I would not have thought ten years ago that I would be expressing concern about immigration into Canada, but over time it has become fairly evident that there are some problems that need to be addressed. My friend, JA (a retired demographer) has set out some of them in some recent correspondence:
To me, our primary immigration policy, with its point system, seems reasonable enough, assuming the points are assigned in a rational way. The problems seem to be in to other areas:
1/ Abuse of the 'refugee' system
2/ Design and abuse of the 'family reunification' and sponsorship route.
The first is an absolute disgrace, and the government seems almost powerless to deal with it. The worst part seems to be the apparent inability to repatriate many who are, sometimes after years, eventually denied by the board.
The sponsorship route results in the immigration of many who would never qualify under the points system, and who subsequently become a major drain on the system. The safety net is supposed to be the legal responsibility of the sponsor(s) to pay for all 'essentials' for a period of between 3 and 10 years, depending on the family status of person sponsored.The big exception is medical care, for which the sponsor is off the hook after 3 months. All brothers and sisters of the sponsor are eligible for sponsorship, provided the parents are also sponsored. If all family members are already here and off sponsorship status, the sponsor can sponsor anyone else. Such folks are not required to meet employability expectations.
As for the legal responsibility of the sponsors, it seems there are several ways to get out of it (attachment [EE: see below]). Some immigration lawyers no doubt sub specialize in just that. Social workers tell of many 'lost sponsor' South Asians in their case loads in many areas, all on welfare after the sponsor(s) reneged. As for the statistical burden involved, just try to find out!
I would propose that as in many areas of public life, our immigration policies are superficial, penned out to appeal to the big city electorate. Ignatieff can be counted on to pander to the immigration lobby, as he needs to lock up the Toronto vote. Harper would, I'm sure, like to do a major overhaul but in a minority situation, there is no chance.
Our options are limited, if we are dedicated to generous immigration targets. The pool is what it is. The real question is: why is it is so important to stuff the country. Yes, I realize that pensions will suffer otherwise, but it's a choice I would make. Don't "Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses ...."
Here are the conditions that let sponsors off the hook: