As I wrote in this Blog yesterday, this policy is stupid and discourages precisely the type of immigrants we need. Instead, we should require language tests from spouses in the family class and from approved refugee claimants before granting them residency, as they represent the weak link in the labour force and the economy. Enough political correctness already! Don't treat all applicants equally bad. Reward the best and cast away the rest. Let common sense prevail! the Globe and Mail seems to agree with me.
Arbitrary language test defies common sense - The Globe and Mail
Arbitrary language test defies common sense
If immigrants already speak English or French, and that can be easily verified, they should not have to spend hundreds of dollars proving it, as a new Canadian policy demands.
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010 8:00PM EDT
Last updated on Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010 8:02PM EDT
Canada's immigrants should have the desire to learn one of Canada's official languages, or know English or French already, when they apply to be immigrants. If they already speak it, and that can be easily verified, they should not have to spend hundreds of dollars proving it, as a new Canadian policy demands.
The federal government will now make every new prospective immigrant in the Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience categories take a test to demonstrate their knowledge of English or French; the previous rule allowed them to demonstrate their proficiency in writing. A government spokesperson justifies the decision by saying “the use of written submissions as a tool for assessing language proficiency is unreli-
able, inefficient and more easily subject to fraud.”
The government should show, however, a little common sense, which is lacking in the cases of Sara Landreth and James Brooke-Smith. Surely graduates of American PhD programs in English literature, both of whom learned English as a first language, are proficient in English.
Knowing that, it is ludicrous to insist that they take a rudimentary language quiz, and incur the $280 cost involved. It smacks of needless bureaucracy and it degrades the immigration system. It also sends the wrong message to potential future skilled immigrants. Many speak English or French as a mother tongue, and the growing share that don't have often been educated in English or French.
Other countries have crafted policies around language and immigration that are worth considering. Australia gives automatic partial language points for skilled immigrants who hold passports from one of five other predominantly English-speaking countries. Britain recently revised its rules to require immigrants from non-European countries coming to join or marry their partners to take an English language test. New Zealand allows applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of English by providing evidence of schooling in English.
Language, citizenship and participation in larger society are inextricably linked. Canada's official languages are English and French. We should expect immigrants to demonstrate proficiency in one or both of them, and those who don't should endeavour to learn it.
But the government should not go out of its way to torment those whose grasp is manifest by submitting them to arbitrary testing.