Sociology 211

October 25, 2004


Migration and ethnic relations


A.  Introduction

B.  International migration – Isajiw, chapter 3

C.  Immigration to Canada – Isajiw, chapter 4

D.  Ethnic relations – Isajiw, chapter 2

E.  Incorporation of ethnic groups – Isajiw, chapter 5


Topics and readings from Isajiw for this week.

·        Complete review of immigration to Canada, Isajiw, ch. 4, to p. 93.

·        Ethnic composition of Canadian population, Isajiw, ch. 2.

·        Immigrant adjustment and incorporation, Isajiw, pp. 94-107 and ch. 5.


After completing these parts, we will examine prejudice and racism, ch. 6 of Isajiw and chapters 4-7 of Fleras and Kunz.


C.  Immigration to Canada




In Canada, immigration policy has swung back and forth between the restrictive and the expansive.  Often these changes have closely followed economic changes.  Periods of high unemployment have led to tightening the requirements and periods of economic growth have often been associated with a more expansive policy.  Since 1960, immigration policy has generally become less discriminatory by country of origin, with the establishment of the point system of assessing immigrants.  This does not mean there is no discrimination in immigration policy, but overt discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, or ethnicity has been removed from the policy.  There are still problems for some groups to come to Canada, but these must be analyzed through the context of the different aspects of immigration law and procedures.


Current immigration policy


In the later 1990s, there was another review of immigration policy, with the publication of Not Just Numbers, a report that presented a generally negative view of some parts of immigration.  Following this, there were hearings across the country and the government prepared new legislation governing immigration.  The new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act became law in 2002, replacing the Immigration Act of 1976.  The new legislation did not dramatically change immigration policies or procedures, but made them more systematic and internally consistent.   There have been a number of complaints concerning how the government manages refugees, but there appear to be no major changes in the general thrust of the immigration policy that has developed over the period from 1960.  The point system for evaluating immigrants has been revised, but the structure of immigration categories is essentially unchanged.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada outlines the major features of the 2002 Act on its web site in Bill C-11 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Overview.  According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the federal government department responsible for dealing with immigration, the major reasons for the new law are:

·        Building a stronger, even more inclusive Canada.

·        Securing a higher quality of life for Canadians.

·        Responding to a rapidly evolving environment and to emerging challenges and opportunities.

·        Canada needs young, dynamic, well-educated skilled people and wants to take advantage of opportunities offered by the fast-moving pool of skilled workers.

·        There is a need for protection of people fleeing war or persecution. 

·        Deter migrant trafficking and punish those who engage in this modern form of slavery.

·        Preserve our safe society and norms of social responsibility. 

·        Remove serious criminals.

·        Goal of annual immigration of 1% of the population. 


Reasons do not include much attention to security, although perhaps the legislation was drafted prior to 9/11.  Also, there is no mention of family reunification as a guiding principle, although other statements emphasize this.


Key aspects of Canadian immigration law, regulations, and procedures govern the following:

·        Skilled workers

·        Family reunification

·        Refugee protection and asylum

·        Business immigration

·        Federal-provincial partnerships

·        Temporary and other categories

·        Permanent residents and citizenship


Since the 1990s, immigration legislation requires the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to issue an annual report to the Canadian Parliament on immigration.  This will be available in the next couple weeks, so we will get an update on this as soon as it is tabled.  This report provides information on the extent and types of immigration in the past year and plans for the coming year.


Among the issues to consider with respect to current immigration is:

·        Total amount of immigration – the level of immigration each year.

·        Standards required of immigrants (language, education, etc. included in the merit point system).

·        Mix of different types of immigrants in the categories listed above.

·        Federal and provincial division in responsibilities for immigration and settlement.

·        Settlement programs – what types of programs should be available for recent immigrants

·        to help them settle in and adjust to Canada, and prepare them for participation in education, the labour force, life in Canada, and citizenship.


Most of the following notes come from the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2003 (AR2003), Facts and Figures 2002: Immigration Overview (FF2002), or from the web sites of Citizenship and Immigration and that of Government Relations of the Government of Saskatchewan.


Total immigration for 2002 was 229,000 people, almost equal to the average amount since 1990.  Immigration was a little higher in the early 1990s and lower in the late 1990s but has increased again over the last five years (FF2002, p. 3).  By far the largest flow of these immigrants was to Ontario (58% or134,000).  The other three provinces with most immigrants were Quebec (16% or 38,000), B.C. (15% or 34,000), and Alberta (6% or 15,000).  The other provinces received very few immigrants – for Saskatchewan the 2002 level was 1,665, less than one per cent of the Canadian total.  In general, Saskatchewan has had few immigrants over the last thirty years, around two thousand per year, on average.  Regina typically receives 500-700 immigrants per year, Saskatoon a few more, and the rest of the province less than 500. 




