As risk of losing my job (hehe), I’m writing this post. You see, I’m a Settlement Counsellor and Labour Market Specialist for immigrants. My livelihood depends on a continuing flow of immigrants into Canada.
And yet, the reality is, the Canadian government needs to stop the flow of foreigners into Canada in order to provide its own citizens with jobs.
Not only stop the flow of official landed immigrants, but also cease allowing British, Australian, Japanese, Sweden and other nationals to come into Canada on work visas. I live near Vancouver, BC, and I constantly meet people from overseas who are working here temporarily, doing the SAME JOBS that local people should be doing.
This steals jobs from our own youth. And most importantly, our First Nations young people whose population has grown in leaps and bounds in the last couple decades, especially in Northern BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
My opinion is nothing new. Check out these recent articles. DISCLAIMER: I am the arch-enemy of the federal Conservatives, but at the very least they took a little bit of their time to listen to what some First Nations people have had to say regarding Canadian immigration. Thank God! This was a first, apparently. Here goes:
By: Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press
Posted: 09/20/2012 6:06 PM | Comments: 34
OTTAWA – The Conservative government has wrapped up its consultations on next year’s immigration targets by breaking new ground — a precedent-setting sit-down with First Nations.
And by meeting with a traditionally disadvantaged group — one that has vocally questioned Canada’s generous immigration policy — the government may be signalling what’s to come in 2013.
Rick Dykstra, the parliamentary secretary to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, met Thursday with representatives of the Assembly of First Nations and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
It was the final consultation as the ministry prepares the immigration target numbers, and their composition, that are expected to be released in November.
Dykstra called the meeting “very productive.”
“The aboriginal community has a very unique opinion on immigration issues, and not hesitating to talk about the economy at the same time,” he told The Canadian Press in an interview. “So it was very fruitful.”
Citizenship and Immigration can find no record of aboriginal communities being consulted on immigration policy, a point that has not been lost on First Nations leaders — some of whom pointedly refer to all non-aboriginal Canadians as immigrants.
“It’s a whole new stepping stone for us,” said Dykstra.
As for the tenor of the meeting, he said: “I think the general consensus on the actual numbers was to maintain or perhaps move down in terms of what our average has been over the last couple of years.”
Every year the federal government consults with various stakeholder groups before setting the following year’s immigration targets in early November.
The numbers have remained fairly stable under Conservative and Liberal governments. Total intake in 2011 was almost 250,000 migrants, compared with 262,000 in 2005, the last year under the Liberals.
But the makeup of those immigrants is in constant flux. In 2007, Canada accepted just over 66,000 family-class immigrants and 131,000 in the economic class. Last year, the family class comprised only 56,446 while economic immigrants had jumped to 156,121.
The Conservative government is also allowing more temporary foreign workers into the country. By last December, there were more than 300,000 such workers, a jump of 50 per cent since 2007.
That has prompted some grumbling in First Nations communities.
This summer, Betty Ann Lavallee, the national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples — which represents urban natives — said Canada needs to train and employ aboriginal youth, not bring in foreign help.
“It’s very important because we are a young generation, we are fast-growing and we are the next labour force for Canada,” said Lavallee.
“We do not need to be bringing in immigrants. We are ready and prepared to work. We are a mobile people. We just need a little bit of help.”
It is not a new complaint.
In 2010 two chiefs in northern Ontario made news when they held an education rally in Sault Ste. Marie that was overtly anti-immigration.
“What I say is close the borders,” Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers was quoted telling the rally.
“Don’t be bringing 200,000 more foreigners into these lands if you can’t even look after the responsibilities you have to us already.”
And in 2005 the Assembly of First Nations examined — and discarded — a resolution to “freeze all immigration coming into Canada until the federal government addresses, commits, and delivers resources to First Nations to improve the housing conditions, education, health and employment in First Nations communities.”
Dystra said Thursday’s meeting was not about moratoriums or shutting the door on immigration.
