IMMIGRATION AND DIVERSITY
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney answers reader questions in video Q&A (Globe and Mail)
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke with Globe senior communities editor Jennifer MacMillan and answered reader questions. Watch the video.
Editorial: Dose of clarity needed on policy for sick immigrants to Canada (Calgary Herald)
Anyone turned away on medical grounds can submit evidence that someone other than the Canadian government will be paying the tab in Ovalles case, a U.S. charity has promised to cover his bills. Unfortunately, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has no system in place to ensure that these pledges to pay are lived up to. Nothing prevents the person or organization that vows to pay, from reneging and leaving the immigrant in limbo, or dependent on the social safety net. In the meantime, cases like Ovalles will likely continue to clog up Federal Court, when a little clarity would help resolve such matters. It seems incredible that the federal Immigration department would profess to be so concerned about a would-be immigrants ability to pay for health care, that it would ask to see a plan for private coverage and then leave itself no way of ever knowing if the plan was being followed. One of these cases deserves to go to the Supreme Court so that an authoritative voice can speak at last as to what should be done about enforcement, and indeed whether such plans are even viable.
Lawyers challenge Ottawa’s move to erase immigration backlog (CBC)
A group of lawyers is trying to stop the Conservative government from deleting a massive backlog of 280,000 immigration applications, saying the move is unfair because people have been waiting to come to Canada for years. The government announced its decision to wipe out the application backlog in its March budget, saying it is a necessary part of modernizing the country’s immigration system.
Kenney defends eliminating immigration backlog (Metro News)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the federal government is not tossing aside anyone who has been trying for years to get into Canada. Ottawa is legislating away a backlog of 280,000 applications made before 2008, saying its a necessary part of modernizing the immigration system. Kenney said it wasnt fair to have people wait years for a decision on their application. We have to get to a fast system that connects employers with immigrants by bringing them in in a matter of months. We wont get to that fast system unless and until we deal decisively with the old backlog that we inherited and thats why were taking this difficult but necessary step, Kenney said in Regina on Friday.
Government betrays economic immigrants (Clare Attwell, Times Colonist)
I am an immigrant to Canada who fully participates and contributes to the society in which I live. Because I am settled here, I have helped to attract siblings to immigrate to this country – all people that this country is desperate to attract: doctors and specialists. A core principle that accompanies stable economic immigration is the need to have family-class immigration, which ensures that economic immigrants can bring their aging parents and children with them. Canada depends on economic immigration – without it, Canada’s economy would be in trouble.
Nixed applications show Canadian immigration policies are unjust, says skilled worker (Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun)
Vancouver was at the top of Preet Deep Singhs list when he and his wife were looking for a new place to call home. The couple, who were living in Mumbai, India, and applied to immigrate to Canada in 2004, had friends and family in the Lower Mainland who offered them accommodation and help getting set up. They even planned a whale-watching trip. Singh thought their chances of being accepted to Canada as skilled workers were good. He had an MBA from Newport University in California and had experience doing marketing for well-known liquor companies such as Bacardi and Jack Daniels. His wife, Harpreet, had a masters degree in commerce from Panjab University. Both were in their 20s when they applied. The couple passed on opportunities to emigrate to the U.S. and Australia, hoping the Canadian application would come through.
News Release Parent and Grandparent Super Visa a great success (CIC)
More than 3,500 Parent and Grandparent Super Visa applications have now been approved since the Super Visa was introduced on December 1, 2011, with an overall approval rate of 83 percent, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is a great success, said Minister Kenney. Our Government is committed to family reunification. Im happy to see that the program is growing and that more and more eligible parents and grandparents are getting the opportunity to spend longer periods of time with their loved ones in Canada.
Saskatchewan announces changes to Canadian Immigrant Nominee Program (Workpermit.com)
Earlier this month the Canadian province of Saskatchewan introduced changes to their Immigrant Nominee Program affecting the family category, student category, and the entrepreneur category. Saskatchewan’s Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris announced that in an attempt to create more fairness in the Canadian immigration application process, family category nominees will now only be able to submit one application per household until the principal applicant and family have settled in the Canadian province. This still means that immediate families will be able to immigrate to Canada together, but the process of bringing extended family members over has changed. Previously, Canadian immigrants who settled in the Canadian province could apply for visas for unlimited family members to join them.
Kenney backs Sask. immigration change (Angela Hall, Regina Leader-Post)
Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the Saskatchewan government did the right thing in limiting the number of extended family members that can be sponsored through the provincial immigrant nominee program. But he couldn’t say whether Ottawa will agree to Saskatchewan’s request to increase the number of immigrants that can be brought in through the provincial program. The province can annually nominate 4,000 immigrants – plus dependents such as spouses and children – through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). Saskatchewan wants the federal government to raise the cap to 6,000 as the province deals with a labour shortage.
