Immigration & Diversity news headlines – February 17, 2012


Immigration is a Moral Barometer (Janet Denise Kelly, City Watch)
It is easy to be on either sides of the coin on this issue. Illegal immigration has been a problem since 1492; and is inescapable. There are so many purported facts that are spewed and skewed that it is hard to discern the real truth about illegal immigrations impacts on government support systems and unemployment. At the end of day, the real question is where this fits within your moral barometer.

Ontario immigration hobbled by Ottawa (John Ivison, National Post)
Attacking Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals is a waste of time – they’ve done such a good job themselves. Still, when it comes to making a mess of Ontario’s finances, they’ve had some help from Ottawa. Take immigration policy. As the Drummond report on reforming Ontario’s public services makes clear, the federal government’s immigration programs have undermined Mr. McGuinty’s attempts to attract skilled workers to his province, in favour of guiding them westward.

Vital to attract skilled immigrants (Michael Abbott Charles Beach, The StarPhoenix)
Immigrants are key drivers behind our country’s growth, according to 2011 census findings. Released last week by Statistics Canada, census figures indicate two-thirds of overall population growth is being fuelled by newcomers. While immigration should continue to play a large role in boosting our economy, it is particularly important that we put an emphasis on accepting skilled immigrants. In setting immigration policy and targets, it is important to know how well immigrants in various admission categories have fared in their initial years of Canadian residence. Skilled workers have consistently higher earnings than other classes of immigrants, according to a study – Do Admission Categories and Economic Recessions Affect Immigrant Earnings? – that we recently had published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Parent and grandparent supervisa (FCJ Refugee Centre)
Take a look at our most recent presentation on the new super visa The new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will be valid for up to 10 years and will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status.

Editorial: New immigration rules target marriages of convenience (Calgary Herald)
Getting married represents a serious long-term commitment. So does immigrating to a new country. Thats why its gratifying to see Citizenship and Immigration Canada changing the rules to ensure neither of those commitments is dishonoured by marriage fraud.

Married immigrants have to stay together for two years or face expulsion (Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press)
Married newcomers to Canada better be in love or be prepared tough it out in the relationship for two years if they don’t want to be kicked out of the country. Citizenship and Immigration Canada is changing Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to make a sponsored spouse stay in the relationship for at least two years once they receive permanent residence status, or they have to leave Canada.

Makibaka! End Racism in the System! (Nat Gray, Vancouver Media Co-op)
About 50 people of colour and their allies rallied outside Vancouver Provincial Court Monday to protest racialized violence and its institutionalized roots. On trial are Robertson de Chazel and Alistair Miller, self-professed members of the international neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour. They are accused of aggravated assault for lighting a Filipino man on fire on Commercial Drive in October 2009. Lawyer Doug Christie, who has a long history of representing racists and anti-semites, is their counsel.

Torontos million-dollar radical mosque (Stewart Bell, National Post)
The Toronto imam has long been known for his controversial comments. He called the 9/11 attacks a joint CIA operation, refused to join other imams in signing a statement condemning the 2005 London bombings and referred to the Toronto 18 terrorists as good people. But while he remains as provocative as ever, the institution that serves as his platform has undergone a notable shift: According to federal charity records, the Salaheddin Islamic Centre is being increasingly financed by foreign patrons.

Canadian teens being exposed to Islamic extremism in high schools: CSIS (Stewart Bell, National Post)
A newly released intelligence report warns that teenagers are being exposed to Islamist extremism in Canadian high schools. In an Intelligence Assessment, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says that in two recent cases, suspects charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act appear to have been radicalized in part while attending Canadian secondary school institutions. While high school years are a time of exploration and idealism, the report says exposure to violent ideologies at this potentially vulnerable stage can set in motion a series of developments that can lead to actual acts of violence.

Lost Years | Exploring 150 years of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia (Devon Wong, Schema Magazine)
With British Columbia as a foundation, Gee uses the film as an opportunity to explore the patterns and stories of Chinese diasporas throughout Canada and beyond. The film focuses on the years between the introduction of the Chinese Head Tax in the late 1800s, until the Act was finally repealed in the late 1940s. In many ways, Lost Years delved directly into the part of my own family heritage that I’d given up trying to access. I’d never been able to have the conversations around my own family’s migration, despite having my great-grandfather arrive in Canada over a hundred years ago. I’d lost the language on the way, and the ability to communicate and understand their struggles.

