmasks itself by revealing its ugly head. Instead of soliciting ideas on immigration reform, the Minister is asking us to help the government round up and deport suspected war criminals and illegal migrants. They even bought a whole newspaper page ad to display the mug shots of 30 suspected war criminals living in Canada.

To cap it all, Minister Kenney announced that the government would strip 1,800 people of their Canadian citizenship, which he said was obtained fraudulently. “There are some around the world who would seek to abuse Canada’s openness and who would seek to devalue Canadian citizenship. I’m here to tell those people that Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Kenny put it quite bluntly.

Instead of enforcing our laws, Kenny would rather encourage vigilantism. Hunting down these alleged fraudsters, most of whom live abroad, would sidetrack Kenney’s more important objective of reforming a broken system. In addition, his emphasis on rooting out illegals and war criminals would take away public funds which his department can easily use to implement much-needed reforms such as expediting processing of applications that have been backlogged to about seven years of waiting time.
Boat full of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. Photo courtesy of controlarms.
Click link
to view "Jason Kenny confirmed 1,8000 new Canadians could be stripped of
of their fraudulent citizenship."
After launching his consultations in Calgary, news broke out that a ship carrying Tamils was intercepted in Indonesia and appeared to be headed for Canada. “We are not going to be a doormat for dangerous crime of people smuggling,” Kenney immediately made his quick reaction loud and clear.

What has happened to Canada’s obligation to provide assistance to those in need of resettlement? There could be genuine refugees in that boatload of Tamils, yet Kenney has already prejudged that they’re not wanted in Canada

Sidestepping issues

Kenney’s sudden fear and loathing of fraudsters, calling them “citizens of convenience,” and war criminals sends a wrong message to the world that Canada is a haven for cheaters and con artists. He’s portraying a wrong image of new Canadians, the overwhelming majority of whom respect the law, work hard, pay their taxes and contribute in making our economy strong and sound.

The message this government wants us to hear is clear and unmistakable. They are more interested in cracking down and punishing alleged illegals in this country than building the kind of immigration system founded on the three most important pillars of our immigration program as enumerated in the IRPA.

Kenney appears to be sidestepping the more important issues that have plagued Canada’s immigration system for years. Newly-settled permanent residents, for instance, want to know why it takes seven years to bring their parents in Canada. Employers also want to know when and how soon they can get the skilled labour they need.

Professional immigrants, whom Canada has enticed to come over on the basis of their high education and set of skills are wondering when their credentials will be recognized so they can get out of menial jobs they are forced to take in order to survive. Should pathways to permanent residence be considered for other temporary foreign workers? The list goes on and on, and urgency is of the essence.

During the last federal elections, Minister Kenney was regarded as a champion of immigrant rights. Caregivers in Canada have hailed him as their hero. Now that his Conservative party has won a big majority in Parliament, Kenney appears to be casting a different image—that of an enforcer who is interested more in rounding up and deporting illegals in Canada.

Caregivers Program faces possible setbacks

In a backgrounder it published regarding stakeholder consultations on immigration levels and mix just before the planned cross-country consultations, Canada Immigration has made two significant findings about the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) which could have serious implications to those thinking of applying to come to Canada under the program.

First, the backgrounder noted that many live-in caregivers leave the profession once they become permanent residents. This implies that some drastic changes may be needed if there is a sustained need for such employment, which includes the reality that if there are other choices, those who come under the program will not freely engage in “live-in” work arrangements. Either those who come in under the LCP may lose their pathway to permanent residence and be doomed to work as temporary workers for all their lives or the program be cancelled since the program appears to Canada Immigration as a floodgate for permanent residents who may not necessarily qualify if they apply under this category in the first place.
Filipino caregivers in Canada. Photo courtesy of bayan_canada. Click the
following link to view
"Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney Thanks Filipino Caregivers." 
Second, they have also inferred that the LCP could be a hidden form of family reunification. In analyzing some LCP applications, they found that as many as 40 per cent come to work for relatives in Canada. This raises the question whether such employment would be available for non-family members, an implication that hiring caregivers who are family relatives may be disallowed in the future. There are already reports that many qualified first-time LCP applications in Manila are being turned down in favour of those caregivers already employed overseas such as those in Hongkong, Europe or the Middle East.

If Minister Jason Kenney wants to keep his cape as the caregivers’ champion, particularly to Filipino caregivers, he needs to clarify his department’s findings and their implications to the present LCP. The new procedural rules for hiring of temporary foreign workers that Canada Immigration started implementing last April 2011 have already caused great anxiety among many caregivers in particular. These new findings that alluded some doubts on the effectiveness of the LCP would surely create even more negative repercussions.

The once-hero to Filipino caregivers may have already forgotten those who have supported him during the last federal elections. Whether this is due to political arrogance after securing a Conservative majority in Parliament, Kenney’s new preoccupation with hunting down fraudsters and illegals not only reveals his short memory but perhaps the true character of the present Conservative government.

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