Despite the summer heat, 24 leaders from local consulates, businesses and community groups attended MP Murray’s Asia Pacific Immigration consultation at Mount Pleasant Community Centre on August 13.
The leaders in attendance originated from 10 different countries, and provided feedback about recent changes to immigration and refugee policies in Canada.
The consultation was followed by a Town Hall with panelists Liberal Immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux, and well-known lawyer and policy analyst Richard Kurland. Attendees heard about updates and changes to Canada’s immigration policies, and were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide their views.
Issues of concern included the continuing lack of progress of recognition of foreign credentials, and diminishing resources to help integrate immigrants into Canadian life so they can become productive and successful citizens.
Read on below for the minutes of the pre-Townhall consultation.
Minutes of Joyce Murray’s Asia Pacific Immigration Consultation with Community Leaders
August 13, 6-7 PM
Mount Pleasant Community Centre
1 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3H7
Joyce Murray Opening Remarks and Thanks
• Thank you to all the community leaders present who have taken the time to attend this consultation, and provide me with their insights and experiences. I am honoured that you have invested your time to share these views – we have 24 leaders originating from 10 different Asia-Pacific countries here today!
• Not all changes to the immigration system have been negative, but there seems to be a lack of consultation with communities and stakeholders, which I aim to counteract, as the Liberal Critic for the Asia Pacific Gateway, with meetings like this
• On the plus side, Ottawa is signalling a greater reliance on the Provincial Nominee Program, and will be coordinating with business on certain programs
• On the negative side, the government is pushing several myths: that refugees are massively abusing the Canadian immigration system, that these changes will lead to greater efficiency in processing of applications, and that the system will be impartial and independent from political interference by the Minister
Credentials recognition process
• There are problems and inefficiencies with the current process that are failing skilled workers, making it difficult to recruit the best and brightest with promises of future prosperity
• This is not a new issue, yet these is an ongoing lack of progress in improving the process
Immigrant integration into Canadian communities
• Integration must become a larger focus in Canada’s multicultural policy, and diminishing resources are making it more difficult for agencies to help immigrants integrate into Canadian life to become productive and successful citizens.
• While some integration efforts should be focused on language and employment, there has to also be a holistic perspective of new Canadians as our neighbours and community
Closure of immigration agency locations in BC
• The closure of immigration agency offices in BC is very troubling; Vancouver now holds the only Immigration offices left in BC
Lack of economic vision in partnership with Asia Pacific
• Economic troubles in the US and Europe mean that Canada must by necessity start looking to Asia for trade, and prepare for such a future; Canadian policies must embrace Asia, and keep our doors open to collaboration
• the current Government has not been proactive in the relationship with China, must work to engage all emerging economies better
• Vancouver in particular has generally benefited from business-immigration, and proposed restrictions will likely have negative effects that might not be immediately apparent for a couple years
Cancellation of backlogged applicants
• The cancellation of backlog hurts families immensely: they try to plan for the future, and they need certainty from the Canadian government
• The decision to cancel the skilled worker backlog is a black-eye on Canada’s international reputation, and legally and morally wrong
• Government is overlooking the family reunification process, which remains crucial to new Canadians
• Changes to health care for refugee applicants is also a big concern
• Many of these immigration changes seem to have been enacted by “ministerial fiat”
Thank you to all those who attended the consultation. I welcome future input from all participants to inform my critic role.
If there is any comment you would like to add, or any help I can provide, please do not hesitate to contact me.