Canada Loves These Immigrants
A recent article in the Globe and Mail caught my eye. The piece was about young, unemployed Irish tradespeople who, of late, have been flocking to Toronto in record numbers.
It’s been said that Ireland’s chief export is people and there is a tradition of Irish immigration to Toronto that dates back some 200 years. So it’s no surprise that an ailing Irish economy has given rise to an inpouring of work-hungry young men to Canada’s Queen City in search of better opportunities.
Make no mistake, this is all legal and above-board thanks to Canada’s generous International Experience visa program, which allows recipients to travel, work and live temporarily in Canada. And although this particular visa cannot be extended beyond one year it can, under the right circumstances, morph into Canadian permanent residency. If you are interested in learning more about the International Experience Canada visa program you can check out the latest edition of CICNews.
By all accounts this is a “win-win” situation. The newspaper reports that virtually all of the Irish visa holders find work within days of their arrival in Canada. And as far as Citizenship and Immigration Canada is concerned, this must all be good because since 2008 Ottawa has doubled the number of these visas offered to Irish citizens. About 5,000 will be issued this year.
Two observations come to mind. The first has to do with the commentary section that followed the Globe and Mail story. What readers had to say was overwhelmingly positive. A few examples follow:
“Welcome to the Irish!!! Come one, come all!!!”
“Welcome to Canada. May you have a wonderful life in our great country.”
“Canada needs immigration. It is only smart to try and bring in immigrants that need less costly support to get them started.”
Usually, newspaper articles that focus on immigration get a somewhat mixed response from those who bother to post their opinions. A common theme centers on new arrivals taking jobs that would otherwise go to Canadians. And that’s one of the milder complaints. Yes, it’s probably true that the majority of Canadians don’t harbour such negative feelings, but as a rule they don’t bother to contradict the naysayers. In this particular situation there was very little griping and lots of cheers to the idea of Irish immigration. I wonder what the comments would have looked like had the story been about a similar bunch of unemployed tradespeople from India.
The second point I want to make concerns the International Experience visa program, itself. Canada grants privileged entry to the young, and in some cases I’m sure, shiftless citizens of select countries. Noticeably absent from the list of the lucky are all of the countries that make up South Asia. Keep in mind that it’s no small number of these visas that are issued each year. Last year, more than 35,000 individuals were able to come live and work in Canada within weeks of applying. More than that, as I mentioned above, these “temporary workers” were put on a path in Canada that can lead to permanent status. Is that fair to the thousands of qualified South Asian Skilled Worker applicants, who have been waiting for years just to have their applications assessed? Here’s a suggestion for our policymakers. Put a moratorium on the International Experience visa initiative and give those 35,000 slots to the people who remain patiently in line to start new lives in Canada.