Immigration & Diversity news headlines – May 4, 2012


ALLIES Newsletter May 2012 (ALLIES)
In this issue:
• Bringing SMEs to the Table
• New National Partners Join ALLIES
• Celebrating the Leadership of Canadian Employers
• Continuing to Strengthen our IECs
• Paying It Forward: One Newcomer’s Lessons of Employment Success
• Councils @Work
• Policy Update
• Resources

Short-term needs shouldn’t obscure long-term immigration policy goals, report says (Louisa Taylor, Ottawa Citizen)
The blink-and-you-might-miss-something pace of recent changes to Canada’s immigration policy means Canadians have to be vigilant to ensure long-term goals aren’t sacrificed for short-term priorities, according to speakers at an Ottawa seminar. Ratna Omidvar, president of the private Maytree Foundation, assessed what she called the “hurly-burly” of immigration policy by listing more than half a dozen policy announcements from Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in the past month, including a proposal for enhanced language testing, a proposal for a special visa for entrepreneurs, cancellation of settlement agreements with British Columbia and Manitoba, elimination of federally funded health benefits for certain refugees, and more. Economists Arthur Sweetman and Garnett Picot presented their findings on how immigrants fare in the job market, but not before joking that things may already have changed since their report for the Institute for Research on Public Policy was published — just last month.

While You Were Sleeping: Fed Policies Make It Easier to Hire a Cheaper You (Armine Yalnizyan, Behind the Numbers)
Disturbingly, the federal announcement also set out new wage rules which permit employers to pay temporary foreign workers up to 15 per cent below the average paid for that type of work locally, sanctioning the creation of a two-tiered “us and them” labour market. Even if such a rule were rigorously applied and monitored — and budget cuts may eliminate the staff to do this job — it guarantees a downward trend in wages for everyone. Fifteen per cent below the average is a recipe for continuous decline when labour shortages are filled, as a matter of policy, by those who get paid less and are not allowed to stay long enough to ask for more.

Countries caught off guard by visa office closures (Lee Berthiaume,
The federal government’s decision to shutter visa offices in five countries without warning earlier this week has taken some foreign diplomats by surprise and prompted calls for Canada to reconsider. “I’m surprised, yes, very surprised,” Malaysian High Commissioner Hayati Binti Ismail told Postmedia News. “For us, it’s going to cause a bit of trouble.” Citizenship and Immigration Canada quietly announced on April 30 the immediate closure of Canadian visa offices in Malaysia, as well as Bangladesh, Iran, Germany and Japan. The move is part of the federal government’s effort to cut $5.2 billion in spending over the next three years.

Visa change could drive lucrative ESL business away (Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun)
“My big concern is this will give the wrong message about Canada being open for business,” said Sharon Curl, owner of Eurocentres Canada ESL schools in Vancouver and Toronto. Speaking Thursday, Curl said she fears many students, particularly those from Japan and Germany, will reconsider getting an education in B.C. Her schools alone teach 500 international students, including 300 in downtown Vancouver. “Japan and Germany are important markets for international students coming to Canada for language training. They might choose a different country where they could get a visa faster.”

CCR Statement – Termination of Immigration Agreements with BC and Manitoba (CCR)
The Canadian Council for Refugees was taken aback by Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s surprise announcement on Tuesday April 12 that the devolution agreements that allowed the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia to manage their own immigration settlement programs would be terminated. We are deeply concerned about the way this decision was made: behind closed doors and without consulting the service providers or provincial governments involved, despite their expertise and the impacts this change may have on them. The announcement comes as a great surprise given that British Columbia and Manitoba have developed model settlement programming responsive to the needs of their particular newcomers and socio-economic contexts.

#CdnImm Toronto event #3 May 22: The Media and Canadian Immigration (Settlement AtWork)
Event topic: Immigration and the media – capturing and sharing the story of immigrants and settlement services.
Join Jessica and Gerard for this panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities with telling the story of immigrants and settlement services, considering the changing landscape of policies and politics and the changing demographic face of immigrants.