No need for forced diversity on the bench (Karen Selick, National Post)
Does Canada need a quota system to ensure racial diversity among the judiciary? The Globe and Mail has published no fewer than four articles in the past month reporting and then rehashing the factoid that 98 of the most recent 100 federally appointed judges are white. Groups representing Asian lawyers, indigenous lawyers and black lawyers quickly took their cue and issued indignant statements. One group insisted that the demographics of the bench must be tracked and reported. However, the mere fact that the composition of the judiciary does not mimic the composition of the general population, or even of the legal community, is not evidence of bias. After all, we dont conscript our judges; they have to apply. To make even a superficial case for discrimination, we would have to know what percentage of applicants were minorities. This information was missing from all four Globe articles. It may well be that the recent 2% appointment rate of minority candidates is perfectly consistent with, or even greater than, the percentage of recent minority applicants.
Our City of Colours Launch Party: Raising Awareness of LGBTQ People Across Cultures (Schema Magazine)
Our City of Colours, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of LGBTQ communities in all cultures, is hosting its launch party in Vancouver on Tuesday, May 22. Founded in March 2011, the organization was born out of a desire to portray LGBTQ people of all cultural backgrounds in a positive light.
Get involved (Mona Ali, Skills for Change)
Nonetheless, it is easy to take all the diversity found in Toronto for granted. As much as we pride ourselves on being diverse and inclusive, we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding and ridding ourselves of prejudices and living with differences. Our discourses around immigration, culture, race, and ethnicity should move away from pointing fingers, blaming groups for their perceived privileges, or scapegoating others. Instead, we need to analyze our challenges constructively and avoid polarised extremes. Minorities will have to see themselves not as minorities or outsiders, but as integral members of the new, dynamic social fabric. Thats why we should take the opportunity of the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue to think about diversity and what it means to us.
An online opportunity for Canadian universities (Globe and Mail)
Because Canadas future increasingly depends on its universities ability to compete with their global peers, the stakes are high. Only top-flight universities can produce the well-educated graduates and cutting-edge research that economic innovation requires. They can also attract foreign students who with luck will settle in Canada and help satisfy our growing need for talented immigrants. A national open courses project would be an easy and relatively inexpensive way to demonstrate why students should come to study in Canada. It could be our universities calling card to the world.
Times ticking on Hamilton deportation (Carmela Fragomeni, Hamilton Spectator)
Two families with high profile Hamilton deportation cases are still awaiting word from the government and courts to see if they can remain in Canada. Lucene Charles, 36, a single parent, is fighting deportation to her native St. Vincent with African-born daughter Ajohke, 5… Sungsoo Kim, 43, is battling an order sending him and his family back to South Korea, where he feels his autistic son Taehoon, 12, will be discriminated against and wont get help. Deportation would also derail his daughters plans next year to attend McMaster or Western universities.
Immigrants may need language proof (Chronicle Herald)
Immigrants hoping to become Canadian citizens may soon have to provide written proof of their language abilities. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday his latest reform is aimed at requiring citizenship applicants to prove they can speak English or French. “Ive met a lot of Canadian citizens who have lived here for many years who cant express themselves in French or English,” Kenney said during a speech Friday to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations. “Its not acceptable because it limits their social mobility and their life in Canada.” Kenney announced a change to citizenship rules which would require prospective Canadian citizens to provide whats called objective evidence of their language ability with their application.
Wooing new Canadians to Northern Ontario (Laurel J. Campbell, North Bay Nipissing.com)
The city was not only host to delegates across Northern Ontario last week during the FONOM (Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities) conference, but the headliner in discussions on innovative tourism marketing. The challenge in getting people to relocate to the North is getting them to know where we are, said Marla Tremblay, North Bay economic development officer. Getting people to move here may be a hurdle, but if you can get them here for a weekend and they see all we have to offer, the quality of life, the opportunities for their children, that makes things much easier.
Proud to be Canadian and of his cultural roots (EMC Arn Prior)
Leading up to the Ottawa Valley’s first Diversity Festival July 7 in Renfrew, organizers invite you to meet some of the many diverse individuals who make up our unique and wonderful community. “Renfrew County is so diverse and so multicultural and this is a great time to celebrate that,” said Madawaska Valley Mayor David Shulist. Shulist is well-known locally as Johnny Kashub and on a broader stage for his work with the Kashubian Heritage Society, promoting local Polish-Kashub culture and forging ties between Wilno and the Madawaska Valley and officials and cultural activists in Poland, particularly in the Kaszëbë province. “The Diversity Festival is a great idea,” says Shulist.
When a migrant worker dies suddenly, a community takes charge (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Arranging a funeral for a migrant worker is not on Alberto Rodils job description as an immigrant settlement worker. Yet, he knew it fell upon him and the wider Filipino community to give Girlie Gioquino a proper memorial and, more important, repatriate the womans body to her family in the Philippines, the home she left behind a decade ago to work as a live-in caregiver, first in Israel and later in Toronto. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer on April 23, Gioquino, a non-smoker, wanted to return to the Philippines and die at home. However, she was already too sick to travel and died at the Lakeridge Health community hospital in Oshawa within three weeks of her diagnosis on Mothers Day. The problem is that Gioquino, like many migrant workers in Canada, had no family in Canada to take care of her funeral or the money to send the body home.
