Immigration & Diversity news headlines – May 1, 2012


Recent Immigration Changes Deserve Debate (Ratna Omidvar, Maytree)
Immigration policy is too important to be made in a piecemeal manner. It touches every aspect of Canadian life and has an impact on health, education, housing, transportation, trade, innovation, the economy, and the labour market. Therefore, it is essential for Canadians to be part of this debate. In the absence of government engaging Canadians in this debate, perhaps it is time for Canadians to step up to the plate and to provide their own answers to the following three questions: Why do we have immigration? How should we do it? And how do we achieve our short- and long-term goals? As Stephanie Baker of McMaster University has recently noted, “public debate is not an irritation to be ignored or snuffed out. It is a sign of political maturity to share public space with people who speak out on the impact of public policy.” Let’s start talking – all of us: Business groups, chambers of commerce, labour and unions, resident associations, local and provincial governments, not for profits and civil society organizations, faith groups, think tanks, and academics.

Maytree Newsletter – April 2012
In this issue:
• Recent immigration changes deserve debate
• The no-budge budget
• Leadership diversity matters for the voluntary sector
• Yes, Canada can teach others about integrating immigrants – but we can learn too
• Changing of the guard: New faces in places of power
• Mapping progress, with a purpose
• New report brings small business to the immigration conversation
• A charter of rights for urban citizens
• Top GTA employers recognized for leadership in immigrant integration
• Celebrating another edition of TOK!
• Finding and keeping top talent big concern for employers
• News You Can Use

Vote: What is your attitude toward immigration in Canada? (Globe and Mail)
Just how important is immigration to the future of Canada? Chart your perspective, and compare your opinion to others who reside in regions that are predominantly populated by immigrants, or regions where most residents are Canadian-born. Each dot on this graph represents one person’s response colour coded by age, location or gender.

A Summary of Recent Changes to Canadian Immigration (David Cohen)
Recent months have seen profound changes to Canadian immigration programs. For those who follow these changes, or whose applications may be affected by them, keeping track of when and how decisions are made and implemented is of the utmost importance. For this reason, CIC News has created a comprehensive list of the large-scale changes that have been made to Canadian immigration programs since January 1, 2012 (with one important addition from December 2011). While some of changes have already been implemented, many are still in the planning phases and will be put into practice later this year. These changes are presented below in chronological order.

Foreign workers: Filling job vacancies with care (Globe and Mail)
The federal government, which has announced a scheme to speed up the processing of temporary foreign workers, is concerned with ongoing reports of job vacancies going unfilled in Western Canada, arguing that the vacancies act as a bottleneck choking off economic growth. In response, it will cut the time to process a temporary foreign worker to 10 days and allow employers to offer a wage that’s as much as 15 per cent below the “going wage” in the local labour market. The policy suggests that either the Harper government didn’t take basic economics or it failed it. At its most basic level, it suggests the government doesn’t understand the laws of supply and demand. To see this, think about a town in northern Alberta where there are 20 carpenters who are typically paid $30 an hour. Suppose that, initially, there is the same number of carpenters as there are jobs offered by firms at that wage. Now suppose that a new oil field project opens nearby and wants to hire five carpenters at this wage. The Harper government’s response is to bring in five temporary workers.

Migrant Workers Alliance denounces Tory policy to pay migrant workers less than Canadian citizens (Migrant Workers Alliance for Change)
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, an alliance of migrant workers, labour unions and community organizations denounces the latest Tory “jobs-strategy”, paying migrant workers 15% less than Canadian citizens. “In April of 2010, Canada was shocked to hear of the death of 11 migrant workers that died in a car crash when a car driver after working an 11 hour day could no longer pay attention to the road and crashed. Migrant workers allies hoped that this tragedy would force the Conservative government to change its path,” says Kay Manuel, a Live-In Caregiver and member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Instead, the government has further concertized the race to the bottom by legislating lower wages for migrant workers that are already being exploited by employers and third parties.”

Report reveals wage gap amongst B.C. immigrants (Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun)
When it comes to earning potential, not all immigrants to British Columbia are equal, according to a new study by author Haimin Zhang. Zhang, a PhD student of economics at the University of B.C., found a “surprising” wage gap between newcomers who immigrated as federal skilled workers between 2002 and 2008 and those selected under the B.C. Provincial Nomination Program (BCPNP). Using Statistics Canada data collected from landing information and tax records, the study determined B.C. provincial nominees earned, on average, three times as much as immigrants classified as skilled workers after one year of their arrival.