A courageous crusade (Catherine Kitts, Orleans Star)
Born in Iran, Assadollahi was imprisoned when she was 16 years old for speaking out against the war. “For me freedom of speech was so important,” she said. During that time it is believed that some 14,000 Iranians were killed in prison. Eventually, her family fled to Turkey where she began work in the late 80s, for the Turkish Ministry of Culture as a researcher for freedom of language and policy. While at this post, she helped refugees with their cases and represented them at the office of UNHCR. She eventually joined relatives in Canada, settling in British Columbia, where she resided for eight years.

Canadian Sikhs: A saga of grit and perseverance (South Asian Generation Next)
When the first small batch of Sikhs arrived in Canada in 1897, they could have scarcely imagined the role their community would go on to play in the country’s socio-political arena. The earliest Sikh immigrants found work in laying the tracks of the Canadian Pacific Railway, in lumber mills and mines. Besides alien land and the unfamiliar, this hardworking community had other things to cope with, such as racism and discrimination, highlighted by the Komagata Maru incident in 1914. However, known for their grit and unwavering resilience, the Sikhs in Canada persevered. A century on, they have not only placed themselves in leading positions in every sphere of public life, but have also been able to change popular perceptions regarding them.

LINQ: A family’s journey told in paintings (Hamilton Spectator)
Rosemary Sloot was shocked when her mother confessed as she lay dying that she had only one life regret: She wished she had never immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands after the Second World War.–linq-a-family-s-journey-told-in-paintings

Minister Kenney issues statement marking the celebration of Asian Heritage Month (Canada News)
Once again, I am pleased to launch Asian Heritage Month. Each May we recognize the valuable contributions of Canadians of Asian descent in the development of Canadian history, identity, and society. Canadians of Asian descent will continue to shape our national story. This year, the theme of Asian Heritage Month is “Advancing Democracy, Strengthening Canada.” We will mark two special milestones: the 10th anniversary of Asian Heritage Month in Canada, and the 65th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act which led to Canadians of Chinese descent receiving the right to vote in Canada. To mark these two milestones, I am proud to unveil an exhibit developed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) featuring the contributions of twenty Canadians of Asian descent to Canada. The exhibit will travel across the country during Asian Heritage Month and community groups will have the opportunity to showcase it throughout the year. An online version is also available on the CIC Website.

Race Card: CBC-TV anchor insults visible minorities (Agora Cosmopolitan)
Evan Solomon claimed that Mr. Mulcair’s comments was “using the race card”. However, for many visible minorities who have experienced institutionalized racism in all its forms, arguably, the next worst things to having had those experiences, are abject denial of those verifiable patters of experiences by those who view themselves as speaking for the ‘authorities‘. When that abject denial is then anointed by national journalists like Mr. Solomon, the result is the affirmation of a prevailing context of suffering that continues under a milieu of denial.

Women of distinction honoured at annual awards (Tonaya Marr, Leader-Post)
Thursday night, this year’s YWCA Regina Women of Distinction awards nominees were recognized for their achievements, and the winners in each of the 12 categories were announced… The award for Leadership and Management was presented to Glenna Stewart, a professional engineer and member of Saskatchewan Women in Trades and Technology. Stewart uses her leadership and management skills to implement new methods in engineering and hire visible minorities.

Foreign buyers not gobbling up Vancouver houses (Deb Abbey, Vancouver Courier)
The blogosphere is full of urban legends about mainland Chinese investors being toured through Kerrisdale while eager realtors have them sign sales agreements for 10 or 20 condos, each, over coffee at McDonalds on West 41st Avenue. I’m sure that there have been some-over-the-top purchases made by foreign investors, but those are the exception, not the rule. We live in a city where the majority of us are visible minorities, many of Chinese descent, so it shouldn’t be surprising if the family that bought the house next door is Asian. When I was born in Vancouver in 1954, everyone in my family had come from the United States and was of Danish or Irish descent. Like many in our city, our extended family now represents First Nations, several regions of China, the Caribbean and the list goes on. And that’s a result of something that’s been “trending” since Confederation-immigration. As in times past, people from crowded, intolerant or unsafe places who are looking for a safe haven are moving to Canada.