In search of a Surrey cultural connection? (Cloverdale Reporter)
The Surrey Museum hosts an upcoming Culture Connections open house where visitors can take guided tours of the exhibit galleries, watch films on local history and culture, and learn more about their neighbours. The May 24 event (from 2-3:30 p.m.) also includes tea and refreshments, plus a presentation (“Changing Faces, Changing Neighbourhoods”) by the ISSofBC on the Government Assisted Refugee program. Surrey is one of the most attractive destinations for government-assisted refugees. The city is home to newcomers from Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and more.
Chinese ‘rent-a-wife’ refugee scam detected (Sun News Network)
Federal officials say they’ve intercepted a smuggling ring whose members would sneak Chinese nationals into Canada through rent-a-wife and fake tourist delegation schemes. Phoney visitors from China are placed by smugglers in delegations of tourists, performers or martial artists who visit Canada, Canadian diplomats in Beijing claim. Once here, the fake visitors, who can pay up to $70,000 for the trip, file refugee claims to remain in Canada.
Awards presented for diversity and leadership (Jamaica Gleaner)
Five individuals were recently presented with awards at the Innoversity Creative Summit 2012 in Toronto to recognize their work in making the media more inclusive and innovative by embracing the increasing cultural diversity of Canada. The awards presentation was held at the Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library. Susan Marjetti, managing director, CBC Toronto, received Innoversitys first Outstanding Leadership Achievement Award for helping to attract and reflect larger audiences in both private and public broadcasting in Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg and Fredericton with inclusive strategies.
Holocaust educator to receive Pioneer Award (Canadian Jewish News)
Human rights advocate and Holocaust educator Toni Silberman is one of five Canadian immigrants who will be honoured next month for her outstanding contribution to her community. Skills For Change, a non-profit organization that helps internationally educated immigrants acquire work and succeed in Ontario, will present Silberman the vice-chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the national chair of Bnai Briths Commission on Holocaust Education with a Pioneers for Change award on June 5. The New Pioneer Awards celebrate inspiring newcomers and bring together a large and diverse community of people who believe that immigration is an important part of building Canadas future.
NDP Demands Harper Government Apologize For Komagata Maru Incident (R. Paul Dhillon, The Link)
Surrey-North NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu introduced a motion Friday seeking official apology in the House of Commons and launches national petition campaign to bring justice to one of the darkest events in Canadas not so great distant path. Prime Minister Stephen Harpers failed attempt to make an informal apology in 2008 at an outdoor festival in Surrey was widely regarded as rude and insincere by the community. Liberal leader Bob Rae joined the call for the Komagata Maur, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to acknowledge it in any formal sense and his Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney has explicitly said that no such apology will happen.
Komagata Maru history vividly revisited in Ali Kazimi’s “Undesirables” (David P. Ball, Vancouver Observer)
The images of detained South Asian migrants in cages, and protests against Canada’s immigration rules, are jarringly familiar. Such photographs of struggle and oppression form the stirring backbone for award-winning filmmaker Ali Kazimi’s book, Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru, An Illustrated History.
Cycling to promote diversity (Indo-Canadian Voice)
This years 2nd annual Cycling4Diversity ride is almost here and I cant believe that were under a week away. Next week, from May 22-25th the Cycling4Diversity team will be travelling from Mission to Victoria, making over 40 stops throughout the nine cities meeting with wonderful individuals to celebrate diversity and discuss issues regarding racism and discrimination. This initiative is all about teamwork, creating awareness and bridging the divisions. By travelling through the different cities and meeting with students in several schools as well as community organizations, neighbourhoods and with political leaders, we will once again have the opportunity to encourage discussions that will help to create awareness regarding some of the significant issues we are facing in our local communities.
Forgiveness made him millions (Paul Luke, The Province)
Dan On could have laughed and torn up the letter from the Vietnamese government inviting him to build a plant in the country he fled 11 years before. No one, not even the Vietnamese, would have blamed the Dan-D Foods president if he had. But On had long since forgiven the communist government for the persecution that forced him to flee by boat from Ho Chi Minh City in 1979. That forgiveness gave On enough clarity of mind to recognize a business opportunity. The developing nation’s wage rates would be low. The government was willing to waive taxes for five years. And Vietnam is one of the globe’s largest producers of cashews – a key product for Richmond-based Dan-D. On decided to give Vietnam another chance. He started with a small investment in 1993 and in 1999 launched a processing plant in Binh Duong province in the south. The plant flourished. It grew. On, 52, now has two factories employing about 500 people.
Jan Wong: Why I was hated in Quebec and abandoned in Toronto (National Post)
In the following book excerpt, Jan Wong describes the spiral of depression she entered in 2006, after publishing an article linking the Dawson College shooting to Québécois racism… Unless you have experienced racism, it is hard to explain its corrosiveness. You feel frightened and violated and impotent all at once. When race is perceived to be a factor, the hurt from almost any slight, even an innocent, unintended one, can last a lifetime.
Kims Convenience: On now at Soulpepper (Denise Balkissoon, Ethnic Aisle)
Every second-gen* daughter of a workaholic immigrant father should go see Kims Convenience. Mr. Kim may be Korean, not Trinidadian, and hes a shopowner in Regent Park, not an electrician-turned-politician in Scarborough, but Im pretty sure he got his schtick from my dad. Item A: fatherly concern wrapped up in insults. Guaranteed my dad has come out with just what Mr. Kim asks Janet: Why not do something real and make your your low-earning, arty job a hobby? What? Why are you mad now? Item B: Brutal, bone-cutting arguments about who owes who what, in terms of money, time and respect in this new land where none of the traditional rules apply. Item C: Oceans of intense love tussling for shelf space with old-school notions of masculinity, culture and honour.
