Why Canada Curbed Visa for Skilled Workers?

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Viewpoint: By  N S Vekataraman *           

Ever since the government of Canada imposed restrictions on temporary work visas for skilled professionals  around two years back, there has been much concern about this policy , particularly amongst Asians  living in India, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka and other countries.

It is reported that the government of India  would take up this issue in a meeting with Canadian authorities shortly.

Becoming a country of migrants

It is well known that Canada today is essentially  becoming a country of immigrant population , who have been given citizenship over the years.

Indo Canadians are the third largest non European immigrant group in the country, after people of Chinese and Filipino descent. Due to political turmoil and prejudice, many people including Indians residing in the African Great Lakes nations such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have left  the region for Canada . A majority of Indo Canadians from southeast Africa are  Muslims with significant number of Hindus mostly from south Africa.

In the total  population of around 36. 25 million in Canada, Indo Canadians constitute around 1.25 million (around 4% of the national population) and Chinese Canadians constitute around 1.5 million (around 4.5 % of national population) and there are migrants from several other countries  including USA, who are now citizens of Canada.

Of course, Canada has seen American emigration before. Some 100,000 U S loyalists settled in north Canada because of the American Revolution, 300,000 American pioneers were estimated to have settled in the Canadian prairies in the early  20th century and more than  200,000  Americans who were not happy with the compulsory army service  and  facing war  crimes ,   left  USA  to Canada during  the length of the Vietnam war.

Attractive destination for migrants

Over the years, Canada has become  an attractive destination for the people across the world , who would want to leave their own motherland for whatever reasons and look for greener  pastures in some other regions. Due to huge natural resources , a strong economy, a liberal government  with friendly immigration policies  in Canada, people from different countries desire to  migrate to Canada and the numbers are steadily  increasing.

The migrant population in Canada from various countries now have not only gained a  big say in the affairs of Canada but also have started influencing the developments  in the country in a decisive way as per their traditional perspectives.

Most of  the migrants from different countries still maintain sort of emotional attachment to their motherland and continue to adopt their particular native  life style , though they are citizens of Canada . Thus, an element of sharp  diversity  amongst the population  is happening  which is becoming increasingly evident. This  may not be advantageous all the time. Conflict of interests between people of different origins are bound to take place at one time or the other  though occasionally.

Does Canada need migrants?

All said and done, with the fertility rate remaining at 1.64 children ,Canada faces   the piquant situation of depending on immigrants to sustain it’s population  and it’s growth.

There is obvious concern that the increasingly diversified population may create an element of imbalance in the society in the coming years.

This is a chicken or egg situation facing Government of Canada. 

Why restrictions on visas for skilled professionals?

Historically, Canadian governments have attempted to check the influx of immigrants on several occasions. However, in mid sixties , Canada began transition  towards the policy of multi culturalism and abandoned all discriminatory  immigration policies. In 1967,  all immigration quotas based on specific ethnic groups were scrapped .

The restrictions on temporary work visas for skilled professionals that was imposed two years back may be an attempt to reverse such immigration policies,  so that an un desirable   and  unmanageable situation due to cultural diversities  and differences   will be prevented. Though the government of Canada has not said so, many think that this could be the reason for the move .

In recent times, there have been number of protests from the Canadians that  the overseas migrants are  taking the jobs away from Canadians  It is alleged that Royal Bank of Canada replaced the Canadian employees by temporary foreign workers including from India due to an outsourcing arrangement. There are also protests about the  alleged displacement of Canadian workers by temporary foreign workers at McDonald’s restaurants. There are many other similar complaints.

With number of members of parliament belonging to the families that   have migrated to Canada several decades back, there is even greater concern amongst native Canadians whether foreign workers would  get  more liberal entry into Canada. There are !9 Canadian Indians in parliament and 4 Canadian Indian ministers in Trudeau cabinet.

The critics of the liberal immigration policy say that those who come on temporary work visas rarely go back and  they settle down by becoming citizens.

Probably, such critics want an “anti dumping immigrant policy “ in Canada and the views of such critics and  their protests  have, perhaps, influenced the decision of the Canada government to restrict temporary work visas for skilled professionals.

* N.S.Venkataraman, Chemical Engineer by profession, is the founder Trustee of Nandini Voice for The Deprived in Chennai, India. nandinivoice.com

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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