Milton resident selected as part of GTA leadership cohort (Kathy Yanchus, Inside Halton)
He may be little Joe from Milton, but hes part of a diverse group charged with a daunting task. Joe Henry, manager of Accessible Learning and Student Development at Sheridan College, is one of 28 selected members of the DiverseCity Fellows 2012 cohort, a one-year leadership and networking initiative to develop emerging leaders to address the challenges facing the GTA.–milton-resident-selected-as-part-of-gta-leadership-cohort

Treating a medical mosaic, doctors develop a new appreciation for the role of ethnicity in disease (Dakshana Bascaramurty, Globe and Mail)
Baby X is born in a Canadian hospital and her tiny, wrinkled body is placed on a scale that reads 3,061 grams, or 6 pounds and 12 ounces. Things can go one of two ways for Baby X, whose parents are immigrants from India. According to the standard birth-weight curves used in Canada, which are modelled after norms for Caucasian newborns, this baby could be labelled as underweight, a classification that comes with a higher risk of death and lower cognitive ability. She could be subjected to a battery of unnecessary tests and follow-ups. Her concerned mother might overfeed her in hopes of speeding up her growth.

New critical analysis of Ontario’s Equity strategy (Catholic Insights)
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada has issued a Report by Peter Jon Mitchell critical of Ontarios 2009 Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy document. This, it states, strives to create a welcoming atmosphere for a diverse community of students and staff. However, the Report states, much public controversy and confusion have resulted over the document. It raises the following questions.


Harper Government Introduces the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act (CIC)
Legislation to protect the integrity of Canadas immigration system was introduced today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. The proposed measures include further reforms to the asylum system to make it faster and fairer, measures to address human smuggling, and the authority to make it mandatory to provide biometric data with a temporary resident visa application.

Backgrounder Overview of Reforms to Canadas Refugee System (CIC)
Building on the reforms passed in June 2010 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA), these new proposals further accelerate the processing of refugee claims and would help deter abuse of the system.

Preliminary Response to Bill C-31: Despite Strong, Reasonable Opposition, Government Proceeds with Anti-Refugee Bill (CCLA)
This morning, the government introduced Bill C-31, the new Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act, that could penalize, detain and endanger people who come to Canada seeking asylum. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is very concerned about this Bill which, if passed and implemented, would violate several of Canadas constitutional and international obligations. Of greater concern are the effects of this Bill on people who came to Canada in need of protection and safety. CCLA felt it critical to immediately inform people in Canada of its content, in light of the governments declaration that they intend to try to pass it within the next few months.

New refugee bill lumps together biometrics, human smuggling bill, past reforms (Kristen Shane, Embassy)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney introduced a new bill on Feb. 16 that would resurrect controversial refugee reforms and fuse them with human smuggling and biometrics measures, constituting a major overhaul of the refugee system critics say amounts to an omnibus bill. Mr. Kenney said the new bill, C-31, which the Conservatives have dubbed the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act, is needed to strengthen existing legislation and speed up the asylum claims process further. He said it would comply with all of Canadas domestic and international obligations.

Refugee system faces ‘unprecedented dismantling’ (CTV)
The Conservative government’s new plan to reform the refugee system will prevent legitimate claimants from telling their stories and will damage the Immigration and Refugee Board’s ability to review those claims, says one immigration expert. The reforms were announced Thursday by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who said Canada is being preyed upon by “bogus” refugees from democratic countries with strong human rights records.

Kenney tightens rules for questionable asylum seekers (Steven Chase And Tamara Baluja, Globe and Mail)
The Harper government is using its nine-month-old majority to make Canada a more unwelcome destination for asylum seekers with shaky refugee claims. Its also introducing tougher penalties for human smugglers who would illegally funnel refugee seekers to Canada, like the hundreds of Tamils shipped on M.V. Sun Sea to Canada in 2010.

