Immigration minister Jason Kenney should be highly praised for initiating an all important and much needed public debate regarding the language skills and civic literacy of immigrants who aspire to become Canadian citizens.
The settlement policies of Canada that minister Kenney is electrifying have been avoided by Canada for a long time. But Kenney has broken the ‘tradition’ and has stated rightly that the ability to speak one of the two official languages of Canada, French and English, is primary to the economic success and social integration of an immigrant.
In fact, it has been revealed by a detailed research that has been established considering the data of many decades, that job experience and educational background comes only after language proficiency, as the fact which has the maximum impact on the ability of newcomers to settle successfully in Canada.
Having said that, even being proficient in reading, writing and speaking one of the official languages of Canada for every prospective citizen of Canada is only a part of the solution.
Only one third of the quarter million newcomers welcomed into Canada every year go through the language ability assessment in the process of acquiring permanent residency. Most of the newcomers begin their journey to acquiring full citizenship as dependents of primary applicants or dependents of those who are already citizens, and therefore they are not required to prove their ability to speak French or English.
Dependents of primary applicants, who are adult-aged, must go through a thorough language test prior to their admission to the country and the same should be done every year. Keeping into view their assessment, these people should be provided the opportunity to carry on their language training even after the current cut-off of three years.
When it comes to immigrant woman, proficiency in basic language is absolutely mandatory. They enter Canada as spouses of the primary applicants and they aren’t pre-screened for language proficiency in spite of the fact that they generally lack working knowledge of any of the official languages.
There is a need to address this situation immediately so that every female entering Canada achieves the basic language fluency requirements to be active participants in the public life of their community and democratic institution of Canada.
Apart from making women proficient in language skills, emphasis should also be laid on second language training for children of school-age, especially in the major cities of Canada.