OECD Thematic review of migrant education – an update

As posted Jan 22 on this blog, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development – the OECD – is undertaking a thematic review of migrant education.

The question being asked is ‘What policies will promote successful education outcomes for first and second generation migrants’? 

The objectives and outputs are based on criteria for the assessment of the successful integration into the education system, including pre-school education, which is threefold:

1. Access: Do immigrant students/children have the same opportunities to access quality education as their native-born peers?

2. Participation: Do immigrant students/children participate (enrol and complete) as much as their native-born peers?

3. Learning outcomes: Do immigrant students/children perform as well as their native-born peers?

An interesting project. Here’s the site.

Demography is destiny: New report by Canadian Centre for Policy Studies

The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies released a report yesterday, authored by James Bissett, titled Demography is Destiny: Towards a Canada-First Immigration Policy. In the report, Bissett, former Director-General of the Canada Immigration Service, outlines what he sees as the problems in the current immigration system and provides recommendations for improving it. He challenges the notion that immigration policy is not (good) population policy and allowing more immigrants into Canada will not solve the aging population ‘problem’ in Canada.

Does the report say anything about children? Yes. Bissett views the forming of ethnic enclaves as problematic for children and contributing to isolating children from (developing) Canadian culture:

“Children are being effectively cut-off from broader Canadian society, making the medium and perhaps even the long term prospect of successful integration much less certain. Strategies to encourage integration and assist in the process have not kept up with these changes”.

Some other comments on family reunification. Bissett’s recommendations include a call for a Royal Commission to examine this issue and – as he sees it – problem of integration. Other recommendations generally align with the proposed changes by the federal government. No surprise from the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies.

CIC on proposed changes to IRPA

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration has published a new section on their website with more information on the proposed changes to the immigration policy and legislation, introduced in the budget bill – Bill C-50

A section with questions is also new, and offered in the categories of: Description and rationale for changes; How the system will work; Impact of the changes; Minister’s authority; and offers a space for folks to post their questions. Let’s all surf on over before the links change/disappear (again).

CCRs 10 areas of concern about proposed changes to the IRPA

The Canadian Council for Refugees has developed a useful fact sheet that outlines “Ten reasons to be concerned about proposed amendments to Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in Bill C-50″.

Excerpts from the fact sheet:

1. Arbitrary power. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can introduce “instructions” without Parliamentary oversight..Having the rules for who gets in made and changed by ministerial fiat … lacks transparency and makes the immigration selection process vulnerable to inappropriate political pressures.

2. Applicants’ legal rights eliminated. The proposed amendment in IRPA s. 11 from ‘the visa shall be issued’ to ‘the visa may be issued’ (means) the applicant will no longer have the same legal basis to demand that the processing be finalized in a timely manner.

3. Overseas humanitarian and compassionate applications. The amendments eliminate the right to have an overseas application for humanitarian and compassionate consideration examined. This includes … family reunification.

4. Intentions are not law. The government has made a number of statements about how they intend or don’t intend to use the new powers… Expressions of current intention are no protection against future uses of the powers.

5. The amendments do not belong in the budget bill. IRPA amendments should (be) dealt with through separate legislation, studied by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and debated.

6. Lack of explanatory information. The government has failed to provide adequate information.

7. Failure to produce draft instructions. … draft instructions have not been made public.

8. Lack of consultation. The proposed amendments were introduced without the normal prior consultation with stakeholders.

9. There are other ways of addressing the backlog. … the proposed amendments will not … resolve the existing backlog, since they only affect applications made after 27 February 2008.

10. The immigration program needs to value immigrants. Canada needs to consider immigrants as full participants in society, not simply as disposable units to fill currently available jobs.

Promoting integration: Canada’s Multiculturalism Minister reports to Parliament

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity) issued a news release April 3/08 commenting on Statistics Canada latest release on immigration in Canada, “Canada’s Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census“. Here’s some of what was in the release:

“A particularly interesting statistic from the 2006 Census shows the highest ever proportion of people reporting “Canadian” as ethnic origin. Almost 10.1 million people, one-third of the total population, reported Canadian as their ethnic ancestry. In addition, more than half of those reporting have multiple origins, better illustrating the living diversity in our country.