Refugee reforms include fingerprints, no appeals for some (Louise Elliott and Laura Payton, CBC News)
New, tougher reforms to refugee legislation that hasn’t yet come into force are already drawing fire from critics who say they give Canada’s immigration minister too much power and risk the lives of claimants. Bill C-31, introduced Thursday by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, toughens the measures taken in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, a compromise bill passed under a Conservative minority government. That earlier bill has yet to be implemented. It was due to be up and running by June 29.
(NOTE: this story includes video clips of Peter Showler interview and Jason Kenney interview)

Who is a refugee? (CBC)
The notion of who does and doesn’t qualify for refugee status is one many countries grapple with. The formal, internationally recognized, definition of a refugee is set out in the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which established the rights of people seeking asylum in a country other than their own and the responsibilities of countries that grant asylum.

Critics decry detention, fingerprinting in refugee bill (Renee Bernard, News1130)
The federal government is proposing massive changes in the way refugees are processed in this country. But critics fear the reforms, lumped into one single omnibus bill, won’t get enough scrutiny. One of the changes proposed in Bill C-31 would impose automatic one-year detentions for adult refugee claimants who arrive by boat.–critics-decry-detention-fingerprinting-in-refugee-bill

Video: Battling bogus claims (Toronto Sun)
Ottawa plans to step up the fight against fraudulent refugees abusing the system. Brigitte Pellerin has more.

NDP fumes as majority Tories reintroduce sweeping reforms to immigration system (National Post)
The Conservatives plan to toughen refugee laws to filter out fake claims from safe countries like Hungary, which it says are clogging up the system and wasting taxpayer money. The law, which critics say is an attack on human rights, appears to target the large influx of claims from Hungary by Roma gypsies, the largest ethnic minority in Europe. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney reintroduced previously rejected legislation Thursday, claiming the Balanced Refugee Reform Act set to take effect in June doesnt go far enough.

Tories target alleged fake refugee bids (Steve Rennie, Canadian Press)
The Conservative government is using its majority to once again overhaul the refugee system to reduce what it considers to be bogus claims. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney tabled legislation in the House of Commons on Thursday that reverses some key concessions the Tories made to the opposition two years ago in order to pass the Balanced Refugee Reform Act through a minority Parliament. This new legislation, called the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act, more closely resembles the original refugee bill as tabled by the Tories, before any concessions.

Feds expected to tighten refugee rules (
The federal Conservatives are expected to announce further changes to Canada’s immigration system. CBC News reports Immigration Minister Jason Kenney plans to announce legislation this week to further strengthen barriers against what the government considers to be “bogus” refugee claimants coming from countries where they face no real risk or persecution

Tories aim to fix ‘broken’ immigration system (CTV)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended a new plan Thursday that aims to overhaul Canada’s refugee system in order to stop thousands of refugee claims from “safe” countries. Speaking in Parliament, Harper said that Canada has the world’s most “generous” immigration system, and that it is subject to abuse under the current guidelines. “We continue to see thousands of people coming from safe, democratic countries making refugee claims in this country. That is not acceptable to Canadians,” he said.

Tories to crack down on ‘bogus refugees’ (Daniel Proussalidis, Toronto Sun)
In an effort to clamp down on “bogus refugees” – many coming from European Union democracies – Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced major reforms Thursday. Refugee claimants will see their cases processed within about seven months, or within just six weeks for those from designated “safe” countries, under the new Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. Right now, refugees can be in Canada for almost three years — collecting social assistance in many cases — before their cases are processed.


Hamilton faith groups speak with one voice in the struggle against poverty (Danielle Wong, Hamilton Spectator)
Local faith groups reached a nondenominational conclusion Thursday night: poverty in Hamilton needs to disappear. More than 50 representatives from religious communities attended a meeting and discussion session at Christs Church Cathedral on James Street North to talk about how to involve their congregations in social justice work.–hamilton-faith-groups-speak-with-one-voice-in-the-struggle-against-poverty


Misdiagnosis: Drummonds Health Care Prescription Misses Equity (Wellesley Institute)
The Drummond Reports emphasis on reform and innovation in the way health care is organized and delivered is vital. The objectives of long-term planning, a shift to home and community care, prevention, and integration of health services are right on the mark. But a huge element is missing: equity. Equitable access to services, equitable outcomes and improved population health must also be fundamental goals of reform. The report highlights that a small proportion of patients with complex needs account for a high proportion of overall health system costs and emphasizes that preventing ill health and controlling chronic diseases is crucial moving forward. Good so far, but the distribution of ill-health is not random; a crucial element is the well-documented social gradient of health the risk and burden of many chronic conditions and poor health more generally is far higher for marginalized populations, such as people with low incomes.

