Immigration & Diversity news headlines – March 12, 2012


Stress Of Integrating (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about about immigrant families that have been split apart, with Priya Watson. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Anniversary Of Charter (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with Michael O’Brien. He is a third year law student at the University of Windsor, and one of the students behind a campaign called “The Charter Project” . It marks the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and will be launched tomorrow at Osgoode Hall.

Jason Kenney’s immigrant song sounds strangely off-key (Rick Salutin, Toronto Star)
This week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the energizer bunny of the Harper cabinet, popped up to put more polish on his argument that immigration needs to be driven by business specs. “People with flexible human capital, high levels of language proficiency and a pre-arranged job,” he said, “are set for success, so that will be an important guidepost as we move toward transformational change.” My question is: If his policies are about nation-building, as he often proclaims, why does it sound so boring? Like an accountant’s approach: plug in the figures, match them with skill sets and out comes a nation. For most of recent history, immigration to the New World was, for those experiencing it, an adventure, full of tragedy, achievement, a sense of loss yet creativity. Where do you plug that in, minister?

Joint report: “State of Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Status” (PDF) (Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (MTCSALC) and Colour of Poverty Campaign)
This joint report is a brief summary of some of the major developments in federal policy and practice as they impact on immigrant and refugee women in Canada, covering the five year period 2006-11.

Immigrants key to economic growth (Megan Harris, Toronto Sun)
You might rightly question, why permit more immigrants to enter the country if the existing ones are not able to keep the jobs they are hired to fill in the first place? The answer has many complexities. Among the reasons is the McGuinty government was slow to adopt changes in federal immigration programs that enabled provinces to strategically target their immigration programs to fill employment gaps. In fact, Ontario was the last province to launch a provincial nominee program (PNP). The negative implications on the economy are numerous and could hamper growth over time.

Desperate for workers, West seeks immigration powers (Justine Hunter And Dawn Walton, Globe and Mail)
Canada’s Western premiers are seeking to wrest control over immigration away from Ottawa to help the West manage its growing skills shortage. “We are well-positioned but we need to have a national discussion about what further tools provinces need to grow the national economy,” said B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who is leading the group, in an interview.

Kudos to Kenney for reforming immigration system (Editorial, Globe and Mail)
Ottawa hasn’t had such an activist immigration minister in years, and many of Jason Kenney’s reforms are long overdue. An immigration system that takes eight years just to open up an applicant’s file is dangerously close to collapse. Canada has become a victim of its own popularity — as well as its own inefficiencies. To eliminate the backlog of one million applications, Mr. Kenney has proposed “transformational change” that could include simply eliminating all the old files, and starting anew.

Canadian immigration issues may be legislated away: Kenney (Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News)
Canada will consider legislating away its massive backlog of immigration applications and allowing provinces to cherry-pick from one big pool of would-be newcomers in a bid to transform Canada’s immigration system into one that’s driven by the economy, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday. In a speech to business leaders at an Economic Club of Canada luncheon, Kenney promised “transformational change” to immigration that emphasizes the need for skilled newcomers who can fill gaps in the country’s labour market.

Should Canada’s immigration policy favour poor and oppressed or educated and rich? (Andy Radia, Yahoo! News)
Should Canada be welcoming poor and oppressed immigrants looking for freedom and opportunity? Or should we covet the educated, the rich and wealthy from other countries? Based on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s recent announcements, it appears the Harper government has chosen the latter. But NDP immigration critic Don Davies believes it’s time for a debate on the issue.

Ottawa targets ‘high-value’ entrepreneurs with new immigration program (Wallace Immen, Globe and Mail)
Ottawa plans to replace the immigrant entrepreneur program it shelved last year with a new system aimed at identifying and speeding the path for “high value innovators,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says. The previous program, in place for a decade, “was administratively very burdensome and underwhelming in terms of the results.” When it was suspended last July, it had a backlog of nearly 10,000 applicants, and with an average of about 1,000 to 1,500 approvals a year it would have taken nearly eight years to clear, even without new applications. What will happen to the older files when the new program is launched remains unclear, Mr. Kenney said in an interview.

‘New’ Entrepreneur Program for Immigration in Canada to be Introduced Shortly: Transcend Consultants (PRWeb)
According to Transcend, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Hon. Jason Kenney disclosed that the system for immigrating to Canada under the Entrepreneur stream of Business immigration will be re-introduced by the end of the year. The new program allows the overseas Canadian consulate to be able to attract the type of business immigrant “who can do much more in terms of adding value to the economy than opening up a convenience store.”, thus creating a win-win for both the economy and the immigrant.

