Immigration-related party platform commitments: Working draft

Having reviewed all the official party platforms (save the unreleased Green platform), I have prepared this working summary of immigration and diversity related programs.

Party platforms are largely communication instruments that signal overall direction as well as targeting specific groups and interests. The longer the platform, the greater the micro-targeting, and both Liberal and Conservative platforms are long.

In general, the general consensus around immigration-related issues and thus immigration is not a major or polarizing election issue (save for PPC), as noted by John Ibbitson. And Andrew Coyne notes the same overall, without mentioning immigration”

I have tried to keep editorial comment to a minimum except where a factual or historic reference is appropriate.

Let me know if any omissions or any corrections needed.

Summary:

Levels: No reference to specific levels by CPC, NDP and Bloc.

  • Liberals are silent (save for a false claim of previous Conservative cuts) but levels are known through the immigration plan.
  • PPC platform commitment to reduce levels to between 100 and 150,000.

Economic:

  • Liberal commitments to welcome talented workers through existing Global Skills Strategy and reduce processing times to under 12 months.
  • Conservatives emphasize the priority to be given to healthcare workers and expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program in regions which retain immigrants.
  • PPC commits to increase percentage of economic and require in-person interviews with questions regarding alignment with Canadian values along with additional resources for background checks.

Family:

  • Liberals commit to electronic applications and a program to issue visas to spouses and children abroad pending full application processing.
  • Conservatives, more innovatively, propose replacing the lottery system with a point system based upon childcare and family support along with language competency, along with additional resources.
  • NDP proposes to end the caps on Parents and Grandparents while the PPC proposes to abolish P&Gs and limit others.

Refugees:

  • Liberals propose to increase the number of Afghan refugees from 20,000 to 40,000 as well as 2,000 skilled refugees through the Economic Mobility Pathways program with a healthcare focus.
  • Conservatives propose replacing Government Assisted Refugees (GARS) with Privately Sponsored (PSR) and Blended programs with no change in numbers. Priorities will be the most vulnerable, SPOs with strong track record and the introduction of a “human rights defender stream” for situations like Hong Kong as well as making the LGBTQ Rainbow Refugee program permanent. Additional capacity for the IRB along with closing the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) loophole (between official points of entry) and joint border patrols with the US are part of the platform.
  • NDP commits to addressing the backlog and working with Canadians to resettle refugees in communities.
  • Bloc would end the STCA and welcome French speaking refugees.
  • PPC commits to fewer refugees, declaring the entire border an official port of entry (thus covered by the STCA), reliance on private sponsorship and no longer relying on UN selection of GARS with priority given to religious minorities in Muslim countries and those who reject “political Islam.”

Foreign Credential Recognition: All three major parties with continue to work with provinces and territories, with the Conservatives committed to a task force for “new strategies.”

Cultural Sensitivity: The Conservatives propose “cultural sensitivity” training and matching applicants with officers who understand the cultural context of immigrants, most likely in the context of spousal sponsorship given some public awareness of previous IRCC practices and guides.

Immigration fees: The Conservatives would introduce an expedited service fee for quicker application review and processing

Temporary Residents: Both Liberals and Conservatives commit to a trusted employer system to reduce the administrative burden on employers.

  • Liberals mention the Global Talent Stream focus on highly skilled workers and commit to an employer hotline to resolve issues.
  • Conservatives would introduce standards and timelines for Labour Market Information Assessments (LMIA).
  • Bloc proposes the transfer of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to Quebec.
  • PPC would limit the number of temporary workers and ensure that they are only filling temporary positions and not competing with Canadians.

Temporary to Permanent Transition:

  • Liberals would reform economic immigration programs to expand pathways to Permanent Residence.
  • Conservatives commit to pathways for both the “best and brightest” as well as low-skilled workers, latter based on labour market data, and those that are “prepared to work hard, contribute to growth and productivity of Canada, and strengthen our democracy”. Employers would be allowed to sponsor those wishing to transition.
  • NDP would provide a pathway to all Temporary Residents, highlighting caregivers in particular.

