In the wake of Canada’s population surpassing one million new residents between July 2022 and July 2023, concerns about the ethical implications of the country’s immigration policies are intensifying. A recent revelation by Immigration Minister Marc Miller during a parliamentary session has sparked controversy, as he referred to international students as “an asset that is very lucrative.”
This statement contradicts Miller’s previous emphasis on the well-being of diverse newcomers, raising questions about the true motivations behind the government’s immigration strategy. With a staggering 46% increase in temporary residents reported by Statistics Canada during the same period, concerns about exploitation and substandard living conditions for these individuals are escalating.
Canada’s reputation for the treatment of temporary residents is under scrutiny, with reports of exploitative work conditions, low wages, and inadequate living conditions. The United Nations special rapporteur on modern slavery recently labeled Canada’s temporary foreign worker program a “breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery,” highlighting instances of unsanitary living conditions, wage theft, and lack of access to healthcare.
A Senate report has concluded that the temporary foreign worker program is “in need of a critical rethink” after months of investigation, acknowledging the need for substantial reforms. Simultaneously, a separate report by Senators Sabi Marwah, Ratna Omidvar, Hassan Yussuff and Yuen Pau Woo revealed that international students are often misled by paid education consultants about the pathway to permanent residency, facing deceptive promises from Canadian colleges.
Tragically, the consequences of these issues extend beyond exploitation, as international students experience an increase in suicides, exacerbated by dismal living conditions and unmet expectations. Despite these alarming trends, Canada lacks a comprehensive tracking system for international student deaths, raising concerns about accountability. Canada may not be even tracking their presence in the country properly.
Critics argue that the current state of affairs is a direct result of the Liberal government’s eagerness to boost immigration without a sustainable plan since 2015. The report by Senators Marwah, Omidvar, Yussuff, and Woo accuses the federal government of “perpetuating an inflated sense of hope” by failing to provide clear information to prospective students about the challenges of obtaining permanent resident status.
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