Aquino, Canadian PM discuss immigration policy
OTTAWA, Canada — Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday morning (Friday evening in Manila) admitted that dealing with Filipino immigrants seeking permanent residency status in Canada was ‘a challenge.’
Harper made clear that Canada was pro-immigration, and recognized the role of 700,000 Filipinos residents to Canada.
“We are making sure, first of all, obviously that immigrants are not filling jobs for which Canadians could be hired, that comes up in some cases,” he said in a joint briefing with President Benigno Aquino III at the Parliament Hill.
At the same time, the government was making sure that nationals coming to Canada to work full-time would have the capability to becoming permanent citizens through study or training.
“This country is not going to have a policy as long as I am Prime Minister where we will have a permanent under-class, temporary people who are so called temporary but here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility. That is not the Canadian way we do immigration,” he said.
He admitted, though, that this was an “ongoing challenge.”
Harper responded to a question of how the Canadian government was dealing with the issue of temporary Filipino workers flying back home because their visas have expired.
President Aquino said he had doubts if this was the situation since Filipinos working in Canada were skilled.
“The briefer I got today talks about a distinction between skilled and unskilled workers and since most of our countrymen who are here are of the skilled variety then that provision that you cited seems not applicable if I understood my briefer correctly,” he said.
Aquino then thanked Harper for the government’s immigration policy of allowing everybody to become permanent residents.
“Now, again, we would like to thank Prime Minister Harper and his government for the public — of the idea of not having second-class citizens who are contributing to the welfare of Canada and its economy. So, again, I think that policy should be helped rather than criticized,” he said.
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