Immigration & Diversity news headlines – June 29, 2012


June Newsletter (Cities of Migration)
In this issue:
Ratna Omidvar: Embrace the Choices Before You
Lost in Translation: Auckland’s Primary Health Interpreting Services
Giving Equality a Sporting Chance in Greenwich
Célia Okoyino da Mbabi: A Soccer Star at School!
Fremont, California (US): Community Ambassadors for Seniors
Watch Lessons from Welcoming Cities
Bilbao (Spain): Womens Health in Womens Hands
Toronto’s Innings: CIMA Mayor’s School Cricket Tournament
Good Ideas in the News

Minister Kenney Hits the Reset Button: Sets the Foundation for New, Faster, More Flexible Immigration System (CIC)
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today announced the latest step in re-designing Canadas economic immigration system. Effective July 1st, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will place a temporary pause on new applications to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP). We have been making lots of changes to our economic immigration system, said Minister Kenney. We will take the next six months to do a lot of the heavy lifting to get us closer to a fast and flexible immigration system. The pause will allow CIC to make important changes to its economic immigration programs before accepting more applications. This is an important step in moving towards a faster, more flexible immigration system, while immigration levels are at a historic high.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney puts moratorium on skilled labour program (Bill Graveland, Winnipeg Free Press)
Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says it’s time to hit the “reset button” and temporarily put the brakes on new applications under two programs popular with skilled workers wanting to come to Canada from abroad. Kenney told a business audience Thursday that the government is placing a six-month moratorium on the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program. “Effective next week we will be issuing a temporary pause on new applications for the federal skilled worker program,” Kenney said in a speech to a C.D. Howe immigration conference

A Notice, An Explanation and An Announcement: Federal Skilled Worker Program on hold! (Ziegler blog)
Just a few lines to let you know about a notice, an explanation and an announcement.

Research from Ryerson University Finds Increased Representation of Women in Canada’s Judiciary, but Visible Minorities Left Behind – PDF (Ryerson University)
A first of its kind study by Ryerson Universitys Diversity Institute called Improving Representation in the Judiciary: A Diversity Strategy released today examines the female and visible minority representation of 753 judges in the Supreme Court, Federal Courts, and Provincial Courts in the province of Ontario. The research reveals that some progress has been made with female representation in the Canadian Judiciary but visible minorities are under-represented. One third of federally appointed judges and 32 per cent of provincially appointed judges are women compared to 51 per cent in the population and approximately 40 per cent of practicing lawyers.

Presentation slides – PDF –

Still chasing rainbows (Adam Giambrone, NOW Toronto)
In many ways Toronto is a diversity leader. We can all point to queer movers and shakers in many parts of the culture, including the media, the arts and the civic organizations that help make this a fantastic place to live. In government, were blessed with gay provincial cabinet ministers and city councillors as well as members of federal Parliament. Its estimated that between 7 and 10 per cent of the population is queer, meaning the LGBT community is larger than many of T.O.s ethno-cultural groupings. Of course, many gays also identify with particular ethnic groups; and sexual orientation is only part of a persons sense of self. Still, the high number, approximately 300,000, suggests that LGBT Toronto is a major cultural force. Diversity, though, is still a work in progress. We have a long way to go before all queer people can feel perfectly safe and at home wherever their lives take them.

Mediating new cities of diversity: the Toronto Star and Torontos reading publics (Dennis, R.; Morgan, C. and Shaw, S. (eds.) The Contemporary Canadian Metropolis)
Book synopsis: This collection of essays combines social science, architectural, and cultural studies perspectives on the analysis of contemporary change in major Canadian cities. The authors, Canadian and British researchers and scholars, explore the connections and tensions between diversity and multiculturalism as well as those among economic change, creativity, and urban regeneration.