DONNER PRIZE FINALIST: Toward Improving Canada’s Skilled Immigration Policy (Huffington Post)
Does the prime minister wield too much power? Is our skilled immigration policy in need of major reform? What role do museums play in Canadian society? Could Healthy Living Vouchers help in the battle against obesity? These are the questions posed by the four finalists competing for the $50,000 2011/2012 Donner Prize, the award for best public policy book by a Canadian. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 1. This is the final excerpt from each of the finalists, which have been published in advance of the prize exclusively for Huffpost readers. Today’s is from Toward Improving Canada’s Skilled Immigration Policy: An Evaluation Approach by Charles M. Beach, Alan G. Green and Christopher Worswick (C.D. Howe Institute)

Why Ethnic Politicians Should Move to Ontario (Samuel Getachew, Huffington Post)
Ryerson University’s Myer Siemiatycki recently released a timely report on electoral successes among visible minorities within the GTA. The report found out that the GTA has 40 per cent of its population as visible minorities while 11 per cent of our elected officials consist of a multicultural background. The report titled “The Diversity Gap: The Electoral Under-Representation of Visible Minorities” found: “while they comprise 40 per cent of the GTA population, only 11 per cent of those elected to office are visible minorities. This means we would need to elect almost four times as many visible minorities, across all levels of government, for visible minorities to hold elected office in proportion to their share of the population in the GTA.”

P.E.I. grabs $63M in immigrant deposits (CBC)
The P.E.I. government has added $63 million to its bottom line through defaults on deposits made by immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program since 2005. More than half that money comes from good faith deposits which every nominee was required to pay, and most of the remainder was from failure to meet language requirements. The good faith deposit is returned if the immigrant stays on P.E.I. for a year. According to public accounts almost 1,500 immigrants have failed to meet that requirement since 2008.

Antisemitism in Canada Remains at All-Time High, New Report Finds (Canada Free Press)
The Jewish community organization charged with monitoring antisemitism in Canada has announced that, once again, Canada has seen record levels of antisemitism according to its Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada’s annual Audit has been recognized for the past thirty years as an authoritative study of patterns of prejudice in the country. “The overarching ?nding of the report demonstrates a sustained, ongoing undercurrent of anti-Jewish bias in Canada, with appalling instances of harassment, vandalism and even violence,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Thirty years after the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we continue to see rocks being thrown at synagogue and school windows, deaths threats being sent via social media, visible Jews being taunted and physically assaulted on route to their homes and places of worship and even a young Jewish girl’s hair being set on fire.

Harassment and vandalism show anti-Jewish bias in Canada: B’nai Brith (Toronto Sun)
The high number of antisemitic incidents in Canada proves there is a “sustained, undercurrent of anti-Jewish bias,” says a B’nai Brith official. A report by the League for Human Rights of B’nai Birth Canada says there were 1,297 antisemitic incidents in 2011 — a “negligible decrease” of 0.7% from the previous year. “The overreaching finding of the report demonstrates a sustained, ongoing undercurrent of anti-Jewish bias in Canada with appalling incidents of harassment, vandalism and even violence,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith.

Canada’s “Muslim Problem” is Not the One Most Think it Is (Abubakar Kasim, Huffington Post)
More than half of all Canadians believe Muslims can’t be trusted and nearly as many believe discrimination against Muslims is “mainly their fault,” according to the results of a new national survey released ahead of Wednesday’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Among French Canadians — who regularly register stronger negative responses than English Canadians do toward Muslims — 70 per cent of those surveyed expressed little or no trust in Muslims, compared with 43 per cent of English speakers who said they felt that way. On the question of who deserves blame for such negative feelings, Muslims again fared significantly worse than other groups in Canadian society.

Orders of the Day – Let a new new era of parliamentary civility begin! (Kady O’malley, CBC)
On the committee front, Citizenship and Immigration appears determined to burn through the C-31 (refugee reform) witness list in record time, with more than six hours of testimony scheduled for today, beginning with back-to-back panels of senior officials from CIC, Public Safety, Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP, followed by representatives from the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights and lawyer Barbara Jackman.—let-a-new-new-era-of-parliamentary-civility-begin.html

PR Card Direct Mail-Out Project (Settlement.Org)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is launching a pilot project to improve services for newcomers. Starting April 30, 2012, if you apply for a Permanent Resident (PR) card you may receive your card by mail. Some permanent residents may still be asked to come into their local CIC office to pick up their card. After your new PR card is mailed out, CIC will invalidate the your old card. This means, you will not be able to use the old card for travel or proof of status.

