Jul 17, 2024

Immigration should not have the effect of substantially changing the Canadian society we know

(Re your Editorial of February 1st on Beyond Apology: A Call for Responsive Vigilance against Racial Discrimination)

I read your editorial. It is extremely well written! Racial discrimination is something you would be more aware of than I am. The younger generation have grown up in a multi-cultural environment and consequently I expect that many of them are less aware of race. I don’t recall my children ever commenting on the fact that their friends came from different backgrounds.

The issue of immigration is quite complex. I think we all agree that there needs to be a limit on the number of immigrants admitted to Canada each year. One consideration, maybe a little controversial, is that immigration should not have the effect of substantially changing the society we are used to. There is probably widespread agreement that immigrants should try to learn one of the official languages, should make a concerted effort to integrate into the society to which they have moved, and should not seek to form enclaves that amount to a mini-version of their own country transplanted geographically. Also, they need to leave behind customs and values that are incompatible with Canadian values. My sense is that Filipinos are ideal immigrants when assessed against these criteria.

Bill Holmes, Vancouver

Wanted: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, etc.

(Re your article on vocational education of September 16) How about free tuition also for students attending community colleges or skills training for those who are not academic? After all we also need plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, etc. Yes, free everything for the top students regardless of income. Maybe big corporations can be asked to sponsor students.

Rexie Kilayko, New Westminster

Screening of qualifications a must for free higher education

(Re your editorial of September 1st on education) This is my view on free college education. It is a good move. My worry though is that it may be equated to universal access without screening qualifications. Some state universities and colleges already allow open admission as a policy. It is an accepted principle that quality higher education is based on selectivity. Students, faculty, curriculum and equipment and facilities must be well selected. If this principle is ignored then this will result again in false hopes for many parents.

Adelaida Lacaba-Bago, Manila

Involve mainstream media in free higher education campaign

(Re your editorial of September 1st on education) I have an idea for your campaign.  Why don’t you send a copy of your editorial to the Vancouver Sun.  They could publish it in their Op Page or letters to the editor.  That way you will reach more people who might champion your cause. Just a thought which probably has already occurred to you.

Rexie Kilayko, New Westminster

Free higher education: A complex issue needing a worthwhile solution

 (Re your editorial of September 1st on education): You are on to a very interesting and worthwhile proposal/campaign which I heartily support. I took a look at what it will mean in terms of financial requirements and how it compares with existing educational support programmes available to students in different Canadian provinces. Here are some facts:

- Of the 2 million post-secondary students enrolled in Canadian schools about 1.8 million are Canadian citizens

- School Boards in Canada spend some $60 billion a year; 

- Of all households in Canada, some 18 percent earn less than $30,000 a year; another 25 % earn between $30-60,000 a year

- Average tuition fees for post-secondary schools is close to $7,000 but large differences depending on field of study (Dentistry = $23,474; Medicine = $14,780; Law $13,332; Engineering = $8446; Humanities = $5773)

As you know Education is mainly the responsibility of provincial governments. Some provinces already provide substantial assistance. Ontario offers $ 395/week for single students and $670/week for married students. there is additional grant possible for low-income families. British Columbia offers $5000 (Excellence scholarships)

The Federal Government offers a bursary of $4500 /academic year for full-time students  plus  $200 per child/month for those with dependents

If 18 percent of the students are by assumption (or theoretically) in the target group for support we are then talking of 324,000 post secondary students coming from lowest income families. Hence we are talking of $2.2 billion/year based on average tuition.

Another strategy is to milk foreign students -  allow more fee-paying foreign students to study in Canada to generate the additional funds needed to subsidize citizens. The UK is doing it.

The experience in the US tells us that what keeps the youth from poor families from succeeding (i.e. going up the education ladder)  is the poor quality of education they receive in primary schools. This is the reason for many initiatives to reform the system including busing students in poor districts to schools in more affluent districts. This is probably not true in Canada, but I imagine that in many towns with small populations (e.g. reservations) the quality of schooling must also be poor.

I actually worry about the scheme launched by Duterte in the Philippines.  Our state universities fell behind those of Thailand because of funding. The consequence is widening farther the difference in quality of schooling between private and public schools.

In short, I think it is an excellent issue to address, but a very complex one.

Bon courage

Manolo Abella, Vancouver  

A Filipino benefits from a free post secondary education grant in Sweden

 (Re: your editorial of September 1st on education) The editorial reminded me that I myself am a beneficiary of free education from an EU country. In 2011, I was able to complete on time a two-year, 60 credit masters in business administration from a Swedish school of technology. The competition for application was intense with over 2000 applications. About 500 were accepted into the program and only 60 of us graduated two years later. I heard that the school no longer accepts international students - something about the Swedish government deciding against funding non-Swedes' education.

Rachel Ramos-Reid, Fanny Bay, BC

A call to support campaign for free higher education for deserving low income students

 (Re: your editorial of September 1st on education) It was with great interest that I read your editorial about the need for a free post secondary education for deserving students from low-income families.  

I hope other community papers and organizations will pick up your cause and the groundswell of movement will inspire MLAs and MPs to convince their parties to enact laws providing educational grants to deserving students from low-income families.

Rexie Kilayko, New Westminster

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