Consultants: Only the NDP mentions consultants and commits to government regulation.

International cooperation: PPC commits to withdraw from the Global Compact on Migration.

Settlement/Integration:

  • Conservatives state they will support settlement services but with no specifics.
  • NDP states that it will work with the provinces.

Administration (Processing):

  • Conservatives emphasize simplification and streamlining of application and administrative processing, with technology being used to speed up application vetting. The IT infrastructure (the one currently being developed) would record all transactions and applicants would be allowed to correct “simple and honest” mistakes rather than the application being rejected. The Conservatives also commit to harmonizing FPT systems.
  • The Bloc would accelerate Permanent Resident application processing.

Citizenship:

  • Liberals recycle their 2019 commitment to eliminate citizenship fees.
  • Bloc plans to table a bill requiring knowledge of French to obtain citizenship (currently, knowledge of either official language). Ironic, given the Bloc’s persistent in respecting jurisdictional competencies as citizenship is exclusively under federal jurisdiction.
  • PPC promises to make birth tourism illegal.

Visitor visas: Strangely, the Conservatives commit to a five-year super-visa when they had introduced a 10-year super-visa when in government that was maintained by the Liberal government. They also commit to explore more “generous and fairer visas” by more enforceable commitments on length of stay.

Multiculturalism:

  • CPC: No mention or commitments
  • Liberals commitments include: improve gender & racial equity among faculty (Canada Research Chairs $250m), reference to existing initiatives (Black Entrepreneurship, Black-led non-profits, youth), implement the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, strengthen equity targets for fed-funded scientific research, specific target for Black Canadians and Funding for promising Black graduate students $6m), support production led by equity seeking groups, creation of a Changing Narratives Fund for diverse communities, BIPOC journalists and creatives $20m), and Increase funding to multiculturalism community programs.
  • NDP commitment include preventing violent extremism through support for community-led initiatives, confronting systemic racism (few details), a national action plan to dismantle far-right extremist organizations, a national task force and roadmap to address over-representation of Blacks and Indigenous peoples in Canadian prisons and, working with the provinces, the collection of race-based data health, employment, policing.
  • Familiar Bloc commitments include placing the federally-regulated sectors (banking, communications, transport) under Quebec’s language charter, opposing Court Challenges Program funding for challenges to Quebec laws (e.g, Bill 21), a commission on prevention of “honour crimes,” and excluding Quebec from the Multiculturalism Act.
  • PPC would repeal the Multiculturalism Act.

Anti-Racism/Hate:

  • CPC: No mention or commitments
  • Liberal commitments include: a National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, possible amendments the Criminal Code hate provisions, boosting funding to the Anti-Racism Strategy and Anti-racism Secretariat, introducing legislation to combat serious forms of hurtful online content including making social media platforms responsible for such content, strengthening the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to more effectively combat online hate, and the creation of a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes.
  • NDP commitments include: ensuring all major cities too have dedicated hate crime units, establishment of national standards for recording hate crimes (beyond police-reported which already exist?) and work with non-profits to increase reporting, ban carding by the RCMP and establishing a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety, and making sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for distributing online hate.
  • Bloc condemns hate speech but no proposed changes to the Criminal Code and denounces “Quebec bashing” assertions regarding racism in Quebec.

Employment Equity:

  • Liberal commitments include: the creation of Diversity Fellowship for mentoring and sponsoring of under-represented groups, French language training for 3rd and 4th year university students to bridge language barriers to entry, expand recruitment to international students and Permanent Residents, and the creation of a mental health fund for Black public servants & support career advancement for Black workers.
  • NDP commitments include: a review to help close the visible minority and Indigenous peoples wage gap and ensuring diverse and equitable hiring in the public service and FRS (recent public service data indicates considerable progress).
  • Bloc proposes the use of blind cvs in public service hiring (pilot carried out in 2017 suggested little difference between existing and blind cv processes).

Working table below:

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.

2 Responses to Immigration-related party platform commitments: Working draft

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    Thanks, Andrew, I think! Seeing and believing are two different things! 😏😥

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