Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tory Budget Move

Can't say we're fans of the Tory minority government, but at today's session of Parliament their Finance Minister proposed an immediate 50% reduction in the Landing Fee if their budget is approved. That's good news for future immigrants, but one wonders at the other costs this government may impose on Canadian society . . . . . .

Here's the verbatim from the government home page regarding the immigration initiatives proposed:

Helping Immigrants Get Started

Canada has a long tradition of welcoming immigrants. The Government recognizes the importance of ensuring that newcomers have every possible opportunity to realize their dreams for the future.

The Right of Permanent Residence Fee

This budget delivers on the Government's commitment to reduce the Right of Permanent Residence Fee to help immigrants and their families with the costs of starting a new life in Canada. The fee will be reduced from its current level of $975 to $490 effective on May 2, 2006. In addition, the Government will provide partial refunds to those who have already paid the $975 fee but have not been granted permanent resident status or have not yet arrived in Canada. The cost of this initiative in foregone revenue is $224 million over two years.

Settlement and Integration

Newcomers to Canada often face challenges integrating into a new country, community and labour market. Settlement and integration programs that provide services such as language instruction and employment-related support help immigrants overcome the stresses of moving to a new country. In keeping with the Government's commitment to provide additional resources for settlement and integration, this budget provides $307 million over two years, over and above investments provided in recent budgets, to enhance programs and services in all provinces and territories (except Quebec, which receives funding through a separate immigration agreement). This additional investment will allow immigrants to adapt quickly and successfully and have every opportunity to contribute to the economy and society.

Foreign Credential Recognition

Many immigrants to Canada, though well-educated and highly skilled, still face barriers in obtaining recognition of their qualifications, training and experience. In this budget, the Government is moving forward on its commitment to create an agency to ensure foreign-trained immigrants meet Canadian standards, while getting those who are trained and ready to work in their fields of expertise into the workforce more quickly.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, consultations with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders are underway on the mandate, structure and governance of the agency, and the Government will proceed on the basis of the advice received. To facilitate the consultation process and to take the first steps toward the establishment of a Canadian agency for assessment and recognition of credentials, this budget sets aside $18 million over two years.

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