Searching for diversity in the Canadian Forces (Jan Hilario, The Source)
As an organization with a mandate to represent and protect national interests, it is understood that the Canadian Forces should reflect the values and composition of society. In 2006, the Canadian immigrant population rose to 6.2 million, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the Canadian population. It is projected that by 2017, the visible minority population will represent approximately one in five Canadians. But data from the 2008 census shows that the Canadian Forces does not reflect the same level of ethno-cultural diversity. A small proportion of Canadian Forces personnel, only six per cent, were non-Caucasians, compared with 17 per cent of the regular working population.

Queen hails ‘cultural tapestry’ on Commonwealth Day (BBC)
In her annual Commonwealth Day message she describes the “wealth of diversity” of the 54 member nations. Two billion people live in the Commonwealth and the Queen said it provided a great “understanding” for cultural differences.

Trailblazing black hockey player dies at 92 (Land Hornby, Calgary Sun)
Herb Carnegie would never put on an National Hockey League sweater, despite being eminently qualified. Too many influential people who looked at the colour of a man’s skin before they looked at goals and assists made sure to make it difficult for Carnegie to escape the minors in the 1940s. But Carnegie did pave the way for hundreds of black players. More than 25 currently in the NHL will be saying a prayer for him today after Carnegie passed away Friday in Toronto at age 92.

What role should government play in regards to religion? (Jack McLean, Reuven Bulka, Balpreet Singh, Ray Innen Parchelo and Kevin Smith, Ottawa Citizen)
Rabbi Reuven Bulka, head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa, hosts Sunday Night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA. The notion of church-state separation is not Canadian. Yet, over the years, we have become so attuned to this notion that it has just about become Canadian. There are many roles that government plays in our lives. Governments, be they local, provincial, or federal, are expected to protect and enhance our lives. The range is endless.

Citizenship Acquisition, Employment Prospects and Earnings: Comparing two cool countries (BEVELANDER Pieter; PENDAKUR, Ravi, EUDO Citizenship Observatory)
Direct country comparisons on the effect of citizenship are rare. The aim of this paper is to analyse the citizenship effect on both employment probabilities and the relative income of work of immigrants in two countries, Canada and Sweden. We ask ‘Is there a citizenship effect and if any, in which country is it that we find the largest effect and for which immigrant groups’. Using Instrumental Variable Regression to assess the clean effect of citizenship acquisition on data from the 2006 Canadian census and the 2006 Swedish registry we find that citizenship has a positive impact on both characteristics, and that it is often stronger in Sweden than in Canada.

Community reaction to a ‘mail-order bride’ radio contest (CBC)
Members of the CBC Community had a strong reaction to a Halifax radio station’s “mail-order bride” contest, and to the criticism of it on the floor of the House of Commons. Q104 in Halifax is holding a giveaway called the “Male is in the Czech” contest. The winner gets a return flight to Prague, $250 in spending money, five nights in a hotel and four dates through a membership on a website called

Kenney Using ‘Marriage Fraud” Nonsense To Put Foreign Spouses At The Mercy Of Their Canadian Sponsors (R. Paul Dhillon, The Link)
Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney is using “Marriage Fraud” nonsense to put foreign spouses at the mercy of their Canadian sponsors for two years under his proposed changes to the spousal sponsorship immigration laws, saying conditional permanent residence that forces the foreign spouse to live for two years with their Canadian sponsors is required to deter marriages of convenience. But this will open up a whole can of worms where foreign spouses, especially women, will be forced to stay with their Canadian sponsors and forced to suffer violence, slavery and other social ills to get their Permanent Canadian Status. This has been shown to be the case in countries like the United Kingdom that have similar laws, where stories of sponsor abuse has been rampant. When a Canadian sponsor knows that their foreign spouse must stay with them for two years – it opens up the foreign spouses to immense abuse. This is another example of Kenney exploiting a very small number of true marriage fraud cases to bring in draconian immigration laws, all designed to stem immigration from countries like China and India – the two biggest countries of spousal immigration.

Diversity Is The Real Equalizer For Canada’s Multicultural Society (Ken Herar, The Link)
At times, it’s not easy walking the walk and talking the talk regarding diversity. Sometimes we say things we may regret later on due to ignorance or otherwise. One thing is clear, I don’t have all the answers, however, I’m always interested in learning, offering feedback and providing leadership where needed. I’ve had the following statement said to me many times; “There is one race, the human race.” I would like to take some time to expound upon this. There’s some truth to this reference, however, sometimes it’s used as a blanket statement and it neglects to delve into the real issues we face in our communities. Yes we are all part of the human race, however, the issue we still face is that people are categorized and defined by their nationalities which can lead to stereotyping. When people use this statement, I believe they have good intentions, however, they’re not recognizing the different levels individuals are at with their understanding and viewpoints of all people being equal.

