Why Canada Loosened its Migration Laws

Lessons for South Africa?

Immigration Canada

Action Support Centre was invited to attend a workshop on the 12th of November, aimed at building the capacity of NGOs to address issues of migration and mobility. The City of Joburg was the host, with the City of Toronto presenting on the topic of Migration.

The City of Toronto is a model city for being able to handle a large number of international economic migrants. The representative for the City explained what processes are in place to make migration smoother and quicker. One of the key elements was being able to incorporate different spheres of society and the role of the government in ensuring integration is possible. The representative noted that the easing of migration laws within Canada was sparked by research that documented how the country would suffer in terms of its economy if international economic migration were not being encouraged. Another reason for the adjustment to migration regulations was the fact that Canada contains an aging population, which makes it hard for the economy to sustain itself.

A change in attitude and wording of certain laws had a huge impact on the welcoming of migrants into the country. For example, if an international migrant is not part of the system, he is referred to as an “undocumented Canadian”, rather than a “foreigner”. Xenophobia is seen as a hate crime and that makes it easier for people to be prosecuted for it. The City of Toronto representative noted that the circumstances and context in South Africa differs, but useful lessons can nonetheless be learned from the Canadian transition process. On the panel of presenters was a representative from the NGO sector and a government representative. This made it simpler to understand that each party plays a role and cannot be pulled away from the process of migration and mobility.

The City of Toronto provided information and advice that could assist South Africa in finding the way forward with regards to its migration policies and regulations. Many NGOs were able to relate and asked questions in order to contextualize the Toronto experience and translate it to South Africa. ACTION looks forward to attending many more capacity building events such as these, and welcomes open dialogue on issues of Migration, Mobility, Social Cohesion and Building Communities of Peace. This was a step in the right direction for the partnership between Gauteng government departments and Civil Society.