Immigration & Diversity news headlines – April 30, 2012


Webinar May 30: Welcoming Cities: Municipal Leadership on Immigrant Integration (Cities of Migration)
Learn about the power of city-led public service campaigns in Barcelona (Spain) and Sheffield (UK) that create safe, welcoming communities while challenging myths and changing misconceptions about immigrants and refugees. Local governments have significant capacity to use the authority and instruments of public office to integrate migrants and provide equal opportunities for all residents.

Two-tiered wage system announced by Tories (Toronto Star)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has always vehemently denied bringing cheap foreign labour into Canada. Employers had to pay foreign temporary workers “the prevailing wage,” he pointed out. That indeed is what the rules said – until Wednesday, when Human Resources Minister Diane Finley quietly changed them. Employers will now be allowed to pay foreign temp workers 15 per cent less than the average wage.–two-tiered-wage-system-announced-by-tories#.T5wk5rXlyUI.twitter

Ministerial Instructions will be Jason Kenney’s Greatest Legacy (Steven Meurrens)
Minister Kenney has likely amended IRPA because he has specific policy and program objectives that he believes necessitate the ability to act quickly and decisively. He clearly believes that Ministerial Instructions, rather than regulatory changes, are the way to achieve this. However, as noted above, there will be a time when Minister Kenney is not the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. There will also be a time when the Conservative Party of Canada is notCanada’s governing party. The introduction and the expansion of the power to issue Ministerial Instructions will ensure that in the future a New Democratic Party or Liberal Party immigration minister will be able to quickly introduce, change, and effectively cancel immigration streams without having to consult Parliament. There is no way that any future immigration minister, regardless of political stripe, will give this up this power that Jason Kenney has given them. Canada’s immigration system is not going back. And that is why I think that the Ministerial Instructions will be Jason Kenney’s most enduring legacy.

Ottawa underestimates cost of immigration backlog wipeout, group warns (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Ottawa’s plan to wipe out its immigration backlog will cost taxpayers at least $6.2 million more than the $130 million estimated by the federal government, says the immigration consulting industry. When Ottawa announced in March that it would return files and processing fees to applicants waiting in the backlog, its estimate did not include administrative costs such as courier services to send the files back to 280,000 people, said the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.–ottawa-underestimates-cost-of-immigration-backlog-wipeout-group-warns

Foreign wage rates irk Manitoba unions (CBC)
Labour unions in Manitoba are upset with new federal rules allowing companies to pay temporary foreign workers less than rates set for local workers. Under the rules, employers can pay skilled workers from outside the country as much as 15 per cent less than the wages paid locally. The Manitoba Federation of Labour said that will put pressure on workers in the province to accept lower wages.

CAW President Condemns Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program (PR Newswire)
Changes to the temporary foreign worker regulations will only increase abuse and lower conditions for migrant workers, says, CAW President Ken Lewenza. He is responding to the change in regulations which will now allow employers to fast track bringing in skilled temporary foreign workers and pay them up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage, effectively paying foreign workers less than Canadian counterparts. “This government-endorsed, employer-driven program is already rife with exploitation,” said Lewenza. “In its current form, there are few checks and balances in the program, leaving workers with little protection and few avenues to enforce rights afforded to Canadian workers.”

Discount wages risk backlash (Star Phoenix)
It’s commendable that the federal government wants to help Canada’s booming regions maintain their productivity by speeding up the process that allows the recruitment of temporary foreign workers. However, it’s doing no one any favours in the long run – and could well be creating conditions for an ugly anti-immigrant backlash – with its decision to allow employers to pay those high-skill foreign workers as much as 15 per cent below the average regional wage for their occupation. The differential wage scheme, which already is getting a hostile reception from organized labour groups, certainly runs counter to the free market philosophy espoused by business leaders as well Conservative politicians across Canada. Unless it’s a deliberate strategy to drive down wage rates nationally over the long term, as the unions and critics allege, this policy certainly makes little economic or social sense at a time when the booming regions of Canada are short of the skilled workers, not the cash to pay them.