CSIS freed from final shreds of oversight (Adrian Wyld, Toronto Star)
If you are a Canadian citizen, landed immigrant or refugee to this country and you are even the least bit aware of the rights and civil liberties that Canada affords you, then you should be deeply worried today. Late last week, in its familiar stealth-like fashion, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government shuttered the office of the Inspector General (IG) over Canada’s spy service, CSIS.–csis-freed-from-final-shreds-of-oversight

IRPP 40th anniversary essay on Canadian policy milestones (IRPP)
This essay is the culmination of the impressive and innovative body of work that Tom has produced since becoming our senior scholar in 1999. He served as the co-director of the multiyear Art of the State series, which took an in-depth look at issues as diverse as multilevel governance under globalization, North American integration, diversity and shared citizenship, and the future of Canada’s North. A prolific writer, Tom has published no fewer than 20 IRPP studies and 30 Policy Options articles, breaking new new policy ground on topics such as federalism and fiscal arrangements, Canada’s place in the world, the development of human capital and the role of global cities. Here Tom shows us, in typical Courchene fashion, how seemingly distinct events and policy developments are interconnected, and why they matter to Canadians. In this sense, Policy Signposts is ideally suited to be our first publication in this IRPP anniversary year. Signpost 6: Immigration and Multiculturalism

A Sikh Feast in Nathan Phillips Square (Chris Dart, Torontoist)
Tens of thousands of Sikhs, as well as their friends and supporters, gathered in downtown Toronto on Sunday to celebrate Khalsa Day and Vaisakhi. The day started with a parade from the CNE grounds to Nathan Phillips Square, where celebrants gathered for speeches, performances and an almost mind-blowing quantity of food. Vaisakhi is a harvest festival observed by Indians of all faiths. Khalsa Day celebrates the revelation of the Sikh code of conduct by the religion’s 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, on Vaisakhi in 1699. Toronto’s Khalsa Day celebrations are among the largest outside of India. According to Manjit Singh Parmar, one of the celebration’s organizers, the event is the culmination of months of planning.

May 2012 e-bulletin (CCLA)
In this issue:
Bill C-31 – “A plaque in 2050, commemorating the victims of bill C-31, will not suffice”
Students, strikes and peaceful assembly
CCLA welcomes repeal of abusive G20 statute but remains concerned about proposed courthouse security measures
Freedom of expression in New Brunswick
Happy Birthday to the Charter!

Family Violence Conference (CBC Metro Morning)
CBC Toronto is a proud media sponsor of the second “Impact of Family Violence Conference: A South Asian Perspective”, presented by Social Services Network.

Islam challenges its practitioners (Dale Carruthers, London Free Press)
The act of praying is spiritual as well as physical, with people cycling through standing, bowing, sitting and kneeling. Once praying begins, nobody is chatting, checking cellphones or gazing out the windows. It’s clear that everyone is completely involved in their prayer. That’s the way it has to be, says El-Kassem, explaining that you are throwing away a prayer by not being fully committed to the act.


PRESS CONFERENCE: Past Wrongs and Present Day Injustices: Bill C-31 and Canada’s Legacy (CCLA)
The Canadian Civil Liberties, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Ryerson University are hosting a media conference on Tuesday May 1st at 10 a.m. on the topic of Bill C-31, “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act“. The Bill proposes major changes to the Immigration and Refugee Act which runs contrary to the humanitarian and compassionate grounds of our longstanding refugee and immigration policies. The speakers at the press conference represent communities which were the victims of misguided, unjust Canadian immigration policies, and will shed light on these historical injustices. While Canadian governments have issued apologies to the Chinese, Japanese, Jewish and other communities for past wrongs, Bill C-31 will create new injustices requiring future apology. Better to learn the legacy of past wrongs and revoke Bill C-31. Canada can and must do better.

Ottawa refugee hearing move to Montreal creates hardship (CBC)
The closing of the local office where refugee determination hearings are held would cause added hardship for prospective new Canadians, Ottawa refugee lawyers say. The Immigration and Refugee Board informed lawyers last week that hearings will be transferred to Montreal starting early next year. This move comes as the federal government also decided to close immigration offices in northern Ontario and move most immigration services to Toronto and other areas.

Harper Government attacks refugees (Sozan Savehilaghi)
The current Conservative Government is well known for policies that devastate poor communities, immigrants, women, and aboriginal people. One of their latest, Bill C-31, which is called the Refugee Exclusion Act by migrant justice activists, will have a horrifying impact on refugees who seek asylum and safety in Canada. Grassroots organizations such as No One Is Illegal in Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, as well as Non-Government organizations such as Amnesty International, Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have come out in denunciation of this bill. Bill C-31 is condemned internationally and is against Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It defies the UN Convention on the Rights of Refugees which Canada has signed on to.