Our government is pleased to support initiatives that preserve and promote Canadian identity. For example, we are a partner in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, a powerful symbol of this country’s commitment to recognizing, promoting, and celebrating human rights. We are also supporting the Aga Khan’s Global Centre for Pluralism, which will serve as a cornerstone of good governance, the rule of law, and human development in the years ahead.

The Government of Canada is also fully cognizant of the need to have policies and programs that reflect our changing population. We have revised the Multiculturalism Program to focus on promoting integration, combatting radicalization, and encouraging collaborative projects between Canadians from diverse backgrounds. In fact, our annual report to Parliament underscored this new focus with its title, Promoting Integration“.

Promoting Integration includes several references to children. PDF version available here. HTML version.

Canada in violation of UN Rights of the Child

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) has denounced the Canadian government and accused it of being in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. From the CCRs April 7th press release:

“The Canadian Council for Refugees today denounced the blind application of an inflexible immigration rule that is keeping children separated from their parents. Regulation 117(9)(d) excludes family members, barring them from sponsorship, if they were not examined by an immigration officer when the sponsor immigrated to Canada.

‘Children deserve to be with their parents – all Canadians can agree on this. Yet children affected by the excluded family member rule are spending years without an immigration officer even considering their interests,’ said Elizabeth McWeeny, CCR President. ‘This is not only inhumane, it is a clear violation of Canada’s international human rights obligations, including under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.’”

See more about the CCRs campaign on family reunification, including the April 7/08 press release at the CCR website.

Changes to IRPA

Over the last couple of weeks, this blog has posted on proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, complete with links to debates and news releases. Some of these links have moved and I am trying my best to relocate them.

The changes proposed to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley will impact family reunification and therefore, children. It’s time for the Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth to start lobbying their MPs, liberal and otherwise, to stop these changes from going through.

The federal liberals, with the support of another opposition party could stop the proposed amendments. A vote against the amendments (as early as a week from now) would trigger an election. Some say they don’t want an election. The tories say they’re ready for an election.

Here’s what the NDP says. “The offensive changes include giving major new powers to the minister of Citizenship and Immigration to impose quotas, discard immigration applications and facilitate queue jumping by certain categories of immigrants. In addition, they would limit the ability of ordinary Canadians to be reunited with overseas family members based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds”.

Here’s what the liberals say.“The Liberal Opposition feels strongly that the drastic immigration reforms introduced by the Conservative government should be removed from the budget bill debated in Parliament”.

Here’s how to find your MP and have your say.

Proposed changes to immigration legislation

Continuing news stories about the federal government’s proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Act, including:

Immigration changes unfair, critics charge“. Toronto Star. March 24/08.

Liberals urged to fight immigration proposals“. The Globe and Mail. March 24/08.

Finley defends contentious immigration overhaul“. CTV News. March 23/08.

Also see earlier posts on immigrantchildren.ca, including:

Canadian Council for Refugees on proposed amendments to the IRPA. March 17/08.

Amendments to IRPA. March 16/08.

Economic class favoured over family reunification? March 13/08.

Canadian Council for Refugees on proposed amendments to IRPA

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) finds fault with proposed amendments to the IRPA tabled by the federal government (as part of the Budget bill, C-50) on March 14/08. In particular, the impact on children with regard to changes in Canada’s obligations to consider humanitarian applications from outside of Canada: From today’s CCR press release:

“These amendments take away the right to have an application for humanitarian consideration examined, even though this is the only option under the immigration law for many people, including some children seeking to be reunited with their parents,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Again and again when we point out gaps in the immigration law, Citizenship and Immigration Canada tells us that humanitarian and compassionate applications are the recourse. What kind of a recourse will it be, if visa officers can simply discard the application without even examining it?”

