issues for canadian textbook chapter 5 : How well do Canada’s immigration laws and policies respond to immigration issues?
Take an informal survey of how many of your friends have ancestors from other countries. The families of many Canadians originated in other parts of the world and immigrated to Canada. How does Canada benefit from new immigration? How does the government respond to emerging issues related to immigration today?
This chapter explores Canada’s immigration laws and policies. These say who can come to Canada from other countries to work and live.
issues for canadian textbook chapter 5
Immigration is an important part of Canada’s legislative framework because it affects the quality of life of Canadians and of people who seek to build a home in Canada. People want to come to Canada for many reasons. Quality of life in Canada pulls many people. Canada also offers shelter to refugees, who are pushed out of their home countries by war and other circumstances.
Immigration poses opportunities and challenges for citizenship: for building a society in which all Canadians — existing and new — belong.
- What criteria does Canada use when accepting immigrants and refugees?
- How do the individual and collective rights of Canadians influence immigration laws and policies?
- How do provinces influence immigration laws and policies?
What is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act?
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act dates from 2002. It is the most recent of many laws Canada has had about immigration since it became a country in 1867. It establishes categories of who can come to Canada from other countries to make permanent homes here. It lays out the objectives of those categories.
What’s law versus policy?
Governments create laws, and they also create policies. A law describes principles or conditions that must be followed. A policy describes objectives of the government, within the law.
- Immigration law says who is allowed into Canada.
- Immigration policy sets the procedures for evaluating immigrants and says how many people are allowed into Canada from year to year.
How does health factor into qualifying as an immigrant?
Every potential economic immigrant to Canada must provide proof that they are in good health. A person may be refused entry to Canada if:
- Their health could put the health of Canadians at risk — for example, they have tuberculosis.
- They have a condition that could endanger public safety — for example, a mental disorder.
- Their health could put an “excessive demand” on Canada’s health services — for example, HIV/AIDS.
None of these health requirements apply to people entering Canada as refugees or as family-class immigrants.
How are Canada’s immigration laws today different than in the past?
- No one today is excluded from Canada because of their race or country of origin. The point system, for example, evaluates people based on their skills and education.
- In the past, Canada favoured immigrants of British ancestry and restricted immigration from Asian countries, such as China and India.
What is Canada’s policy towards refugees?
Refugees are one of the categories of immigrants established under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Here is some background on how Canada’s position on refugees evolved:
- Canada signed the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1951.
- During the 1950s and 1960s, Canada offered to shelter refugees in response to specific world crises.
- In 1976, Canada made refugees one of its immigration categories. The change meant that Canada accepted refugees steadily, instead of crisis by crisis.
Objectives for Canada’s refugee program:
- Save lives and offer protection to people who are displaced and persecuted.
- Fulfill and affirm Canada’s international commitments to protect refugees.
- Grant fair consideration to people who claim to be persecuted, as an expression of Canada’s humanitarian ideals.
- Offer refuge to people facing persecution because of race, religion, political opinion or membership in a social group, and to people who face torture, or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
What is the Singh decision?
In Canada, April 4 is known as Refugee Rights Day, following a 1985 Supreme Court decision known as the Singh decision.
- Satnam Singh came to Canada from India seeking refugee status. Canada’s government rejected his case under the Immigration Act, 1976.
- The Immigration Act, 1976, did not allow Mr. Singh to state his case in person or to appeal the government’s decision on his case.
- The Supreme Court said this violated section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
- The Supreme Court said everyone in the Charter means everyone — every person physically present in Canada.
- People claiming refugee status in Canada have the right to a hearing, which they attend in person.
- Canada established the Immigration and Refugee Board to provide quick and fair hearings.
- Canada’s government provides people seeking refugee status with the necessities of life while they wait for a hearing.
How does immigration involve the collective rights of Aboriginal peoples?
- Aboriginal peoples are partners in Canada. They have collective rights under the constitution and a reasonable expectation to be consulted when the government of Canada makes decisions that fundamentally shape the future of the country.
- Treaties and agreements between First Nations, Inuit or Métis peoples and the government of Canada create a commitment for Canada and Aboriginal peoples to work together and share prosperity. Some Aboriginal peoples, however, continue to face health, education and employment challenges linked to poverty and the impact of past policies and laws.
- These challenges can create obstacles to full participation in Canada’s economy for individuals from First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities. For example, some people can face difficulty gaining access to educational, training and employment opportunities. Where such conditions exist, they can create issues, especially during times when Canada needs more skilled workers and professionals, and seeks to fill these roles partly through immigration.
In what ways can provinces influence and implement immigration policies?
Provinces control some aspects of immigration, in an attempt to make sure immigration fits and meets their needs.
Provincial Nomination Program:
- Under the Provincial Nomination Program, provinces can “nominate” a percentage of the immigrants Canada selects each year. This means, for example, that Alberta can specify that it needs immigrants with particular skills.
- The program also allows some provinces to set up their own immigration offices in foreign countries.
- Governments in Canada can’t require immigrants to settle in particular places or work in particular jobs. The Provincial Nomination Program increases the likelihood that immigrants will settle in the provinces whose labour needs match their skills.
- The Canada-Québec Accord is a specific agreement with Québec.
- Under the accord, Québec can nominate the percentage of immigrants to Canada that corresponds to its population within Canada.
- The accord also allows Québec to require immigrants who settle in Québec to send their children to French-language schools.
- Under the Canada-Québec Accord, Québec seeks immigrants whose first language is French. Every year, about 75 percent of French-speaking immigrants to Canada settle in Québec. Overall, more non-Francophone immigrants settle in Québec than Francophone immigrants.
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