TORONTO - Canada’s Immigration Department is a proverbial minefield for any Minister who accepts the task of providing guidance and leadership.
On one hand, the bureaucracy feeds up policy and supervises procedure as per its view of Canada’s future and present needs. On another, the Prime Minister’s Office develops policy and intervenes on process to satisfy its immediate political goals.
Poor Minister. Sometimes, she/he can actually get things done but it requires a tight relationship with the Prime Minister or indifference on his part. Both circumstances are rare.
When they occur, Canada’s national interests are usually evident: Laurier-Sifton efforts to populate the West at the start of the Twentieth century and St. Laurent (and Diefenbaker) plus various Immigration Ministers immediately after World War Two to man the factories and the infrastructure programs of Canada’s Industrialization policies.
What is not rare, nor unique, is the plethora of “pilot programs” envisioned by various Administrations and Ministers to resolve Regulatory and Procedural malfunctions when the Immigration system gets “gummed up”.
What these “pilots” need is political will to get them done “B…s” to get them done – the courage to choose one, or some variation, and modify the process to get it done.
Case in point: former Minister McCallum set up a “pilot” to solve the socio-economic dilemma of the Visa-overstays/Undocumented Workers phenomenon. “experts” in the field and officials in the [former] Human Resources Department put the number of such overstays at one million – 500,000 in the GHTA alone!
Essentially, he asked some of his caucus colleagues (MPs Peter Fonseca, Sonia Sidhu, Julie Dzerowicz, Peter May and an Immigration caucus that included Judy Sgro, Francesco Sorbara and Marco Mendicino, among others) to help.
Their task was to invite as many affected people as possible to “file papers” – through their offices, not through the usual bureaucratic channels. No guarantees and no protections.
In other words, “let the ghost workers” self identify. The reader can fill in the rest. The construction, renovation, restaurant, hotel and personal service industries are clamoring for employees that they will certify as competent as a pre-condition of employment.
Service Canada and Immigration Canada are incapable of finding the required workers for them but will not let the employers do it themselves.
Many cannot bid on projects they cannot service; builders either sit on to their assets or must charge a premium to entice workers away from other employers. There is no net gain but there is an increased, and unsustainable, increased cost.
An irascible Immigration Minister is focused on pilot projects designed to bring in more Agricultural Workers as well as more Visa Students -primarily to Atlantic Canada. He also has time, money and “pilots” to spend on releasing failed Refugee claimants from Israeli detention camps.
The latter “pilot” is an old one – find sponsors in Canada who will “share the load” and help in the integration process. This is something Churches, their parishioners and helpful employers used to do. Employers want to do that with the employees they currently hire “under the table” to survive. Minister Hussen is uninterested.
Worse, he appears to have backed away from his predecessor’s initiative and instructed his colleagues to deny such a pilot program exists.
Worse still, he appears insensitive to the personal damage he is inflicting on those Applicants who trusted him.
Frustrated provincial politicians like MPP Christina Martins have taken to publicly calling for an Amnesty, in reaction to Minister Hussen’s sensitivity. Her colleague, Minister Laura Albanese, a little more moderate still supports thrust that sees the application of models like the one her federal counter-part is applying to Israeli detainees.
Meanwhile, the Federal MPs have started to “drink their own Kool-Aid” and cravenly blame everything on lawyers and consultants, as if their practices created the labour shortage.
"Physician heal thyself".