Bike recycling program will offer free wheels to recent immigrants (OpenFile Vancouver)
Securing reliable transportation is one of the many hurdles that recent immigrants face when arriving in Canada. I spoke to Mohammed Babaeizadeh, a recent Iranian immigrant who fled his country where he was being persecuted for converting to Christianity. A genial man, with an easy smile, he told me hed worked in a car manufacturing plant in Iran before escaping to Turkey as a refugee and eventually, after a year and a half, coming here. Immigrants coming to new countries, face problems from morning to night, he says. Transportation is definitely one of them. Without reliable transport, he has trouble looking for a job, and on a meagre government stipend, even riding the bus to his English lessons can be prohibitively expensive. I have a son, and wife, he says. And Im stuck. I cant look for a job because I dont have transportation. Would a bike help? I ask. He flashes me a warm smile and a thumbs up. One hundred percent!
The changing faces of Comox Valley immigration (Philip Round, Canada.com)
Traditional patterns of immigration to the Comox Valley are changing, according to Rachel Blaney, the executive director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre in Courtenay. She told Comox Valley Regional District’s committee of the whole on Tuesday that people from Vietnam, China and the Philippines now topped the league of people they were helping. The pattern was way more diversified than it once was, and in the last six months alone assistance had been offered by the local centre to people from 18 different countries. She noted Vancouver Island as a whole still attracted immigrants principally from the U.K. and U.S., two traditional sources of settlers.
Saltspring woman’s battle ends in tears of joy (Jack Knowx, Times Colonist)
Jennifer Lannan’s fight to bring her husband to Canada appears almost over. The 30-year-old Saltspring Island woman finally won her battle at an immigration appeal hearing in Vancouver this week, MP Elizabeth May at her side. May was ecstatic, but Lannan sounds more muted – happy about the result, but frustrated by the route it took to get there. The question now, after three years of bureaucratic stumbling, of a father missing the birth of his child, of lives stuck in neutral, is why the 30-year-old Saltspring Island woman had to wrestle her own government in the first place. “I feel like what I’ve been through in the past few years wasn’t necessary,” she said.
Newcomers over age 50 costly: memo (Tobi Cohen, Vancouver Sun)
Older immigrants cost governments about $3 billion a year in health care, while none of those immigrants over age 50 has reported earning more than $15,000 a year, figures obtained by Postmedia News suggest. The figures are in a memo written three months before the government froze the parent and grandparent immigration stream and introduced a 10-year, multiple-entry super-visa that requires visiting relatives to show proof of a year’s worth of health insurance. The memo was obtained through an access to information request.
Government considering new health care premium for elderly immigrants (Andy Radia, Yahoo! News)
Last week, citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney tackled the thorny issue of medical services for refugees. This week, it’s the turn of Canada’s elderly immigrants. In an interview Thursday, Kenney said the government is considering charging a health premium to families who want to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada permanently. “One idea has been to require families to put down some kind of a health care bond for sponsoring parents or grandparents. They would pay up front for a portion of the health care costs that their parents would use in Canada,” he told PostMedia News.
DIASPORIAN: No place for middlemen, now! (Pradip Rodrigues, CanIndia.com)
An employee working with an immigration firm, specializing in investor category immigrants, could be out of job by July. Thats when new law governing investors and investments from overseas comes into effect. Immigration to Canada will never be the same again and while many are bewildered by the pace and scope of the changes, others in the know are wondering simply what took the government so long? How could a sovereign nation knowingly allow fly-by-night immigration consultants across the globe sully the reputation of the country and defraud and gouge immigrants to this extent? It is not just immigration consultants and lawyers to blame for assisting their clients to skirt or break rules in order to get accepted as immigrants to Canada but often it is the immigrants themselves that are willing to pay a premium if a sketchy immigrant consultant could get things done. And many a times they did, by cleverly exploiting the laws, forging documents and putting their clients under categories that would get them into Canada. What the government is doing today is plugging those gaping loopholes and raising the requirements. Furthermore, immigration is being made so transparent that a would-be immigrant from anywhere could access information and apply, minus the middle-man.
Halifax consulting firm members charged with aiding immigration fraud: CBSA (Stewart Bell, National Post)
Ziad El Shurafas immigration consulting firm in Halifax proclaimed on its website that since 1999 it had helped hundreds of people pursue their dreams of coming to Canada to live, work and study. But on Friday federal authorities alleged that what Mr. El Shurafa and his two associates, Mohammed Elhajabed and Awni Sakalla, had done was help foreigners defraud Canadas immigration system.
Visible minorities increasing in Canada what does this mean for summer camps? (YoYoJoe.com)
Interesting article for #summercamp professionals in Canada. What are you doing now to meet this change in demographic? How are you going to attract these children and their parents to your summer camp? If we do not drastically rethink the way we think of “summer camp” then many will be in serious trouble.
