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Fixing Canada's Immigration System

Michelle believes that Canada is a generous and compassionate country that has a long history of welcoming immigrants through a strong immigration system. Canadians accept immigration when certain criteria are met by those seeking to enter the country and by the government that is overseeing that process. Canadians expect those seeking to enter our country to do so lawfully, not abuse the generosity of any of our immigration processes or social programs, and they expect newcomers to integrate into Canada’s economic and social fabric. 


If a government allows those criteria to be overridden, Canadians lose confidence in the immigration system itself, and want less immigration.


Justin Trudeau has failed in this case, and as such, as lost social license to increase immigration levels in Canada.


Illegal Border Crossings


Justin Trudeau has implemented a new stream of immigration that has a zero day wait time, has no criteria for entry, has an enormous cost to the Canadian taxpayer, has no integration metrics, and involves entering Canada illegally.


This refers to the stream of entry at Roxham Road near Lacolle, Quebec, where tens of thousands of people who have reached the safety of upstate New York, are allowed by Trudeau to abuse the generosity of Canada’s asylum system. Having reached upstate New York, these people are not fleeing persecution and should not be treated as such by Justin Trudeau.


Instead of instituting policy to deter and stop people from entering Canada this way, and subsequently putting an enormous strain on the social welfare system that is paid for by Canadian taxpayers to first help Canadians in need, Trudeau has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make this system permanent. For example, in this year’s Supplementary Estimates (A), Trudeau has spent $50 million on temporary accommodations – read, hotels - for these illegal border crossers.


This is wrong, and to be crystal clear, Michelle and Canada’s Conservatives vehemently oppose this blatant abuse of our immigration and social welfare systems. Justin Trudeau has no plan to remove them, even though many of them do not have a valid reason to be in Canada. He has no plan on how to pay for them while they’re here. He has allocated a significant amount of resources, including processing capacity at the Immigration department, to this new immigration stream. In the meantime, those seeking to enter Canada legally are facing increasing wait times, and worse, the world’s most vulnerable people, including genocide victims in Iraq, get a cold shoulder from this Prime Minister.


In fact, when you examine the breakdown of the number of privately sponsored refugees and government sponsored refugees in the supplementary note to the levels plan, the numbers stagnate over three years, while the number of protected persons – the category for illegal border crossers – continues to go up. The spots that should have been reserved for the world’s most vulnerable are being given to those who don’t play by the rules and have reached upstate New York. The could be given to reunify family members with new Canadians who are working hard to bring them to this country legally. This is wrong.



Economic Immigration


In the past, Trudeau has made the claim that his humanitarian immigration programs will bolster the Canadian economy. He cannot make the argument that allowing immigration through his illegal border crossing program helps the Canadian economy, because he does not track how many of these people are employed, or if they are employed, if they are potentially competing with Canadians for jobs. He doesn’t track the total social welfare costs associated with the same. He also cannot make the argument that Canada should be helping these people regardless of if they work or not, because they are not fleeing persecution, as evidenced by his support of the Safe Third Country Agreement, but failure to extend it across the entire Canadian/US land border which Michelle has called on his government to do.


This failure extends to other humanitarian cohorts as well. Data on the integration of the Syrian refugee cohort is limited, where it exists at all. The most recent data that the Minister has provided Parliament suggests that 90% of government sponsored Syrian refugees are unemployed and require social welfare support.


Previous reports suggested that one quarter of Ottawa’s homeless shelter capacity was filled by asylum seekers, and Trudeau will have to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to the provinces to deal with the cost of housing, and providing social welfare to those who are entering Canada illegally at Roxham Road.


Similarly, Trudeau’s immigration levels has no information on how the government arrived at its economic immigration levels. The report contains no information on how the provinces or industry were consulted. Further, Trudeau has decreased the amount of points a potential economic immigrant needs to enter Canada in relation to having a firm job offer, without showing Canadians how these immigrants are being matched to available jobs or sectors with labour needs in real time. It is impossible for Trudeau to make the claim that this levels plan will benefit the Canadian economy without this data or a more robust process for consultation.

  

Under Justin Trudeau, Canadians have seen that the ratio of economic immigration has been reduced under the his government. But, with an aging workforce and acute labour shortages, economic immigration must remain a key priority of Canada’s economic immigration system. Canadians and industry are strongly supportive of a robust economic immigration stream. Improving our economic immigration system is not only prudent but absolutely necessary to fortify Canada’s economy and future competitiveness. 


Temporary Foreign Workers
 

Under the Liberal government, they have successively raised the number of temporary foreign workers each year, in spite of evidence that this program is rife with abuse. For example, the Auditor General’s 2017 Spring Report found that the use of the program could be depressing wages and contributing to poor working conditions; that there was a failure to protect the rights of workers, and that there was a failure to match out of work Canadians with available jobs first. For employers who actually have a business case to use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the process is cumbersome, slow and overly punitive. That this government has made no move to change Canada’s economic dependence on this abusive and ill thought-out system, also undermines the credibility of this government to manage the immigration system.


