Immigration policy consultation by wiki

The Public Policy Wiki is a collaborative project of the Globe and Mail and the Dominion Institute. The Public Policy Wiki is an attempt to bring forward to government a range of views from the general public on matters of public policy. How do they do this? Through an online wiki, of course. The public is invited to “be bold”, participate, contribute and even edit works cited on the wiki.

Among the topics currently on the Public Policy Wiki is a section on immigration policy. There are several resources to review on this page, including pieces written by experts and stakeholders. The wiki poses a series of questions for consideration – and requests for responses – after a reading of the online resources. immigrantchildren.ca readers will note that there are no specific questions related to children and families, but a couple of analysis papers do address immigrant children. Maytree President Ratna Omidvar:

“It is a serious oversight to ignore the settlement needs of immigrant children; however the reality is that these needs remain overlooked in the not inconsiderable resources we spend in settlement programming every year. This oversight is possibly not entirely intentional, but a reflection of jurisdictional arrangements that govern our federation.

“Here is an opportunity for the federal government to reaffirm its role as nation-builder by finding creative ways to overcome jurisdictional barriers. It could, for instance, flow money to provinces and their schools so that immigrant children have assured access to English language training, sports and cultural activities. There are no better integration ambassadors for immigrant parents than their own children, who by participating in team sports and cultural activities are guaranteed to bring their parents to the rink.

“Imagine, children playing hockey, or soccer or even cricket together and parents watching and cheering them along! Here is how we can build our nation”.

Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute:

“…the federal government should also put special emphasis on second language training for school-age children, particularly in the country’s major cities.

“In Toronto, the city that attracts the majority of newcomers to Canada, the percentage of elementary schools with English-as-a-second-language instructors has declined from 41 to 29 percent in the last decade while the number of students requiring such instruction has doubled. Young people from non- French- or English-speaking countries desperately need additional support to master French and/or English. The federal government should find ways to work with the provinces to get more funding for language instruction into urban classroom to relieve overburdened ESL instructors”.

Mathew Ingram, Communities Editor at the Globe hopes the Public Policy Wiki is working towards a ‘Two Million Minds’ “open, crowd-powered forum” that will have legitimacy on the public policy landscape. Deadline for comments is June 1. Responses from this online forum will be collated and submitted to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Let’s participate and ensure that the issues, challenges and needs of immigrant and refugee children and their families are voiced in the forum. Visit the Public Policy Wiki on immigration policy here.