The Canadian Government is proposing to make proficiency in English and or French a condition of Canadian citizenship.
18 October 2011
Canadian Immigration flags language skills tests for citizenship
Holders of a Canadian visa could be subjected to more rigorous language testing to secure citizenship under a new government proposal.
Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has proposed changes to the citizenship criteria whereby holders of a Canada visa would have to be proficient in English and or French - the two official languages of Canada - in order to become citizens.
"I have met too many citizens that don't speak English or French," he said.
"That should never have happened. Under this new system that's not going to happen any longer".
While proficiency in one of the official Canadian languages is stipulated under the current citizenship criteria, objective testing in not enforced.
"Some people, believe it or not, have been able to take translators with them into an oral test, with citizenship judges," Mr Kenney said.
"What's the point, exactly?”
The government is considering including a requirement that prospective citizens have completed high school English or French, as well as mandating objective third-party compulsory language tests. Furthermore, under the new system immigrants would take part in an oral speaking and listening exam as well as the written test that is now a requirement of obtaining citizenship.
The opposition has agreed with the underlying logic of the proposal but said possible discrimination or exclusion could result.
"In general, I am in favour of any measure that encourages people to become more proficient in English or French, otherwise they can become quite isolated," said NDP immigration critic Don Davies.
"We have to be somewhat careful about this because there are some categories of obtaining citizenship where requiring too high a standard could present a barrier, such as sponsored parents."
The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.