Immigration & Diversity news headlines – May 9, 2012

Changes to immigration policy will affect nearly all aspects of Canadian life (Ratna Omidvar, Globe and Mail)
The Canadian immigration landscape is shifting beneath our feet. When the dust settles, where will Canada be? Some of the proposed changes, such as dealing with the backlog, are long overdue. Other changes may also be necessary. They will nevertheless have a series of unintended consequences for the makeup of Canadas immigrant population and its ethnic diversity. It is these consequences that we should be concerned about. Recently, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has spoken highly of the Australian immigration model with its strict language requirements. High levels of language proficiency are a requirement in our labour market. But raising the bar on language competency may trigger an increase in immigration from English-speaking countries Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand at the cost of immigrants from emerging economic superpowers such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

What is the one thing you would do for diversity? (DiverseCity)
Have you heard? May 21 is a special day for diversity its World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Weve joined the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), its partner UNESCO and many other corporations and nonprofit organizations in a global campaign to Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion. Through this campaign we want to engage as many people as possible around the world to Do One Thing to support cultural diversity and inclusion.


Let’s extend family values to immigrants (Pat Atkinson, Star Phoenix)
Why doesn’t Norris just tell us that his federal counterpart, Jason Kenney, put the heat on Saskatchewan because he doesn’t like the family class category that Saskatchewan and other provinces include in their nominee programs. Kenney graced our province on April 11 and, along with Norris, issued a joint news release signalling that the provincial nominee program is being used as an indirect route to family reunification in some jurisdictions. This apparently is not the goal of the program, and Kenney wants it to be “solely focused on supporting economic growth rather than duplicating non-economic federal immigration streams.” Kenney and Norris just don’t get it. When the former NDP government announced the family member category under the SINP on Dec. 5, 2005, it was about ensuring that newcomers not only would contribute to our economy but also build deep roots in Saskatchewan. It was not only about recruiting immigrants, but also retaining them.

Video: How integration helped immigrants settle in this Ontario town (Globe and Mail)
Don Curry’s North Bay Newcomer Network pairs new immigrants with a supportive network of Ontarians to help them settle into the community. The group offered activities and English conversation events to help immigrants build a network and circle of friends.

Shuttering Iranian visa office a ‘body blow’ to diaspora in Canada, says community leader (Ally Foster, Embassy)
Iranian community members and government officials are upset about the Canadian decision to close its visa office at its embassy in Tehran. One community member called the decision a “body blow to the Iranian diaspora” in Canada, while an Iranian Embassy official said it has received community feedback from those who “rightly see this as an unfriendly and unfair action.”

Minority lawyers demand diversity among appointed judges (Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail)
A groundswell of visible minority groups is challenging a judicial appointment process they perceive as biased against non-white candidates. Aboriginal and black leaders added their voices on Monday to earlier protests from an Asian lawyers association, all of them expressing frustration that judicial candidates in their communities are repeatedly passed over. A recent Globe and Mail survey found 98 of the past 100 judges appointed by the Harper government to serve in provinces across the country were white.

A Call to Action Canada loses Deloitte (Jennifer Brown, Canadian Lawyer Magazine)
Deloitte has withdrawn as a signatory to A Call to Action Canada, the organization working to promote diversity in the legal profession. At its fourth annual conference in Toronto today, co-founder Joy Casey announced that Deloitte and its general counsel in Canada, Ken Fredeen had withdrawn their support from ACTAC, but would remain as members of Legal Leaders for Diversity an organization of in-house counsel also promoting diversity in the legal departments of some of the largest corporations in the country. Fredeen is a co-founder of Legal Leaders for Diversity Canada. Deloitte signed on with ACTAC in February 2010. To date there are 11 signatories to its mission statement. Meanwhile, Legal Leaders for Diversity now has 60 general counsel as members after one year. Ken has indicated he is very committed to Legal Leaders for Diversity and it is a question of priorities, says Casey. The decision of Deloitte to withdraw is unfortunate, and a little hard to understand.