2004 target

Skilled workers



Business class



Provincial nominees



Live-in caregivers



Family class



Protected persons







1.  Skilled worker.  The aim of this part of the program is to “address current and future demands of the Canadian labour market.”  This has always been an aim of immigration policy in Canada – the original emphasis on settlers for developing agriculture, the importing of workers to build the canals and railroads, and immigration of unskilled and skilled workers to work in mines, forestry, industry, and service sectors.  The new legislation changes the details somewhat to place less emphasis on specific skills and “emphasize the selection of immigrants who can adapt and contribute to an evolving labour market.”  Emphasis is thus placed on education, knowledge of English or French,  experience, age, and adaptability.  Arranged employment counts, but by itself it would be insufficient.  Successful applicants in this category are also expected to be able to “support themselves and their dependants as they settle in Canada.”  (quotes from AR2003, p. 10).  


Isajiw outlines the point system as of 1998 (p. 86) and your assignment was to obtain the number of points you obtain using the current assessment system.  Since 2002, the point system has changed direction in that it is less oriented toward selecting immigrants with specific occupations and more oriented toward selecting immigrants with an ability to adjust to a variety of economic conditions.


The actual number of skilled workers admitted is from 50,000-60,000, with the remainder being dependants of the applicant.  Most are under 45 years of age, and 85 per cent are fluent in English, French, or both official languages.  The program has been very successful in terms of obtaining immigrants with high levels of education – eighty-four per cent of principal applicants in the skilled worker category have a bachelors degree or more education or credentials.  Over fifty per cent of dependants aged 15 plus have a bachelors degree or higher levels of education.  Approximately one-half of immigrants in this category come from Asia, with about one-fifth from African and Europe.  Only 200 applicants (just over 500 applicants and dependants) come to Saskatchewan in this category. 


2.  Business class.  While business people and entrepreneurs who establish businesses and create jobs have undoubtedly always been welcomed to Canada, since the 1970s these have been recognized in a special category.  The Act of 1976 more explicitly recognized this category of immigrants, eased entry requirements, and placed certain monetary requirements on this.  There are three types – investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed.  The latter two are admitted if they are judged to have the ability and experience to establish businesses; investors are admitted if they have business experience and bring $400,000 plus for purposes of economic development and job creation.  This program has been controversial, with the charge being that the government is allowing wealthy applicants to buy their way into Canada.  In addition, there has been limited monitoring of the results of investment and job creation, so there are concerns that jobs do not actually get created.   (Kelley and Trebilcock, pp. 398-399).   While this program may be of concern elsewhere, it affects Saskatchewan little – in recent years there have been less than thirty business class immigrants annually.


There have been few live-in caregivers coming to Saskatchewan, less than fifty annually. 


3.  Family class.  This part of the immigration program is aimed at reuniting families, with “the belief that people who immigrate to Canada will tend to establish themselves more easily if they are supported by their families.”  These are primarily spouses of fiance (60%), children (5%), and parents or grandparents (35%).  That is, it is close relatives who can be sponsored by Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  Sponsors must provide evidence that they can support those being sponsored. (AR2003, p. 10).


Family immigration and family reunification has long been an important part of immigration.  Historically, it was common for a single immigrant or an individual to immigrate to Canada and later be joined by spouse and children, and perhaps parents.  In the case of single immigrants, it was not uncommon for a single individual to immigrate and later be joined by a fiance or spouse.  In the case of male Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century, a “picture bride” system was developed to recruit Japanese females to marry the single Japanese males in Canada (see Adachi). 


The source countries of family class immigrants closely match the source countries of immigration as a whole.  For Saskatchewan, there are only 400-500 migrants per year who come under the family class part of immigration policy.  Given that many of these immigrants are older, their education level and knowledge of English or French is likely to be much less than for migrants in the skilled worker or business class category.  Many of these immigrants likely face more difficulty integrating into Canadian life than do immigrants in the other categories – they may have less opportunity to learn English or French and they may not be looking for jobs.  So the experiences and problems of some of this group may be more difficult.  For those who are spouses or children joining an immigrant who has begun to establish himself or herself, the problems may be considerably less, although the language problem often remains.


