How many scores equal to the Canadian citizenship? -The Point system in 1967

By Elise Weber, Julie Yoon, Sara Riad, Wang Nexus, Zhang Han 

Feeling nervous about upcoming exams? Immigrants in 1960s might face more anxious examinations when they first came to Canada than yours on the campus.

In some immigrants’ eyes, the history of Canada can be seen as the history of themselves. From “Head taxes” to policies restricting Asian immigrants in the early 20th century to Citizenship Act changes in 2017, the story of Canadian immigration is not a smooth path.

Chinese Immigration Certificate[1])

After the Second World War, there was an increasing appeal for more skilled professionals into Canadian society. Also, a series of reformed human rights legislation forced the Canadian government to eliminate racial, religious or ethnic barriers to Canadian immigration. The immigration regulations introduced in 1967 were a watershed event which firmly abolished discrimination by race or nationality, and adopted an objective calculating system to attract a new labour force into Canadian society. By the following analysis, we can figure out what were the specific requirements of a Canadian citizen at that period, and how the form of point system influences future immigration regulations.

 

Post-war Canadian immigration

The Canadian history is a chronicle of integration and multiculturalism. In fact, Canada is built upon different cultures, and this diversity has always been a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian identity. Therefore, immigration is an essential method for providing new and distinct values and cultures to help define Canada as a unique nation. In addition to the cultural aspect, Canada draws its strength from the immigrants in a workforce and economic perspective. With this highly valued concern for immigration, the primary goals of the Canadian immigration policy are updated continuously to adequately address the interests corresponding to different time periods.

Between the end of the second world war to the early 1960s, the regulation of immigration to Canada is based on the country of origin of the immigrant.[2]The Immigration criteria for immigrants from England, France, United-States, and some other preferred nations are kept to a minimum. However, the other immigrants must undergo more complicated procedures as their approval depends on the immediate need of their personal and technical skills in Canada. In the late 1950s, the high level of demand for labour has reduced the admission restrictions for non-preferred country immigrants. As a result, in 1956 the sponsorship rights are extended to all immigrants from Europe instead of just those coming from the preferred countries.[3]It is critical to understand that the sponsored immigrants were mostly unskilled and they quickly became the dominant inflow of immigrants.
To address this issue, the Canadian government has shifted the processing priority of the individual based on his skill level instead of the country of origin by adopting Order PC 86 in 1962.[4] This new Order has also created two categories in the sponsorship. The first being that skilled and qualified individuals can be sponsored by direct Canadian citizen relatives (fiancé(e), parents, and parent-in-law). The second is the sponsorship by any Canadian citizens or landed immigrants for their immediate dependents and relatives. The application of this Order has generated a few problems. In fact, there is no specific method to clearly define the type of skills that are in need, there is no guideline for officers to determine if the immigrant possess the skill, and this new policy has granted too much unlimited power to immigration officers.[5]The Canadian government is equally aware that the universal sponsorship rights will pose a threat to the skill-focused immigration policy by further increasing the inflow of unskilled immigrants.

To address these issues, the Canadian government tried to propose a 1966 White Paper on immigration that restricts the practice of sponsorship for non-citizens. However, this proposal is eventually dropped due to the negative response of the immigrant community.[6]It is in such a context that the Point System was introduced in 1967.

The 1967 point system

In 1967, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt a points system for immigrants. The Pearson government during Canada’s centennial year, set new regulations where potential immigrants were no longer discriminated based on their race.[7] The new policy indicates that based on these nine categories: education and training; personal character; occupational demand; occupational skill; age; pre-arranged employment; knowledge of French and English; the presence of a relative in Canada; and employment opportunities in their area of destination, new immigrants were given points and their final score determines if they are eligible to immigrate to Canada or not.[8]Moreover, under the point system, immigrants were divided into three categories: independent, nominated and sponsored. However, immediate relatives of Canadian citizens or permanent residents were considered sponsored. Therefore, they were not qualified based on the nine categories mentioned above. Also, for those who accumulated 50 points or more out of a 100, they were admitted as independent immigrants. However, in some special cases based on the character of the applying individual, their admission was denied.[9] On the other hand, the new policy was beneficial for visitors as well. They could apply for immigration while in Canada. In case an applicant was denied, the Immigration Appeals Board(IAB) could receive their appeal if they decided to do so.[10] The Point System not only emphasized family reunification and humanitarian concerns but also focused its immigration benefits toward potential immigrants with characteristics that coincide with Canada’s evolving needs and interests during that time.[11]

