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The Canadian Immigration Policy Needs An Overhaul

Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work in London

This week my family and I will bid farewell to a family that we have grown attached to and have gotten to know well.  All family members speak English, French and Spanish fluently, and have been employed for most of the four years that they have lived here on a work permit.  They decided to go the honest route of coming to Canada legally and applied for a work permit.  Within a short period of time (less than a year) they began to all work, contributing to our economy and often doing the work that many Canadian born people would not do.

The father was a civil engineer in his country of origin.  He was offered several managerial jobs in London because of his skills but they could not hire  him since he only had a work permit  that would soon expire.  The employers’ needed his skills as they could not find them amongst the current labour pool,   but  they couldn ‘t not hire him since they didn’t know if he would be around the complete the project.  As Canada embarks on more natural resource development, a person with his background in this area would be very useful to our country.  Nevertheless, he took jobs as a driver to earn a living and his wife and children were able to find work and contribute to our society.

These individuals applied for refugee status in Canada and were denied.  Their lives have been threatened for most of the time that they lived in their country of origin.  Some of the  refugee claimants who have been returned have been killed.

I completely understand what the Harper government is trying to do.  Their goal is to bring the best and the brightest to Canada and crack down on people who want to exploit the system, or who will not want to acculturate.  However, there are people right now who are being sent back who have been contributing here, who do speak the language and have come to see themselves as “Canadians”.  In another example, a family is being deported that runs a successful small business?  Small businesses are the backbone of our communities — they were serving a niche market that was currently underserved.  Why then do we want to send them back to face uncertainty when they have proven themselves to be worthy of staying?  It is not like our borders are ripping through the seams and we are facing a population explosion!

Why have we denied and punished this family for going the legal route and rewarded others who came here illegally?  What kind of precedence are we setting?

Mr. Kenney, I urge you to take a look at this system more closely.  These are only two examples, but how many more are there?  I assure you if you had the chance to personally meet these families and others  you would be proud to grant them citizenship. They embody the values of this wonderful country and would be appreciative and contributing members for a long time.  But for my dear friends, it is too late as they will be leaving in two days after living abroad for 12 years.  What a loss to Canada!

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