4.  Refugees.  Sometimes termed protected persons or asylum seekers.  The definition of who is a refugee is a formal one – criteria used include those from the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR).  These are people displaced from their country of origin as a result of emergency situations (Isajiw, p. 89) such as natural disasters, wars, or other conflicts (political, religious).   While there are a variety of criteria that define these situations, convention refugee “are individuals who, because of a well-founded fear of prosecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence, and are unable or unwilling by reason of that fear to return to that country.” (AR2003, p. 11).  There are others who are in similar circumstances, where the risk of torture, cruel or unusual punishment, or risk of loss of life are possible that are also recognized.  Many of these are refugees recognized by the UNHCR and acquire an official refugee status, although this does not mean that a country will accept them.  Some are thus called asylum seekers, is that these are individuals who have similar fears but their status has not been recognized as that of a refugee, so they seek asylum in another country.   There may be as many as twelve million refugees internationally and a million asylum seekers at any time (Stalker, p. 12)


In terms of refugee admissions to Canada, these may be government-assisted refugees (7,500), privately sponsored refugees (3,000), or those who apply for refugee status upon landing in Canada (15,000 applicants and dependants).  Figures for 2002.  Patterns of settlement for refugees are similar to those for all immigrants, with Ontario, Quebec, and B.C the main destination.  In recent years, Saskatchewan has received 600-700 refugees and their dependants each year, about forty per cent to each of Regina and Saskatoon and one-fifth to other areas.  Since immigration to Saskatchewan is so low, the percentage of refugees in comparison with total immigration is greater for Saskatchewan than for most other provinces – about one-third of all immigrants are refugee class in Saskatchewan. 


Countries of origin for refugees differ somewhat from those of skilled worker, business, or family class immigrants.  Refugees come from places where there have been emergency situations or political conflict.   After the second world war, there were many displaced persons as a result of the war in Europe.  In 1957, there was large numbers who fled Hungary.  The “boat people” and other refugees who left Vietnam or other southeast Asian countries in the late 1970s constitute one of the largest refugee flows to Canada.  These refugees were helped to come to Canada by the government, but more by church groups and other private sponsorship programs.  Wars in Lebanon in the  1970s and 1980s, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, and Yugoslavia led to refugees coming from these countries.  In 2002, the main countries of origin for refugees arriving in Canada were Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Colombia, China, Sudan, India, Iraq, Congo, and Somolia.  Yugoslavia, which has sent most refugees in 2002 was tenth by 2002.  As can be seen, these patterns are highly variable from year to year, depending on where wars and other conflicts occur. 


Issues with respect to refugees:


Number – does Canada accept enough?  25,000-30,000 does not seem like a lot in global terms or even in terms of the number of immigrants coming to Canada. 


Sources – many of the ethnic groups represented in Canada are a direct result of refugee flows – Chileans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Salvadorans, Afghans, etc.  In terms of ethnic diversity, it has been refugee flows, perhaps with later family class reunification, that have expanded diversity much beyond what it otherwise would have been.


Adaptability – Isajiw (pp. 105-106) notes the special problems that political refugees and exiles may face.  Initially, a refugee may feel more commitment to their country of origin than does an immigrant, since the refugee has little choice concerning leaving their country or deciding on country of arrival.  While refugees are grateful for the freedom and opportunities that exist in Canada, they may have difficulty establishing their identity and integrating into Canada.  Refugees may not have the same high education levels as skilled workers, their knowledge of English or French is often less, and their experiences may have been very different from those who grow up in Canada or immigrate to Canada.  At the same time, some of the data demonstrate that refugees adapt well after a period of years, often catching up to other immigrants in terms of labour force earnings.


Assistance.  Refugees qualify for settlement assistance.  In the case of government sponsored immigrants, they are usually supported for one year and given language and labour force preparatory training during this period.   Privately sponsored refugees or those accorded refugee status upon landing are generally not given as much support, although they may qualify for language and other training classes.  The level of support to refugees is greater than to other immigrants, who are expected to find their own way and support themselves or have support from their sponsors.  Critics argue that these settlement programs are too expensive.  Supporters of greater refugee immigration to Canada generally argue that these are dollars well spent – they help the refugees to integrate into Canadian life and make a contribution to Canada.


Administrative problems.  There have been many difficulties administering the refugee program.  Critics argue that too many refugees are allowed in, some are not legitimate refugees, some use the refugee application procedure as a means of bypassing the skilled worker application, terrorists and criminals are allowed in, traffickers in people may use this category to bring people to Canada, criteria are not demanding enough, and so on.  Those who favour increases in refugee immigration may argue that Canada needs to make a greater commitment to solving the world refugee problem, that settlement assistance is worthwhile and should be increased, that criteria are too stringent, and so on. 


