TORONTO - The Canada’s immigration policy has traditionally been predicated on the assumption that it is justifiable (worthwhile) only if immigrants contribute to the economic growth of the country.
The unstated answer to polling questions measuring levels of public awareness and support for immigration is nearly always paraphrased thusly: if it doesn’t cost us anything or if the benefits outweigh the costs (however we measure them), then it is ok.
Given the latest per capita GDP numbers, and, considering that the current government has a plan to bring in an average of 333,000 new people per year, that assumption suggests policymakers have factored into their immigration plan a potential resulting net, new economic activity approximately $18 billion a year.
That sum discounts the recruiting, processing and integrating costs of the exercise. Plus the cost of absorbing and integrating Refugees.
By the way, last year, the government could not find room in its grand plan to grant Permanent Residency status for more than 1,030 immigrants from Italy - 0.035% of the total 286, 000 grantees. In fact, as a source country, Italy placed 52nd, just ahead of Portugal, Poland and Greece.
England’s impending Brexit date and separation conditions may lead to “forced exit” by those people from the Queen’s domain. Negotiations are on-going.
If they “fail”, Minister Hussen might want to expand the model he is applying to the “failed refugees” in Israeli detention camps and recruit the soon-to-be “former British immigrants” to Canada.
Meanwhile, the rate of voluntary emigration by a “youngish cohort” of skilled and/or trained Italians is leaving the Italian Peninsula at the rate of 100,000 per year. But no longer for Canada.
As this paper has been pointing out for four years, they are not welcome in Canada. Over the last ten years, 250,000 of them went to London, England.
Migrantes, an annual research study tracking demographic movements, suggested over half of them would have preferred Canada (where they have an existing support network), but they couldn’t pass an English language test and the application process is sluggish at best.
Pardon the sarcastic digression, but, maybe policymakers have institutionalized the Menon factor. Briefly, this is a belief that Italian emigres are all infected with what Toronto Star entertainment columnists, and erstwhile expert social-scientist, Vinay Menon, calls the “Sicilian menace” – nudge-nudge, wink-wink, the “predisposition to criminality”.
Nonetheless, these four groups above, and others, find their way to Canada in search of work for themselves and their loved ones. Through an informal network of friends and employers prepared to circumvent the hiring “rules” to keep their businesses running, these men and women find work, start their own businesses, pay taxes and stay out of everyone’s way.
Former Minister for Immigration, John Mc Callum, and his office estimated the number of these people already in the country at one million.
If accurate, that suggests that the Canadian GDP is underestimated by about $54 billion annually. And, that one million residents are here “without status” - illegal aliens – even if they are productive, contributing and integrated.
The Undocumented Workers Committee (UWC), a lobby group led by employers, former bureaucrats and social activists sensitized McCallum on this point.
Exercising his “Ministerial discretion”, without having to wait for time-exhausting legislative processes, Mc Callum decided to alleviate the pressing problem of undocumented workers (Visa-Overstays) by abolishing the four-year cap on how long temporary workers can stay in Canada.
Through a Caucus Immigration Committee, he encouraged the promotion of “a pilot project” to make it easier for those Visa-Overstays, currently working, to remain in Canada.
Perhaps he should have been less timorous.
Immigration Law (IRPA) already gives the Minister authority to “grant status” under a variety of existing or “envisioned” programs from within the country - an “in-Canada” application process. Unfortunately, McCallum chose the more tentative, go-slow approach.
His successor, Minister Ahmed Hussen, for reasons clear only to him, has chosen to turn his back on McCallum’s “pilots”; setting his caucus colleagues adrift and forcing them to deny the existence of projects and programs both they and Minister Hussen were, until recently, touting - effectively negating the “baby steps” conceded by Mc Callum.
The UWC, chaired by Manuel Alexandre, demonstrating a firmer grasp of collective, democratic obligations than their elected representatives, are not backing down. Nor should they.
They have been “pushing this envelope” under two different political administrations. I doubt they will be “smeared into submission” by MPs who “need to grow a pair” if they want to make an impact on this country’s development.
The UWC is already well equipped.