Canada is known as a diverse multicultural society with its main reliance on immigration to prop up the population and has become ethnically diverse through the growth of the visible minority population. Every year Canada welcomes 225,000 immigrants. Recent demographic census of Canada suggests that over the next decade visible minorities will represent almost a quarter of the population of Canada and half of the population of Toronto and Vancouver. Andrew Cardozo and Ravi Pandaker argue that issues related to ethnicity should be treated in the policy foreground (Cardozo and Pandaker, 7). This study will argue that not enough attention has been paid to these issues. This paper will argue that Canada’s political institutions and parties do not sufficiently reflect the ethnic make-up of the country. This is because they do not include immigrants or visible minorities, nor do they defend their interests.
New Canadians face many challenges. Unfortunately, some of their biggest hurdles are the ones imposed on them by the Canadian government. First, the Federal Government is not doing enough to recognize foreign degrees, credentials and job experience. Second, the Federal Government is not coordinating its efforts with municipalities and provincial governments to assist new Canadians. Third new Canadians and visible minorities are under-represented in government and do not have enough political power to address these problems. Additional skills and language training as well as civic education and liberalization of recognition of foreign credential would assist new Canadians in adjusting to life in this country. But it is unlikely that these measures will come about unless immigrant communities begin to mobilize politically and government begins to change its priorities with regard to immigrant groups. This study will consider some of the initiatives that would assist new arrivals in Canada and some of the obstacles these groups face in making their voices heard within the Canadian political sphere.
The Recognition of Foreign Credentials
The hard-earned education and experience of many immigrants is not recognized. Furthermore, employers are reluctant to hire new Canadians and discrimination in terms of pay inequity results. These facts force many immigrants into underemployment. In this context,
It is somewhat ironic that education is a key requirement to be accepted into Canada. New Canadian’s are forced to take low paying jobs with no educational requirement. As a result, they have less time and money to participate in politics and represent their interests and retain political influence and political office. How could a person educated as lawyer in Pakistan become a Member of Parliament (MP)? Is he is working 60 hours a week in a menial job? He has to take care of his family. This lack of economic means create a situation in which new Canadians are under represented in parliament. It also means that political parties do not necessarily create legislation to assist immigrants, because new Canadians are seen as having fewer resources, less interest in politics and low rate of political participation. Thus immigrants do not receive French and English language training that they need to succeed in Canada and the instructions in civics that they need to fully participate in Canadian politics.
Immigrants are expected to immigrate to Canada with skills that they can offer the workforce, thereby improving the economy. Yet, the education of many new Canadians is deemed useless and they are forced to take minimum-wage paying jobs. This underutilization of their skills results in frustration and often despairs as they encounter barriers to fully participate in Canadian life (Jeffrey G. Reitz, 2005). Reitz calculated that foreign-educated immigrants earned $2.4 billion less than native-born Canadians with formally comparable skills because they worked in occupations that were beneath their skill level. Furthermore, at least two-thirds of the unutilized foreign-acquired would have had productive value in Canada (Jeffrey G. Reitz, 2005).
Thus the New Canadians being in lower income groups become burden on the economy rather than effectively participating in the growth of the economy. If the same funds which they receive as low income group or social assistance may be spent on the proper training and for the acquisition of licensing requirements in addition to their previously earned education and experience in the initial stages of adaptation, they would be able to properly integrate in the Canadian socio-economic environment. There is need to put more emphasis on the bridge training programs, co-op programs, subsidized workplace internships, mentoring programs, cultural awareness programs and intensive language training programs to help new Canadians in acquiring Canadian work experience and bridge the existing skill gaps, and Government should introduce some incentives like tax rebates for the employers to participate in the process of hiring new Canadians who have already completed licensing requirements in their respective fields. Tax rebates will motivate the employers to hire the new Canadians and properly utilize their skills which will ultimately help new Canadians to integrate in the Canadian economic and civic culture.