5.  Federal-provincial agreements.  Immigration has always been a responsibility of the federal government since the beginning of Canada.  At the same time, immigrants settle in a particular province and become residents of that province, so there is a concern by provincial authorities over federal policies that are beyond their jurisdiction.  One example of an earlier set of discussions relates to immigration from Asia into British Columbia in the early 1900s.  In general, the provincial government wished to restrict immigration from Asia, but this was sometimes in conflict with federal treaties and policies  (see Adachi)


In the case of Quebec, the provincial government has a different set of objectives than that of other provinces and the federal government.  Further, the number of immigrants who settle in each province may not meet the labour force or other needs of that province.  While federal-provincial discussions about immigration have been held for many years, in recent years there have been explicit federal-provincial agreements dealing with immigration, so that jurisdiction in this area is now shared between the two levels of government. 

The agreement with Quebec is the most extensive, with the provincial government setting immigration targets, selecting immigrants, and providing settlement services for new immigrants to Quebec. 


Most of the other provinces have now signed an agreement with the federal government that allows them to identify and select immigrants.  These are usually termed the provincial nominee programs and relate to the provincial desire to nominate and select immigrants to meet particular labour market or economic development priorities of the province.  Some of these agreements also relate to settlement services and other administrative matters in immigration. 


The Canada-Saskatchewan Immigration Agreement was signed in 1998 and renewed in 2003.  The Saskatchewan program is termed the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) and is a small program aimed at recruiting immigrants in a selected list of occupations and priority areas.  Nominees must also meet federal visa regulations.  The total number of nominees is capped at 200 nominations annually, and the numbers of nominees and their dependants accepted to the province under the program are listed in the table below.   Priority selection areas include hog barn managers, pork production technicians, veterinarians, some types of machinists, mechanics, and welders; doctors and nurses; farmer owner-operators; and long-haul truckers.   In addition, if you have arranged employment, can start a business, or can make a critical economic impact in the province (presumably a positive impact), then you might be nominated under the program. 



















In May of 2004, the provincial government announced that “foreign post-secondary students who graduate in Saskatchewan and get work in their field” can apply to SINP.  This part of the program is aimed at the 1,700 eligible foreign students studying in the province.  The Minister responsible for Immigration, Pat Atkinson, stated that the program could result in an additional 1,000 new people coming to Saskatchewan.  However, the numbers would have to be increased considerably to meet this goal.  See and


While these nominee programs are unlikely to have a large effect on the ethnic composition of the provinces, they will have a minor effect on the composition of immigrants.  The program is part of the Government Relations Department of the Government of Saskatchewan.  In future, the Department may be interested in developing programs in settlement and training of immigrants.


6.  Temporary residents of Canada.  These include foreign workers (90,000), foreign students (50-70,000), refugee claimants (30,000), and others (75,000).  At any time they may number up to 250,000, so this is not a negligible part of the Canadian population.  While they may not have a permanent effect on ethnic relations, if concentrated in certain regions, there may be some implications for ethnic relations in that region.  About one-quarter of the foreign workers are from the United States, 12% from Mexico, with the next most important countries being the UK, Australia, Jamaica, Japan, France, and the Philippines.  Saskatchewan has only 1,500 or so, about 1.5% of the Canadian total.  The distribution pattern for foreign workers is very similar to that of immigrants generally.  Ove one-half of foreign students come from Asia.


7.  Permanent residents.  With the 2002 legislation, categories of classification of people have changed from temporary, landed immigrant, and citizen to foreign national, permanent resident, and citizen.  Permanent residents are those without Canadian citizenship but have been granted permanent resident status as a result of being immigrants (in the categories discussed above).  Some refugees are granted this status, but those whose cases have not yet been decided are considered temporary residents and foreign nationals.  Only those born in Canada or granted Canadian citizenship are considered to be citizens of the country.  Permanent residents are required to have a permanent resident card, at least for readmission to Canada after leaving the country.  Regulations concerning retaining permanent resident status have been simplified, and this should help some obtain Canadian citizenship. 



Adachi, Ken.  1976.  The Enemy that Never Was: A History of the Japanese Canadians, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart.  FC3850 J3 A33

Kelley, Ninette, and Michael Trebilcock. 1998.  The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy, Toronto, University of Toronto Press.



Last edited October 29, 2004