Immigration & Diversity news headlines – May 16, 2012


Webinar/Report Launch June 6: DiverseCity Counts – Voluntary Sector (DiverseCity)
Join Chris Fredette, Professor at Carleton University, for this free webinar to discuss the findings of the latest DiverseCity Counts report. His presentation will include concrete and practical recommendations for voluntary organizations operating in the Greater Toronto Area.

More than dollars and cents: Why DiverseCity Counts (Sandra Lopes, DiverseCity Toronto)
At Maytree and Civic Action, when we talk about diversity in leadership, we often argue that we need to collapse natural timelines. Why would we say this knowing that change is inevitable, and, with time, it will happen regardless? Because there is nothing natural about these natural timelines. In 1991, 26% of the Toronto CMAs population were visible minorities. What would be natural is to expect that twenty years later at least a quarter of our leadership would be visible minorities. But this is not the case. According to our DiverseCity Counts research, in 2011 only 14.5% of leaders in the most diverse areas of the GTA were visible minorities.

CCR Backgrounder – CIC Consultations on the Parent and Grandparent Program (CCR)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is holding online consultations until May 25th to review and redesign the sponsorship system for parents and grandparents. Along with the online questionnaire it was announced that Minister Jason Kenney will host a series of multi-city in-person meetings with stakeholders. These meetings are invite-only.

Immigration system aims to react fast to corporate needs (Tobi Cohen, Vancouver Sun)
Trying to make sense of Canada’s complicated and seemingly ever-changing immigration system can be a taxing exercise. From legislative amendments to regulatory changes, from proposals to studies, from ministerial instructions to pilot projects, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has promised “transformational change” but has released details of the government’s plan piecemeal, muddying the waters even further. With sweeping new refugee legislation set to pass at the end of June and plans introduced in the budget to do away with a burdensome backlog of old skilled-worker applications, Postmedia News has attempted to dissect just what’s in store in the weeks, months and years to come for the approximately 250,000 newcomers who arrive in Canada annually, and why Canadians should care. What kind of immigration system does the federal government want?

Canada ready to open its doors to more immigrants, Kenney says (Joe Friesen, Globe and Mail)
Canada is ready to open its doors to expanded immigration, but only if the immigrants already here do better. The government is under huge pressure to increase immigration levels, according to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Its facing demands for more newcomers from business leaders and nearly every provincial premier. But before Mr. Kenney will comply, he says he wants to see more immigrants working and earning at rates close to those of Canadian-born people. That also happens to be the focus of a series of reforms he launched this spring, designed to improve economic outcomes for immigrants. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Kenney said hes open to raising immigration levels as soon as he sees a turnaround in those outcomes. That is a major shift. For 20 years, Canadas immigration levels have been stuck at around 250,000 new permanent residents a year.

Canadian immigrants share their personal stories (Globe and Mail)
AMNA BAKHTIAR, Toronto “As an ambitious and liberal woman, I felt the need to move to a country where I would not face gender biases or such restrictions that would come in my way of achieving my goals… I picked Canada because it sounded like it was most closely aligned with my own values.” Emigrated from Pakistan in 2001

Rally held at Legislature against changes to immigration policy (Carrie-may Siggins, Metro News)
A rally took place outside of the legislative building Tuesday afternoon against changes to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. About 100 people gathered, including those who had driven from Saskatoon, holding signs and waving Canadian flags. NDP Leader John Nilson spoke in support of the protesters, as did Cam Broten, MLA for Saskatoon Massey Place. The NDP believe that to have good economic ties you also need strong social ties and that means families being involved in the picture, said Broten.

Canadian flag waving crowd protests changes to Saskatchewan immigration rules (Global Saskatoon)
Pirubhai Garasiya choked up as he talked about bringing his son to Canada and fears that may not happen now with changes to Saskatchewan’s Immigrant Nominee Program. “All my papers are ready to nominate my son, he is my only son,” Garasiya said Tuesday. “But because of the change, all of a sudden change, I can’t sponsor my son here.” Saskatchewan is tightening its immigration rules in an effort to stop people from abusing the system. Under new rules announced May 2nd, someone in Saskatchewan can nominate only one family member at a time instead of nominating multiple relatives all at once.