“I did not get that message at all,” he said.
“There definitely was a leaning toward lowering the numbers, for at least a little while, to assist them in their endeavour to help with youth unemployment.”
He said the aboriginal groups are seeking more continuing consultations, including with provincial ministries, as immigration and labour policy becomes entwined.
Potential of aboriginal workforce, and other underemployed groups, offsets need for mass immigrationBy Martin Collacott, Vancouver Sun October 2, 2012
The Canadian Press reported on Sept. 20 that Rick Dykstra, the parliamentary secretary to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, met with representatives of the Assembly of First Nations and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to obtain their views on immigration policy. This is the first time such a meeting has taken place with leaders of Canada’s native communities and is significant in terms of ascertaining their views on the extent to which current immigration levels may affect the prospects of bringing more people from their communities into the workforce.
According to the report, various native leaders have recently expressed concern over the impact that Canada’s high immigration levels (around a quarter of a million people a year) and recently expanded temporary foreign workers program (about 300,000 are now in the country) are having on potential native employment. This summer, for example, Betty Ann Lavallee, the national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples – which represents urban natives – said Canada needs to train and employ aboriginal youth, not bring in foreign help.
Dykstra, in the event, described the Sept. 20 meeting as “very productive.” While making the point that he was not asked to shut the door on immigration, he indicated “there definitely was a leaning toward lowering the numbers, for at least a little while, to assist them in their endeavour to help with youth unemployment.”
It should come as no surprise that aboriginal leaders are questioning the need for large-scale immigration when so many of their own people are unemployed. While finding ways of bringing more native people into the workforce will require imagination and persistence, the fact is that most of Canada’s expected labour short-ages can be met through our existing human resources and, with sufficient planning and organization, aboriginals should be able to play a major role in this process.
A full two decades ago, the Economic Council of Canada in its land-mark study of the Economic and Social Impacts of Immigration concluded that large-scale immigration could not be justified on either economic or demographic grounds in the Canada of the day and that instances were rare where immigration provided a better means of filling labour gaps than making use of our existing human resources.
Essentially the same conclusions were reached more recently by professors Alan Green of Queen’s University and David Green of the University of B.C. While there were periods in our history when we benefited from high immigration levels – as for example when we settled the West a century ago – their research showed that we now have both the human resources as well as educational and training facilities to meet almost all of our labour needs. If we allow wages to rise when there are shortages in certain sectors, more Canadians will acquire the necessary training to fill the jobs. If, on the other hand, we bring in large numbers of foreign workers, wages will stay low and fewer Canadians will be drawn into the workforce.
What Canada needs is a robust and comprehensive national employment strategy for making better use of our existing workforce, whether it involves retraining of people who have been laid off or drawing more aboriginals and young persons into the work-force, along with making greater use of older people who can still make a contribution.
Such a national strategy will involve a number of considerations.
One will be to remove disincentives such as employment insurance pro-grams that deter able-bodied Canadians from full participation in the workforce. We also need to look at why so many young people today are obtaining educational credentials in fields where there are no shortages of qualified people – and perhaps even surpluses, while at the same time ignoring career paths where they could make a good living.
In connection with the last point, we must ensure that training and apprenticeship programs are readily available to those who wish to take them since we can expect some of the most severe labour shortages to be in the skilled trades. To achieve this will require the full cooperation of both the private sector and labour unions if we are to serve the best interests of Canadians and not just the organizations themselves.
This does not mean we stop bringing in immigrants altogether but that we do so only when it is clear that we are making full use of workers and potential workers already in the country. Our first obligation after all is to provide employment for people already here, whether they be aboriginals, Canadians in general or recently arrived immigrants.
Credit is due to the representatives of the Assembly of First Nations and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples for speaking up about the importance of finding employment for their people before bringing in workers from abroad. This, indeed, should be one of the first priorities of a comprehensive national employment strategy.
Martin Collacott is a spokesman for the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and lives in Vancouver.