By Athena Narsingh, J.D. Candidate, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.
I have read too many reports criticizing the Canadian government for allowing approximately 250 000 immigrants settle into Canada every year. These articles suggest that the government is permitting immigrants and refugees into the country to derail our economic growth. According to these media outlets, new immigrants choose to accept social assistance rather than find employment. The problem of low income or no income immigrants is not an individual problem. It is a problem with the services and programs newcomers are unable to access. People do not know these programs exist.
There appears to be a disconnect between organizations that are trying to help newcomers integrate into surrounding communities. Federal, provincial and municipal government departments, non-profit immigration organizations, employment agencies and private immigration consultation agencies each provide beneficial services to ease the migration process. However, learning how to attain your health card and Social Insurance Number is not enough. Immigrants also need to easily access information on educational accreditation and job searching. It would be beneficial for these organizations to deeper integrate their services into the lives of Canada’s newcomers, to make a one-stop shop
s for immigrants; or have more information about related services readily available that will assist them in finding suitable employment. For example, we have seen Service Canada Centres set up mobile stations at some airports providing Social Insurance Number processing. This allows immigrants to first contact crucial agencies that can provide information on settling in Canada. This is just the beginning. Here are a few recommendations: 1) In addition to Service Canada Centres being mobile at airports, employment agencies should also set up stations to provide information regarding newcomer education, provide contact information for nearby employment agencies where newcomers can have their resumes revised, and provide information on educational opportunities. 2) Cross train employees of these various opportunities and services available from different agencies, so that employees are prepared to provide personalized services to immigrants. This does not mean a large scope project across the nation, but a minor project in different communities to allow specific community needs to be met. The largest cost would be researching community trends to deduce needs. I think the most important asset to newcomers would be a list of agencies and steps they need to take once they have immigrated, processing times for major applications, and contact numbers for agencies. Immigrants bring richness to the nation in so many ways, but just as we invest in the self-growth of our Canadian born citizens, we should promote the growth of immigrants and enrich them with knowledge.
The success of immigrants in Canada would also mean they would not be deemed less of a security threat. Immigrants are policed to a greater extent than Canadian born individuals for sometimes inconceivable reasons. If we can facilitate the growth of immigrants in Canada so they are contributing to the community and given an equal opportunity to get higher-paying jobs and, it will be more apparent that they are not a security threat because they will appear more committed to contributing to the country. I think the reason immigrants are perceived as a security threat is because it is believed their loyalty lies with their home country. Now it is not to say immigrants are otherwise not devoted to Canada, however, encouraging their success in the nation will make more apparent their admiration for Canada. Canada is known for the services and programs available to citizens, residents and visitors. I think it’s time to connect the dots so these programs ameliorate each person’s success.
Photo by Thompson Rivers via Flickr.