Conservative Plan


Michelle has repeatedly stated how an Andrew Scheer led government would work to make changes to Canada’s immigration system. The Conservative approach would:

  • First recognize that how we allow people to enter the country, and who we allow to do so, matters. Justin Trudeau has failed to recognize this principle.
  • End the practice of setting immigration levels by an auction for votes or a seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Immediately seek to dramatically decrease the number of people entering Canada illegally via upstate New York and subsequently claiming asylum. Conservatives would do so by seeking to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement, and significantly expedite the processing and removal of those who Trudeau allowed in. The lengthy process between entering Canada illegally and being removed, all while being able to access social welfare programs, is an incentive for this behaviour that must be ended. It is not acceptable that Trudeau has planned on this being a permanent situation.
  • Conservatives would also establish a set of metrics to determine what Canada’s immigration levels should be, based on transparent principles, with integration and self-sufficiency at the forefront. For Canadians to see immigration as a positive thing, they should be able to easily see the employment and social welfare statistics for immigration levels for any given year and stream.
  • Conservatives would also establish a transparent system for consulting with industry and the provinces to set immigration levels.
  • Conservatives would focus on setting humanitarian immigration levels that focus on higher utilization of the privately sponsored refugee program, where individual Canadians through their own funds, not taxpayer funds, support the entry of refugees, and would restrict the utilization of the government assisted refugee program to instances of the four atrocity crimes.
  • Conservatives would end the practice of allowing the United Nations to be the sole agency for selecting humanitarian immigrants to be resettled to Canada, and we would not cede our sovereign right in setting immigration levels to this agency.
  • Conservatives would reform the Temporary Foreign Worker program and not shy away from difficult conversations around employment insurance, working conditions, and wage depression associated with the program and other reasons why Canadians don’t take or aren’t skilled for certain jobs, and ensure that Canadians are first matched with available work.
  • Conservatives would also change our immigration programs and support to better focus economic immigration levels and retention to regions with acute labour shortages. It is not enough to cite the Conference Board of Canada in saying that the economy needs more immigrants; immigration levels should be set to ensure that newcomers are matched with jobs in regions where Canadians are not out of work.

In short, a Conservative government would not pull a number out of the air in terms of how many people we would allow into the country. The number we would present to Canadians would be shaped by the above principles, and would be answered as follows:

  • There are X number of job vacancies in a certain industry or region, here’s the reason why Canadians aren’t doing the job, here’s what we did to try to fix that problem, and as such we are allowing X number of people to enter Canada, with X skill set, to fill this need. Then we would track our outcomes to make sure our programs are working.
  • On the humanitarian side, we would not allow people to enter Canada illegally and abuse our asylum system. The target number for that stream of entry should be zero. All other targets would be met by gaining consensus from Canadians that we should help a certain cohort of people (for example, genocide survivors), and then gaining consensus from Canadians on how much money we should spend to support the initiative, in terms of the cost of integrating into Canada, and in the context of putting the needs of Canadians first. We wouldn’t take a false morally superior position that excludes Canadians from helping to decide how our humanitarian immigration system should function, and be funded.


Forcing action from the Liberals on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

 

Previous disturbing reports indicated that practitioners of female genital mutilation (FGM) have been travelling to Canada to perform this procedure. FGM has lifelong detrimental effects on women and girls, and it is estimated that more than 200 million girls worldwide have been subjected to these horrific practices. Canada cannot stand idly by while this continues to happen. 


Despite these reports that this form of violence against women is happening in Canada, reports suggested that the Trudeau government previously decided to remove reference to the practice in its draft version of the Canadian Citizenship Guide. Michelle strongly believes when this practice is on the rise in Canada, we must not turn a blind eye and let our women and girls suffer in silence. 


That is why Michelle sponsored a petition (E-1310) calling on the government to reverse the proposed deletion of reference to FGM from the draft citizenship guide. Thanks to over 25,000 Canadians and Michelle's advocacy the Liberals announced that they will keep reference to FGM in the guide.


Conservatives have now called on the government to create a  comprehensive plan to combat FGM in Canada. This plan must include measures to prevent practitioners of FGM from entering Canada, and to prevent Canadian girls from being taken abroad to have FGM performed on them in other countries. As a pluralistic society that respects the equality of women, this is the very least we can do to fight these harmful practices at home and abroad. 


Standing Up For Genocide Survivors


After intense public pressure Michelle forced the government to unanimously support a motion to see Yazidi genocide survivors brought to Canada. 


 The Yazidi people are a small ethnic and religious minority located primarily in northern Iraq who are faced with the genocide of their entire population. This small group of people have been mercilessly persecuted and specifically targeted by ISIS in an attempt to purge them from the planet. The atrocities facing the Yazidis on a daily basis include rape, torture and murder.

 Despite passing the motion to bring Yazidis to Canada Liberals continue to fail to live up to their agreement. Michelle has continued to hold them to account for their inaction to protect the world's most vulnerable individuals.