Seen from abroad, squabbles about bilingualism are silly (François Duchastel, Montreal Gazette)
We really need to transcend this fake problem. Most Montrealers are functionally bilingual, We should put our energies into turning around this city. We should maybe even build more ambitiously on our achievements and even make other languages, like Spanish and Chinese, also functional languages in this city (to be taught at schools, used in public services, hospitals, universities, etc.) We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, start reaching for the world, stop apologizing for being bilingual in a unilingual country its not our issue! This city has everything it takes to become a hugely successful, globally connected city of the future, if only we can go beyond this, continue to open up to diversity, sustainability, to global business, to exchanges of ideas in all languages.
Canada talks the diversity talk, but the U.S. walks the diversity walk (Marni Soupcoff, National Post)
Making a fuss over how much of the Canadian population is made up of visible minorities always strikes me as silly. Will having too many minorities somehow dilute the character of the nation? Or is having a sizeable minority population a badge of honor that proves the countrys unique tolerance for diversity? The answer to both questions is: no. The character of the country has nothing to do with the colour of its citizens skin (and, incidentally, the colour of a persons skin gives no indication of how long that person or his or her ancestors have lived in Canada).
Deschamps to retire from Supreme Court (Daniel Proussalidis, Toronto Sun)
Deschamps wrote the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of parents in Drummondville, Que., who asked for their kids to be exempt from the provincial government’s religious curriculum. The parents argued the curriculum teaches religious relativism and undermines their kids’ Roman Catholic beliefs, but Deschamps wrote that allowing an exemption would be a “rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society.”
Are Asian Canadians an asset in the Canada-Asia relationship? (Senator Vivienne Poy, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada)
May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. 2012 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration of May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada which I signed into being, alongside former Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Sheila Copps on May 21, 2002. During this month, we celebrate the contributions of Asian Canadians to Canada, and we look to the future, towards the untapped potential that currently exists within our Asian Canadian communities. First, second, and third generation Asian Canadians can act as catalysts for the development and expansion of our social, political, economic, and academic relations with Asia. The November 19, 2011 edition of the Economist featured a cover entitled The Magic of Diasporas, and called our communities a rare bright spark in the world economy. It argued that diaspora networks of kinship and language make it easier to do business across borders, and that, the Internet, informal networks, inexpensive and rapid travel, and trust, act as the currencies of exchange.
Comments on amendments to Bill C-31 (CCR)
Bill C-31 was sent back to the House of Commons on 14 May 2012, after being revised by the Standing Committee on Citizenship andImmigration. For the revised text of the bill, see: http://bit.ly/KHrumi. To read the 13 amendments passed, see: http://bit.ly/JOXMML. On 9 May 2012, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced changes to Bill C-31, Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act. While the CCR welcomes changes that improve protection for refugees in Canada, the majority of the CCRs key concerns with the bill remain.
Medical groups slam plan to cut refugee health coverage (Louisa Taylor, Ottawa Citizen)
The federal governments plans to reduce health-care coverage for refugees and cancel their supplemental benefits are more likely to increase health-care costs than save money, and risk catastrophic consequences in the health of some individuals, according to a group of eight national health-care associations. In an open letter to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued Friday, the heads of the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nursing Association, Canadian Dental Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, among others, call on Kenney to revise or rescind the planned cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides coverage to refugees and refugee claimants who arent covered by provincial health plans.
Refugee health reforms assailed (CMAJ)
Moreover, the public is demanding such limitations, Kenney says. Weve received a lot of feedback from Canadians that they dont think we should be providing health benefits to asylum claimants that are better than Canadians get from provincial health insurance programs. Utter hogwash, counter angry physicians opposed to the restriction on services to those that are of an urgent or essential nature(www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.109-4203). Refugee claimants will also be denied medications and vaccines unless they pose a public health threat, while rejected claimants or people from nations on a Designated Countries of Origin (which do not normally produce refugees) will not receive any health care unless there is a public health threat (). Its inhumane, says Dr. Philip Berger, chief of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michaels Hospital at the University of Toronto in Ontario. The state has issued guidelines on the practice of medicine that is totally unrelated to the interests and welfare of patients, he says. The government has usurped the professional judgment and discretion of physicians and taken it on themselves. Minister Kenney just doesnt want to pay for vulnerable people. Its as simple as that.
Interim Federal Health, Bill C-31, Jason Kenney & Refugee Health a Primer (Danyaal Raza)
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has been a very busy man as of late. In less than five months, he has sought to redefine Canadas threshold for asylum seekers and to tighten the handshake that welcomes them to their new home. For those in the medical community providing care for and advocating on behalf of refugee patients, these efforts have caused considerable consternation. After a closer inspection of Bill C-31 and the more recent overhaul of the Interim Federal Health Program, it is not a stretch to see why. Bill C-31 or the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act was first introduced to Parliament in February 2012 with the intention of clamping down on bogus refugees, speeding up claimant processing times and reducing government costs.
