Critics hit out at new Canadian obligatory English test for all immigrants

by Ray Clancy on August 18, 2010

A new English test for immigrants wanting to move to Canada has been criticised as being inflexible and creating unnecessary red tape.

Two English professors who both have PhDs in English literature say it is a waste if time and money for native English speaking people and those who have qualifications to be compelled to take the $280 test.

American Sara Landreth has a job offer to teach English literature at the University of Ottawa, but her visa application will not be processed unless she does the test. Her husband, James Brooke-Smith, a British citizen, also needs to take the test.

The obligatory English test was introduced last month but critics say the change is contrary to Canadian immigration law. They point out that Section 79 of the regulations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that skilled worker applicants may choose to submit to a language test or provide written evidence of their proficiency.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration says though that the test is needed as part of the plan to create an independently administered test that helps prevent fraud and ensure fair and transparent methods of evaluation.

‘We felt that going to a language test option was the most fair, transparent, objective, consistent and accurate way to evaluate different applicants’ language skills,’ said a Canadian immigration department spokeswoman.

Last month, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued a ministerial instruction, effective immediately, that said only applicants who write a test will be considered.

Landreth and others though pointed out that there should be a clause for those with English as their mother tongue with professional qualifications in the language to be exempt from the test as it is creating unnecessary red tape and costs.

Toronto lawyer Cathryn Sawicki has launched a legal challenge to the new rules in the Federal Courts.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

bellebeeme60 September 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Lived in Switzerland for 10 years but couldn't qualify for a passport BECAUSE my French was not up to par…..that's life…..! I am from Vancouver!!


Jaques September 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

I am uncertain why professors of English literature have any input into a language test. University graduates are not highly regarded in spelling and use of language themselves. It is abundantly clear why people emigrating ought to have language skills in the destination country language. The NWO globalisation is certainly dedicated to having universal culture and discipline to the new serfdom known as "globalisation" but at this stageno significant government has taken the advice of its people on turning the world into a sort of silk road where people can come and go as they please irrespective of the damage they do or the financial and social costs they incurr. A primary indication of a place where immigration organised by the NWO has done massive damage to the indigenous people is the formation of Israel, in association with the Reich, during WW11.It isn't impossible to learn a foreign tongue but if it IS then why should a person expect to be accepted in that country. Brit's in large numbers in France and Spain make little effort to learn the languages because they are "too hard" or they just can't be bothered or are too arrogant to do so..expecting the French and Spaniards ought to learn English. end part 1


Jaques September 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

(Part 1)You should ask yourself where this massive push to multiculturalism arose and why?….don't worry about the usual answers, look more deeply. Any country has every right to demand a level of integration potential with the majority or national tongue and it's about time that the lazy minded got their act together and appreciated it's not "all about them"…If you want to emigrate to say Syria…would you not be wise to do a couple of solid years at language study? Do you see emigration as requiring any responsibility or do you think every country ought to take you, however useless, as a sort of long-stay holiday maker.? Is it such a problem for an American and a Brit to exhibit language skills by examination?…maybe it is. End part 1 of 3


Jaques September 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

(Part 2)Clearly their university education didn't involve much logic or examination of comparative culture. Qualified tradesmen have to take trade tests in the destination country when emigrating and they may know their work better than these professors know their English…..Perhaps this is just another extension of the western arrogance I spoke of earlier…Canada is more lowly than UK or USA..everyone knows that….don't they?? so how DARE they examine university graduates from some overseas culture for language competence. The chap in Switzerland for 10 years seemingly didn't take language seriously there or at home and he paid the price of that. End part 2 of 3


Jaques September 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

(Part 3)I studied French for two years before moving into France and could already speak it passably before I commenced study to level 8 at Alliance and worked often to assimilate the language and sense of culture. Hardly an expat I meet in France can speak French competently..though no doubt many CAN do so. If you want to inflict yourself on some other set of taxpayers and cultures then how about getting the derriere into gear, stop bellyaching and get cracking on learning the language as required. Personally, for Canada I think would be immigrants should also have to prove competency in French. There is a national French culture there is there not?…or do they just get "relegated". Voila!(end part 3 of 3)


Jaques September 21, 2010 at 10:46 am

By the way…an even more objectionable type than the freeloader immigrant is the migrant who becomes more "of the culture" than the locals…there's one on our local council who has inserted an "e" into his name to appear french and is even more up himself than the local maire….and that's quite a feat!! If someone comes to your office and immediately knows more than anyone else…how is he thought of?…"great bloke?"!!…I doubt it. Humility and competence and honesty go a long way when entering another culture. Voila!


nick December 15, 2010 at 5:51 pm

why british /australian/nz/uk citizens need to pas canadian language test ??..for usa citizens I think it should be obligatory due to faulty education system they have there and aslo atrociou abuse of english they created over the past 2-3 decades but those that i mentioned should be excluded since their education level and knowledge of english is on par with canadian standards


Liz January 15, 2011 at 6:52 am

Have any of the bloggers here actually taken the Canadian English test? If this is Canada's superior education, it leaves something to be desired.


RVS January 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm

In the US, there a test called Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). Passing it is a must to get into graduate schools. It is administered by the American Testing Services. In Canada, we have delegated our sovereign rights to the US on many issues including defence and trade. Why not education, just make it mandatory for all those who want to immigrate to Canada on semi permanent or permanent basis to have passed TOEFL, exclude those who are specifically needed for picking tomatoes or teaching Universities. This would be considered efficient, a foreign concept to many a bureaucrat or the bellyaching Canuck politicians.


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