The following are two situations where the law does not provide children with a right to family reunification and humanitarian and compassionate applications are the only recourse:

  • Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, separated refugee children in Canada cannot apply for family reunification with their parents and siblings who are outside Canada. The only way for these children to be reunited with their parents and siblings is through humanitarian and compassionate consideration.
  • The excluded family member rule (Regulation 117(9)(d)) keeps many children unfairly separated from their parents. The only way for affected families to explain why they should be able to reunite in Canada is through a humanitarian and compassionate application.

“Canada has an obligation, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to consider the best interests of the child in any decision taken affecting a child. This obligation is reflected in the provisions in the Act relating to humanitarian and compassionate applications (section 25). With the proposed amendment, visa officers would no longer be required to consider the best interests of the child”.

Amendments to IRPA

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released a statement about amendments the federal government tabled yesterday to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. From their news release:

“On March 14, 2008, the Government of Canada introduced legislative amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to modernize the immigration system, to ensure that families are reunited faster and skilled workers arrive sooner.

“One of the challenges facing our immigration system today is the large number of people waiting in the queue. This is especially a problem in the skilled worker category which makes up most of the backlog.

“Under the proposed measures, Citizenship and Immigration Canada would have greater flexibility in processing new applications, especially from skilled workers.

“The legislation is intended to provide greater flexibility in addressing a range of labour market needs. It will not apply to refugees and does not affect our objectives related to family reunification.

“Ultimately, this will result in reduced wait times and improved service. It will also help manage the growth of the backlog of applications.

“Once passed, the new measures will apply to applications received on or after February 27, 2008.

“Those who applied prior to February 27, 2008, will not be subject to the new measures and will be dealt with fairly under the existing rules”.

What do these amendments mean for children and families? In the FAQ, it says that “the new rules will “allow us to get the people we need” and “allow the Department to select among the new applications and choose those that best meet Canada’s labour market needs”. The FAQs assure Canadians that “The Department will maintain its commitment to the broad objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act—supporting Canada’s economy and competitiveness, family reunification and protecting those in need. The legislative amendments are intended to respond to Canada’s labour market needs. It will not apply to refugees and is not intended to affect our objectives related to family reunification”.

The FAQ says the federal government will keep Canadian informed about the amendments through postings to the CIC website and the Canada Gazette.

Here’s the official transcripts from the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. Edited Hansard, Number 067. Friday, March 14, 2008

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is so desperate to close the door on immigrants that it will ignore the painful mistakes of previous Conservative governments that tried to do the very same thing. Diefenbaker tried to shut out immigrants by capping the system only to abandon his plan a month later because his policies were short-sighted and misguided.

Why does the minister insist on closing Canada’s doors to the newcomers we desperately need to fuel our labour and population growth even though history shows this is absolutely the wrong approach?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely wrong. In fact, last year this Conservative government welcomed more immigrants to Canada than has been done in almost 100 years.

Not only are we doing more, we are doing it better. In the family reunification class we have made that a priority and now cases are getting processed 20% to 40% faster than they did under the previous government. We are making great strides in cleaning up the Liberals’ immigration mess.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Some progress, Mr. Speaker. The backlog has increased by 100,000 in 26 months. I would ask the minister to get to work and not by closing the doors on immigrants.

[Translation] Let us be clear. The Conservatives say that Canada has received 429,000 newcomers, but that number has been falsely inflated by temporary workers and students. Why is the government trying to distract people from its plan to significantly reduce the number of newcomers by fudging the numbers and tooting its own horn about its pathetic record on immigration?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government has two objectives. The first is to bring more newcomers here to fill jobs and be reunited with their families. The second is to do it faster.

Let us contrast that with the Liberals’ record on immigration. They ballooned the backlog from 50,000 to 800,000. They took processing times from three to six months to three to six years. They voted against reducing the head tax that they brought in. They voted against launching the foreign credentials referral office. We are fixing the Liberals’ immigration mess.