Question: How will your party support settlement services in Calgary?
The latest wave of new Canadians, despite being better educated than their historical predecessors, have more trouble securing employment, obtaining proper housing, and accessing basic health services.
There are so many hard working and capable settlement service agencies in Calgary and
across the country, but they need support from the federal government. Greens will increase
funding for training in official languages (ESL and FSL) for new immigrants through earmarked
transfers to the provinces for primary and secondary public school and free night school
programs. This change will support immigrants and refugees so that they can meet their full
social and economic potential.
Federal-provincial agreements on settlement funding for new immigrants must be reviewed and re-calibrated to ensure the successful settlement of new Canadians. Settlement funding has to be determined according to the particular needs of immigrants. A cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all formula is not useful.
Canada will have to address the Canada-Quebec Accord of 1991 that guarantees Quebec a minimum proportion of national funds regardless of how many immigrants actually come to that province. Although there are reasons to justify some inter-provincial variations in settlement funding, it is simply not possible to rationalize the current disparity between the federal support for an immigrant arriving in Montreal, versus one arriving in Toronto or Vancouver. We need to address this anomaly in order to establish equitable and effective settlement funding across the country.
Question: How will you make it easier for new Canadians to certify their academic and professional credentials and integrate quickly into our labour force and economy?
We must establish, once and for all, expeditious certification mechanisms to recognize foreign credentials and work experience. It is unthinkable that we still have no viable procedures for their efficient verification and recognition. Establishing a more effective process for recognizing foreign credentials, requires more than long-overdue adjustments to immigration procedures. It also requires reciprocal recognition of credentials and work experience within Canada. The federal government must finally remove the myriad barriers to the mobility of people and businesses across provincial borders. This will facilitate the pre-clearing of foreign credentials and work experience and, most importantly, it will benefit all Canadians immeasurably and strengthen our economy.
Greens will also enforce the Employment Equity Act to ensure that racialized immigrants and refugees have equal opportunity for adequate pay, long-term employment and advancement in our society.
Question: What are your Party’s views on the Federal Government’s changes in 2014 and 2015 to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP")? Should the TFWP be revamped to provide a more effective way to permanent residency and citizenship?
Answer: Immigration to Canada should be about citizenship and opportunity. Canada can accept more new Canadians and we can do so while better meeting the needs of our evolving labour market. The Green Party is the only federal party that recognizes the exploitative and harmful nature of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. It should be eliminated, while making the necessary changes to our immigration system to meet labour shortages.
Question: What should Canada’s response be to the Syrian refugee crisis?
We are facing a global refugee crisis, as violent conflict, environmental factors, and political oppression serves to displace unprecedented numbers of people. At the same time, Canada is taking in fewer and fewer refugees. Those that do gain access face excessive delays and barriers to entry. Our inadequate processing of Syrian refugees is truly shocking. Despite the already weak Harper Conservative promise to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, Canada has accepted just 435 government-sponsored refugees and 871 privately-sponsored ones.
This is pathetic compared to the kind of effort Canada has made in the past, such as when we accepted over 60,000 Vietnamese refugees. It pales in comparison with Sweden’s acceptance of at least 14,000 Syrian refugees to date, and completely fails to take into account the hundreds of thousands of others currently displaced across Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. With the scale of the crisis, Canada should be ramping up the number of Syrian refugees to 40,000 over the next 5 years. It's clear that we must do more to end the conflict, including living up to our commitments to the UN High Commission for Refugees. We must overhaul our refugee protection system, which is failing those in need around the world.