Corriere Canadese

TORONTO - At least his heart seems to be in the right place. But his priority is, by his own admission, “client service”. That is how the Minister for Refugees and Immigration interprets his mandate.
 
He is the Minister; his is the mandated letter, received from the Prime Minister, to bring to fruition. Saturday, at the request of local MP, Francesco Sorbara and accompanied by their colleague, MP Deb Shulte, he held a “conversation” with interested members of the Italian-Canadian community in Woodbridge.
 
He got an earful. People were polite and insistent. The “system” is faulty - rotten even - and incomprehensibly uninviting – at least from the experience of those present. 
 
It penalizes “them” (professionals, “trades, millennials and anyone willing to work – any work) seemingly because of geographic and ethno-racial considerations.
 
But the reality is that the “oversized elephant in the room” is Canada’s over-reliance on the language criterion. 
 
Ironically, had that criterion been applied to the Minister’s parents, or to those present, with the same religious zealotry it is applied today, the room would have been empty, and the city Vaughan, one of Canada’s richest cities, would still be farmers’ fields lying fallow. 
 
To his credit, the Minister allowed that “Canada needs to do better”, that it must stop putting obstacles in the way of potential immigrants. Which obstacles, which immigrants? 
 
The Minister admitted to having been surprised, everywhere he has gone, at the number of employers who have complained about the shortage of skilled trades people (that neither our educational system nor our culture seems able to provide) and the excessive and punitive burden that the Labour Market Impact Assessment process places on them.
 
In fairness, The Minister did point out the steps his government has been implementing to facilitate a more fluid transition from Europe and more specifically from Italy (given the audience). No argument by the public or the Minister stands a chance of overcoming the wall of political will or lack thereof.
 
MP Sorbara, freshly returned from Italy, where he was involved in fairly high level meetings with officials from Italy and Canada. Noted that some 120 000 residents left their homes in Central-South Italy last year to seek a better future elsewhere. 116 000 citizens left Italy for places beyond. Very few are choosing Canada; it is not an inviting place.
 
Yet, Canada has all the necessary social and economic infrastructure for successful integration. Brexit will release a new wave of emigrants who will lose their mobility rights under the Schengen Agreement. Moreover, CETA chapters 10 and 11 have stimulated greater interest on the part of potential emigrants.
 
Companies need to step up to fill in where governments have demonstrated little ability to operate. The Irving group in New Brunswick has effectively become the Office of Immigration into and for Atlantic Canada.
 
They have been given authority to process 2000 applicant-workers and their families – provided they pass a security screening – as per needs of the company. No LMIA; no language test.
 
Irving has already indicated that it will recruit in places like Poland, Portugal and Italy. 
 
Is it possible that the Irvings have the federal government’s ear whereas the province of Ontario and its Industry leaders do not?
 

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