The pace and scope of change in Canada's immigration system in recent years "leaves one breathless," said the Maytree Foundation.
From 2008 to July 1, 2012, the federal government has made changes to every aspect of immigration policy, including the way in which reform is undertaken, and more changes are proposed.
While some of the recent changes are positive, many are problematic, found Maytree’s new report Shaping the Future: Canada's Rapidly Changing Immigration Policies. The changes could have a dramatic impact on both the social and economic fabric of Canada and how the country is perceived by potential immigrants from around the world, it said.
"Perhaps Canadians have become complacent in thinking that there will always be a long line of people waiting to come here," said Naomi Alboim, report co-author and Maytree Senior Fellow. "But we can't take our reputation, or our past success, for granted."
The report describes how reforms have been taken without meaningful consultation with the provinces or public, and through the use of increased ministerial powers and omnibus budget bills that do not benefit from the usual checks and balances of Parliament.
To guide future reform, four key principles should be taken into consideration, found the report. Immigration policy should:
•be based primarily on long-term social and economic objectives and a commitment to citizenship
•be evidence-based, comprehensive, fair and respectful of human rights
•be developed through public and stakeholder engagement, meaningful federal-provincial-territorial consultation, and democratic processes
•enhance Canada's reputation around the world.
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