A new ranking is giving Canada’s approach to immigrants top marks, with a notable exception

Good summary of the report and findings. MIPEX is policy-based and evaluates policies, not how effectively they have been implemented or the actual socioeconomic outcomes.

For that reason, I prefer the OECD’s integration indicators approach as they compare outcomes such as unemployment, educational attainment, low-income etc. Have not yet updated this table with selected OECD indicators yet but unlikely that these have changed significantly.

And I remain to be convinced that access to municipal voting is that important in Canada given that we have a relatively straightforward citizenship path, one that will become even more facilitative should the Liberal government implement its election commitment to eliminate citizenship fees.

Nevertheless, policy comparison indices like MIPEX are useful policy tools given their comprehensive nature to understand differences between countries as long as one also looks at the actual socioeconomic indicators:

Canada has been ranked fourth in the world when it comes to integrating immigrants, after it fell out of the top five nations under the former Conservative government in the previous survey.

The country jumped two spots in the latest Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) computed by an international network of experts in recognition of policies that emphasize equal rights, opportunities and security for newcomers.

The index, last released in 2015, puts Canada ahead of the world’s major immigration destinations: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Since the last edition of MIPEX, Canada returned to its traditional path to citizenship and strengthened its commitment to equal rights and opportunities,” said the 2019 MIPEX profile on Canada to be released Wednesday.

“Over the past five years, Canada improved policies on access to basic rights and equal opportunities.”

Some improvements cited in the MIPEX profile of Canada include the 2017 Citizenship Act, by which the Liberal government removed obstacles for immigrants to meet residence and language requirements created by its Conservative predecessor; and the restoration of health care for asylum seekers.

“Five years ago, we were sixth and now we’re fourth. It’s worth saying that when you’re already so high up, it’s difficult to get an improvement,” said Anna Triandafyllidou, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University.

“I think the improvement should be valued significantly. Overall, we should congratulate ourselves.”

Basing their ranking on numerous indicators, researchers survey international government policies as to how well they treat migrants in eight areas: labour market mobility, family reunification, education, health, political participation, permanent residence, access to nationality and anti-discrimination efforts.

The index is peer-reviewed and released every five years to identify government policies that support or hinder newcomers in their integration. The number of countries covered has increased to 52 nations from 38 in the previous edition.

Top 10 countries

CountriesImmigration integration score
Sweden86
Finland85
Portugal81
Canada80
New Zealand77
USA73
Belgium69
Australia65
Brazil64
Ireland64

Source: Migrant Integration Policy Index 2020 Get the data

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Scoring 86 points out of 100, Sweden has remained the top ranked country, followed by Finland (86) and Portugal (81), with Canada being awarded 80 points. New Zealand, the U.S., Norway, Belgium, Australia and Brazil round up the top 10.

“Among English-speaking countries, Canada is becoming a more attractive and inclusive global destination,” said Thomas Huddleston, director of research for the Migration Policy Group, lead author of the European Union-funded index.

“Canada, along with New Zealand, is taking the place of previous top-ranking countries such as Australia, the U.K. and the United States, which all go down in the MIPEX rankings this round under pressure from populist political forces.”

The index credits Canada for overall policies that encourage the public to see immigrants as their equals, neighbours and potential citizens.

“These policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other,” it noted.

“Integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.”

Bottom 10 countries

CountriesImmigration integration score
Bulgaria40
Poland40
Croatia39
Slovakia39
Latvia37
Lithuania37
China32
Russia31
Indonesia26
India24

Source: Migrant Integration Policy Index 2020 Get the data

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As the world sees the rise of nationalism, populism and xenophobia, Triandafyllidou said Canada fortunately has very well established public support for immigration, with all major political parties recognizing the importance of pro-immigration policies.

But it’s not to say Canada doesn’t have room to improve on its ranking.

MIPEX found the political participation of immigrants in Canada “halfway favourable.”

While immigrants can become active in local civil society and become full citizens, it said Canada, unlike other major destinations, does not experiment in local democracy by expanding voting rights or consultative structures.

“Canada’s score is relatively lower in (newcomers’) political participation. The reason is there are no political rights for non-citizens,” said Triandafyllidou.

“It has not been part of the objective of different governments, including the current Liberal government, to open up channels for local political participation (as in) voting rights and to be a candidate.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/12/09/a-new-ranking-is-giving-canadas-approach-to-immigrants-top-marks-with-a-notable-exception.html

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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