One solution is to liberalize the Immigration Act to provide quicker recognition of foreign degrees and experience. This would enable immigrants to acquire the financial means to further enhance their skills and education and those of their children rather than doing odd jobs. With more financial resources and greater education new Canadians and visible minorities could speed political office and lobby political parties in order to further their interests. Without changing The Immigration Act, the under representation of immigrants in Canadian politics will continue.
Cardozo and Pandaker state that changes in the Employment Equity Act and The Immigration Act as well as The Charter of Rights and Freedom, Canadian Human Rights Act, and The Canadian Multiculturalism Act are aimed at creating a more equitable society. However, the actual impact of these changes is debatable (Cardozo and Pandaker 9). For instance statistics show that visible minorities still earn less than more established Canadians. Moreover, 15 percent of new arrivals in Canada live in persistent poverty. Given this statistic it seems that there may be a lack of political will to deal with the problem of poverty among immigrant groups.
Under-representation of Visible Minorities and New Canadians in Government
Reporting on the 2006 elections Jerome H. Black and Bruce M. Hicks noted that representatives of visible minority communities were elected to 7.1 percent of the total seats in the Parliament. In the general population visible minorities are one quarter of the aggregate. This represents a short fall of about 18 percent. It might also explain why the issues of minority communities are not sufficiently addressed in Canadian Political Institutions (Black and Hicks). Caroline Andrew and group of other scholars argue that minorities, women and youth (those under 30year of age) are underrepresented in Canadian political institutions ( Andrew “ introduction“ page 3). Andrew and her colleagues studied political representation in a number of Canadian cities. They found that minorities, women and youth were consistently under represented to their numbers in the general population in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Regina and Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Halifax. Men who are older, professional and white are tending to hold political office in these cities and in Parliament in general.
Coordination with the Provinces and Municipalities
The role of the municipal government depends on the nature of services and level of autonomy provinces delegate to them. Usually, municipalities are responsible for coordination of urban planning, public transport, housing, cultural activities and infrastructure. Therefore, while growing immigrant individuals are creating strains in local supervision, indicating that services ought to be adapted, municipalities do not have elasticity in funding which comes from property taxes. There is a progressive tendency in urban centers towards municipal independence and growing force from municipalities for a new deal with the federal government and provinces regarding increased funds for greater political voice and immigrant settlement in immigration policy (Mwarigha 2002).
More precisely, three series of factors can exemplify the reasons for municipal action: demands coming from organizations promoting and defending ethno-cultural groups, associations between the municipal and provincial levels encouraging the municipal role and, the support and encouragement of other public bodies.
The abandonment of government support for social accommodation is a particular factor that may have resulted to the increase in the number of homeless individuals over the last few years. The availability and price of accommodation have a huge impact on the social and physical urban landscape. There are also effects on new Canadian residents’ access to employment, disposable income, and social inclusion as well as on the quality of life (philips,2003).
Even though the federal government turned out to be active in housing policy in the late 1920s, it primarily focused on making the amortized finance market work. The research documents that, it was only the 1965 amendment to the National Housing Act that initiated an effective public accommodation program that established about 200,000 units over about 9 years. In 1973, further adjustment to the National Housing Act introduced an assisted home tenure program, a neighborhood improvement scheme, a housing rehabilitation scheme, a non-profit and co-op housing program and a native housing program. These schemes lasted until the mid-1990s, when the government began to cut accommodation programs. Research has proved that the provision of new social housing fell from a yearly level of about 24,000 units in 1984 to zero in the 1994 Budget.
Political Mobilization of New Canadians
Consideration of comprehensiveness in candidate nomination contests ought to include the issue of mobilization of large populace of visible and ethnic minorities into the parties to support a nominee because contested nomination contests around attempts to employ large numbers of instant or new members and nominees to seek out tightly.