Den Tandt: Canada’s socially progressive values now stretch from coast to coast (Michael Den Tandt,
An extraordinary transformation has occurred, or more precisely appeared above the waterline. It is a change so epochal, so profound, you’d think Canadians would be in the streets, cheering. But then, this is Canada: Celebratory back patting is not our cup of tea. The big news, which will never make a bold headline, is just this: Across this country, from coast to coast to coast, there is now a nearly unanimous view that the old, divisive, angry debates about matters of individual faith and morals are over. And we’re not going back there. Not any time soon, probably not ever.

Ireland, inching back from the brink, battles to reverse the emerald migration tide (Vince Talotta, Toronto Star)
A total of 76,300 people left Ireland’s beleaguered shores in 2011, more than 5,200 of those arriving in Canada as temporary foreign workers, according to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office. “It’s a release valve for the Irish economy. If we didn’t have emigration, we would have mass unrest,” explained Joe Gill, director of research for Bloxham, Ireland’s oldest independent stockbroker, pointing to the sky-high unemployment rates (especially in the construction sector) that have plagued Ireland since economic slump began. But with the dust from the collapse beginning to settle, the Irish government is pushing forward with initiatives to bolster the economy, create jobs and lure their young people back home.–ireland-inching-back-from-the-brink-battles-to-reverse-the-emerald-migration-tide

It’s time to fix our broken education system (Diane Francis, Financial Post)
Canada’s universities race to recruit foreign students, but the public benefit is not served because these students occupy places and use tax dollars intended for Canadian students. Worse yet, they usually go home, or to the U.S., without contributing a dime in taxes to Canada.

Islamic community planning national interfaith dialogue (Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald)
The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada is planning to hold a national interfaith dialogue with Christian and Jewish leaders in Canada. Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said the council wants to hold a series of interfaith dialogues in all major cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Mississauga, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Surrey and Vancouver. He said the purpose is to discuss: religious and secular fundamentalism and extremism in Canada; the role of religion in Canadian society; the impact of international events on faith communities and their relationships in Canada; the perceived threat of sharia law; Canadian values versus religious values; Jewish-Christian values versus Islamic values; freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in Canada and around the world; and improvements in interfaith relationships in Canada.

Canada Muslims Plan Interfaith Dialogue (OnIslam)
A leading council for Canadian Muslims are planning to hold a national interfaith dialogue with Christian and Jewish community leaders to discuss the role of religion as well as the impact of international events on faith communities in their country. “We have been planning this for a long time,” Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy told Calgary Herald. “I have been involved in interfaith dialogue right up to 9/11. I have done almost 136 interfaith dialogues across the country, but recent opinion polls about the opinion of Muslims in Canada have been about 56 to 57 per cent negative.”

Immigration move unreasonably cruel (letters, Toronto Star)
Re: Immigration backlog slashed, April 23 The government’s plan to just throw out almost 300,000 backlogged immigration applications from skilled workers, when their only crime was to have filed between the years 2006 and 2008, feels unreasonably cruel to me. I have no qualms with tightening immigration policy, but this specific group of people has already been patiently waiting for several years for their applications to be processed. Potential immigrants often spend thousands of dollars and sacrifice a great deal, sometimes even holding off on starting a family. Casually disregarding due process and shattering their dreams so abruptly seems needlessly draconian.–immigration-move-unreasonably-cruel

TB or not TB? (Marilyn Linton, Peterborough Examiner)
The burden of disease has shifted less from people who are born in Canada and more to those who were born outside of the country. “In Toronto today, almost 95% of all cases of TB in the city are from people born in other parts of the world,” explains Khan, an infectious diseases physician and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital. “That’s because in many parts of the developing world, access to medicines to treat TB is not available.”

Canada closes visa section in Tehran embassy (Khaleej Times)
Canada’s embassy in Tehran said on Sunday it has closed its visa section effective immediately as a cost-cutting measure that will affect thousands of Iranians. Visa services for Iran have been transferred to the Canadian embassy in Ankara, the capital of neighbouring Turkey, the Tehran mission said in a statement on its website. Callers to the embassy’s telephone number were also informed that the visa section was closed and no longer accepting visa applications.

Saving two salaries makes the Sault a hard place to move to (Tom Mills, Sault Star)
Even the most ardent supporter of the federal Conservative government’s cost-cutting might agree that closing Northern Ontario’s citizenship and immigration offices sends an unfortunate message. It tells the world locations such as Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Sudbury, which will be losing their offices, aren’t the best places to make a new home. Those three offices are to close May 31. Nine jobs, two of them in the Sault, will be cut. Anyone needing personal attention will have to head south. What immigrants are going to settle in a city or area where there is no office to assist them, where they cannot take the test or be sworn in as Canadian citizens?

