Categorized | Canadian Politics

Don’t make immigrants an issue, it’s offensive

Posted on 16 September 2011 by admin

Congratulations to Conservatives for doing a really good job on making immigrants a subject of controversy on the very first week of the campaign. Congratulations because immigrants – foreign trained professionals, landed immigrants, new Canadian citizens – are all talking about $10,000 tax credit to employers who hire people who have lived in Ontario for less than five years. Emails are going back and forth on the issue.

If an immigrant can get hired in an engineering firm because of this investment, what’s wrong with it? There’s story like this in almost every immigrant family. Sure, businesses appreciate any tax credits, but businesses don’t make use of the tax credits just for the heck of it. If a foreign trained professional is not worth $10,000 tax credit, he or she will not be hired. If this professional is going to cost a company more than any other candidate, he or she will not have a job.

Nonetheless, in a province that is home to more than 13 million people, controversy over an investment made into almost 1,200 immigrants is not only appalling, it speaks volumes about how Canadian political parties value immigrants in words but not in actions.

Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty has said that in three years’ time, Ontario’s economy will be totally dependent on immigrants. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan expands on it by saying that because of declining birth rate, Ontario’s economy can be impacted. He cites Japan that has dropped from the second largest economy to the third largest economy because of its declining birth rate and closed-door immigration approach.

Mr. Duncan agrees that $12 million investment in $124 billion Ontario budget is “very modest,” however this investment is on top of other programs that are there to help new immigrants integrate into the Ontario labour market.

In a press conference with Mr. Duncan, MPP Linda Jeffrey, MPP Kuldip Kular and MPP Vic Dhillon, South Asian media outlets expressed their frustration on making a non-issue an issue, ignoring other key issues. MPP Vic Dhillon directed the media to Mr. Hudak, who he said, is acting as “an opportunist” and making this “a divisive and wedge issue” to which Liberals have to respond.

PC leader Tim Hudak has been saying that Liberals’ $12 million investment is for “foreigners.” In a press briefing, Ms. Pam Hudal, PC candidate from Brampton Springdale, defined “foreigner” as “someone that’s not working in Ontario.”

But the investment is for new Canadians.

“That’s not stated in the [Liberal] policy. They said foreign worker,” said Ms. Hundal.

She also said that “we [PC party] have a problem when everyone doesn’t have an equal chance to get a job..everyone who comes to Ontario has a hope of getting a job but everyone should have a fair chance.”

Progressive Conservatives have committed $400 to employers who give language training to employees. Just last year, Mr. Hudak had introduced a private member’s bill that would have benefited immigrants. “That was not a statement in the was a well thought out..researched bill..Mr. Hudak knows there’s a void in this area,” says Liberal MPP Dhillon.

While we should criticize Liberals for this meager investment when they are known for being immigrant friendly, one has to wonder why Liberals felt the need to change the terms from one to the next to the next. No wonder Ms. Hudal says Liberals “have flip flopped.”

Like many “average middle class Ontario families,” I wish Liberals would have committed more to help immigrants and I wish Conservatives were right there to compete with them to help those who are in desperate need. (There cannot be anything more desperate than doctors driving cabs, and PhDs mopping restaurant and toilet floors.) After all, Canada is known for its humane values. While it is the government’s job to spend responsibly and count nickels and dimes, it has to have a humane element in delivery of its services.

By Asma Amanat





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