February 11, 2014
Mario D. Bellissimo interviewed in the Toronto Law Journal
Posted by: Amy Whittam
Mario Bellissimo was recently interviewed in an article appearing in the Toronto Law Journal entitled Compromising Change; a Canadian Immigration Retrospective. The objective of the article was to discuss the impact of recent changes to Canadian immigration policy and to get a sense of the direction Canadian immigration is heading.
On changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process, Expression of Interest (EOI), and to the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) Mario Bellissimo commented:
“The policy has shifted towards qualified facilitation (economic) and away from other classes and in particular the family class”.
The speed at which changes have been implemented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and the absence of meaningful public consultation or debate are discussed. Mario Bellissimo suggests that this:
“fast and furious reform seems to be outpacing an overall cohesive vision moving forward”.
The introduction of Ministerial Instructions was agreed to be the biggest “game changer” to Canadian immigration law. Ministerial Instructions allow the Minister to make major changes to immigration selection criteria without requiring legislative or regulatory amendments, and with no opportunity for parliamentary or judicial review.
The article also touches on the problematic nature of the government’s choice to use retroactive laws, and specifically the decision to terminate nearly 300,000 Federal Skilled Worker applications dating back to 2004. Mario Bellissimo is quoted as saying:
“Certainty of selection, if the termination stands, legally and otherwise will be relegated to the scrapheap, replaced by a reality of looming retroactivity whenever the perceived need arises. This legal foundation in my mind is not sustainable as immigration categories will become moving targets…. this is a serious blow to the integrity of our immigration system and government.”
The author echoes this position by saying the unilateral policy changes undermine the ability of Canadians to decide the best ways for new immigrants to contribute to society. The trend is moving away from attracting temporary workers and allowing them to stay as permanent residents and citizens. One of Canada’s goals is to attract immigrants who will contribute economically and socially to Canadian society, but for many highly skilled economic migrants the ability to sponsor family members to Canada is also of paramount importance. Mario Bellissimo commented:
“Our lens must change. We must first closely and carefully study social as well as economic fusion and functionality across all categories. Second, the family class need not only be thought of as a non-economic category and economic migration as a category that does not impact our nation building”
Looking forward, there is a sense that procedural fairness must be addressed for Canada to regain its competitive position internationally and its reputation as a nation built on economic, social and cultural openness.