Drummond: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Erin Weir, Behind the Numbers)
The Ontario government should adopt the good, minimize the bad by reversing corporate tax cuts and permanently restricting HST input tax credits, and forget the ugly.

Ten Points on Recession, Deficits, and Austerity in Ontario (Jim Stanford, Behind the Numbers)
Ontario public service advocates and providers are becoming increasingly and rightfully alarmed about the direction of provincial finances, in the run-up to tomorrows public release of the Drummond Commission report, and a subsequent provincial budget that looks to be painfully austere. The budget-cutting set are ramping up the rhetoric pretty dramatically: warning that Ontario is fast becoming the Greece of Canada, that we are about to hit the debt wall, that interest rates will skyrocket when the debt raters wake up, and similar nonsense. This is pure shock-doctrine stuff (reminiscent of like propoganda that set the stage for Paul Martins austerity in the mid-1990s), and must be called out for what it is.

Deflating Drummond (Erin Weir, Behind the Numbers)
In Ontario, wages rose by only half the national average while inflation essentially equalled the national average. Over the past year, Ontario wages edged up just 1%, far behind 2.4% provincial inflation. Drummond-inspired austerity threatens to worsen this situation directly by limiting public-sector pay and indirectly by weakening the wider labour market.

Selling the Drummond Report (TVO The Agenda)
Economist Don Drummond says changes have to be made. Ontario politicians say changes are politically unpalatable. The Agenda examines the divide on Drummond.

Reaction To Report (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with Jim Stanford. He is an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, and also a volunteer research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for whom he’s written a blog.

Aggressive Action (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about The Drummond Report with former TD Bank chief economist, Don Drummond.

Too Optimistic? (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about the Drummond Report with our business commentator Michael Hlinka.

Drummond Report merely the end of the beginning (Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star)
If you lived through the Mike Harris years, you aint seen nothing yet. Cutbacks are back and bigger than ever. And this time, theyre here to stay. The good news is that there may not be as much bad news this time, even if it lasts much longer. Rather than across-the-board cuts from the late 90s, look for out-of-the-box thinking: No welfare cuts or reckless hospital closings, but consolidation and transformation. And communication.–cohn-drummond-report-merely-the-end-of-the-beginning

Why the Drummond report won’t work any better for McGuinty than the KPMG report did for Ford (John Michael McGrath, Openfile Toronto)
There are a huge number of differences between Queen’s Park and Toronto (Queen’s Park can raise sales taxes!), but the fundamental political dynamic is now the same for both leaders. McGuinty needs the votes of other people in the legislature, not just his own loyalists, thanks to the minority government. Many of the recommendations of the Drummond report will be politically toxic to one or both of the opposition parties. The difference is that where Rob Ford stayed mayor even after we saw a number of proposed cuts reversed when they made it to the floor of council, and then saw a bunch more reversed during the mini-revolt over the budget, Dalton McGuinty’s government can’t survive if its budget fails. Despite the many differences between the two men and governments, the effect will be the same. All of the most politically radioactive stuff in Drummond’s report will be buried somewhere and forgotten, hopefully long gone from people’s memory at the next election.

Press Release: The Ontario Nonprofit Network Responds to Drummond Report -Third Sector Important Solution to Public Service Delivery Reforms (Ontario Nonprofit Network)
The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN), a nonpartisan convener of sector voices, communication broker and coordinator for nonprofits in Ontario, recognizes the fiscal pressures that led to the Commissions launch in last years provincial government budget. The Report opens the door for a new era of partnerships between the provincial government and the third sector to help transform the current public benefit delivery system for those who need it most, said Jini Stolk, ONN Co-Chair. This sector, as stewards of community social and economic well-being, is the driver of innovative solutions, and we expect to be a prominent part of the transformative work ahead, added Tonya Surman, ONN Co-Chair.