Lacking diversity on council (Guelph Mercury)
The City of Guelph is to stage a flag-raising ceremony Monday to celebrate a milestone achieved in its pursuit to be a top employer by showing its commitment to diversity. The flag-raising is in connection with the municipalitys development of a new corporate strategy that aims to maintain and recruit a diverse workforce that better reflects the diversity of the Guelph community. The municipality should celebrate if it has built a policy framework that better achieves this while maintaining a service level demanded by taxpayers. But the event should invite dialogue about whether enough is being done to address a lack of diversity on city council.–lacking-diversity-on-council

Video: The Diversity Diary: 1.02 – Who’s Assimilating Who (Michael Bach)
Did you read the recent article in Canadian Immigrant Magazine (@cdnimmigrant) titled “Canadian Experience Required”? Here’s my response…

Ottawa had to force shutdown of P.E.I. immigration scheme (Chronicle Herald)
By the time Ottawa forced the shutdown, P.E.I. was nominating so many immigrants from China that Island nominees accounted for 88 per cent of all provincial nominees applying though Canadas mission in Hong Kong. Much of what went on between the two levels of government was largely kept confidential, but journalism students at the University of Kings College in Halifax pieced together a picture by reviewing public records, reading legislative transcripts and speaking to officials who were involved.

Silent partners: Inside P.E.I.’s immigrant investor program (Chronicle Herald)
Their story stands as a perfect example of the kind of immigration envisaged by the program: immigrants settled successfully into the community, involved in a business, contributing to the Islands future. But theres a problem with this picture. The Beijing Restaurant isnt the business her family invested in as part of the immigrant partner program. In fact, she has had no contact with that business at all. Her family was left to fend for itself in a small, unfamiliar place, far from home. Starting the Beijing was a way of making some money, and staving off the purposelessness that so many immigrants here feel. The P.E.I. government has always maintained that despite charges of conflict of interest and political favouritism toward those who received money, and the threat of a renewed RCMP investigation into the program, its provincial nominee program was fundamentally sound, brought much-needed capital to the Island and helped increase P.E.I.s population by establishing new immigrant communities.

Showdown: Ottawa, P.E.I. face off over immigration scheme (Chronicle Herald)
The Prince Edward Island government resisted years of efforts by Ottawa to have it change an immigration program that federal officials increasingly saw as a threat to the integrity of the country’s immigration program. The plan allowed foreign nationals to obtain expedited entry to Canada by making a payment, some of which went to a business in Prince Edward Island. Federal officials eventually took the unprecedented step of using its regulatory power to force a shutdown. This led to a showdown in the spring of 2008 as P.E.I. raced to nominate as many immigrants as it could before the new regulations took effect, while federal officials became increasingly alarmed at what the sudden surge would mean for processing times and due diligence in selecting applicants.

Why Blackface? (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with our pop culture columnist Jesse Wente about a re-emergence of blackface in pop culture.

What to do about ethnic enclaves in Canada? (Alex Sangha, Straight)
Are ethnic enclaves a good or bad thing for Canadian cities? Should immigrants assimilate and disperse into mainstream English- and French-speaking communities or cluster together in their own ethnic enclaves? I am most familiar with South Asian settlement in British Columbia, especially the emergence of vibrant Punjabi Market districts in Vancouver and Surrey. Vancouver has a population of approximately 600,000, of which 49 percent have a mother tongue of English and about three percent have a mother tongue of Punjabi. Mother tongue is simply defined as your first language learned and still understood. Surrey has a population approaching 500,000, of which 56 percent have a mother tongue of English and a significant 19 percent have a mother tongue of Punjabi.

Kraft Canada launches online Chinese recipe contest (Marketing Mag)
In its latest efforts to increase penetration among multicultural consumers, Kraft Canada has launched an online create-and-win recipe contest aimed at the Chinese community. The contest, developed by , invites consumers to submit a recipe in either English or Chinese that incorporates at least one Kraft product at Kraft Kitchen experts will narrow the submissions down to five before a public vote determines the winner. The Kraft Create-and-Win Chinese Recipe Contest officially went live May 1 and mirrors what Kraft launched for the South Asian community last year.

Den Tandt: The omnibus bill is good policy, bad politics and lousy marketing (Michael Den Tandt, Montreal Gazette)
There are, believe it or not, arguments in favour of omnibus bills call them kitchen-sink bills, if you wish. There are even arguments that might, somewhat plausibly, be used to defend the Harper government’s current omnibus extravaganza, Bill C-38, which has been roundly and universally panned. The best arguments are those of necessity, of historical injustice, and of quality. The argument for necessity goes as follows: In introducing this omnibus bill, all 400-plus pages of it, the government is merely doing what is necessary, by its lights, to keep the Canadian economy solvent and strong. Just as its March 29 budget was grimly focused on the economy, so is this bill, by and large. That it contains diverse measures, some of which weren’t included in the budget, is simply testament to the breadth and depth of the government’s determination to get Canada working better.