Government information on refugee healthcare changes is misleading, may be fatal (CCR)
The Canadian government’s recent announcement on changes to the Interim Federal Health Program1 is based on misleading information. This is all the more deplorable because the stakes are a matter of life and death to many refugee claimants, resettled refugees (with government assistance or privately sponsored), and other protected persons in Canada. “Thousands of people now receiving medication for everything from epilepsy and childhood respiratory illnesses to cancer and AIDS will no longer have access as of 30 June 2012,” according to CCR President Wanda Yamamoto. “Will it take some deaths for the government to change its mind?”

Nursing care for newly arriving Canadians (Grace Rosete-Lasala, The Windsor Star)
Grace Rosete-Lasala, a Nurse Practitioner for the Multicultural Council of Windsor Essex County (MCC), is originally from the Philippines; she received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, and completed her master’s degree at Barry University in Florida, USA. Her journey from halfway around the world to North America has made her more than perfect for her position as a primary health care provider for those arriving from underdeveloped countries around the world. “I mainly do post-arrival health assessments of government assisted refugees in Windsor,” explains Rosete-Lasala. “When they come they might have health problems, and our goal is to have them connected right away with a health care provider. I am their first line of defense, but if needed, they are referred to specialists or doctors, so that they remain healthy.”

3 Iraqi refugee families coming to PEI (CBC)
The Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown is currently helping three families from Iraq escape religious persecution. Co-ordinator Gerry Gabriel said the church is privately sponsoring 11 people from refugee camps in the Middle East to come to P.E.I. Gabriel said many of the previous church sponsorships have been co-ordinated with financial assistance from the federal government but these three sponsorships will be entirely privately funded.

Canada to accept more refugees (Himalayan Times)
The government of Canada has agreed to allow more Bhutanese refugees to resettle in the North American country, a year after it stopped the process. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees today informed refugees based in Jhapa and Morang about the decision. However, the number of refugees to be accepted is not clear. As per the decision, Canada is set to complete the new intake in 2012 itself, for which a Canadian mission is to arrive by October this year.

Roma speak out against refugee crackdown (Tobi Cohen,
The government’s singling out of the Hungarian Roma community as justification for tough new refugee laws proposed in Bill C-31 is overtly racist and completely unfair, according to a community leader who says she’s stepping up to give Canada’s 80,000 European Gypsies a voice. Toronto Roma Community Centre executive director Gina Csanyi-Robah was among the final witnesses to testify before a Commons committee reviewing the bill Thursday.

Roma advocate says ‘Gypsy fiction’ being fanned by Kenney’s refugee bill (Global TV Edmonton)
An advocate for Roma refugee claimants says “Gypsy fiction” is fanning the same kind of discrimination in Canada that her ancestors have faced for centuries in Europe. Gina Csany-Robah, the executive director of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto — the only one of its kind in Canada — gave an impassioned critique of proposed Conservative changes to the refugee system. “It is very important to be able to depict what is the Gypsy fiction from the Roma reality,” Csany-Robah told a parliamentary committee while denouncing Conservative efforts to address “bogus” refugee claims.

Roma people not ‘bogus’ refugees: advocate (Jessica Murphy, Toronto Sun)
Gina Csanyi-Robah, executive director of Toronto’s Roma Community Centre, said low education levels and little community support make it difficult for new arrivals to navigate the system. “They’ve been marginalized not for decades, for centuries – they don’t have the skills,” she told MPs. And the “apartheid-like” conditions they face in Europe means they’ll continue to flee to Canada and shouldn’t be considered bogus refugees, she said, noting roughly 25% of the claims actually processed are approved. Roma claimants have spiked almost a hundredfold since 2008 when Canada removed its visa requirement for Hungary, jumping from about 25 a year to around 2,300

Ottawa refugee hearings move to Montreal (CIR Report)
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.


Canada Income Gap: Richard Wilkinson, Inequality Guru, Says Canada Risks Becoming ‘Anti-Social,’ Violent (Huffington Post)
Canada risks becoming a more violent and anti-social place if it allows income inequality to worsen, one of the world’s leading experts on the subject says. Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, told The Huffington Post Canada’s editorial board Thursday that Canada is bound to become a society where “people are more out for themselves” if differences between the rich and poor continue to grow. “I expect if your income differences keep rising, as I think they have been since the early 1990s, you will become a more anti-social society, people will be more out for themselves,” Wilkinson, a retired professor of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., said in response to a reader question.