Is a strong dose of austerity enough to heal Ontario’s economy? (Brian Milner – The Globe and Mail)
Ontarios economy is in the midst of a gut-wrenching transformation marked by years of slow growth, weaker manufacturing and reduced spending by government, consumers and business. In his gloomy outlook, economist Don Drummond estimates long-term growth of just 2 per cent annually and warns that it could be less than that. Such a level would be too low to support significant expansion of employment or business investment. And unlike the 1990s, Queens Park will not be able to rely on expanded revenue from a strengthening economy to grow its way out of its deficit troubles.

Green Drummond (Environmental Defence)
Though it makes for some über-heavy bed-time reading, and deserves a more thorough analysis than this blog pretends to be, a first pass through Don Drummonds 668-page report on public service reform in Ontario reveals some very interesting conclusions and recommendations related to environmental protection (see here, here, here, and here). Drummond makes a compelling case that improved environmental outcomes and overall savings to the public purse can go hand in hand.

Drummond Report Sets Stage for Ontarios Future Competitiveness (Ontario Chamber of Commerce)
To slay the deficit and keep Ontario competitive, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) believes the government must seriously consider the package of reforms coming out of the Commission on the Reform of Ontarios Public Service (the Drummond Report). The OCC supports the innovative nature of the report as it takes a systematic approach to change in very challenging economic times. It attempts to manage fiscal realities as it seeks to return the province to fiscal balance without sacrificing investment in future innovation.

Social Impact Bonds May be Coming To Ontario: Celebration and Cautions (Sara Lyons,
The Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, also known as the Drummond Report, has landed at Queens Park with a considerable thud, and not only because it is 6 cm thick. The report calls for significant cuts and changes to the Ontario government as we know it. On the constructive side and particularly relevant to social finance, the Report recommends that the Ontario government implement social impact bonds (SIBs).


Friday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on City Hall, Transit and Other News.

Finally a poll on Toronto transit plans that doesn’t suck (Derek Flack, blogTO)
Although the next municipal election is years away, following council’s special meeting on transit planning, this has been the week of the poll. First Stratcom weighed in on the mayor’s popularity and the degree to which Toronto is divided on transit strategy, and then Forum Research came along with its own survey, which seemed to indicate a clear preference for subways over at grade transit. It wasn’t too hard, however, to poke holes in some of the conclusions drawn from the data reported by each company. The question that served as the basis for Stratcom’s poll misrepresented Rob Ford’s transit plan, while the Forum Research poll included a virtually meaningless question that pitted LRT against subways with no additional context (The Toronto Sun, of course, picked up on that particular stat).

Metrolinx and the Toronto Council LRT Decision (Steve Munro)
At its February 16, 2012 meeting, the Metrolinx Board received a presentation and report on the status of projects in Toronto arising out of the Council action taken on February 8. The report does not add much to information already reported, but it consolidates various documents in one convenient location.


SmartSAVER Helpful RESP Guidance for Canadians (FAIR Canada)
FAIR Canada encourages Canadians to check out for useful tips and information about how to start a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and obtain government money for their childrens post-secondary education. The SmartSAVER website provides clear, unbiased information about RESPs in 16 different languages. It gives Canadians tools and links to useful information.

Ontario 211 helpline goes province-wide (211 Ontario)
Its official. Ontario 211, the phone line that has helped well over 4 million callers find help in the social and human services sectors since it launched a decade ago, is now province-wide. And Ontario is the first province in Canada to be able to make that claim.


MP pushes for human-trafficking awareness day (Winnipeg Free Press)
MP Joy Smith is calling on the Canadian government to make Feb. 22 National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. “Until slavery has been eradicated, there is much to be done,” Smith said. “We need to get the message out that regardless of who you are, where you live or what you do, you can be a part of the solution to stopping human trafficking.”

ManpowerGroup and Verite Release Ethical Framework to Combat Human Trafficking and Forced Labor in Cross-Border Recruitment (Digital Journal)
ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN), the world leader in innovative workforce solutions, and Verite, the award-winning human rights and labor rights NGO, released a detailed framework for combatting human trafficking and forced labor at a conference titled “Engaging Business: Addressing Human Trafficking in Labor Sourcing” in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

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