CMA president: Doctors ‘greatly concerned’ about Harper government cuts to safety net (Mark Kennedy, Canada.com)
Unlike previous Liberal governments, Harper has indicated he will not place conditions on how provinces spend federal health-care transfers. But Haggie said the federal government has a role to play in medicare and that transferring billions of dollars “in the absence of this leadership shortchanges Canadians.” Also, Haggie expressed concerns about planned cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides health insurance to refugees and refugee claimants who aren’t covered by provincial health plans. He said that “no one was consulted on these changes,” and there has been no debate on the potential implications to peoples’ health. A group of eight national health-care associations, including the CMA, is calling on the government to revise or rescind the planned cuts.
Health groups urge Ottawa to save refugee services (Maureen Brosnahan, CBC)
The heads of several of Canada’s leading health-care organizations have written a strongly worded letter to the federal immigration minister, urging him to rescind plans to cut health services to refugees and refugee claimants. “We are extremely concerned over the health impacts that this will have on the most vulnerable members of our society, many of whom will eventually become Canadian citizens,” the letter to Jason Kenney states. It is signed by the heads of eight prominent health-care groups.
Mean-spirited politicking (Waterloo Record)
Pitting Canadians against vulnerable refugee claimants is a mean-spirited, political ploy that does nothing but reinforce the image of Stephen Harpers Conservatives as a hard-hearted, get tough bunch that seems overly preoccupied with playing to its political base. Those seeking asylum in this country are provided with temporary health-care coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program until their refugee claim is either approved or denied. If approved, they can then apply for territorial or provincial health insurance, such as OHIP. The federal health program is comprised of basic health coverage, similar to OHIP, but also supplemental coverage such as drug, dental and vision care. That, in the mind of Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, is being over generous.
Health Care as a Human Right (Not the Political use of Health Care) (McMaster Global Health Commons)
Dr. Philip Berger, chief of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michaels Hospital at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Ive never met a single refugee who comes here to take advantage of Canadas health care system. They come because theyre fleeing torture, rape and violence, he says, arguing that the government has fabricated an artificial confrontation between refugee claims and Canadians. The government has a wholly misinformed and misguided view that introducing punitive measures against all refugees will somehow dissuade refugees who have manifestly unfounded claims.
Focus on Children (Forced Migration Current Awarness blog)
Recent reports related to asylum seeking and children.
Two years on, MV Sun Sea migrants still moving slowly through the legal pipeline (Douglas Quan, Canada.com)
Almost two years after a derelict cargo ship with 492 Tamil migrants arrived on the B.C. coast, five of the asylum-seekers remain in the custody of police or border authorities their cases illustrating the convoluted, rough-and-tumble course refugee claims can sometimes take. Take the cases of migrants “B001″ and “B072.” In recent weeks, the Immigration and Refugee Board ordered their release from Canada Border Services Agency custody. The government quickly moved to block their release and get a second opinion from the Federal Court. On May 3, a federal judge quashed B001’s release, calling the IRB’s decision “naive and perverse.” But on May 10, another judge upheld B072’s release, saying that holding someone “with no obvious end in sight” was unacceptable.
Sex fiend fails refugee bid (Sun News Network)
An Iranian man convicted of molesting three women has lost his bid for refugee status and will be deported to the United States where the crimes occurred. The man, who has not been identified by an Immigration and Refugee Board, filed a claim at the Canadian border with his wife and their two children, who were accepted.
POVERTY / HEALTH / HOMELESSNESS / SOCIAL INCLUSION
He’s right – we should be ashamed (Iain Hunter, Times Colonist)
If Olivier De Schutter thought he could shame Canadian governments into ensuring that poor families get enough to eat, he didn’t know much about the Conservative government in Ottawa. De Schutter, the UN “special rapporteur” on the Right to Food, had the effrontery to say last week after an 11-day tour of Canada that it’s “unacceptable” and “shocking” that in this “land of plenty” one in 10 Canadian families with a child under the age of six is unable to get the food it needs. But the response of cabinet ministers the next day made headlines too. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called his remarks “completely ridiculous” and his trip to Canada a waste of funds that this country contributes to the UN.
The Three Amigos: How Income Inequality in Mexico is different than Canada and the U.S. (CCPA)
An examination of income inequality in North America reveals that Mexico is the only part of the continent where the middle class has been gaining from growth, according to a new study by internationally respected economist Lars Osberg, Dalhousie University professor and CCPA Research Associate.
300-unit YWCA residence opening for low-income women (Globe and Mail)
Nestled in downtown Toronto, surrounded by hospitals and businesses, sits what is believed to be the largest affordable housing project to be built in the city in at least a decade. And this one is only for low-income or at-risk women and their families. The 300-unit building on Elm Street, which opens its doors Tuesday for a public viewing, looks like any other apartment building, with a concierge, courtyard and a rooftop garden exactly the look that the YWCA Toronto planned in the hopes of allowing low-income women, aboriginal women and those suffering from mental health or addiction issues to feel like theyre part of a community. The building is almost full.