The engagement experiment: does social media help or hinder MPs’ relationship with citizens? (Fiona O’connor, Samara)
When Charlie Angus (Timmins–James Bay) quit Twitter a few weeks ago, it marked the end of a short era for him. He realized that the notion that 24/7 connectivity made for better representation was perhaps exaggerated: instead of having meaningful discussion on policy issues, the social media world often becomes a place of partisan plugs and uncouth criticism. While he had been able to raise global awareness about Attawapiskat, he thought that his ability to disseminate information to Canadians should not come at the cost of his dignity as a person and politician. That brings about important questions about the nature of political involvement on the internet as it relates to electoral success and political representation.’-relationship-with-citizens

Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women reaffirm their commitment to address priority issues for women: economic security, leadership, and ending violence (Canada Newswire)
Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women gathered in Halifax on May 2 and 3, 2012. The annual meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, and the Honourable Marilyn More, Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for Ministers to exchange insights and discuss developments in the priority areas of improving women’s economic security, promoting women’s leadership and ending violence against women, each with an ongoing focus on Aboriginal women.
Read more here:


Update on Economic Analysis (K. Bruce Newbold, Statistics Canada)
This paper examines the process by which migrants experience gains in earnings subsequent to migration and, in particular, the advantage that migrants obtain from moving to large, dynamic metropolitan labour markets, using Toronto as a benchmark. There are two potentially distinct patterns to gains in earnings associated with migration. The first is a step upwards in which workers realize immediate gains in earnings subsequent to migration. The second is accelerated gains in earnings subsequent to migration. Immediate gains are associated with obtaining a position in a more productive firm and/or a better match between worker skills and abilities and job tasks. Accelerated gains in earnings are associated processes that take time, such as learning or job switching as workers and firms seek out better matches. Evaluated here is the expectation that the economies of large metropolitan areas provide workers with an initial productive advantage stemming from a one-time improvement in worker productivity and/or a dynamic that accelerates gains in earnings over time through the potentially entwined processes of learning and matching. This paper examines migration patterns of workers aged 20 to 29 and changes in income associated with moving. More precisely, it evaluates: (i) whether the rate of migration of young adults is higher to Toronto than to other parts of the country; (ii) whether these young migrants receive higher earnings than do migrants to other destinations and those not migrating; and (iii) whether the benefits are due to a one-time step upwards in earnings upon arrival and/or more rapid accumulation of income gains after moving.

Temporary Jobs on the Rise? (Chex TV)
There is a slow hemorrhage of secure, well-paying jobs in Peterborough — and more employers are moving to part time or temporary jobs according to the Peterborough Labour council. Monday they met for the first time with community partners to set up a workers action centre in our city to protect some of those workers. Pamela Vanmeer has more.

Worker’s centre fights wage theft (Darryl Gallinger, Windsor Lance)
Hall notes that because the Ministry often settles with the employer for a portion of the wages owed to the worker and only charges small fines, there is little to discourage employers from conducting these practices. A study of over 400 working students at the University of Windsor last year showed that over 50 per cent of participants did not receive wages owed to them, 36 per cent didn’t receive overtime pay, 28 per cent did not get vacation pay, and significant proportions reported that this occurred multiple times at more than one job, according to Hall.

Social media/networks/services for newcomers – focus on employment – session summary (Marco Campana)
This afternoon, Diane Dyson and I presented at the second #CdnImm event: Knowledge-Sharing on Canadian Immigration. Our focus was on employment information/services/technology use with newcomers, etc. Here’s a brief overview: “You already know how important employment is in the settlement process for newcomers to Canada. But, just where are they getting their employment information, how good is it, and what are their outcomes related to information sources? What’s your role? What are you doing? Can you do it better? How can we learn from each other to work towards better employment outcomes? How can technology help (hint: your clients are better at using it than you are)?”

