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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Minister McCallum promotes

immigration to Canada in Manila Speech

by Michael Scott

The ties that bind Canada to the Philippines are always present. Winnipeg has is the sister city of Manila and on August 11, 2016 the Canadian Minister of immigration, John McCallum, spoke before a meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Manila, Philippines. He said a number of things about immigration changes and confirmed the prominent place of the Philippines as a source country for new immigration.

“You are our greatest customers. We have more immigrants from the Philippines than any other country in the world.” He was strong in his praise of the movement of people from the Philippines to Canada. “I think we have over 700,000 Filipino people, or people with Filipino origins, living in Canada,” the Minister noted. “They make a great contribution to the country.”

It sounds great to hear a politician praising newcomers rather than vilifying them, unlike United States presidential candidate Donald Trump. It is significant to note that he made these comments before representatives of both the Philippine government and business representatives of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. It is not a time to stop immigration from outside the country but encourage more workers to follow.

The Minister highlighted the changes the Liberals have brought to Canada’s immigration programs since taking office in late 2015. He said that the processing times for family sponsorship applications and provincial nominee applications have “dropped dramatically to, I believe, 12 months – cut in half in just a year.” My observation is that the Minister is correct, at least based on a limited sample of cases in the processing cue.

Minister McCallum praised the contributions of the caregiver program and said his government is taking steps to “provide better protection to caregivers.” He referenced the current system with major fines and penalties for abuse and suggested the idea of a designated company to screen applications. This sounds strangely reminiscent of the Visa Application Centres (VAC) that are present throughout the world. I shall reserve judgment on this plan. The concept makes sense if we consider his participation with business leaders from the private sector in Canada. It is encouraging to see Canadian business taking an active role in recruiting workers from the Philippines. As long as there is a way for them to get their permanent status in Canada rather than end up working four years and then being sent out from the country.

The Minister used the stage to remind his audience that the Canadian government made good on its word to bring in 25,000 refugees from Syria. He reminded them that the Brexit vote in the UK and Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric south of the border are not duplicated in Canada. He said that our Prime Minster Trudeau himself welcomed the first plane and “some two-thirds of Canadians, polls indicate, are supportive.” The mathematics alone suggest that a significant number of Canadians oppose this plan so there is work to be done.

The Minister is aware that bringing newcomers to Canada is only part of the challenge. The second part is ensuring their integration. He used the example of skilled immigration as a way to bring in “immigrants who will get good jobs” and those “who will become entrepreneurs.” Minister McCallum promised to reform the existing Express Entry system to make this happen. He also said the program would, for example, be changed to accommodate international foreign students whose post-graduate work permits (open) do not fit the requirement for an approved Canadian job offer. The Minister is listening and changes will follow.

We await the announcement this fall of how the immigration program will change to meet the requirements of the 21st century and the projected numbers for 2017, but Minister McCallum did give his Manila audience and all of us an indication of good things to come. His challenge is to convince Canadians not to close our doors to newcomers but open them.

“But I think with our mind set on welcoming newcomers,” the Minister concluded, “makes sense for the country. Beginning with the facts of labour shortages, aging population, we have a good case to make, and I think we will be able to convince a higher population of Canadians that this is the right way for Canada to go.” His dream is the dream of many. Now we wait for the details.

Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: mscott.ici@gmail.com.

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