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Immigrants in Canada

This paper highlights the number of issues dealing with social inclusion of immigrants to Canada. Canada is considered the best country that has good multicultural and anti-racist policies that make any immigrant to be able to become a citizen in three years. However, these policies are in written but different in practice. The challenges faced by immigrants, refugees and visible minorities in this country are astonishing.

These as discussed below are escalating level of poverty, unemployment, underemployment, emergence of underclass of people without status, lack of access to decent housing, health care and social services such as schools, park places, and libraries. Social inclusion therefore seeks to bridge this gap based on the guiding principles of human development, valued recognition, material well being, Involvement and engagement, and proximity.

In this paper would also focus on what challenges the immigrants face at different settings, that is, economically, children and youth, housing, urbanization, settlement schemes and NGOs involvement, perspective of social inclusion and policy formulation and reformation in Canada. COMMENTS AND DISCUSSION Social inclusion entails involvement of children and adults in society so that they can participate as valued and respected members of the society. It deals with human development; encompass investment and action which brings about human development (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p.

10). Social inclusion validates and recognize diversity in common life experiences and aspirations as shared among families and close distances among people separated physically, socially and economically (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 11). Social inclusion is based on guiding principles of social policy like valued recognition, human development, material well being, Involvement and engagement, and proximity. Valued recognition is an important principle to which respect to individuals or groups are upheld. (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p.

11). Human development looks at of children’s and adults talents, skills, capacity and choices useful to society. Material well being of the families like access to safe and decent housing ensures that all are able to participate in community activities. The involvement of children, youth and adults in institutional management and decision making is paramount to social inclusion. The provision of public social spaces such as parks, schools, libraries etc help in integrating and reducing social distances (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 11).

In the case of social inclusion of immigrants and refugees, their inclusion to social, economic, cultural and political spheres should be of equal participation. Most immigrants face a number of challenges based on their immigration status and government restructuring programs. For instances, studies indicate that the economic status of immigrants have fallen dramatically for the last 40 years. It is reported that the wages of early immigrants after the Second World War rose to equivalent or over the Canadian born citizen wages for a period spanning 15 years (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 16).

However, later the rate of underemployment and unemployment for the recent immigrants decreased as poverty levels rise. The studies further explain that the immigrants of the 1990s fared poorly in terms of remunerations and employment terms (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 16). For example, in Toronto, poverty levels among minority immigrants rose from 20. 9 per cent to 32. 5 per cent between 1991 and 1996 (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 16). Similarly the rate of family poverty levels is two times higher in non- European families compared to families of European /Canadian origin and much higher at 40% to other minority groups.

There are other types of immigrants that are not captured in the social dimension in Canada but are critical in social inclusion. These are: agricultural workers, domestic workers, failed refugee claimants or visitors who have extended their stay illegally. These groups are exploited economically, sexually and undergo tremendous stress and are denied access to basic services like health and social services (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 18). Refugee claimants are denied access to social services, labor market, acquiring of family sponsorship rights and citizenship.

This creates another underclass of people which the country cannot benefit from their skills and education (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 18). In the case of youth and children, they face a number of challenges such as adapting to new and different cultural practices and values. The experience of isolation, alienation, discrimination and racism impact them negatively. Also the difficulty faced in gaining access to education, employment and social opportunities make adaptation to their new homeland a stressful experience (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p.

20). Also immigrant children and youth have special needs in schools where they attend but the teachers are unable to meet them because of lack of training. The needs may range from separation from parents and oppression from caregivers (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 20). The settlement schemes that have been put in place by the government work to ensure the integration of immigrants to Canada. However, the government itself cannot do the settlement. Thus using the Nongovernmental organizations to offer the services that are funded by donors.

The services offered only at initial level include language training, labor market integration, counseling, translation, interpreting and referrals (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 21). These services are limited to initial settlement hence the immigrants find serious problems which the NGOs cannot offer because the NGOs lack adequate funding or are forced to close due to government restructuring programs (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 22). Immigration has impacted in large proportion the urban life of most big cities of Canada.

For example out of 70% immigrants who settle in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, 50% of them settle in Toronto alone. This has led to increase in urban poverty, ethno racial concentration of communities with unique cultural and religious institutions thereby segregated from the mainstream community (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 23). Social inclusion emerged in Europe in the 1970s through to 1980s as a response to healthcare and welfare crisis of industrial workers and minority groups e.

g. in France. This enhanced access and equity to social policy and programming. It gained recognition to other European countries and later to America (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 24). The policies were based on several aspects like structuring of policy interventions, ensuring failing communities and the needs are met, discrimination is handled, mobilizing a joint multi response approach and having evidence-based

policy formulation (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 24). Canada is considered a multicultural and anti-racist society, because of its good multicultural policies such as becoming a citizen in 3years. The policies are only in paper but not practical. This is attributed to inability of immigrant settlement and integration policies to curb the escalating levels of unemployment, low income and poverty to groups of immigrants (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p. 26).

Canada is faced with the challenge of integrating the high number of immigrants which account to more than 50% of urban population in its large cities. So Canada needs to formulate social inclusion polices that will integrate immigrants and refugees to economic, social, political and cultural dimensions. The government has to restore its social programs to include all immigrants, refugees and minority groups in the labor market, education, housing, health care access and social services (Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p.

26). More so policy reforms should envisage access to trades and professions, autonomy of local authorities and immigrant settlement schemes, fair regulation and dispersion of a portion immigrants and refugees, improved and extended settlement services for immigrants and refugees, defense of refugee rights especially Muslim women and reconceptualization of student loan exclusion due to immigration status hence provision of alternative sources of funding to immigrants and refugees(Omidvar & Richmond, 2003, p.

26). CONCLUSION Social inclusion is serious phenomenon that needs to be addressed by government especially Canada with reference to immigrants and refugees. These groups of people are faced with a number of challengers arising from social exclusion such as unemployment, underemployment, and poverty, lack of access to housing facilities, health and social services. The goal of social inclusion is to bridge the gap that has arisen with respect to cultural, social, economic and political dimensions.

Canada has to reform its social inclusion policy to address these disparities and ensure access and equity in participation for all. QUESTIONS; What are guiding principles for social inclusion? What are challenges do immigrants in Canada face as envisioned in the social inclusion policy?

REFERENCE

Omidvar, R & Richmond, T. (2003). Settlement & Social Inclusion, immigrant. Retrieved April 9, 2008, from http://72. 14. 205. 104/search? q=cache:MYEB69AvKoYJ:www. maytree. com/PDF_Files/OmidvarRichmond. pdf+Omidvar,+R. +%26+Richmond,+T. +(2003)&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7&gl=ca

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