Monday, February 19, 2007

NDP and Ontario Progressive Conservatives : Immigration

A federal NDP initiative [H/T, Accidental Deliberations] coincides nicely with a Ontario Progressive Conservative pledge introduced last November to help integrate new immigrants into Ontario.

The NDP initiative:
The proposal includes an agency with an internet portal and a toll free line which would act as a one-stop shop where new and potential immigrants could access information on assessment criteria, information on education and licensing bodies and recognition processes. This information and pre-assessment should be made available at orientation sessions at international visa offices so potential immigrants can get assessment and accreditation prior to their arrival to Canada. The agency should be integrated with Service Canada so there is help available in different regions across Canada.

This proposal closely matches the one proposed by the Ontario PC Party who have pledged resources and the expansion of existing resources to help , last November, which I'll summarize (again) here.

  • Building a really useful, cutting edge web portal that provides accurate credentialing information and opportunities for potential immigrants before they move to Canada. The same portal could and should deliver courses to help people Canadianize their credentials.
  • Expand the Ontario Student Assistance Program to make loans available for new Canadians bridging or upgrading their training.
  • Provide more supports for ESL training – to lower the language barriers that
    stand in the way of so many new Canadians’ success.
  • Use the platform of TVO to provide effective general language, training and integration information to help new immigrants to adjust to Canada. Training materials produced by TVO would be available on-line to people waiting to come to Canada.
  • Leverage on our existing system of colleges and universities and support them in providing training opportunities overseas.
  • Expand bridging, mentoring and work experience programs for new Canadians by including more small and medium sized businesses. These programs must be attractive, accessible and affordable for smaller enterprises.
Obviously, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives can only devote resources and plans towards helping new immigrants to Ontario, but it's great to see a federal party take the same initiative to the federal level. If the NDP initiative gains steam federally, then a John Tory-led Ontario would complement and strengthen the initiative as a whole.

And, if it stalls at the federal level because the federal Conservatives or Liberals are unwilling to support such an initiative, again, a John Tory-led Ontario would show that such an immigrant-support plan is feasible and positive.

Issues around immigration are truly non-partisan, and it's fantastic to see that the federal NDP and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives coming together with similar plans.

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