Immigration Applications To Canada Drop In Asian Countries
Immigration applications from key Asian countries have dropped by more than half since 2006, when the Conservative government began transforming its migrant selection.
Critics say the disproportionate declines from China, India, the Philippines and Pakistan could be an indication of how Ottawa’s policy changes favour some immigrant countries over others, and would have an impact on the immigrant mix.
“Without being part of a public consultation, we’ve drastically changed not only the way we do immigration, but the immigrants who come in,” said Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree Foundation, which has a mandate to build strong civic communities.
“Immigration selection is not simply about headhunting, but about nation-building. Immigration policy is too important to be made in a piecemeal manner.”
Statistics obtained by the Star show a significant drop in the annual number of Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and Pakistanis applying for permanent residency between 2006 and 2011.
Applicants from China fell 45 per cent from 55,647 to 30,507; India by almost 51 per cent from 61,559 to 30,283; the Philippines by 32 per cent from 37,132 to 25,378; and Pakistan by 65 per cent from 31,330 to 11,066.
While the number of applications fell overall for the top 10 source countries from 227,689 to 140,712 during the period — a reflection of policy changes to control immigration intake and backlog — the declines of the top four countries were bigger than English- or French-speaking countries.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the number of immigration applications from the United States has dropped by only 10 per cent from 8,352 in 2006 to 7,546 in 2011 while applicants from France fell by 7 per cent from 5,141 to 4,795.
Since coming into power in 2006, Ottawa has made significant changes to the immigration system, tightening language requirement, restricting eligibility to limited occupations in demand, and capping the applications it processes each year.
It plans to have applicants’ credentials pre-assessed prior to arrival and give Canadian employers more power in selecting immigrants through employments.
However, Omidvar said many of the changes have been made in the form of the so-called “ministerial instructions” issued by Kenney with little public discussion.
Although some changes are on the right track, she said, “What is missing is any type of public discourse and debate.”
Canada’s diversity provides links to new markets and new products, Omidvar said, and changes to the mix of source countries could have an implication on trades with new economies in Russia, India, China and Brazil.
Kenney said he did not anticipate fundamental changes in primary immigrant source countries, but he expected to see “an increase in the capacity of immigrants from those countries to succeed.”
“I really don’t care where people come from as long as they are able to succeed in Canada. I think more employers have the same attitude,” Kenney has told the Star.
“One issue here is language proficiency. All of the data says the primary reason why foreign trained professionals are not hired in Canada is language proficiency, which is an indicator of people’s soft social skills,” he added.
“Even if they have a book smart about the job, but if they don’t understand the cultural context, that can be a barrier.”