Protesters ‘betrayed’ by immigration rule changes (Angela Hall, Leader Post)
Dozens of people rallied outside the legislature on Tuesday to protest changes to the province’s immigration rules, saying that the government’s decision dashes their dreams of bringing relatives to Saskatchewan. “I had a long-term plan to settle here in Saskatoon with my family and all of a sudden this change just disappointed me,” said Pirubhai Garasiya. Garasiya said he came to Canada from India in 1993 but moved to Saskatoon in October 2010 with the intention of sponsoring his 37-year-old son under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. However, changes to the family referral category of SINP announced May 2 means Garasiya can no longer refer a relative unless that family member first has a “high skill” job offer in the province. Garasiya said he had the papers ready to send in when he learned of the changes.

Last citizenship ceremony held in Campbell River? (Dan Maclennan,
A tearful citizenship ceremony in Campbell River was made even more so last Thursday because it may have been the last, another victim of federal government budget cutting. “They’re taking about 10 steps backwards,” said Theo Berns (seen at left) of the Campbell River Knights of Columbus, who have held welcoming receptions at local citizenship ceremonies for the last 38 years. “It’s a beautiful ceremony and they’re just going to take that away.” Just over 30 people became Canadian citizens at a Maritime Heritage Centre ceremony last Thursday afternoon. The ceremony is often emotional, and there was no shortage of tears when people sang ‘O Canada’ for the first time as Canadians. But there were heavy hearts as well.

Pakistani-Canadians: Falling below the poverty line (Murtaza Haider,
Pakistan-born immigrants are the new face of poverty in urban Canada. The Canadian census revealed that 44 per cent of Pakistan-born immigrants fell below the poverty line making them the second most poverty prone group of immigrants in Canada. While they may project an aura of opulence during their visits back home, their life in Canada, however, is often full of struggle and frustration. Thousands of Pakistani trained engineers, doctors, and PhDs are driving taxis or are working as security guards in large cities. In fact, one in three taxi-drivers in Canada was born in either India or Pakistan. Several others are unemployed thus becoming a burden on Canadian taxpayers.

Do We Amuse You? (Sarah Khan, New York Times)
Dear Pop Culture, Im sorry, but do we amuse you? We Indians, with our purportedly funny accents and bobbling heads, our spicy food and penchant for dancing on demand-are we just comic relief, dispensed solely for your entertainment? I refer most recently, of course, to the Ashton Kutcher Popchips debacle of weeks past. The offensive ad went viral. Then ensued, in predictable order, outrage, protests, apologies, and the rather successful effort to wipe all traces of Mr. Kutchers portrayal of a chai-dipped, lecherous Bollywood producer Raj clean from the annals of Internet memory. Its just about blown over by now. All has been forgotten until the next racially insensitive blunder. Which knowing you, Pop Culture, is imminent. Its just a matter of when.

Inaugural Rainbow Grant funds new program for Toronto LGBTQ newcomers (Yonge Street)
Last week the Community One Foundationa Toronto-based LGBTTIQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, 2-spirited) grant foundationannounced the results of its annual Rainbow Grants competition.

Luxury housing sales surge forward in most major Canadian centres in 2012, says RE/MAX (Canada Newswire)
Immigration has played a key role in bolstering Canada’s population of High Net Worth (HNW) Individuals. A recent BMO Harris Private Banking study showed that Canadians of foreign descent account for almost one-third of all high net worth wealth throughout Canada and that almost all (96 per cent) keep the bulk of their wealth in Canada. In 2010, Canada admitted roughly 154,000 business and investor immigrants who reportedly inject $2 billion into the Canadian economy each year.


