Immigration & Diversity news headlines – February 28, 2012


Canadians are open to the world (Sandra Lopes, Maytree)
Apparently, Canadians really are nice. A recent Environics poll reveals that Canadians think citizenship is more than paying taxes or obeying the law. Unprompted, more than half of the 2,000 people surveyed think that someone is a good citizen when they are active in their community, volunteer, help others, and accept those who are different.

Imposed waiting period for insurance can make health problems worse, critics say (Louisa Taylor, The Ottawa Citizen)
Ontario is one of only three provinces to impose a waiting period before new immigrants can receive public health insurance, and opposition to the restriction has united civic politicians, doctors, nurses and immigration settlement workers. Newly arrived immigrants cannot get OHIP coverage for the first three months they are in Ontario. Refugees are supposed to be covered by a special federal health plan, but it is unpopular with physicians, who say it takes too long and is too bureaucratic. The result, critics say, is that newcomers delay seeking treatment until the waiting period is over, making health problems worse and in some cases, endangering public health.

Bureaucratic ‘upgrades’ deny pregnant woman health coverage (Matt Gurney, National Post)
Aitchison, despite her legitimate claim for residency status — as a spouse of a Canadian citizen who met all other requirements, her residency status was merely a matter of paperwork — was caught up in the slow-moving gears of the bureaucracy at the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Due to recent changes to their processing system, the Ministry is currently experiencing a severe backlog. This left Aitchison, and thousands of others, in legal limbo — she couldn’t get health coverage until Citizenship confirmed they were processing her application, and Citizenship refused to confirm that until they caught up with her file. Ultimately, unable to afford the steep medical bills of a hospital birth (in part because the same delay also denied her a work permit), Aitchison had to give birth to her son in a motel room across the street from a hospital — in case anything went very badly wrong, she wanted to be close to the hospital she couldn’t afford to enter.

Canada to crack down on ‘birth tourism’ (Natalie Stechyson, Postmedia News)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada is poised to crack down on “passport babies” or “birth tourism”–the practice of travelling to Canada to give birth so that child can have Canadian citizenship–as a media report out of China reveals a ring of consultants who coach pregnant women to do exactly that. “We are aware of crooked consultants who encourage pregnant women to illegally travel to Canada to give birth and gain access to Canada’s considerable benefits,” Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Candice Malcolm told Postmedia News on Sunday.

Hate speech clause in human rights act may be history (Paul Schneidereit, Chronicle Herald)
To protect freedom of expression in Canada, sometimes you need a majority government in Ottawa. That’s the moral of the story of a Conservative backbencher’s private member’s bill — which has now cleared second reading in the House of Commons and gone to committee — seeking to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Muslim investors seek Shariah-compliant RRSPs (CBC)
The deadline for RRSP contributions is nearing, but there’s another important investment concern for Muslims — ensuring the products they rely on for their retirement income comply with Islamic principles.

Shari`ah Investment for Canada Muslims (OnIslam)
Ontario – Celebrating a growing market of Shari`ah-compliant funds, Canadian Muslims are resorting to products that comply with Islamic principles for their retirement income and investments. “The way I actually look at Shari`ah-compliant products is mainly as a subset of ethical, or socially responsible investing [such as avoiding the adult entertainment
industry or any company that may negatively impact the environment],” Mohammad Khalid, a retired economist living in Oakville, Ontario, told CBC News on Monday, February 27.

Immigrants should build TFSAs while waiting for RRSP eligibility (Marjo Johne, Globe and Mail)
Shortly after she moved to Toronto from Hong Kong 20 years ago, May Fung learned about a fifth season in Canada, one that didn’t appear anywhere on her calendar: RRSP season. “When I found out about the tax rates in Canada – which were very high compared to what I was accustomed to in my home city – I was eager to participate in a program that would give me instant relief from taxes,” says Ms. Fung, who is now senior manager of retirement planning at Bank of Montreal. “The idea of long term tax-free compounding for my investments also had great appeal.”

Conference helps young immigrants find common ground (Danielle Wong, Hamilton Spectator)
Mophelia Dorway is working up the courage to tell her parents about her real dreams. The 16-year-old Sir Winston Churchill high school student who moved to Hamilton from Liberia five years ago has always been expected to become a doctor, but wants instead to be a model. She recently reached a compromise to pitch to her parents: she’ll become a cosmetic surgeon, working within the beauty industry but also in the medical field.–conference-helps-young-immigrants-find-common-ground

What do we know about immigrant seniors aging in Canada? A demographic, socio-economic and health profile – PDF (CERIS)
With the anticipated rapid increase in the population of seniors and the continuing projected rise of immigration to Canada, there is a need to explore if immigrant seniors experience of aging is differently compared to the Canadian-born population in Canada. The purpose of this report is to examine selected demographic as well as socioeconomic aspects of the immigrant seniors’ population by period of immigration compared to the Canadian-born population in Canada using the 2006 Canadian Census

Health and Racism Working Group (racism free ontario)
The Health and Racism Working Group (HaR) is an anti-racist advocacy group made up of community members and frontline workers, based in Peel Region. In existence since 2007, the group is hosted at the East Mississauga Community Health Centre. HaR members have created space for dialogue on intersecting issues of equity, through community events, workshops, training and by being a unique space for conversations on anti-racism. Highlights of HaR’s community presence include its annual Symposium (held since 2009). 2010’s Symposium “Ally or a Lie” and 2011’s Symposium “Work It!” brought together a wide array of workers and community members to focus on allyship and (un/der)employment, respectively. HaR is deeply interested in the connections between race and health, including being conscious of the impact upon the bodies of those who engage in anti-racist work.