Known to police: Toronto police stop and document black and brown people far more than whites (Jim Rankin, Patty Winsa, Toronto Star)
In a cramped office in the Weston-Mt. Dennis neighbourhood, this question is put to young men taking part in a program designed to keep them from the trouble that comes with gangs, guns and drugs: Do you think police have stopped, questioned and documented every young man of colour in this neighbourhood?–known-to-police-toronto-police-stop-and-document-black-and-brown-people-far-more-than-whites

Known to police: How the Star analyzed Toronto police stop and arrest data (Jim Rankin, Toronto Star)
The data that serves as the foundation for the Known to Police series was obtained through a freedom of information request that was a follow-up to two requests made in 2000 and 2003. Toronto police data on arrests and charges served as the basis for Race & Crime, a 2002 series that found police in certain circumstances treated blacks more harshly than whites. Updated charge and arrest data, and data that shows who police stop and document in mostly non-criminal encounters, was requested in 2003. After a seven-year battle for the data — including court challenges — police released them in 2010, resulting in the series Race Matters that same year.–known-to-police-how-the-star-analyzed-toronto-police-stop-and-arrest-data

Know to Police – complete series (Toronto Star)
Each year, Toronto polic stop, question and document hundreds of thousands of people in mostly non-criminal encounters. Non more so than young men of colour.

For some immigrants, a lawyer may not be worth the money (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Most would-be immigrants seek professional help with their applications, to boost their chance of acceptance. But paying for a lawyer or consultant’s advice turns out to be more helpful in some categories than others, according to government data. In fact, for applicants in the spousal sponsorship, self-employed and provincial nominee categories, people who don’t use third-party representation actually get approved at rates similar to or higher than those who pay huge fees to an immigration lawyer or registered consultant.–for-some-immigrants-a-lawyer-may-not-be-worth-the-money


Refugee claims show inconsistent approval rates (Mary Sheppard, CBC)
Analysis of data for 2011 shows that the chance of success of a refugee’s plea to stay in Canada can depend on who hears the case at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Sean Rehaag, an assistant professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, requested data through Access to Information on all IRB claims heard in 2011 and analyzed the thousands of cases. “I feel there is some support for allegations that some people are unlucky,” Rehaag said.

Canadian refugee reform makes it us vs. them (Michael Swan, The Catholic Register)
Only about three per cent of Hungarian Roma refugee applications are successful at the IRB. Roma refugee cases have exploded over the last five years. In 2007 there were just 34. In 2011 there were almost 5,000. The Roma refugee boom coincides with two factors — the 2007 lifting of visa requirements for Hungary and increasing prominence of the extreme right wing Jobbik party in the Hungarian parliament. “The minister should go to Hungary, claim to be a Roma and stay there for one year,” suggested Vilmos Csikja. “And see what happens to him.”

Roma refugee claimants face 700 charges (Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun)
Canadian border officials are moving to deport four Roma refugee claimants who are facing almost 700 fraud-related charges stemming from scamming the elderly in Toronto and Peel. Police from two jurisdictions accuse two couples of conducting distraction thefts and fraud since 2009, just months after touching down at Pearson Airport as claimants from Hungary, where it is alleged they are fleeing persecution.

Sri Lankan Who Organized A Modern Day “Komagata Maru” Sought For Offences (The Link)
A Sri Lankan national who organized the voyage of a ship that brought 492 Tamil asylum seekers to B.C. nearly two years ago has been charged by Canada. Thayakaran Markandu, the organizer of a modern day Komagata Maru – the ship that brought South Asian immigrants to Canada in 1914 but, unlike the Tamil ship, was turned back due to racist Canadian laws (has anything changed?), faces one charge of organizing entry into Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in connection to the arrival of the MV Sun Sea on Vancouver Island in August 2010.

Canadian icon Flora MacDonald seeks to help refugee and his family (Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen)
She plans one final trip to Afghanistan this May or June, when she turns 86. Then she wants the Afghan refugee she hired to head Future Generations Canada’s operation in Afghanistan to relocate to Canada and take over her fundraising and other work for the NGO. “He can do it very well, in fact even better than I,” she says. “He’s the one that knows the country, knows the people, speaks all the languages.” But there’s a problem. The refugee, who lived in Ottawa for nine years after fleeing the Taliban and got Canadian citizenship in a ceremony presided over by Flora herself, won’t move here unless he can bring his wife and two older children, who have no status in this country. (A baby daughter, born in Afghanistan after the refugee became a citizen of Canada, already has Canadian citizenship.)


