New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Canada’s immigration minister said he wants to examine the ‘issue’ of bias and discrimination

Key takeaways:

  • According to Canada’s immigration minister, he wants to look into the “issue” of prejudice and unconscious bias.
  • Fraser says he’s confident the department wasn’t intentionally discriminating against those countries. 

Canada’s immigration minister has stated that he wants to investigate the “problem” of discrimination and unconscious bias within the department in charge of triaging and approving immigration requests to the country.

“I’ve been aware of this situation over the last few of weeks, and it’s something that I want to look into,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told reporters as he attended a Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday.

“It’s no secret that unconscious bias and institutional racism have been a shameful part of Canada’s past in many sectors of government operations throughout the country’s history.” 

One of the things we want to make sure of is that “unconscious bias does not discriminate against people from a particular region of the world.”

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According to immigration lawyers featured in the report, the IRCC recently turned down nearly all students from the Maghreb and Western African countries who wanted to study in Quebec.

Fraser says he’s confident the department wasn’t intentionally discriminating against those countries. However, he still wants to check into it to make sure no other considerations are considered when evaluating requests other than those specified in immigration law.

“I don’t believe there was a conscious decision to favor one country over another.” “I believe IRCC authorities consider several considerations when deciding whether or not to allow more newcomers to Canada,” Fraser said.

“But it would be foolish of me to stand here and declare that there is no discrimination in a department of 11,000 employees if you look at the diverse operations of IRCC,” he continued.

He also stated that he would look into measures to attract more, rather than fewer, French-speaking students to Canada.

“International students, more than any other group of arrivals, are one of the groups that successfully integrate,” Fraser added. “This is beneficial not only to the newcomer to Canada but also to our economy.”

Reporters then asked the newly-minted minister if it was ironic that in the department in charge of international immigration, there would be concerns of discrimination and conscious or unconscious bias.

Canada's immigration minister said he wants to examine the 'issue' of bias and discrimination

“I believe there is a significant difference between what should be and what is,” the minister said. “I believe we must always be on the lookout for ways to ensure that the public has faith in the system.”

Fraser’s press secretary said in a follow-up statement that the minister intended to proceed with IRCC’s work to “eradicate racism” within the department, which included creating a task force dedicated to the task “full-time,” mandatory unconscious bias training for employees and executives, and appointing an “anti-racism representative” within each sector.

Earlier this year, the IRCC released a study based on employee focus groups that indicated numerous and recurrent allegations of racist events in the workplace.

Microaggressions, prejudices in hiring and promotion, and biases in the delivery of IRCC’s programs, rules, and client service are all examples of racism within IRCC, according to a summary of the findings first published by CBC last month.

“In addition, employees paint a picture of an institution beset by workplace culture difficulties” and a “history of uncontrolled racism,” according to the report.

An IRCC team leader, for example, is claimed to have “loudly” declared that colonialism was “wonderful” and that “if ‘the locals’ wanted the land, they should have just stood up,” according to the report.

Non-racialized employees and supervisors were notorious for referring to portions of the department with a higher concentration of racialized employees as “the ghetto” in another case.

Participants also reported internal allusions to specific African countries as “the dirty 30” as “widespread.”

Source: National Post

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