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Is the federal immigration system a failure?

posted Apr 21, 2012, 10:54 PM by Milorad Borota   [ updated Apr 21, 2012, 10:54 PM ]
The Harper government seems to think so, but the stats tell a different story
by Richard Warnica and John Geddes on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:44am

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney sees deep flaws in Canada’s immigration system. For too long, he argues, the system has been drawing ambitious newcomers who arrive here ready to work only to find their qualifications aren’t recognized, their experience isn’t valued, or their skills aren’t in demand. “We’ve got to stop this practice,” he said in a major speech in Toronto last month, “of inviting highly trained people to come to Canada if they don’t have jobs or they’re not likely to succeed in the labour market.”

As one of the most visible federal ministers, Kenney has made sure his critique of the system he runs is widely heard and broadly accepted. In particular, companies echo his complaints about Canada bringing in 250,000 newcomers a year, and still failing to provide the workers they need to fill gaps, particularly in the fast-growing West. But as Kenney continues his withering attack, it’s worth asking: Is the federal program really the unmitigated disaster he suggests? Not by international standards, where Canada is rated highly for its successful integration of immigrants into the economy, or even by some of the yardsticks Kenney has been using to argue Canada’s existing immigration system needs to be completely overhauled.

Some of the clearest evidence showing the program’s success comes from Kenney’s own department. For instance, Kenney points to the so-called provincial nomination program—through which provinces bring in immigrants chosen to fill job vacancies—as the model for reform.

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