Keep care for most needy (Mark Tyndall, Ottawa Citizen)
My colleagues and I are pleased to have captured the attention of Minister Jason Kenney regarding our opposition to the sudden removal of essential medicines and health services provided on humanitarian and compassionate grounds to newly arriving refugees. His Citizen letter states that doctors should “focus their energy on treating patients based on accurate diagnoses.” I would respectfully ask: If front-line doctors are not permitted to speak when they see policies emerging that will harm the most vulnerable, who will?

Bill C-31 Will Re-Victimize Women Refugees And Their Children – PDF (METRAC)
Bill C-31, the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act, will result in the arbitrary detention, intimidation, failure to protect, and ultimate re-victimization of highly vulnerable people who seek asylum in Canada, especially the most vulnerable among them, women and children. If the changes proposed under Bill C-31 are passed into law, a significant number of women will never have their own risk of persecution or hardship assessed, prior to being deported from Canada. The Barbra Schlifer Clinic, METRAC, and LEAF, three organizations dedicated to womens equality and to ending violence against women, presented their concerns about the Bill in a written Submission to the Commons Committee on Bill C-31, which concluded hearings this week.

Health Care For Refugees: Campaigning Against Health Care Cuts (UBC, Faculty of Medicine)
All children need their shots!, all pregnant women need prenatal care!, all diabetics need their insulin! were just some of the signs that were held up by 90 Canadian Physicians protesting in Toronto after Last weeks announcement by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to make changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), effective June 30th, as part of the 2012 budget cuts. The IFHP was a program started by the federal government to provide basic health-care coverage to those who do not qualify for provincial or territorial coverage which includes refugee claimants.

Cuts to private refugee sponsorship upsets church (CBC)
Federal cuts to the number of refugees that can be privately sponsored is hurting those in dire need of protections, according to an Ottawa church. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is capping the number or refugees with private sponsorships to deal with a large backlog of refugee applications. The government announced the cap in March as part of the budget. This means fewer private sponsors can support refugees for one year as they learn English and find a job. The Mennonite church, which sponsored 225 refugees in 2011, has only sponsored 29 in 2012. “I know it’s a really difficult situation for people waiting in these places,” said Jane Snider, chairwoman of the refugee program at Ottawa’s Mennonite Church.

Difficulties North Korean refugees face in Canada (CBC The Current)
The tweets and emails kept popping up yesterday in reaction to the compelling story of Shin Dong-hyuk, his harrowing life and his escape from North Korea’s Camp 14. One of the reasons his story is so jarring is that few North Koreans ever talk about the life from which they manage to escape, the fear of retribution keeps them silent even here in Canada. Today, we hear from a North Korean man who managed to come to Canada and the Canadian from South Korea who helps others like him adapt to a life away from the oppressive control of North Korea’s unflinching leaders.

Alleged human smugglers charged (Toronto Sun)
Two people have been charged for their alleged involvement with a migrant vessel that brought 429 illegal immigrants to Canada in the summer of 2010. B.C. RCMP said Kunarobinson Christhurajah and Lesly Jana Emmanuel have each been charged with one count of organizing entry into Canada, contrary to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It’s alleged Christhurajah and Emmanuel were involved with the MV Sun Sea, which brought the immigrants to Canada in Aug. 2010.

Two men charged over Tamil migrant ship that carried 492 people to Canada (Globe and Mail)
The man who allegedly purchased the ship that carried 492 Tamils to Canada has been charged with illegally organizing its entry, as has another person who was onboard the rickety craft. The RCMP announced Tuesday that one count of organizing entry into Canada, contrary to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, has been laid against both Kunarobinson Christhurajah and Lesly Jana Emmanuel. Both men face penalties of life in prison and/or a $1-million fine. They are in custody and scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday. A similar charge was laid in March against another man, Thayakaran Markandu. He was arrested last month in France and efforts are underway to extradite him to Canada.

