Summary: A Demographic Revolution
A major social transformation is underway in Canada, whereby population increases are increasingly the result of migration. For example, by 2031, immigrants and children of immigrants will constitute 50 per cent of the Canadian population (Smith 2018, 45). This requires, Dr. Malinda S. Smith argues, “more innovative ways of thinking about social diversity” (2018, 45). Multiculturalism policy has been the Canadian approach to “managing” difference (Dhamoon 2009). Introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1971, multiculturalism was designed to help promote cultural interchange and remove barriers to integration and full participation in Canadian society. In her book Identity/Difference Politics, feminist postcolonial scholar Rita Dhamoon argues that multiculturalism “has many appeals”, including the exchange of foods, clothing, art forms, and acceptance of different religious practices. Yet, Dhamoon argues that multiculturalism does not address social inequities, or deal with issues of unemployment/under-employment, de-skilling of immigrants, poverty, or a lack of social supports.
As we learned in this module, people migrate for different reasons. Voluntary migrants often leave their homelands reluctantly in search of economic opportunities, educational opportunities, or to reunite with family members. Involuntary (or forced migrants) leave their homelands without choice — they must leave because of the threat of violence, famine, or persecution. Canada recruits migrants for three main reasons:
- because migrants provide “cheap labour” and take on work that many Canadian citizens do not want
- to grow its population
- for humanitarian reasons outlined in the United Nations Convention on Refugees
Indeed, evidence shows that migration, including involuntary migration, provides a net economic benefit for Canada. Yet, as we learned in the readings for this module, migrants’ experiences of resettlement can involve significant challenges, requiring specific supports and services. The readings and lessons raise several questions which you can discuss in your groups.
What in your view might be the reasons why some immigrants still choose to come to Canada, knowing that their professions may not be recognized and that they could end up doing menial jobs? Given that the scarcity of cheap labour is the main reason why we bring immigrants to Canada, is it a contradiction to expect the government to significantly improve their wellbeing? Is it an injustice to bring immigrants to Canada without making adequate plans for their wellbeing? How could service providers address the gendered nature of migration and settlement?
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