Time to Decentralize Immigration?

In a fast changing industrial climate, provinces and cities should have more say in determining the right skilled workforce for their economies.

Citizenship and Immigration CanadaAlthough yours truly was invited to but missed attending, the recent unveiling of Ontario’s new Immigration Strategy has had me revisit what I’ve always wondered: Why most of the, if not all, Federal Skilled Workers Program framework not handed over to provinces in order to make it more granular, sharper and effective in terms of better qualified immigrant intake.

Afterall, it’s the provinces (and cities) which are the end recipients of the quality of skilled workers they end up with – leading to all else that is inevitably tied to immigration, like healthcare, education, transport, etc.

But I can appreciate that it hasn’t been quite possible to do that lately. Especially within the backdrop of our dark times when a far-right-wing, anti-immigrant federal administration is headed by an Orwellian Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, plus an even more ultra conservative, far-right supremacist Right-Honourable Federal Minister of Employment & “Multiculturalism” (how’s the irony treating you thus far, my dear newbie migrant?)

Better qualified workers? More skilled immigrants? With that kinda ideologically drunk racket? Good luck, Ontario!

I imagine if only he could get away with it, the Imperial High Minister would simply gather all the press into his office one morning and declare to his staff: Hey, let’s do away with immigration altogether, dismantle CIC, revoke citizenship of all past or present smelly foreign-looking buggers, fill up the boats and Bob’s your uncle!

But then again, I am an immigrant admitted to Canada by the same Federal Skilled Worker Program myself. And some would say it’s a testimony in itself that the system is broken, ha!

No, but seriously, the old manufacturing norms in the industrialized world are eroding fast, creating imminent need to attract a more knowledge-based, much smarter, leaner, meaner work force.

With Canada in dire need of more such high-worth skilled individuals – rather than hordes of mismatched, under-utilized workers to who the system is the most unfair, most callous and most unforgiving – I think not only are the provincial interests more pronounced than ever, they are in urgent need of addressing on a federal, heck, on broader national level.

I wouldn’t be surprised even if big cities like Toronto, Montreal or Calgary have started shopping for ideas regarding their own desired frameworks for direct handling, in some way, of top-skilled workforce.

Come to think of it. Provinces and metropolitan areas bear the brunt of receiving immigrants in more ways than a blanket federal system is designed, equipped or sensitive to appreciate.

Canada requires a constant stream of immigrants for maintaining the balance between an ageing, retiring population and shortage of qualified, educated entrants in various 21st century fields of service-based occupations. And with such continuous influx, provincial/metro economic conditions must be tested considerably, more often microscopically, if unsuitably equipped immigrants are sent in by the droves via a CIC that’s been made all too incompetent by the Right(eous) honourable Minster of High Conservative values in recent times.

As more mismatched and unsuitably equipped immigrants enter a volatile social climate, there is the inevitable rise of sinister opposition to immigration not only by bona fide xenophobe-loonies, but also selfish immigrant loonies who just want it all for themselves. As a result, there is bound to be rampant resentment also from the “slightly old” newcomers towards a stream of “new newcomers” sent by a system governed by an ideology whose priorities and interests appear more towards dumbing down the society, not smartening it.

Giving provinces (and even cities) more weighted leverage in inviting foreign high-skilled professionals should be an important step towards a better immigration system.

Though I’m not holding my breath for any ‘real’ improvement towards a more focused Immigration Strategy, be it provincial (or local.)

Afterall, any genuine effort to make immigration work better seems unlikely, in my opinion, as long as the Dark Side of the Force reigns supreme in full imperial Federal glory.

Which, given the rise of the Almighty Right, the cynic in me sadly sees flourishing for a long time.

First Published: December 13th, 2012


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