For the first time in eight years, Canada’s score at the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) declined. The new data, which was released by the Ryerson University, showed the country’s score dropping by one point.
Although Canada only suffered a one-point decline, its lower index score still raised alarm as the country was before known as a leader in integrating newcomers. Furthermore, there was also the fear that the country’s score would continue to go down.
Some attributed the decline to the Canadian immigration’s recent changes in policies, especially regarding family reunification and access to nationality.
“Canada’s lower MIPEX score raises serious questions about the intentions and impact of the government’s new turn on immigration policies,” Migration Policy Group member Thomas Huddleston said.
According to The Star writers Harald Bauder and Ratna Omidvar, earning a Canadian citizenship and status has become harder now compared to the previous years.
They cited as an example Ottawa, which raised the citizenship application fee to over $500 for adults and made the citizenship test more difficult for its takers to pass. The city also increased the years for sponsorship commitment to dependants from 10 to 20 years and the income requirement for sponsoring parents by 30 percent.
With these and with the other changes in immigration policies, fewer immigrants have been becoming Canadian citizens at present. In 2000, about 79 percent of immigrants in the country became local citizens. In 2008, only about 26 of them became permanent residents, despite paying taxes and contributing to the state’s economy.
The MIPEX report asserted that the new restrictions ‘expected immigrant families to live up to standards that many national families could not.’
Meanwhile, No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, an anti-colonial migrant group, sought to expose Canada’s allegedly more restrictive and discriminatory immigration policies.
According to the migrant group, citizenship ‘became harder to get and easier to lose in the previous years. Despite a more vibrant migrant working program, permanent residency for refugees, skilled workers and family members were restricted… If migrants were allowed in, it came with a temporary, conditional or precarious status.’
They also pointed out that Canada has been ‘accepting more migrants under temporary permits lately than those who immigrate permanently… Migrant workers have been brought in as cheap laborers, while family-class immigrants and refugees were kept out.’
No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories has been set to launch its multimedia report today on the changes made in federal immigration, according to their statistical findings and interviews with refugees, migrant workers and local citizens.