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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Federal Budget steps up to immigration issue (well, some)

Budget Speech (Budget 2006)

Well, the Federal Budget is in and there are three items within it that will impact immigration opportunities in Canada. From the Budget Speech:

"Mr. Speaker, this country was built by people seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They come here for opportunity, and contribute their culture, skills and energy in return.

This government will provide more help to new Canadians to get started.

Effective immediately, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee is reduced by 50 per cent—from $975 to $490.

We are increasing immigration settlement funding by $307 million.

And we are taking action to establish the Canadian Agency for Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Credentials. "

What do these choices mean to immigrants?

Well, reducing the Head Tax for ROPR is a start, but it should simply be eliminated. Immigrants are milked for money every place they turn. And you already know my feelings about the impact this head tax has on those living in disadvantaged conditions.

Immigration settlement funding...The Newcomer Settlement Program. Now this sounds good. You can read more about the areas of application for this funding at the Program's Guidelines page. All in all I like the idea of this program - my only worry is that too much of this money is heading to ad agencies for campaigns to make new immigrants thankful they were allowed in (j/k).

The best news is for the formation of the Canadian Agency for Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Credentials (CAARFC - I had to...). Properly developed and given authority, this agency could clear the way for new Canadians to contribute at the highest level and wipe out a protectionist white collar glass ceiling.

What's missing? Clearly funding to increase manpower and clear the lines of the 700,000 waiting to come to Canada. What's missing? Reform that will make the CIC more responsive to the needs of new Canadians.

Harper scares me, but he has delivered a Budget that intends to keep some promises to new Canadians. Let's hope good things come from this start.

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