Learn the facts about how Canada’s immigration works

Building walls, separating families, stealing jobs, illegal workers: these are hot topics in the media relating to immigration. But the truth is that Canada has a very comprehensive and sophisticated immigration system that takes into consideration economic factors, family reunification, humanitarian considerations, and refugee claims. 

But there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Below are the top three misconceptions.

Myth one: we don’t need immigrants 

Unless you are from an Indigenous group originating in Canada, your own history is part of the long, complex history of world migration. Reflecting on one’s own family history usually reveals the role migration has played in our own lives and the contributions to Canada’s current state. 

The objectives of our immigration system are clearly laid out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The complete act is available online, and in the objectives it is clear that Canada uses immigration to “pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration” and is created to further Canadian interests. (IRPA, 3)

Myth two: there are too many illegal immigrants!  

In Canada, if someone is without legal status, they can apply to gain legal status and seek the appropriate visa or resident status. Canada does not have the issue of illegal immigrants hiding from Canadian Border Services agents. In general, the issue in Canada is not the same as the United States, where undocumented immigrants have few if any options to become legal. It benefits both the foreign national and Canada to ensure some type of legal status. Without the ability to reinstate status, people tend to hide and seek illegal employment, leaving them open to exploitation and circumventing taxation. According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, “If a visitor, worker or student has lost their status, they may apply to reinstate or restore their status in accordance with section 182 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.” There are time limits and requirements, but an option is available.

Myth three: immigrants are stealing our jobs! 

The answer here is a bit complicated. As a rule, when assessing any issue involving business or labour the old catchphrase follow the money comes to mind. This is also true in Canada’s immigration system. Canada welcomes highly skilled individuals, investors, and entrepreneurs—folks who can contribute to the economy by providing opportunity or labour that the government has deemed to be in a shortage. There is demand for certain skills and abilities to push economic growth forward. The economic class is a system designed to attract talent, while minimizing the risk on the public system. The success of this system is controversial as it isn’t proven that the money generated by investments and highly skilled immigration stays in Canada, but that is another topic of its own.  

Some companies claim that the labour force in Canada cannot provide a skill or is not available to fill some positions required to operate their business. If an employer can prove they have posted a job and have had no success recruiting, they can seek permission to hire foreign workers. This is often done through something called a Labour Market Impact Assessment or LMIA. Once an employer receives a confirmation letter, the employer gives it to the foreign worker and instructs the worker to apply for the work permit. 

The Canadian immigration system and its issuance of work permits has complex requirements and a variety of policies in place to try to identify and ensure a real need for labour. In Alberta, the provincial government houses Labour and Immigration under one ministry. So, the story of a random migrant worker showing up and getting your job without the direct support of the employer and government isn’t really happening. The employers are specifically looking for foreign workers and seeking the government’s approval to do so.  To find out more about the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, find it online here: https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/i-2.5/. You can also contact your local Member of Parliament for questions related to federal immigration or your local MLA for questions around provincial immigration initiatives.

Featured Image: There’s a lot of inflammatory misinformation about immigration in Canada. | Pixabay