Canadian Social Research Newsletter (Canadian Social Research Links)
Canadian content
1. Two belt tightening families: Which one looks most like government? (John Stapleton – Open Policy) – April 28
2. The Fiscal Monitor – February 2012 (Finance Canada) – April 27
3. Quebec student fight gains international attention (Stefani Forster, The Canadian Press) – April 26
4. BILL C-38, 2012 : An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget (First Reading) – The official demise of the National Council of Welfare: not with a bang but a whimper… – April 26
5. A policy plan to hide poverty, inequality : Ottawa is shutting down public debate on issues it doesn’t care about (By Stephanie Baker Collins in The Hamilton Spectator) – April 26
6. Death by a Thousand Cuts : On the slow demise of Aboriginal civil society by government design (The Mark) – April 25
7. [Alberta Premier] Redford’s vow to end poverty portends major shift in social services (By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal) – April 25
8. The Problem with Food Banks : Hungry people must be fed (Colleen Kimmett in The Tyee) – April 25
9. From the Vancouver Observer:
— “Why polar bears and not elephants?” and more from Canada’s hyperbolic Tory senators – April 25
— “Charitable” Fraser Institute accepted $500K in foreign funding from Koch oil billionaires – April 25
— Kochs in Canada: Fraser Institute co-founder confirms ‘years and years’ of U.S. oil billionaires’ funding – April 26
10. Youth in Care Canada : the National Youth In Care Network
11. [Ontario] New Family Law Series (Community Legal Education Ontario) – April 23
12. End of the line for the Women’s Health Contribution Program (Canadian Women’s Health Network) – April 23
13. Federal Disability Report : Seniors with Disabilities in Canada 2011 (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) – April 2012
14. Alberta Election 2012 : Progressive Conservatives steamroll past Wildrose Party – April 23
15. [British Columbia] Your Welfare Rights : A Guide to BC Employment and Income Assistance (Legal Services Society ) – April 2012
16. Hopes fade for humane welfare system in Ontario (By Carol Goar, Toronto Star) – April 22
17. [CBC] The Slow Erosion of Our Last Cross-Country Connection (By Andy Barrie in The Network) – April 19
18. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics
— Payroll employment, earnings and hours, February 2012 – April 26
— Survey of Household Spending, 2010 – April 26
19. What’s new from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Few people stay poor (Jason Clemens, Financial Post)
The protests today from Occupy Wall Streeters to redistribute income from the rich to the poor are generally based on faulty, convenient and largely undisclosed assumptions about Canadians being stuck in inequality. That is, occupiers and others tend to offer policies that assume the people who face low income today are the same ones who encounter it tomorrow. Thankfully, the reality of Canadian society is that people move up (and down) the income ladder over time as their circumstances change. The concept of mobility is fairly straightforward. It suggests that people’s earnings increase and decrease over the course of their lives in natural fluctuations. For example, all current workers were students at one point who likely earned at the low end of the range from a lack of skills and part-time work. However, their earnings increased as they completed their education and began working full time. Their earnings increased further as they gained experience and hopefully promotions.

Canada’s Secret Bank Bailout (Behind the Numbers)
The conventional narrative about the performance Canada’s big banks during the financial crisis goes as follows: while American banks bet heavily on sub-prime real estate and had extensive shadow bank holdings, Canadian banks did not. However, the details of exactly how much each Canadian bank received, when they received it, and what they put up as collateral, has remained locked away at CMHC and the Bank of Canada. Not even Access to Information requests have been able to free this information.

Banks received billions in support during 2008-09 crisis, report says (Toronto Star)
The rich pay more than their fair share of taxes and hitting them harder won’t solve all the problems of the poor, an Ottawa-based think tank says. The causes of income inequality in Canada are more complex than they first appear and so are the solutions, a report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute concludes. “We don’t solve income inequality by just taxing higher income earners and transferring it to lower income earners. To me that’s just a Band-Aid,” said Jason Clemens, author of Income Inequality: Oversimplifying a Complicated Issue.–rich-pay-more-than-fair-share-of-taxes-report

BC Launches Hyper-local Poverty Strategies (Katie Hyslop, The Tyee)
Close to a decade of demanding a provincial poverty reduction strategy seems to have finally paid off for British Columbia’s poverty reduction activists. The province recently announced the launch of a community-based poverty reduction strategy beginning as a pilot project in seven communities this summer, expanding to all 47 communities by 2014/15. Unlike every other province and territory with the exception of Saskatchewan, British Columbia has yet to commit to provincial strategies for poverty reduction. But B.C.’s Liberal government says their local strategies will improve on the provincial model by looking at the unique needs of communities and avoiding a cookie-cutter, one-size fits all method.


