Waiting times are very uneven
«The ability to direct people to certain lines and the ability to control the resources allocated to those lines gives the immigration minister the ability to influence the ethnic makeup of our new immigrants.»
Our current point system evolved from the rejection of Canada’s pre-’60s immigration policy, which was designed to attract European (OK, white) immigrants of limited faiths.
The social consciousness of the ’60s dictated we shouldn’t select people because of their nationality, race, colour, religion, etc. Instead, we should focus on their personal skills and qualities. This approach led to the adoption, in 1967, of a point system, whereby certain points were awarded for the education, training, age, etc., of prospective immigrants regardless of their ethnicity. This was an attempt to approach the selection of immigrants with objective criteria.
If they met our selection criteria, they were in. If not, they were out. This approach was socially responsible and also supported the growing characterization of our society as a cultural mosaic. The result is what we see today, i.e., a Canada with visible contributions from every race, colour and creed. This was the will of Parliament.
Since then, the objectivity of the system has been eroded. Until a few years ago, candidates could submit their applications at any visa post of their choosing. They usually picked the fastest ones. Now, except in very limited circumstances, they must apply at a specific visa post according to their nationality. They can no longer choose which line they will stand in.
Furthermore, visa posts are told by the minister how many visas they may issue. They cannot issue more visas than those allocated, even if they are able to.
The ability to direct people to certain lines and the ability to control the resources allocated to those lines gives the immigration minister the ability to influence the ethnic makeup of our new immigrants. The minister, accordingly, now has the power to accomplish what the architects of our point system sought to avoid.
So how has our immigration minister handled this responsibility?
If you were landed in Canada in 2007 and were a Turkish professional you were expected to apply in Ankara, and probably waited about 76 months or longer. If you were Romanian, you only waited about 11 months in Bucharest. If you are American, you probably applied through Buffalo and, in most cases, were done in 24 months. If you were from Pakistan, you waited 70 months, or more, for your application to be processed through Islamabad.
Although the same objective standards were used, the minister’s allocation of resources by visa post influenced greatly who got in and who was discouraged from applying or kept at bay overseas.
The budget bill tabled March 14 would give the immigration minister even more power. The minister would not only be able to kick people out of line, he would also be able to change the rules of the game mid-stream for all those already waiting.
Processing neutrality must be restored before more power is transferred from Parliament to any individual minister.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at