Islamic school apologizes for anti-Jewish teachings on website (Louise Brown, Toronto Star)
A Muslim Sunday school has apologized for anti-Jewish teachings that appeared in its website, under investigation as a possible hate crime by York Region police. The East End Madrassah, a weekend religious program run by a Thornhill mosque using space rented in a Scarborough high school, issued a press release Tuesday to unreservedly apologize to the Jewish community for the unintentional offence that the item has caused. Our curriculum is not intended to promote hatred towards any individual or group of people, the statement said; rather the children are taught to respect and value other faiths, beliefs and to uphold Canadas basic values of decency and tolerance.–islamic-school-apologizes-for-anti-jewish-teachings

Demographics make big city condos hot (Jason Heath, Financial Post)
What are many new immigrants going to do in coming years? In recent years, about 70% of Canadian immigrants end up in the big three Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. And they dont buy houses in the suburbs. They rent condos in the city, so they can be close to jobs, resources and cultural centres until they are established. Demographics (Baby Boomers), family finance (big city housing affordability) and global mobility (immigration to the worlds new America) make condos the location of choice for tomorrows Canadian home buyers. I live in a big house in the country, northeast of Toronto, so condos arent for me. Am I selling my rural house to buy a condo in the city? No. But prices of goods and services, homes included, are all about supply and demand. Therefore, my feeling is that big city condo values will continue to rise in general and that house prices in some urban areas will fall as a broad trend, with average home prices across the country potentially flat in the years to come.


An attack on vulnerable refugees (Mark Tyndall, Ottawa Citizen)
Since the federal budget was announced in March, Canadians have been inundated with funding cut announcements. On cue, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released a sweeping restructuring of the health benefits provided to refugees under the Interim Federal Health Program. Beginning July 1, health coverage will only be provided for urgent health services (i.e. heart attacks), or for conditions deemed to pose a risk to public safety (i.e. tuberculosis). Thats it. No primary care, no treatment of chronic illnesses and, essentially, no medications. We are being told that these changes are needed to save taxpayers money and to discourage bogus refugee claimants from coming to Canada, neither of which is true. As an added bonus, the ministers press release said that these changes would ensure fairness and protect public health and safety.

Cuts to refugee health care are a disgrace to Canada: watchdog (Andy Radia, Yahoo! News)
Looming cuts to refugee health benefits are inhumane, unethical and a disgrace to Canada, according to a Medicare watchdog. Last month, citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney explained that Ottawa would no longer foot the bill for prescription drugs, dental care and eye care for citizens of other countries who are in Canada awaiting a refugee hearing. That was a no-brainer. After all, why should refugee claimants get free benefits that Canadians have to pay for?

Roma advocate says ‘Gypsy fiction’ being fanned by Kenney’s refugee bill (Global News)
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.

UN official says refugee bill inconsistent with international law (Kristen Shane, Embassy)
The UN refugee agency’s representative in Canada is urging the Harper government to make changes to its refugee bill, C-31, saying parts of it are inconsistent with international law. In testimony May 7 to the House immigration committee, on the last day of a marathon hearing schedule, Furio De Angelis outlined several concerns about parts of the bill he said provide for “differential categorization” of asylum seekers, and have the effect of restricting some claimants’ access to the asylum process. They include clauses dealing with mandatory detention for up to a year without review for some claimants, and a five-year ban on family sponsorship for some refugees.

Hill Dispatches: EU Ambassador displays his ignorance at House Immigration Committee (Karl Nerenberg, rabble)
It may be going far to say that the European Unions Ambassador made a fool of himself in his testimony on Monday before the Commons Immigration Committee studying proposed refugee system reforms, Bill C-31. But His Excellency Bernhard Matthias Brinkmann certainly did not do service to the cause of truth and candor, let alone compassion. The subject was the “safe country of origin” provision of C-31, which would allow the Minister of Immigration to designate some countries, especially those in the European Union (EU), as safe and thereby deny asylum seekers from those countries full access to the Canadian refugee determination system. The Government has been using the Hungarian Roma refugees as the poster children for this new restrictive measure. Government MPs and witnesses favourable to C-31 keep saying that the Roma may indeed be victims of discrimination, but that does not make them refugees. Former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett told the Committee: “If you start considering everybody who is discriminated against in their own country as refugees you’re in very serious trouble. There are 20 million untouchables in India.” The former Ambassador has obviously not read the recent report by Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europes Human Rights Commissioner. That report deals in a comprehensive way with the human rights situation of the Roma in all 47 Council member states.

Trabelsi loses bid to stay in Canada (Montreal Gazette)
Belhassen Trabelsi, the so-called Godfather of Tunisia, has lost his appeal to stay in Canada in a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board that rejected his claims that he would face persecution in his homeland where he faces corruption charges. The IRB stated that Trabelsi and his family failed to discharge their burden of establishing that sufficient humanitarian and compassionate considerations warrant special relief.

