Economic class favoured over family reunification?

Is the federal government changing immigration policy to favour the economic class of immigrants over family reunification? That’s what the liberal party is charging.

Due to what’s been reported as a backlog of some 900,000 applicants, immigration minister Diane Finley may soon introduce an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to limit the number of immigrants. Critics believe it will also change the focus of the type of immigrants Canada will attract and process.

Liberal immigration critic and MP for Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua is quoted in the Thursday, March 13/08 National Post: “The Conservatives are shutting the door on immigration because they fail to understand its importance to our labour markets and our nation-building. The lack of resources devoted to this issue shows they are not serious about immigration”.

Evidence? The story quotes a speech Minister Finley made last November in India, indicating that Canada seeks to attract “the best and the brightest”. But, only last week, the London Free Press reported on a story (A Family Again) about a Somali mother who was reunited with her children after 9 years. A Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson is quoted as saying: “This is fulfilling one of our (goals) — family reunification.”

Let’s follow this one closely and keep an eye on what’s happening in Ottawa.

Federal budget, 2008

The National Post is reporting that today’s federal budget has “something for everyone”, including this – for immigrants:

“$22-million over two years to modernize and speed up the immigration system. Plans include: ‘changes will be made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to improve the immigration process. It is not fair for prospective immigrants to wait for years before being considered, and it is not desirable to wait that long for the immigrants the country needs’.”

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail is running an op-ed by Perrin Beatty, Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Claire Morris, Association of Universities and Colleges Canada and on what kinds of immigrants Canada needs:

“Streamlining our immigration process to make Canada a more attractive option for skilled immigrants will be important. However, Canada cannot count on maintaining current levels of immigration of advanced degree-holders to meet future labour market needs. In an increasingly knowledge-based world, competition for highly-educated immigrants is growing in developed nations and emerging economies alike.

Consequently, more needs to be done to attract the best and the brightest international graduate students who remain critical to fuelling the country’s pipeline of highly qualified personnel”.

Immigrant children? Not in the op-ed. Not in the budget. To access the budget documents, visit the budget.gc.ca website.

Immigrant children in Canadian history

As a grad student on placement at the Toronto-based Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies (CERIS) in 2005, I compiled a bibliography of holdings in the CERIS library about immigrant and refugee children and youth.

I’d like to start compiling an annotated bibliography of books and other resources about the history of immigration and immigration policy in Canada that either focus on or include sections on/about children.

Kelly, N. & Trebilcock, M. (1998). The making of the mosaic: A history of Canadian immigration policy is one.

Kenneth Bagnell’s The Little immigrants: the orphans who came to Canada (1980 & 2001) is a classic. It tells the story of the home children.

Another account of the home children is Marj Kohli‘s 2003 The Golden bridge: Young immigrants to Canada (1833-1939).

I am currently reading Valerie Knowles’ updated 1992 Strangers at our gates: Canadian immigration and immigration policy, 1540-2006, which has a short section on the home children and guest children.

Please share any books with/out annotations – or other resources – that address or include children in the history of immigration and immigration policy in Canada. I’ll maintain a page for this for us in our “pages” section, see right-hand side of the blog.

Federal pre-Budget online consultation

The Federal government has launched an online consultation, seeking feedback for their upcoming budget. Questions are asked in five categories: 1. How Canada should address an increasingly aging population. 2. Economic policy. 3. Resources and re-directing resources. 4. How to keep Canada competitive internationally, and 5. “What tax and other measures should the Government take to ensure that Canada keeps its best and brightest, attracts highly skilled immigrants, encourages as many people as possible to enter the workforce, and rewards Canadians for their hard work, while respecting the Government’s fiscal goals?”.

Here’s our chance to respond and raise issues! Please visit and participate in the online pre-budget consultation.

Deadline is February 11, 2008.