Instead of ‘puritanical’ multiculturalism, let’s connect with humour (Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun)
Young Canadian comics skirt political correctness to connect with audiences over ethnic differences, including Russell Peters.

Vancouver Province leads Postmedia papers at National Newspaper Awards (
Postmedia journalists were honoured in multiple categories. Don Butler of the Ottawa Citizen was a runner-up in the politics category for his stories on how Canada grants asylum to refugees, as was the Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt for her perceptive investigation on bad blood in Alberta politics. Butler’s stories asked why asylum-seekers from some countries were being turned away on a consistent basis, and examined the Federal Court’s role in refugee and immigration cases. Another piece questioned the continued independence of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in light of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s stance on some claimants.

Challenges of Visible Minority and Women Engineers in Canada (University of Calgary)
During the last few decades, the number of immigrants and women engineers has steadily increased in Canada. However, both groups of engineers encounter enormous challenges in integrating themselves in their desired professions. Both male and female immigrant engineers face the following challenges: evaluation of their foreign credentials, lack of Canadian job experience, fluency in the official languages of Canada, and lack of professional network. The challenges of locally-educated women engineers are quite different. These include discrimination on the basis of physical strength, establishing authority in the male-dominant workforce, recognition of achievements, and raising children in parallel to career development. The presentation will include a discussion of these challenges as well as strategies to overcome them.

Cancer patient’s fate now in hands of Jason Kenney (Hugh Adami, Ottawa Citizen)
The fate of Fatemeh Kamkar, an Iranian who wants to remain in Canada after she completes her doctorate in cellular and molecular medicine, is in the hands of federal minister Jason Kenney again. A petition signed by 771 people was presented in the House of Commons by Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar this week. The petition asks Kenney, minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, “to reassess Ms. Kamkar’s application for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”

Toews talks immigration, benefits of EU trade deal (Brandon Sun)
Manitoba’s top federal MP waded into the simmering immigration feud between the Selinger government and Ottawa Friday when he suggested the province has seen above its fair share of newcomers compared to other provinces. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also told a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the success of immigration to Manitoba is due more to the Harper government.

Guest Columnist — Policy changes and new language requirements: The immigrant’s view (Brandon Sun)
Immigration policies change rapidly and with no exception they always affect both landed and potential immigrants. Immigrant and settlement services, such as the ones we have today, did not exist many generations behind, nor had those immigrants to fulfil the strict list of requisites that today exist for immigration. Without doubt, changes in immigration policies have always happened and will continually evolve. During the last month. the world of immigration in Manitoba has seen important news and changes happening.—-policy-changes-and-new-language-requirements-the-immigrants-view-149340925.html

Vancouver based cartoonist launches Canada guide (Canadian Immigrant)
Want an entertaining, exhaustive guide on Canada? The is a colourful, well laid out guide that is ideal for newcomers. Vancouver based political cartoonist J.J. McCullough launched the website last week. The guide is detailed; it is comprised of more than 50 articles and almost 70,000 words. The site tackles Canada’s history, geography, and politics, its culture and symbols, its food and government. “The tragedy of the Internet,” said McCullough, “is that Wikipedia has become the one-stop shop for information. I’m trying to create something substantial that can be an alternative form of reference material.”

What new Canadians should know about the tax system (Mark Gollom, CBC)
When Tahir Mazari arrived in Canada in 1999 from Afghanistan, filing his taxes for the first time was a challenging task. “At the beginning it was difficult for me [knowing] what to do, but some of my friends helped me,” he said. “We [didn’t have] that system in our country. It was very new to us.” Mazari now volunteers in Ottawa at ACORN Canada to help new Canadians with their taxes come tax time. “Usually they come to file their taxes, but they are not familiar with the documents,” he said. Canadians who have lived in the country all their lives struggle every year to file their taxes, but new immigrants not familiar with the system may face even greater challenges.