Part of Immigration Act 1976[12]

Moment that matter

The changes in the regulatory system in 1967 were substantial and were to form the framework for immigration policy for the next three decades. The newly instated point system was the first immigration policy in Canadian history that didn’t consider race, nationality or colour, shifting immigration away from any “of-origin” bias in eligibility. Therefore, it is not surprising, that since 1967 the source of Canadian immigrants has shifted away from developed countries (e.g. Europe and the United States) to developing countries (e.g. Africa, Asia and Latin America), shifting Canada’s ethnic composition and encouraging diversity. For example, evidence collected in 1968 shows us that 79.7% of arriving immigrants were from developed countries and by 1990, just 30 years, this share had declined to 28.1%8 (Wright&Maxim). As evident, these policies contributed to a changing Canadian nature. During the mid 20th century, Canadian society was witnessing a shift towards young and educated immigrants and families, which emphasized Canada’s drive towards gaining human capital and skills development. The nature of this new system also shows us the fact that immigration was and is an economic policy tool in Canada rather than a human rights effort.[13]

At this point, Canada was now a society that encouraged diversity and resisted “American melting-pot policies,.” During this time there was a solidifying national identity of Canada being a “Cultural mosaic,” with the diversification of national identity and influx of immigration.[14]The year of 1967 was a formative one for Canadian immigration and immigration policy. The Point System was a unique approach to addressing the Industrial post-war era of Canadian society. Not only did the system work to bring in skilled labourers but be selective in value over particular skills in which corresponding fields were in high demand. For example, if there were a high demand for civil workers such as electricians or plumbers, prospective immigrants with similar skills would be given more value within the point system. Therefore, this selection ability demonstrated that the specifics of country’s immigration policy and the mechanics of the system in place has an effect on the type of immigrants that are attracted and accepted at a given time.

A key takes away point regarding postwar immigration policy is that this was also a time when emerging special-interest groups played a central role in shaping that policy. In 1959, 1966, and again in 1988, immigrant lobby groups in Canada successfully altered government policy.[[15]]  1967 marked the creation of a formal framework within which immigration policy has been conducted ever since. That does not mean, of course, that immigration policy stagnated. During the 1970s when Canada, like other countries, experienced lower rates of growth, inflation, and consistently high unemployment, the government substantially reduced the level of immigration. Due to the wavering patterns of the domestic Canadian economy, especially the recessions throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, had a severe impact on lowering immigration rates as well as the implementation of strike skill selection for new immigrants in 1976 (Green & Green). Since then, there has been an ongoing debate on the efficacy of the system and the value system of skills, but it continues to be the framework for Canadian immigration today.

The story of Canadian immigration is not one of orderly population growth; it has been and remains both a catalyst to Canadian economic development and a mirror of Canadian attitudes and values.

 

Further influence

The innovative point immigration system of 1967 has since admitted millions of people into Canada. The path has not always been smooth; it remained the subject of criticism and was questioned for problems such as the discrepancy between the immigrants’ credentials and their actual translation to the Canadian market (Beach). Especially in professional fields such as legal or medical, the process of recognizing and exchanging certifications have not been all successful. Significant revisions have been made to the system in 1978 and 2002, yet the system still leaves much room for improvement.

The Point System nonetheless has brought much success as well. It decreased discrimination of races and country of origin and recognized individual skills and qualifications. It helped to increase the ethnic diversity of Canada and brought in individuals who significantly contributed to the economy. Many scholars studied the system and praised the lasting impacts it brought. Millions of people earned the chance to enter Canada and had opportunities to live new lives. In 2016, 1 in 5 Canadian citizens was foreign-born (who are or have been landed immigrants or permanent residents in Canada) (Statistics Canada). Selected and qualified individuals have they been through the system, these immigrants have contributed to the economy, culture and political spheres of Canada as successful members of the nation. Canada is proud to be called a mosaic of multiculturalism thanks to the Point System that has provided the opportunity to many diverse individuals to live in this beautiful country.