Organized hierarchical associations where wining the support of a small number of community leaders can give rise to literally hundreds of followers from that community. For many years nominees have found ethnic minority groups to be ideal for these reasons, for instance, in 1992 federal elections, estimates indicate that three quarters of 1300 electorates in the contest were new Canadians.
There are two contending views of this observable fact. The first is that group mobilization of new people of Canada many of whom may not be inhabitant and therefore are not entitled to vote in general elections. It takes the nominating choices away from the party’s enduring activities and places it in the hands of individuals whose obligation in the party is fleeting and weak.
Mobilizing Government to Support the Interests of New Canadians
The Canadian Government has introduced a new proceeding, named the Exploitation and abuse, Preventing Trafficking of Vulnerable Canadian immigrants. The reason behind reintroduction of this legislation is to offer protection to the overseas workers like dancers, who are much susceptible or could be easily vulnerable or likely turn into victims of human trafficking in Canada.
The acts will also Prevent Trafficking, Exploitation and abuse of Vulnerable Immigrants. If the projected bill turns out to be an act in Canada, it will definitely protect many guiltless individuals, particularly women who fell in trap of unexpected situations or wicked individuals.
The Immigrant Access finance provides loans of up to $6,000 for the official approval, upgrading and training of internationally trained immigrants who have worked in a trade or in a profession in another country and lack access to other fiscal resources. The funds help foreign qualified immigrants successfully incorporate into the Canadian workforce.
To date, the immigrants has raised more than $1 million as part of its fundraising operation and has administer 19 loans for experts in fields such as accounting dentistry and medicine,. To support its loan funds, the group gets donations from organizations, private sector and individuals.
To address these needs, municipalities ought to seek specific agreements with provinces to fund targeted services and programs. The alliance of Canadian Municipalities should encourage municipalities to instigate the promotion of municipal programs and policies that advance recognition of cultural diversity, and lastly, to aid the understanding of the association between municipal governments and immigration in terms of responding to newcomer's needs. Preliminary results consist of research initiatives on reasonably priced housing, education, health care, and settlement services (Jeffrey, 2005).
The municipalities should develop initiatives relating to the integration of immigrants, substantial numbers of ethno-cultural relations should exist; most of them should also mobilize people of the same ethno-cultural groups but also association’s organized around human rights, antiracism, and anti-discrimination bringing together individuals from a variety of ethno cultural groups. Many municipalities should support the work of these associations so as to facilitate service delivery that is more culturally insightful so as to prevent conflicts from arising; municipal action can be seen as a combination of trying to avoid a radicalization of their discourse and their actions and also a combination of strengthening the groups.
Several specific proposals should also be followed:
1. a joint strategy, involving all level of regime, community representatives, and local actors to respond to the growing crisis of exclusion faced by visible minorities;
2. Urban renaissance programs, including communal spaces and public infrastructure, with improved access to targeted employment strategies and social services.
3. Central government funding of confined infrastructure, such recreation and sports facilities and community schemes, to help construct institutions and urban spaces conducive to the expansion of strong civic networks.
Discrimination and Racism continue to exist in everyday life. Canada is an ethnically diverse country with an authorized policy of multiculturalism, many research findings persist to point out that prejudice against visible minorities is still stirring. Larger proportion of the new Canadians and visible minorities are under-represented in government and do not have enough political power to address these problems
Visible minority people comprise a growing and diverse population in Canada Visible minorities are almost undetectable in the executive and management categories; they account for 1 in 33 .In actual fact, the number of people in a visible minority has doubled in the last decade to 3.2 million, or 11.2 per cent of Canada's population largely due to increasing immigration from countries outside Europe (Jerome, 2006).
Canada has played an important role in understanding the value of the views of civil society associations on refugee and migration issues. It has also come up with various solutions to address these needs. Introduction of additional skills and language training as well as civic education and liberalization of recognition of foreign credential would assist new Canadians in adjusting to life in the country.