Canadian Social Research Newsletter (Canadian Social Research Links)
1. [Ontario] Five questions with John Stapleton [re. the working poor] (Hamilton Spectator) – May 16
2. The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011 (Centre for the Study of Living Standards) – May 18
3. Research Funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Contradicts Key Argument For New Employment Insurance Policy (Andrew Jackson in the Progressive Economics Forum) – May 18
4. Poverty Amongst Plenty : Waiting for the Yukon Government to Adopt a Poverty Reduction Strategy (Nick Falvo) – May 17
5. United Nations food envoy blasts inequality, poverty in Canada (Toronto Star) – May 16
6. There is no bad job the only bad job is not having a job. (Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty) – May 14
7. [Ontario] Report on Youth Leaving Care Hearings Team Delivered to Ontario Legislature (Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth) – May 14
8. New Yukon Social Assistance Regulations – effective May 2012
9. From The Tyee (Vancouver):
— What About Just Guaranteeing Everyone a Basic Income? (May 15)
— Is the ‘Living Wage’ Enough?(May 14)
10. [Ontario] Hamilton covering $1.8m in provincial cuts to welfare recipients (Hamilton Spectator) – May 14
11. 2012 Queen’s (University) Institute on Social Policy : August 20-22, 2012
12. Coalition of Child Care Advocates of British Columbia urges BC Govt. to reconsider commercial child care – May 3
13. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics Canada]:
— Consumer Price Index, April 2012 – May 18
— Canadian Economic Observer, May 2012 – May 18
— Canadian Social Trends, Summer 2012 – May 17
— Health Reports, May 2012 – May 16
14. What’s new from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit
A rare success in the battle against homelessness (Carol Goar, Toronto Star)
Housing activists were unmoved. But city officials were listening. Then-mayor David Miller used it as the basis for Torontos Streets to Homes program. Brian Smith was also listening. He is chief executive of Woodgreen Community Services, one of the largest social service agencies in the city. In fact, he had his eye on a promising site. It was the 107-year-old Edwin Hotel in Riverdale. It wasnt derelict, but it had fallen on hard times. The once-vibrant railway hotel had tried to survive as a nightclub, failed and become a seedy rooming house over a tavern. Smith tried several times to persuade the owner to sell it. He was repeatedly rebuffed. But in 2008 he succeeded. Woodgreen launched an ambitious fundraising campaign and began the makeover. Using private donations, in-kind contributions (flowers, bedding, pots and pans) and every source of government funding available, it transformed the Edwin from a neighbourhood embarrassment into an attractive residence for homeless men over 55. The cost was $3.8 million. It reopened in 2010. It is now a source of local pride, an architectural gem and a safe, impeccably maintained home for the 28 men who live there.
Federal Budget 2012: Opposition to budget bill galvanizing (Toronto Star)
It may be the most sweeping overhaul of Canadian law ever contemplated in one piece of legislation: 425 pages of dense legalese that amends or throws out more than 60 existing federal statutes. But for many, the complex uproar over the Conservatives budget bill has been reduced to a single remark: There is no bad job. It came from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who was being pressured to explain the ongoing mystery of how the Conservatives will crack down on jobless people receiving Employment Insurance (EI) once Bill C-38 is passed by Prime Minister Stephen Harpers majority. Conservatives havent divulged how they plan to change the rules governing whether EI recipients can keep collecting benefits. Sources say the federal cabinet will be given the power to set new rules that will make it harder for those collecting EI to pass up jobs they deem unsuitable or too low-paying.
Calgary poverty expert visits Hamilton (Hamilton Spectator)
Their home provinces, Alberta and Ontario, may be on opposite sides of the country, but when it comes to poverty reduction Dan Meades and Tom Cooper are very much on the same page. Meades, director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, was in town Thursday night to speak at Hamiltons Roundtable for Poverty Reduction meeting. Ontario has been leading poverty reduction work for a long time, and so I hope that can keep happening, Meades said. Its great to be back here.
Real cost of poverty (Jody Percy, Windsor Star)
The cost of doing nothing is often greater than the cost of doing the right thing. Such is the case when we talk about addressing the very real social, economic and health care costs of poverty in Ontario. The real cost of poverty to Ontario is immense. According to the Ontario Association of Food Banks, the cost of poverty to Ontarians amounts to 5.5 to 6.6 per cent of Ontario’s GDP. In real terms that equals $2,299 to $2,895 annually for every Ontario household.
EMPLOYMENT & WORKERS
Skilled Immigrants Attract More Talent to Pythian (hireimmigrants.ca)
Pythian, a remote database and consulting services company, has discovered an unexpected benefit of having skilled immigrant employees: They attract other highly skilled immigrants to the company. For example, the Ottawa-based companys chief technical officer is a Russian by birth and well respected in his field, especially in his home country, says Paul Vallée, Founder and Executive Chairman of Pythian. As a result, Mr. Vallée says other leading minds from Russia want to work for Pythian, which was also recognized by Hire Immigrants Ottawa with a 2012 Employer Excellence Award.
Your skilled immigrant business intelligence a roundup from hireimmigrants.ca (week of May 14) (Maytree)
hireimmigrants.ca, 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.
WAC E-Bulletin May 18, 2012 (Workers’ Action Centre)
Ministry of Labour claim: Getting what’s owed to you New WAC Factsheet Every year, thousands of workers are forced to file claims with the Ministry of Labour for unpaid wages or other employment violations — no overtime, unpaid vacation, paid below minimum wage. WAC’s latest factsheet in our Know Your Rights series helps workers understand the process – when to file, what happens next, and how to appeal.
