November 27, 2011
The Honourable Jason Kenney
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A0A6
Dear Minister Kenney:
Re: Consultation process for immigration policy changes
In recent months members of the Human Rights Committee of the National Association of Japanese Canadians have noted the consultations on immigration policy. Last August, one was done via an online survey to determine immigration levels and immigrant mix, and the other was through a Notice of Intent with regard to the way language abilities are assessed for citizenship applications.
We are concerned that notice of these consultations came via media releases and required a very short time frame in which to respond. The press release about the online survey was issued on August 29th and survey responders had until September 19th to respond. According to the CIC website the consultations had taken place starting in July and continued until September. We were not aware of these group consultations. The most recent Notice of Intent came out on October 15th and the public had until November 14th to respond.
We believe that important immigration policy should allow for a longer consultation period, so that national groups can solicit the opinions of their constituents from across Canada. It was very difficult to gather input from people during the summer, which made it almost impossible to encourage them to complete the online survey. As well, there was no means to provide a group response to the questions on the survey. The chair of the NAJC Human Rights Committee met in her home community with three others from different ethno-cultural communities to discuss the issues in the on-line survey. The discussion was useful in better understanding the impact on these communities and generated some interesting discussion in the group. The chair of the Human Rights Committee completed the survey, and encouraged the others to complete it as well. Unfortunately they may not have completed it because they had limited time. The survey also took quite long to complete and the language level was quite high.
The most troubling issue is the way in which the consultation on immigration policy is being done and the way the overall policy is being developed. It is difficult to understand the direction of your overall immigration policy and how these individual changes that are being made will impact other aspects of immigration policy. The various consultations that have taken place have been very specific (language ability assessments, immigration levels/mix, Federal Skilled Worker Program, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Marriages of Convenience, etc.) Even if one reads the background information, there is little discussion of how changes in one aspect of the policy might impact other areas. A broader and more open discussion about immigration policy might better open the consultation process and initiate creative solutions to some of the issues that have been identified as problematic.
We would like the opportunity to provide input into the overall direction, with enough time to develop a reasoned and thoughtful response based on input from our membership.
Your response to our concerns would be appreciated.
Ken Noma, President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Vice-President
Chair, Human Rights Committee
Mr. Don Davies, MP Vancouver Kingsway, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North, email@example.com