 

 

Footnotes

[1]The Canadian Encyclopedia, Immigration in Canada, photo, certificate issued to Ching Ng (Chin Ng Jai), 1918. Retrieved from: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/immigration/

[2]Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “Canadian Immigration Policy: The Effectiveness of the Point System and Other Instruments,” The Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue Canadienne d’Econonomique 28, no. 4b (Nov. 1995): 1010-1011, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/136133

[3]Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “Canadian Immigration Policy: The Effectiveness of the Point System and Other Instruments,” The Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue Canadienne d’Econonomique 28, no. 4b (Nov. 1995): 1011, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/136133

[4] Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “The goals of Canada’s Immigration Policy: A Historical Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 13, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 116, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44320798

[5]Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “The goals of Canada’s Immigration Policy: A Historical Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 13, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 117, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44320798

[6] Alan G. Green, Immigration and the Postwar Canadian Economy (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1976), 36-42.

[7] Jan Raska, Monica MacDonald, Erica Gagnon, Lindsay Van Dyk and Steve Schwinghamer, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigrtion at Pier 21,  accessed February 16, 2018, https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-regulations-order-in-council-pc-1967-1616-1967.

[8] Jan Raska, Monica MacDonald, Erica Gagnon, Lindsay Van Dyk and Steve Schwinghamer, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigrtion at Pier 21,  accessed February 16, 2018, https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-regulations-order-in-council-pc-1967-1616-1967.

[9] Jan Raska, Monica MacDonald, Erica Gagnon, Lindsay Van Dyk and Steve Schwinghamer, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigrtion at Pier 21,  accessed February 16, 2018, https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-regulations-order-in-council-pc-1967-1616-1967.

[10]Jan Raska, Monica MacDonald, Erica Gagnon, Lindsay Van Dyk and Steve Schwinghamer, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21,  accessed February 16, 2018, https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-regulations-order-in-council-pc-1967-1616-1967.

[11]Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “Canadian Immigration Policy: The Effectiveness of the Point System and Other Instruments,” The Canadian Journal of Economics / Revue Canadienne d’Economique 28, no.4b (1995): 1008, http://www.jstor.org/stable/136133.

[12]Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration, 1976. Retrieved from: https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-act-1976

[13] Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “The goals of Canada’s Immigration Policy: A Historical Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 13, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 120, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44320798

[14] William T. Stanbury and Ilan B. Vertinsky, “Economics, Demography and Cultural Implications of Globalization: The Canadian Paradox”, MIR: Management International Review 44, no. 2 (2004): 133.

[15] Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “Canadian Immigration Policy: The Effectiveness of the Point System and Other Instruments,” The Canadian Journal of Economics / Revue canadienne d’Economique 28, no.4b (1995): 1015, http://www.jstor.org/stable/136133.

 

 

Bibliography

Jan Raska, Monica MacDonald, Erica Gagnon, Lindsay Van Dyk and Steve Schwinghamer, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21,  accessed February 16, 2018, https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-regulations-order-in-council-pc-1967-1616-1967.

Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “The goals of Canada’s Immigration Policy: A Historical Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 13, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 116, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44320798

Charles Beach, Alan G. Green and Christopher Worswick, “Impacts of the Point System and Immigration Policy Levers on Skill Characteristics of Canadian Immigrants,” Queen’s Economics Department Working Paper, no. 1115 (2006): p. http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1115.pdf

Statistics Canada, “Immigrant population in Canada, 2016 Census of Population”, Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2017028-eng.htm

Alan G. Green and David A. Green, “Canadian Immigration Policy: The Effectiveness of the Point System and Other Instruments,” The Canadian Journal of Economics / Revue canadienne d’Economique 28, no.4b (1995): 1008, http://www.jstor.org/stable/136133.

William T. Stanbury and Ilan B. Vertinsky, “Economics, Demography and Cultural Implications of Globalization: The Canadian Paradox”, MIR: Management International Review 44, no. 2 (2004): 133.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Immigration in Canada, photo, certificate issued to Ching Ng (Chin Ng Jai), 1918. Retrieved from: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/immigration/

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration, 1976. Retrieved from: https://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-act-1976

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