ISSN 2330-717X

Why Canada Curbed Visa For Skilled Workers? – OpEd


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 among Asians living in India, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka and other countries.

It is reported that the government of India could 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 US 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 undesirable 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 among 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.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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