West Kootenay Friends of Refugees raise funds for Burmese families (Ross Land Telegraph)
The West Kootenay Friends of Refuges (WKFoR) recently hosted an intimate evening fundraising event at Kathy Moore’s home in Rossland. The Valhalla ArtsTrio with cellist, Johanne Perron, clarinetist Nicola Everton, pianist Suzanne Ruberg-Gordon and twelve year old Isabella DÉloize Perron, delighted audiences with their mix of classical and contemporary chamber music. The event was a success raising over $1,900 for the WKFoR. The WKFoR are currently raising $20,000 to sponsor two refugee families from Burma to resettle in Canada. Refugees are those people who have fled their home country due to a well founded fear of persecution.

Arab Spring Intel docs show Canada’s concern over refugees (Tim Groves, Toronto Media Co-op)
In the early days of the Arab Spring the Canada Border Service Agency(CBSA) created a series of Intelligence Bulletins on popular unrest in the Middle East and the Maghreb focused on the potential for refugee claims that might ensue. The reports came after uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 and assessed “the short term potential for unrest in selected countries, and provides a threat rating in relation to potential impact on CBSA activities should situations become critical.” They were based on information from a variety of sources including public documents and information provided by both the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre(ITAC) and foreign agencies. A report dated February 14th 2011 explains that “the implementation of Canadian and international controls is such that turmoil in the region is unlikely to produce a significant amount of irregular migration to Canada, with Lebanon and Pakistan being the only exceptions. “These documents show CBSA’s fear of the Barbarians at the Gate” said Mostafah Henaway, a Montreal based activist who does middle east solidarity work and campaigns for immigrant rights in Canada.


Mental Health Strategy (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about a proposed national mental health strategy with Dr. Paul Garfinkel, former President & CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Michael Wilson, a former federal cabinet minister and mental health advocate following the suicide of his son.

National mental health strategy provides vision for change (Johanna Weidner, Record)
Canadas new national mental health strategy is long overdue and essential to help the millions of Canadians struggling with mental illness, say advocates, although it remains to be seen how it will be implemented and if the federal and provincial governments will contribute the billions of dollars recommended in the report. It certainly has been a long time coming, but I just hope we act, said Tana Nash, co-ordinator of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council. The Mental Health Commission of Canada released, on Tuesday, its plan to overhaul Canadas underfunded and fragmented mental health system, billing it as a comprehensive blueprint for change to bring mental health out of the shadows. However, the report also noted its up to people in each region and at every level of government to create their own plans for acting on the strategys recommendations.–national-mental-health-strategy-provides-vision-for-change

Improving mental health services benefits everyone (Vancouver Sun)
In recent years, few areas of health care have received as much attention as mental health. Yet despite the attention, Canada’s mental health care system remains deeply fragmented, with little coordination across sectors, little emphasis on exactly who is responsible for what and, hence, inadequate prevention and treatment programs. One of the primary reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs is that Canada, alone among G8 nations, has not had a national strategy on mental health. But that all changed Tuesday, as the Mental Health Commission of Canada released its national strategy, Changing Directions, Changing Lives. And as is evident from a brief review of the strategy, everyone, including all levels of government, private industry and individuals, have a role to play in implementing this strategy.

First Nations’ suicide prevention guide celebrates diversity (CBC)
Aboriginals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered face homophobia and rejection that may increase their risk of suicide, a national health group says. The National Aboriginal Health Organization released its report on suicide prevention and “two-spirited” people on Tuesday. First Nations who identify as two-spirit people are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered and prefer the term because they say it reflects the fluid nature of sexual and gender identity and its connection with spiritual and traditional world views. “Two-spirited people were accepted in First Nations communities prior to European contact,” NAHO acting CEO Simon Brascoupé said in a release. “Since then there has been a sense that being two-spirited is wrong, resulting in them feeling marginalized and increasingly alienated, sometimes resulting in suicide. This guide is a reminder of the values that First Nations culture is based upon, such as inclusiveness and diversity.” Suicide rates among First Nations are not known, the group said.


Work Placements Help AltaGas Find Skilled Talent (
When AltaGas began facing staffing challenges a few years ago, it partnered with immigrant-serving agencies in Alberta to tap into the skilled immigrant talent pool. In the video below, Michelle Dulmadge, Manager of Operational Human Resources at AltaGas, talks about how this 2012 Best Employer for New Canadians uses work placements to find the talent it needs to fill skills shortages. You can also watch a video about one of AltaGas community partners Bow Valley College to learn more about the work placements the college offers as part of its Corporate Readiness Training Program.