Government of Canada Statement on Arrests of Alleged Organizers of the MV Sun Sea (Marketwatch)
The Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism today made the following statement following new arrests in the MV Sun Sea case. The MV Sun Sea was a migrant vessel that brought 492 irregular migrants to Canada in August of 2010 as part of a human smuggling event. The RCMP announced today that two individuals have been charged with one count of Organizing Entry into Canada contrary to Sec 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for their involvement with the MV Sun Sea. These arrests follow the announcement in April of the arrest of another individual in France.

UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs 2011 (UNHCR)
Information and registration for NGOs.


NDP reaches out to public as Tories plow ahead with budget bill (Gloria Galloway, Globe and Mail)
New Democrats will hold public hearings across Canada about the Conservative governments omnibus budget bill and will also launch a website and social-media campaign to alert Canadians to the scope of the legislation. Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen was joined by finance critic Peggy Nash and labour critic Alexandre Boulerice at a news conference on Tuesday to announce that public hearings would start this week. Testimony is expected to come from expert witnesses and the public at large. The 425-page bill which would alter roughly 70 different laws from environmental assessment, to the oversight of the Auditor-General, to the treatment of refugees, to Old Age Security.

Region works to reduce poverty (Linda Givetash, The Record)
Poverty can be forgotten in a prosperous area, but the Region of Waterloo continues to keep the issue at the top of its agenda. Poverty exists in every city and every township in the region to about the same percentage, said Mary MacKeigan, executive director of Opportunities Waterloo Region, a facilitator in promoting solutions to poverty. Presenting at an event hosted by Opportunities on Tuesday, regional staff gave an update on plans to reduce poverty, which became the regions second priority for the 2010-2014 term because of feedback from local citizens.–region-works-to-reduce-poverty

Should We Subsidize Work? (Katie Hyslop, Tyee)
If raising the wage is too expensive for small business, and politically risky for politicians, where does that leave people like Collard? Economists like Krishana Pendakur from Simon Fraser University say that one answer is for other taxpayers, through the government, to top-up their poorest neighbours’ paychecks to a more livable level. The idea, Pendakur says, is for the public to subsidize minimum wages with “more (money) than the market would have delivered to typically low-skilled people.”

What About Just Guaranteeing Everyone a Basic Income? (Katie Hyslop, Tyee)
When it comes to countering poverty, economists and social policy groups have no shortage of ideas (See “A Glossary of Anti-Poverty Policies” that runs as a sidebar.) For the Tyee Solutions Society, I’ve been checking out three of the most widely advocated. Part one of this series looked at the living wage; a future installment examines government wage subsidies. Today, the contrarian case that a guaranteed annual income — what some might call that economic phantom, the “free lunch” — might just be the most cost-effective way to end poverty.

Living for All: Ideas to End Poverty (Tyee series)
For the last couple of days, the Tyee has been posting a series that explores three of the most widely advocated proposals to end poverty: the living wage, a guaranteed annual income, and government wage subsidies. The writer, Kate Hyslop spoke to anti-poverty activists, social policy theorists, academics, economists and people struggling to evade the grip of poverty. Read this thoughtful series on The Tyee.


EI reform set to redefine suitable work for job seekers (Bill Curry, Globe and Mail)
The Conservative government is giving its clearest signal yet that a hard line is coming on employment insurance, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty saying to expect tougher rules on the type of work Canadians must consider while job-hunting on EI. Therell be a broader definition and people will have to engage more in the work force, said Mr. Flaherty, who then pointed to his own résumé from his student days at Torontos Osgoode Hall Law School. I was brought up in a certain way. There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job.