Vancouver Income Inequality Study Shows City Segregating Along Racial, Income Lines (Rachel Mendleson, Huffington Post)
Vancouver has gone from being a solidly middle-class town to a city on the verge of extremes, with neighbourhoods starkly segregated by race and income, a new study shows. Released exclusively to The Huffington Post Canada, the University of British Columbia study is the first to use census data to explore the dramatic change in income patterns that have reshaped the city’s socio-economic landscape over the past 35 years.

AS Forum: Caledon Institute argues reform is unnecessary and undesirable (Forever Young Information)
The Caledon Institute for Social Policy, a left-wing think tank based in Ottawa, has released an analysis of the Old Age Security pension in the wake of the Prime Minister’s comments that Canada’s public pension system needed reforming. The conclusion reached is that reform of Old Age Security is unnecessary and undesirable. The Feb. 2012, report, titled Old Age Insecurity?, was authored by Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson.


Labour shortages remain key: Canadian Construction Association outgoing chair (Vince Versace, Daily Commercial News)
“We have to look to immigration to help us. Our industry must and can do a better job of recruiting women within our industry,” she explained. “Women make up 52 per cent of Canada’s population and yet less than 15 per cent are working today in our construction industry. Also, we can and must do a better job at recruiting from Aboriginal communities.” “But even with domestic opportunities, we know because of the baby boomer demographic, we’re going to have challenges, which is why CCA is lobbying the government for immigration changes.”–labour-shortages-remain-key-canadian-construction-association-outgoing-chair

Proposed changes to Federal Skilled Worker Program gets nod from Canadian Construction Association (Kelly Lapointe, Daily Commercial News)
Proposed reforms to make Canada’s immigration system faster and more responsive are “bang on”, says one national construction association. In a recent speech to the National Metropolis Conference, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney highlighted recent changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program and spoke of more flexibility within the current points system.–proposed-changes-to-federal-skilled-worker-program-gets-nod-from-canadian-construction-association

Op-Ed: Winning the global war for talent (Adam Schiff and Charlie Bass, Glendale News-Press)
For centuries, the best and brightest from around the world have come to America seeking a better life. They come to study in our universities and work at our companies. We take this “brain drain” to the United States for granted, but times are changing, and other countries are catching on to the importance of attracting the most gifted minds. While other nations are making it easier for highly skilled immigrants to start companies and create jobs, in the United States we are making it harder. It is time to recognize that we are engaged in a global war for talent and must start winning again.,0,7462471.story

6 million reasons to stop wage theft – Reason #2: Students can’t afford wage theft – Alberto’s story (Workers’ Action Centre)
Facing an employer for unpaid wages is a nerve-racking experience. Feelings of anxiety, exploitation, degradation and desperation overtake you, which are only amplified by the idea that you may not get paid after working so hard just to earn an honest living. I experienced working with an employer who had no difficulty exploiting students, and attempted to forego paying me what was rightfully owed.


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

Many Questions for a Pro-LRT Campaign (Steve Munro)
A reader who prefers to remain anonymous for professional reasons sent me a long series of questions that are the typical thing one might expect in a FAQ, or in the arsenal of someone who was attempting to convince voters that LRT is a good thing. Although I don’t have time to address the entire list, I wanted it to be “out there” as food for thought among all those who wonder just why those folks in Scarborough (and elsewhere) think so badly of LRT.

Where Should We Go From Here? (Steve Munro)
Toronto Council’s vote to reconstitute the Toronto Transit Commission may give the new board a better political balance and break Mayor Ford’s stranglehold on transit policy, but that is only the beginning of the work facing our city. First up will be the March 21 vote on the Sheppard East subway-vs-LRT issue. Already, the Ford camp claims that it almost has the votes needed to spike the LRT scheme and forge ahead with subway plans. Even if LRT prevails, a close margin could provide incentive for attempts to derail the project. The “new” TTC will be in a tenuous position if the momentum of the governance vote does not continue through to the choice of technology.


Pan Am Games give Toronto rare opportunity to bolster its social sector (Carol Goar, Toronto Star)
Vancouver did it. Calgary did it. Glasgow’s doing it. Why not Toronto? What distinguishes the first three cities from the last is that they expect companies bidding for municipal contracts to provide community benefits. That can mean hiring marginalized workers, training street kids, using environmentally friendly materials, paying a living wage or developing a partnership with local charities. The form is their choice. What is not optional is whether they will share the benefits with the host community. The practice isn’t widespread. It is confined mostly to cities hosting the Olympics or another big-ticket sporting event. But according to the Caledon Institute, which has just released a commentary on social procurement, “it has the potential to create million-dollar pools of capital for social enterprise.”–pan-am-games-give-toronto-rare-opportunity-to-bolster-its-social-sector

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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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