Divided by a common heritage (Nicholas Hirst, Winnipeg Free Press)
A Canadian born in Belgium asked me the other day, as a Briton, who I thought would win the French presidential election, as if there were some inherent connection between us as sometime Europeans. His first assumption was that, as a Brit, I would at least know there was an election going on in France and would have some interest in it. His second assumption was that I would have a different perspective than he did as a Belgian. I have lived in North America for more than a generation, with the past 15 years in Manitoba as an editor and TV producer, so he might better have asked me my views on the election in Alberta. But, then, he wouldn’t be asking me for that view from my ethnic perspective as a “Brit,” for what valuable perspective would a Brit have on a battle between the centre and off-centre right in the oil province?

When Toronto is famous for its street food, you can thank this man (Chris Nuttall-Smith, Globe and Mail)
As a child in Colombo, Sri Lanka, he’d often buy a bowl of poori slathered with curry, or a paper cone filled with mango, pineapple and hot sauce from a street-side hawker on the way to school in the morning. He even worked as a chutney boy on the days when his mother, Bernadette, made her fermented rice and lentil dosas at fundraisers held outside one of Columbo’s Catholic cathedrals. Toronto, where his family moved when he was 12, was a shock to his system. Save for a shrinking band of hot-dog carts and the tired, diesel-belching chip trucks grandfathered into prime spots outside Nathan Phillips Square, food vendors weren’t welcome on public streets in Toronto. The issue was stalled, too, for the most part. As for the new generation of food trucks springing up outside the city, in St. Catharines and Hamilton, Toronto city hall wasn’t about to welcome something it had never seen.

Video: CIIP Settlement Series: Saskatchewan (CIIP)
In this 8:03 minute video, the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program explains Saskatchewan’s pre-arrival services and how participating helps immigrants connect with employment, settlement and language services upon arrival in Saskatchewan.

Also, Manitoba:


Changes to healthcare for refugee claimants and protected persons inhumane (CCR)
On 25 April 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced changes in Interim Federal Health Program coverage for refugee claimants and protected persons. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is concerned that these proposed changes unjustly discriminate against people in need and, worse, leave some people to suffer debilitating illnesses or to die without treatment. “These changes are mean-spirited, denying essential care to individuals and families because of their country of origin or technical mistakes made during the refugee claim process,” said Wanda Yamamoto, CCR President. “Some people in need of urgent medical attention will be forced to live with chronic, untreated conditions.”

Stop Bill C-31 and the loss of CANADIAN immigration and refugee traditions (CCLA)
This petition will be submitted to the Members of Canadian Parliament, Federal Government and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney before the final vote on the Bill C-31 which will happen most likely in May. Stopping Bill C-31 is crucial. The Bill will have devastating effects on the lives of immigrants, refugees and Canadian citizens.

Tamils in limbo after Canadian crackdown (Mike Blanchfield, Metro News)
All wars cause collateral damage. Vashni is collateral damage in Canada’s war on human smugglers. The soft-spoken Tamil woman in her 30s lives one step ahead of the law in Thailand and longs to be reunited with her elderly parents in Toronto. But she would never consider resorting to using one of the notorious smugglers who operate out of Bangkok to make that happen.

Canada’s no doormat (Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Sun)
Two-thirds of refugee claimants who come to Canada ultimately have their applications turned down. For claimants arriving from developed countries such as the U.S. and Europe — who some years make up nearly half of our claimants — the rejection rate is upwards of 90%. Given those two facts, is it really all that awful that federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Wednesday that Ottawa would be scaling back the health benefits claimants receive while waiting to learn their fate?

Refugees: Health Care (CIC)
Changes to the Interim Federal Health Program will take effect on June 30, 2012. If you are eligible for IFHP coverage, read the information on this page to find out about the changes.

Montreal woman wins reprieve from deportation to Pakistan (Paul Cherry,
A young woman fighting deportation to Pakistan because she fears repercussions there for having alleged she was sexually assaulted by a wealthy businessman in Montreal has been granted a stay on her removal order. A Federal Court of Canada hearing was held in her case Saturday afternoon and a judge decided to delay the deportation. The woman is being held at an immigration detention centre in Laval, Que., and was supposed to be deported on Sunday.