Can diversity be DRIVEN? – Doina’s Infinite Solutions (Tamar-Melissa, Doina’s Infinite Solutions)
Toronto is unlike any other city in Canada. The level of diversity existing here amongst its citizens is colossal. However, the lack of women and visible minorities existing in the start-up community is also immense. There is no need to take a deeper look; it is obvious that women and especially visible minority women are almost nonexistent in the tech start-up communities. According to the Research Council of Canada 2010 report women make up 22 percent of the engineering work force, with visible minorities at a much smaller percentage. The absence of females and visible minorities as founders in our tech community is quite evident in our diverse city. Despite the numerous incubators and accelerator programs that were created in Toronto over the last year alone, an under-representation of minority founders still exists.

If You Could Change One Thing : Developing policy for progressive change (Jim Stanford,
Each student had a culminating project to prepare and present to the class, titled “If You Could Change One Thing.” (In the interests of both academic honesty and continued marital bliss, I must acknowledge my partner Prof. Donna Baines for that title, which she originally used in an academic article she published in 2006!) Each student had to choose one policy initiative, with any broad connection to the economy, that they believe would make an incremental positive difference to the lived experience of working people. It could deal with any policy field. The students were asked to conduct some background research, summarize their arguments on a bristol-board poster, and then present their case to the class. These presentations occupied the final sessions of the course. Collectively, these 28 proposals constitute a pragmatic, compelling agenda for progressive change. Includes:
Eliminate the temporary foreign worker program; give full labour rights to migrant workers
Expand permanent immigration so newcomers to Canada have full rights as all of us, and contribute to a growing economy

Australia trolling for Canadian skills (Jameson Berkow, Financial Post)
Control over scarce resources has spawned more than a few wars throughout history and the fight for skilled labour is simply the latest. This weekend, dozens of Australian companies will be taking part in a Calgary jobs expo to woo Canadian-trained scientists and engineers to relocate Down Under. The expo, which will move on to Vancouver and Edmonton next week, comes as Canada’s resource sector is struggling to keep skilled workers. “Right now there is a global war for talent in any resource or mining industry,” Rupert Merrick of Working In Ltd., the Australian company organizing the expo, said during a Thursday news conference. “The skills that they need are not present in sufficient numbers within their own country.”

Austerity Got In The Way (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about the austerity debate with Armine Yalnizyan. She is a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays on Metro Morning.


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

Reflections on Toronto’s Fiscal Health and the Decade Ahead: A Discussion with the City Manager (IMFG)
In 2011, the City of Toronto initiated a service review and multi-year budgeting process to achieve long term fiscal sustainability. Toronto City Manager, Joe Pennachetti will discuss the various transformational changes taken over the last year to stabilize the City’s fiscal position, and future strategic directions the City can take to build an economically vibrant and inclusive Toronto.

SOUNDBITES e-Bulletin (Social Planning Toronto)
This issue:
Register to attend Social Planning Toronto’s 2012 Annual General Meeting – May 8th
Register for the SPT Member Forum “Talking Trash” – May 14
Register to attend our May Research & Policy Forum, “The End is Near – Future of Affordable Co-op and Nonprofit Homes” – May 23
Reporting back from our April 5 Research & Policy Forum: “The Precarious Journey: Housing and Employment Challenges for People with Lived Experience of Mental Health issues”
New SPT Member Benefit – Discounted GAIN membership
Worth Repeating: SPT’s Deputation to the TDSB Budget Committee


Charities face up to $20,000 in new garbage fees (Andrew Francis Wallace, Toronto Star)
An employee for an after-school children’s program, or garbage collection? More than 1,000 Toronto charities and non-profits are now scrambling to make decisions necessary to balance the books after learning of a city council decision to charge for garbage pick-up. Beginning July 1, charities and non-profit groups will pay for waste collection — a motion passed by city council late last year that many organizations say they’ve only recently been informed of. “The roll-out of this has been just awful. Organizations are now just waking up to the fact that they are facing really significant costs,” said John Campey, executive director of Social Planning Toronto.–charities-face-up-to-20-000-in-new-garbage-fees

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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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Social media/networks/services for newcomers – focus on employment

This afternoon, Diane Dyson and I presented at the second #CdnImm event: Knowledge-Sharing on Canadian Immigration. Our focus was on employment...