Foreign workers will hurt Alberta employees, labour leader says (Calgary Herald)
Overreliance on temporary foreign workers to remedy Albertas labour shortages will hurt both domestic and imported workforces, local labour and immigration organizations said. The federal government introduced several changes to its temporary foreign worker program last month, including measures that would allow employers to pay wages up to 15 per cent below the average in their region. Demand for workers as industries in Alberta continue to expand should lead to higher wages, but the provinces largest union organization said the federal governments moves will do the opposite. Theyre using workers as pawns to drive down wages and conditions at a time when wages and conditions should be going up in Albertas hot labour market, said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
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.
Why fixing whats really wrong with EI wont be easy (Barrie McKenna, Globe and Mail)
Ottawa is taking direct aim at seasonal workers in rural Canada with its vow to change the employment insurance regime. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Ottawa will no longer tolerate Canadians sitting around collecting pogey when theres work to do. The only bad job is not having a job, Mr. Flaherty said last week, recalling how he drove a taxi and refereed hockey to get through law school. Fixing whats really wrong with EI wont be easy.
Nannies waiting longer for open-work permits in Canada (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Catalina Ferano longed for the day she would be free to go where she wants and do whatever job she chooses in Canada. So after the Filipina nanny fulfilled her two-year obligation as a live-in caregiver last July, she immediately applied for an open-work permit while her application for permanent residency was being processed. Now, nine months after submitting her application, Feranos open permit still hasnt arrived. Without it, I have to continue to work as a live-in caregiver. Its frustrating, said Ferano, an architect from the Philippines.
Notice Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Cap Reached (CIC)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has reached its cap of 10,000 applicants in the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) for July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. CIC will not be accepting any new FSW applications unless they are accompanied by qualifying job offers or are submitted under the PhD eligibility stream. The FSWP cap of 10,000 limited the number of new applications to be processed in order to reduce wait times and make progress on the existing inventory. Application volumes were further managed with subcaps for each of the 29 designated occupations that are in high demand in the Canadian labour market. Subcaps of 500 applications each were put into place so that the program would not be dominated by a handful of professions. Of the 29 occupations, 14 reached their subcaps. These include family and specialist physicians, pharmacists, dentists, registered and licensed practical nurses, social workers and architects.
CITY OF TORONTO / CITIES / CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Tuesday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Getting Around, CP Strike, Buildings, Streets and Other News.
Monday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on G20, Garbage, Ford, Casino, Jamie Bell and Other News.
Friday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Ford and PFLAG, City Hall, Transit, G20, Casino and Other News.
Public consultations on cultural spaces in Toronto (City of Toronto)
From May 22 through June 27, an initial series of 10 public consultations in Toronto will help to identify affordable and sustainable cultural spaces for not-for-profit and community groups. Funded by a grant from the Province of Ontario, these consultations will address one of the recommendations of the Creative Capital Gains Report, endorsed by Toronto City Council in 2011. The goal of the consultations is to give councillors a ward-specific priority list for cultural infrastructure as defined by their constituents and community cultural stakeholders.
New Shawn Micallef Toronto + GTA column every Friday in The Toronto Star (Spacing Toronto)
Hi Spacing readers. I’m pleased to announced that while continuing write and edit Spacing things, I’ve just started a new weekly column over at the Toronto Star exploring how and where we live in the GTA. I’ll wander from downtown to wherever the farm fields start (and maybe, once in a while, hang out there too). The first one went up today, looking at Mississauga City Centre. Thanks for coming along for the walk all these years.
SOCIAL INNOVATION / NONPROFITS
From Convention to convention New technologies unintentionally can create barriers to participation (Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute)
The disability community has long called for societal changes that promote inclusion and participation in all aspects of society. There is substantial work under way throughout the world to advance the inclusion agenda through technology. Information and communication technologies (ICT), in particular, play a significant role. The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), for example, is a project of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Initiated in December 2006 by the Wireless Internet Institute, G3ict is a public-private partnership dedicated to the world-wide implementation of the Digital Accessibility Agenda defined by the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Basic Financial Management for Non-Pro?ts The Common-Sense Guide – PDF (CIC)
This manual was created with the intention of providing basic ?nancial management information, guidelines, methodologies, and sample report templates for CIC-funded organizations in Ontario. The content of this manual is geared to program, project and department coordinators/managers, ?nance coordinators/managers, directors/senior managers, and board members of nonpro?ts and charitable organizations. However, every organization is different, in size, structure and function, so not all of the recommendations, descriptions and examples in this manual will be applicable to, or suited for, every organization. As with the web-based training that accompanied this manual, the language and approach used to communicate the content is intended to be non-technical in nature – a simple, common-sense approach to ?nancial management. After all, ?nancial management is not rocket science. In fact, if you take any message away from this manual, it is the authors hope that you will see the ?nancial management of your organization in a new light. For much too long, some ?nancial experts have explained their concepts using technical jargon and impossibly complicated concept descriptions. And although some aspects of corporate accounting and ?nancial management can be quite sophisticated, the basic concepts, as they apply to most non-pro?ts, are not beyond the reach of the average non-pro?t staff person or board member.
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