Federal policy evolution, newcomer integration and data reporting: the strengths and weaknesses of Canadian immigration policy




Ray, Devraj

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Among the different immigration streams in Canada- family reunification, economic immigrants and refugee protection- newcomers have cited diverse experiences. This is problematic since Canada has a goal of increasing its population to a hundred million within the next seventy-eight years (Century Initiative, 2020). Sixty-two million new Canadians facing inconsistent settlement experiences would be considered a failure of this policy (Century Initiative, 2020). The literature of integration in Canada diverges into two streams: economic model of conformity and socio-cultural. According to the literature, Canada’s immigration policies use more of an economic conformity model than a socio-cultural conformity model of integration, with the former more widely cited. The strength of Canada’s economic conformity model was challenged when comparing immigration policies and immigrant outcomes with Australia and New Zealand. Using a case-oriented comparative analysis, performance indicators demonstrated that Canada had the strongest socio-cultural integration policies between the three cases. These findings were triangulated by a document analysis of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s departmental plans and performance reports from 1998 till 2020. Analyzing the evolution of immigration policies across the different streams found that the federal government decentralized policies and programs to the provincial level. This allowed newcomers to better adapt to the needs and environment of their specific provinces, confirming Canada’s socio-cultural approach to integration. Canada’s strength in its immigration policy resulted in the federal government’s ability to decentralize programs and policies to the provincial level such as welcoming and integrating new immigrants. The document analysis also found inconsistencies with performance indicators measuring integration across the three streams: economic immigrants were only assessed on economic integration factors whereas family reunified immigrants and refugees were only assessed on socio-cultural integration indicators.



immigration, integration, federal policy, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, policy evolution, data inconsistency