Conservatives wage model will hurt all workers, unions say (Toronto Star)
At the heart of the Harper governments 2012 budget is a pay-less wage model that is unfair to temporary workers from abroad and is designed to provide business with a pool of low-paid employees across Canada, labour activists said Tuesday. Union representatives held a news conference in Ottawa to shed light on the impact on workers of far-reaching changes to Employment Insurance (EI) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program buried in the federal governments controversial budget legislation. Employers will benefit by having a pliable workforce available at a moments notice, commented Naveen Mehta, general counsel and director of human rights with United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW). He said the main thrust of the budget changes is to help business.–wage-reform-unions-say-harper-s-pay-less-wage-model-will-hurt-all-workers

Jim Flaherty calls a family meeting (Chris Selley, National Post)
The government plans, maybe, to toughen the criteria under which Employment Insurance recipients can decline work for example, work that offers less money than one is used to or unsuitable working conditions, or that is not in ones field and keep claiming benefits. I was brought up in a certain way, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters on Tuesday. There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job. The NDP responded, too cleverly, that the Conservatives are proposing a nanny state solution i.e., telling people where to work. But Mr. Flahertys hilariously obnoxious sound byte is more like something out of a daddy state. The only bad job is not having a job? Its like a line from Yakety Yak. He is Finance Minister Dad. Scrub that Burger King floor, or you aint gonna rock and roll no more.

Tightening the Screws on the Unemployed (Andrew Jackson, Behind the Numbers)
The significant changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program which are to be quickly implemented through Budget 2012 with very little consultation have not received enough critical attention. First, a word on what is not in the Budget. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the government is failing to respond to the fact that less than 40% of unemployed Canadians are now qualifying for EI, well below the already low pre-recession rate. And, for all of the talk about skills shortages in Canada, it is notable that there is NO increased investment at all in EI supported training which would assist unemployed workers to find good jobs. Instead, the focus is on tightening discipline over those workers who have managed to qualify for a claim.

Ottawa phasing out SIN cards to fight identify theft (Mark Kennedy, National Post)
The federal government is phasing out the plastic SIN card issued to millions of Canadians to save money and help avoid identify theft. In future, Canadians who receive a new social insurance number will get a letter from the federal government identifying their SIN, but they will not receive a card. The plan was revealed by bureaucrats who testified at a Senate committee Tuesday.


Wednesday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on City Hall, Transit, Real Estate & Development, G20 and Other News.


Tory rhetoric creates chilly climate for free speech (Globe and Mail)
The Canadian governments campaign of intimidation of environmental charities has begun to create a chill among charities who wish to participate in public-policy debates, according to a respected national representative of charities known as Imagine Canada. Even during hearings of the House of Commons finance committee into how this country can promote more charitable giving, the board members of some charities expressed concerns about making presentations, says Marcel Lauzière, Imagine Canadas president and chief executive officer. This is a sad commentary on where the federal governments attacks on environmental charities for accepting foreign donations are taking public debate charities afraid to speak out at a Parliamentary committee. Is that the kind of Canada sought by those who are demonizing the environmental groups?

Supporting Social Ventures An Experiment in Crowd-sourcing (Eli Malinsky, CSI)
The Centre for Social Innovation was determined to inject a bit of ‘social’ into the picture. While the broader movement is focused on entrepreneurs more generally, we wanted to make sure that social entrepreneurs and social ventures were appropriately represented and considered. We also wanted to make sure that the event was F-U-N and done in CSI-style, as interactive as possible. We decided on a Social Venture Fair. It occurred to us that there are job fairs, grad fairs and baking fairs (did I make that one up?), but there’s no fair for our sectorfor social entrepreneurs, young and old, to meet each other and to discover the ecosystem of support all around them. This kind of event wouldnt have been possible even a few years ago. But as Toronto’s social venture sector matures, there are an increasing number of services and programs directed at social entrepreneurs. Our participants included legal services, accounting services, skills-development trainings, funding programs, information sources, and more. We sold out of 200 tickets within ten hours, and released two additional batches of 50 tickets that were snapped up in two hours each. Clearly, there is a great thirst for this information and participants seemed to be having a grand time.

Social Finance Round Up: Looking to the Future of Social Innovation (Allison Langille, produces a weekly round up featuring social finance related news, insights, job openings, and events. We source the content for these round ups from Twitter, an RSS reader, and directly from our community of social finance practitioners. Below is our round up for the week of May 14, 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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