Webinar May 2: Using and the Roadmap Tool to Create and Manage a Diverse Workforce (Sign Up) (
This webinar will walk users through the new site, exploring the navigation and new content. This webinar will also walk users through the Roadmap, a step-by-step online learning tool that goes through the entire HR life cycle from recruiting to screening to hiring to onboarding skilled immigrants.

Immigrant Employment Council of BC Report Calls for Greater Employer Involvement in Matching Workforce Needs to Leverage Immigrant Talent (Canada Newswire)
The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) is releasing the results of an independent study that calls for greater employer involvement in matching workforce needs to leverage immigrant talent. The BC Employer Consultation Report: Recruiting & Retaining Immigrant Talent provides insight into BC employers’ engagement in, and their issues relating to the recruitment and retention of skilled immigrant talent. IEC-BC Board Chair Bob Elton says, “BC employers must have a stronger voice in the development of policies, programs and services that impact the attraction and retention of global talent”.

Foreign Workers (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with Armine Yalnizyan. She is a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays on Metro Morning.

Video: 16×9 The Bigger Picture – Disposable labour (Global News)
Thousands of foreign workers come here each year for low paid, low skill jobs that most Canadians don’t want – and they’re happy to get them. But as 16×9 discovered – many of those workers say they’ve been ripped off and exploited.


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

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


Meet a MaRSian, Nabeel Ahmed (Casey Johnson, MaRS)
I’m also involved with an organization called the Tessellate Institute, which provides policy-relevant research pertaining to ethnic and religious minorities in Canada. Simply, their goal is to foster civic engagement and help shape a society in which everyone is part of a mosaic, but where each of the individual pieces is not necessarily the same. One of the projects I did with the Tessellate Institute was called “Giving Ourselves a Voice,” which helped train young Canadian Muslim filmmakers and helped bring voices to light from people in the same community—those who feel alienated or marginalized. During the two-week workshop, we took 12 youths through the entire process of shooting and editing a short documentary. They ended up making two films, which will actually be released on May 13. [For details on the
premiere, click here.]


Request for Action Document presented at the Human Trafficking Forum (FCJ Refugee Centre)
Human trafficking is an atrocious crime resulting in exploitation and human misery of million people in the world, including Canada. Internationally-trafficked persons are exploited for their labour or services in a country other than their country of origin. Being offered precarious immigration status is Canada makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Additional barriers such as language, not knowing their rights, lack of community support, etc. impede the identification and recovery from the trauma of the internationally trafficked persons. In Canada, internationally-trafficked persons do not benefit from the same protection and services available to victims of human trafficking who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. They are subject to weak policies which fall short in addressing their multiple protection needs. Moreover, Canada applies a law enforcement approach to human trafficking where priority is given to the investigation and prosecution of predators, but there is no legislation addressing the human rights of the trafficked persons and the services they are entitled to.

Focus on Human Trafficking (Forced Migration blog)
Relevant events and publications.

United Nations Fighting Human Trafficking and Exploitation in Tourism (
Two United Nations heads have taken a firm stand against the problem of human trafficking, most importantly child trafficking in tourism. The two UN heads have pledged to eradicate this hidden scourge using joint efforts. The UN Director on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov and the Secretary General for the UN World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai, called for the global effort at every level of society. Both entities signed a formal memorandum to step up the cooperation against this type of exploitation. Over one billion tourists or about 1 out of 7 of the entire population of the world will travel outside their country during 2012. The expansion in travel helps with economic growth, creation of jobs and new development however, evidence shows that the infrastructure for tourism is being used to exploit and traffic persons, especially children who are the most vulnerable.

Manitoba to sell off pimps’ property to compensate victims (Alexandra Paul, Edmonton Journal)
A new law that goes into effect Monday 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.

‘Toba gives power to trafficking victims (Sinisa Dragin, Winnipeg Sun)
Granting protection orders to victims of human trafficking will stop predators in their tracks, the province says. “These crimes target the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Swan. “This legislation helps create both necessary protections and an opportunity for victims to take back a piece of what has been taken from them. By way of this law, we’re sending predators a strong message that they will be held accountable for their crimes.” The law, which came into effect Monday, gives child victims of sexual exploitation, or victims of human trafficking, access to protection orders. There is no fee to apply and orders can be made quickly in urgent situations. Most orders last three years, but can be renewed if necessary.

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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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