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Canada Eyes Prosperity and Cohesion with Realigned Immigration Policy

Realigning its immigration policy, Canada has begun accepting immigrants under an overhauled policy framework that puts greater emphasis on factors such as applicant's job skills and fluency in English or French. Apart from ensuring that new immigrants are able to prosper economically, the new approach also seeks to eliminate some of the "barbaric cultural practices" of South-Asian immigrants.

Rationale - fix widening economic and social gap

The rationale of this new approach is to fix the widening economic gap between locals and majority of the immigrants selected under Canada's old applicant-screening system. A Wall Street Journal report says, since the 1970s pay among immigrants has increasingly fallen further, behind pay of locals. The report quoting study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a nonpartisan Montreal think tank, says, in the 1970s, new immigrants earned 85 per cent to 90 per cent of what the Canadian-born did. That had fallen to between 60 per cent and 70 per cent by 2006.

Immigrants from Asia and Middle-East rise

Among the new immigrant population, South and Southeast Asians are falling behind fastest. For example in 2012, 13 per cent of Pakistanis aged 15 and over were unemployed in Canada as against 9 per cent of the wider Canadian population and 4.5 per cent unemployment for Britons in Canada.

This widening gap between local and new immigrants, has led Canadians to ask whether immigrants are actually being able to integrate well enough into Canadian society and productive members.

Canada fears that widening economic gap could lead to immigration-related social tension, of the type seen in other developed economies.
A recent survey conducted by a Toronto research group, Environics Institute, found that 70 per cent of respondents feel that too many immigrants were not adopting Canadian values, up from 58 per cent, who held a similar view in 2005.

"We are reproducing ghettos of immigrants and migrant workers and diluting Canada's traditional values to accommodate immigrants who will not integrate," said Salim Mansur, a University of Western Ontario political-science professor and immigrant from India, quoted in the WSJ.

Immigrants from Asia and Middle-East rise

The dilution of Canada’s traditional cultural value system is evident as we evaluate the geographical shift of immigration source. Before 1970s, Europeans accounted for 78 per cent of the immigration into Canada, with Asians and Middle Easterners making up 8.5 per cent. This changed between 2006 and 2011 as Asians and Middle Easterners immigrants rose to 57 per cent of arrivals and number of Europeans fell to 14 per cent.

With the revamped points system, the government now hopes to evaluate and attract immigrants with certain trade skills, those with the ability to prosper economically in Canada. It also seeks to achieve closer social integration and eliminate some of the cultural practices, traditionally associated with South Asian immigrants. 

Economic prosperity and social adaptability

The WSJ reports that under Canada's new points system, greater emphasis is placed on an immigrant's fluency in either of the nation's two official languages – English and French. It evaluates how well the applicants' qualifications match Canadian requirements and whether they have employment arranged in Canada. The system also judges the social adaptability of the applicants and factors in, the time previously spent by the applicant in Canada.

Closer review of the new immigration policy guidelines also indicates an effort to achieve closer socio-cultural integration and cohesion. At least, the attempt is to eliminate some of deplorable social norms and practices that several immigrant families from South-Asian countries have been infamous for. 
The new guide outlines that Canada will not, tolerate "barbaric cultural practices" such as "honour killings," forced marriage and "other gender-based violence."

Welcoming immigrants

For years, Canadians have largely embraced waves of immigrants. The country has had the highest per capita immigrants than any other developed economies. 
According to statistics, more than 20 per cent of Canadian residents were foreign-born in 2011, compared to 13 per cent in the U.S.

Further, in 2012, Canada allowed 275,887 new permanent residents, about 0.79 per cent of the population. The U.S. on the other hand granted just over one million green cards, about 0.32% of the population.

But the government now says the old applicant-screening system, which saw the immigration boom, placed less emphasis on language skills, social integration and economic potential.

However, even under the new policy framework, experts feel that Canada continues to be an attractive and welcoming destination for immigration.  

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