Bill C-31: A big new refugee bill but the same old debate (Maytree)
On February 16, the government tabled Bill C-31 in the House of Commons, the Bill to “protect Canada’s immigration system.” It is a large and complicated omnibus bill on refugee issues that includes Bill C-4, the Anti-Human Smuggling Bill, along with major amendments to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the legislation that was unanimously passed by Parliament in June 2010, but still awaits implementation. There are additional elements as well, such as the obligatory but unspecified use of biometric information and additional ministerial powers to remove permanent residence status from Canadians who immigrated through the refugee stream. Before launching specific criticisms, and there will be vigorous public and parliamentary arguments against the bill (a coalition of opponents of the bill has already formed), it is helpful to step back and place the bill within a longer perspective of the government’s refugee policy. The bill is really an accumulation of initiatives that reflect the current government’s fundamental views on Canada’s refugee system.

It’s wrong to shut door on European refugees (Catherine Dauvergne, Vancouver Sun)
Last week’s new immigration omnibus bill takes aim at refugees from supposedly safe places, like Europe. It is ironic that refugees from Europe are now the most suspect. The current legal definition of a refugee was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. Until the mid-1960s, only Europeans could be refugees. There are three things wrong with targeting refugees from Europe. Each one of them is complicated, so they make bad sound-bite politics.

Stranded asylum-seekers wait and cope in Buffalo (Jerry Zremski and Lou Michel, Buffalo News)
The world continues to bring us its tired, its poor, its huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And increasingly, they are getting stranded in Buffalo. The city, long a way station for those seeking political asylum either in Canada or the United States, has become a semipermanent home for hundreds of asylum-seekers struggling to cope with changes on both sides of the border.

Supporters lift potential deportees (Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun)
Rexdale restaurateur Zhou Yi Jiang says he’s deeply touched by the support and kindness shown by hundreds of Toronto residents as he and his family fight deportation from Canada. More than 600 supporters have signed a petition at Jiang’s Golden Asian Cuisine, on Rexdale Blvd., which faces closure and five workers being laid off if the family is removed to China.

Webinar Mar 5: Mapping Memories: Participatory media, place-based stories and refugee youth (CCR)
With Liz Miller, professor in Communication Studies at Concordia University (Montreal) and member of the Mapping Memories project. One powerful way to change public opinion about refugees in Canada is through personal stories. But how do we do this effectively and with respect for the individuals involved?

FCJ Youth Network Launched! (FCJ Refugee Centre)
Friday afternoon a group of young volunteers from the FCJ Youth Network organized the first FCJ Youth Network event. They had been preparing for this event for some time, and so the event continued without a hitch. It was an informal, friendly and enjoyable event. The team concluded that the event was a resounding success and the Youth Network is underway.


Old Age Insecurity? (Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson, Caledon Institute)
The controversy over raising the age of entitlement for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 is taking attention away from alternative possible reforms of that vital program, and of Canada’s pension system generally. The allegation that Old Age Security will be unsustainable in future is more a political than a policy judgement, and the substantive evidence does not support it.

Seniors deserve so much more than the indignity of poverty (David Shearman, The Sun Times)
Experts called actuaries, who are the people who count up the risks and the dollars and cents and tell us whether a pension is solid or not, strongly disagree with the government. The Canadian Institute of Actuaries, who are scientists and mathematicians who know this stuff and can prove it, say that our publicly funded Old Age Security system is fully funded and will be so for years to come. So why is the government talking about making changes to our Old Age Security system? Are they not listening to the scientists (and actuaries are scientists) who might know a thing or two?


Debunking Drummond (Erin Weir, Behind the Numbers)
The Drummond report assumes feeble provincial revenues to justify deep cuts to public services. More realistic revenue projections and policies to bolster revenue would reduce the pressure for austerity. Based on recent private-sector forecasts, the Ontario Ministry of Finance’s November update projected that the provincial economy and provincial revenues would grow by just over four per cent annually (including inflation). Drummond projects economic growth of four per cent, but posits revenue growth of only 3.2 per cent. This difference, compounded from 2010-11 to 2017-18, implies a $10-billion shortfall in annual revenue. The 500-page report provides no breakdown of provincial revenues to explain its key assumption that they will grow much slower than the provincial economy. It simply notes that “a number of revenue sources do not grow at the same pace as nominal GDP [Gross Domestic Product].”


Census – numbers only tell half the story (Maytree)
So, will population growth by immigrants lead Canada to prosperity? In general, the census reveals merely demographic numbers. The challenging realities of the labour market persist for newcomers to Canada, and most media stories about the census discuss both the immigration numbers and labour market challenges facing newcomers.


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

Democracy and Science, in the National Interest (Alan Broadbent)
Resisting the devaluation of our democracy has always been one of the obligations of a citizen. We can add to that resisting the devaluation of the evidence science produces. Science can inform the choices we make in our democratic institutions, which is surely in the national interest. Let democracy flourish. Let science be heard.


Call for applications for the 2012 Alan Thomas Fellowship (The Carold Institute)
We are pleased to announce the call for applications for the 2012 Alan Thomas Fellowship to Promote Civil Society and Voluntary Action. First awarded in 2008, there are now six Fellowship recipients. The deadline for applications is Friday March 30, 2012.

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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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