North Korean refugees in Toronto carry burden of fear (Mary Ormsby and Leslie Scrivener, Toronto Star)
The fear that propelled the women to flee the brutality of their homeland clings to them as refugees in Toronto, terrified their freedom in Canada will mean death to family and friends in North Korea, which calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. That may explain why some, like 13-year-old Sol Han, reported missing from a local shelter this week, melt away into the broader GTA population. Maybe never to be heard from again. Even in the safety of a parliamentary hearing room in Ottawa, a former political prisoner worried her testimony would further imperil her family in North Korea.–north-korean-refugees-in-toronto-carry-burden-of-fear


Spec series the big winner at journalism awards (Molly Hayes, Hamilton Spectator)
A Hamilton Spectator series has nabbed the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) top investigative journalism award for the second year in a row. Steve Buist and Teri Pecoskie won in the open newspaper category for Born: A Code Red Project, a series that explored the link between poverty and the health of mothers and their babies.–spec-series-a-winner-at-caj-awards


Your skilled immigrant business intelligence – a roundup from (week of April 23) (, provides businesses with the tools and resources they need to better recruit, retain and promote skilled immigrants. The site also profiles good examples and innovative practices of employers across the country. Each week we bring you a round up of the useful resources posted there.

May Day Rally & March (Workers’ Action Centre)
For the last six years, No One Is Illegal – Toronto has coordinated a May Day of Action to celebrate and invigorate migrant justice struggles. This year dozens of groups across the City are collaborating in a show of solidarity and strength to mark the May Day of Action. Meanwhile, May Day marches and rallies will be happening in cities around the world. Join WAC as we march to demand decent jobs for workers in Ontario and around the world!

May Day: Immigrant rights are workers’ rights (Syed Hussan,
To fight back against a globalized austerity drive, labour and migrant justice movements will need to unite, recovering the spirit of Haymarket and the Winnipeg General Strike. This is the second in a two-part series previewing International Workers Day, May 1.


BC Social Innovation Council releases final report (Al Etmanski)
The BC Social Innovation Council released its final report, Action Plan Recommendations to Maximize Social Innovation in British Columbia, on Friday April 27th. Here is the report. The eleven recommendations are meant to enhance the work of social innovators and entrepreneurs today as well as creating opportunities for new ideas and new players in the future. The recommendations are illustrated in the diagram below.


Canadian human trafficking bill gets unanimous consent (Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun)
Members of the House of Commons today unanimously passed a bill that will add human trafficking to a growing list of extra-territorial offences in Canada’s Criminal Code. That means that any Canadian or permanent resident of Canada can be charged and taken to court here for offences that are alleged to have occurred in other countries. Crimes already on the list of extra-territorial offences include child sexual exploitation (sex tourism), terrorism and war crimes such as genocide.

Bill would let cops nab human traffickers abroad (Daniel Proussalidis, Toronto Sun)
MPs unanimously approved a Conservative private member’s bill to combat international human trafficking, sending Bill C-310 off to the Senate on Friday. Winnipeg MP Joy Smith said if her bill becomes law, it will “reach the long arm of the Canadian law into other countries” by allowing Canadian police to go abroad, slap handcuffs on a Canadian citizen or permanent resident suspected of trafficking people, and bring the suspect back to Canada for trial.

Trafficking to come at a cost (Alexandra Paul, Winnipeg Free Press)
A new law that goes into effect today will allow Manitoba courts to sell off pimps’ cars and houses to award hefty damage settlements to their victims. The Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act is the first provincial law to target the property of pimps and human traffickers for the benefit of victims who are lured, recruited or even kidnapped as part of illegal trafficking rings. The primary targets are pimps who lure aboriginal girls from the remote north as well as foster children under the care of family service agencies.

Prime Minister’s Office Hires Human Trafficking Expert (Fair Whistleblower, via Hill Times)
Benjamin Perrin has returned to the Hill and is now working as a special adviser in legal affairs and policy in the PMO.

A prosecution in peril (Hamilton Spectator)
They were beaten, fed scraps and forced to work as slaves. And their captors came close to escaping justice. The biggest human trafficking case in Canadian history began in Hamilton basements and construction sites, and might have ended there were it not for a handful of people who put their lives on hold to prosecute the criminals.–a-prosecution-in-peril

The following two tabs change content below.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Daily Reads/Micro Thoughts Summary

RT @magnify: RT @1jessicaramirez: Want to know what makes for great content curation? Check out @magnify's piece on @mashable http://t.c...