An important message from CCICY

An important message from the Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth (from Barbara Burnaby)

Dear CCICY Members:

As the federal election approaches, there are several immigration issues that candidates should be addressing. Please see the information below for an overview of the issues and some ideas for questions to adk your candidates.

Immediate Action Urgently Needed for Immigrant Children and Youth:

– greatly extended federal funding for settlement programs for immigrant young people;

– federal initiatives for coordinated and collaborative action with provincial governments regarding education issues for immigrant children and youth.

– immigrant children and youth are a rapidly growing group with major barriers to their integrating into Canadian society as a result of: gaps in education, family poverty, poor prospects for employment, and discrimination in the community. The social, economic and political consequences of ignoring the needs of immigrant children and youth creates risks, on the one hand, of foregoing their potential contribution to this country and, on the other, of allowing the growth of a sizeable group of distressed and disaffected citizens.

What Needs to be done for Immigrant Children and Youth?

– action on identified, needed services;

– stop using the constitutional separation of powers of federal government (immigration) and provincial governments (education, social services) as an excuse for not coordinating services;

– deal with systematic resistance to needed forms of integrative services and send clear messages about the vital role of immigration to the future prosperity of Canada;

– turn around the trend that has sacrificed services for immigrant children and youth to the short-sighted belt-tightening fiscal policies of the last decade;

– increase service sector knowledge about the crisis for immigrant children and youth and expand the research that back this up – NOW.

Questions for Candidates:

Literacy & Language

All objective measures show that newcomer children learn English better and faster when they are also supported in retaining their home language. Work with immigrant families shows that the home language often takes second place and, as a result, these languages are forgotten and lost. What would your party do to support early childhood educators and elementary school teachers in promoting the use of home languages in family homes and in early learning and child care settings?

Early Learning & Child Care

Over 20 years of evidence-based research tells us that children benefit from high quality early childhood care and education and that families benefit from being supported in their role as parents. For newcomer families, the local child care centre is often the first point of entry to the community and serves as an important support. The Liberal Party puts child care on the agenda every election and yet fails to implement the pan-Canadian child care system needed. The Conservative Party thinks child care comes in the mail. What would your party do to support and promote early learning and child care for all families?

Bill C-50

Immigrant serving organizations were unanimous in decrying the changes to Canadian immigration policy as introduced and passed in the budget bill, Bill C-50. For the Conservative Party: The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration recently conducted a cross-Canada consultation seeking input on how to implement the proposed changes in Bill C-50. What kinds of explicit instructions can Canadians expect with regard to protecting the family reunification aspect of our immigration policy? For the Liberal Party: How does your party justify its lack of action on Bill C-50? For all other parties: What would your party do to ensure family reunification remains a central component in our immigration policy?

Political Representation

What has your party done and what will it do to increase immigrant/newcomer representation? How many visible-minority candidates is your party running in this election?