Temporary Foreign Workers and the Labour Market (Jim Stanford, Progressive Economics)
Further to recent commentary regarding the Harper governments dramatic expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TWF) program, consider this shocking factoid: Even before the expansion of the program envisioned in the current omnibus budget bill, temporary foreign workers (who do not have the same rights as other Canadian workers, and whose presence here depends entirely on keeping their employers happy) already accounted for almost 30% of all net new paid jobs created in Canada between 2007 and 2011.

Canadas building boom leaves labour pool dry (Julia Johnson, Financial Post)
The traditional Canadian labour pool has dried up and construction firms will have to tap into non-traditional labour sources such as youth, women, Aboriginal people, workers with similar skill sets in other industries and new immigrants, said Construction Sector Council economist Bob Collins. Projects initiated and slated across the country driving demand include resource-based projects in British Columbia, shipyard construction in Nova Scotia, mining and offshore developments in Newfoundland, potash production in Saskatchewan and utilities infrastructure investments in Ontario.

Faster access to foreign workers (Dawson Creek Daily News)
Soon it will be faster for employers to have access to the foreign workers they need to meet their labour market demands. The federal government recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to speed up the process. I have heard from many local employers about labour shortages in our region and the difficulties they have faced in hiring temporary foreign workers to meet these employment demands. The changes introduced today will ensure that these employers will have the opportunity to hire the skilled labour they need more quickly, said Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince-George Peace River. Specifically, employers with a positive track record in accessing the program will be eligible to receive an accelerated Labour Market Opinion (LMO) within 10 business days, with a focus on employers seeking foreign workers for highly skilled occupations. The LMO assesses how the offer of the employment would affect the labour market, and whether hiring a foreign worker is necessary to ensure that the position is able to be filled.

You are invited! Wage theft campaign : victory party! (Workers’ Action Centre)
When we learned that the provincial government was planning to cut $6 million from Employment Standards enforcement in 2012, we started mobilizing. Our pressure worked! Three months of intense pressure from WAC members and our allies have resulted in a huge win for Ontario workers! The Dalton McGuinty government has pledged to restore $5.5 million in planned cuts to employment standards enforcementand to bring us to the table to figure out the most effective way to use these funds to better enforce employment standards and prevent wage theft. Please join us as we celebrate, build the next steps of the Stop Wage Theft campaign and strengthen solidarity across our struggles!

Website dedicated to helping Torontonians build skills gets itself a new look (Yonge Street)
Trying to change your life can be disorienting enough, so the website you turn to for help should be simple and straightforward. That’s the impetus behind a Toronto nonprofit’s recent website overhaul. MicroSkills, an organization that provides resources and skill-building programs to GTA youth, women and newcomers, recently teamed up with Toronto ad firm Eden Advertising & Interactive, to make accessing those resources even easier. The website’s only been live for a few weeks, but the initial buzz is promising.


Wednesday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Ford, City Hall, Transit, Transportation, TCHC and Other News.

CivicAction launches regional transit initiative (CivicAction)
When John Tory ran for mayor in 2003, he made it his business to try and connect his chief opponent, David Miller, with the unpopular ideas of imposing road tolls to pay for transit infrastructure. Now, as Chair of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, Tory is getting ready to go out and sell the idea of new taxes and fees – including, possibly, road tolls – that may be uncomfortable for sitting politicians, but are nonetheless needed to pay for the $50 billion regional transit expansion plan that is so far unfinanced. Tory is aware of the political irony of it all. Indeed, in an interview with Toronto Community News, he brought it up unbidden.


CRA audits charitable status of Tides Canada amid Tory attack (Globe and Mail)
Tides Canada is having its charitable status audited by the Canada Revenue Agency in the midst of an attack by Conservative politicians who have branded it a foreign-funded radical group. The Vancouver-based group finances a broad range of social, educational and environmental work, but also serves as a clearinghouse for foreign donors that want to donate here but do not have Canadian charitable status. Conservative critics contend that Tides Canada has been funnelling money from politically motivated foreign charities to advocacy groups here that oppose Canadian oil-sands development, and in particular the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Media Release: New Standards Program for Canadas Charitable and Nonprofit Sector (Imagine Canada)
Imagine Canada launches its new Standards Program today. Designed to strengthen public confidence in the charitable and nonprofit sector, the program is one of the first-of-its-kind globally at a national level. It offers accreditation to charities and nonprofits that can demonstrate excellence in five key areas:
board governance;
financial accountability and transparency;
ethical fundraising;
staff management; and,
volunteer involvement.

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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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