Canada offers peace, cultural diversity to new comers (Graham Lanktree, Metro News)
More immigrants are landing on Canadian shores than ever before. In 2010, 280,636 new permanent residents, the highest increase of new Canadians in 50 years, joined the country. Since Canada Day is a time to celebrate all things Canadian, Metro invited a recent new comer to share his first impressions of the country. I think this is the most peaceful land, said Abbas Mokabbery who came to Canada from Iran with his wife and two children in 2008. Based on my knowledge, Canada was the best place to live and work. Mokabbery and his family were offered a chance to come to Canada after a delegation of Canadian businessmen saw the innovative geomatics technology he had created at his company in Tehran to analyze geographic data.

Federal plan to dump immigrant backlog on hold as lawyers prepare lawsuit (Tobi Cohen, Montreal Gazette)
A plan to return $130 million in fees and toss 280,000 applications from would-be immigrants part of the omnibus budget bill that’s poised to become law late Friday is on hold for at least three months, according to lawyers planning to challenge the move in court. For several weeks now, a legal battle has been brewing as lawyers across the country prepare what they hope will become a class-action lawsuit aimed at reversing the controversial decision to quit processing federal skilled worker applications received before February 2008. That’s when laws were changed to give Immigration Minister Jason Kenney more power to determine eligibility.


Province urges Ottawa not to cut refugee health care (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has added her support behind the national campaign against Ottawas planned cuts to health services for refugees. In a letter to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Matthews urged Ottawa to reverse its decision to significantly reduce health coverage for refugee claimants. By abdicating your responsibility toward some of the most vulnerable in our society, you have effectively downloaded federal costs onto the provincial health-care system, Matthews wrote in a letter, dated Wednesday.–province-urges-ottawa-not-to-cut-refugee-health-care#.T-z_9raybLc.twitter

Matthews slams refugee health cuts (CBC)
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has written to federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, asking the Conservatives to reverse cuts to refugee care that will go into effect on June 30. “In effect, this policy change will create a class system for health care in Canada,” Matthews wrote. The Interim Federal Health Program gives temporary health-care coverage to approximately 128,000 refugees. Some physicians say drastic cuts to the IFHP will leave some government-assisted refugees vulnerable. Kenney has responded to protesting doctors and refugee advocates by saying what’s being eliminated is not basic care but services that other modest-income Canadians also have to pay for.

Ontario health minister says changes to refugee health care creates class system (Winnipeg Free Press)
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews is urging the federal government to reverse its decision to significantly reduce health coverage for refugee claimants. Benefits under the interim federal health program, which provides extended health-care benefits to refugees, are to be cut as of June 30. After that, refugees will see their health care coverage limited to emergency services, or if their care is required to prevent or treat a disease that could endanger the public. The Conservatives have argue that extended benefits for refugees are better than those received by most Canadians.

Refugee Health Care Cuts: Dr. Megan Williams Challenges Health Minister At Press Conference (VIDEO) (Huffington Post)
A family doctor crashed a funding announcement by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq Wednesday as part of an aggressive campaign by some health care providers to protest Ottawas planned limits on health services for refugees. Dr. Megan Williams, a family physician with Ottawa’s Somerset West Community Health Centre, challenged the minister during a press conference, accusing her government of putting peoples lives at risk. I do think people will become sick and probably some people will die because of this, she told reporters.

Protesters clash with police in B.C. over cuts to the refugee health program (Andy Radia, Yahoo! News)
Healthcare professionals and refugee advocates are continuing their protests against the Harper government’s cuts to the refugee health program. According to CKNW radio in Vancouver, about two dozen protesters clashed with police Tuesday morning as immigration minister Jason Kenney prepared to address the Surrey Board of Trade. “It got testy,” reporter Marcella Bernardo said. “For several minutes RCMP were pleading with them to move off the private property.”

Three days before the shameful cuts to health care for refugees (Adrienne Silnicki, rabble)
On June 30, one day before Canada Day, cuts to health care for refugees will be made by the federal government. These cuts will include access to vision care, dental care, prescription drugs and mobility devices for all refugees. For many refugees it will also include restrictions on primary and basic health care that all Canadians receive. This includes medical assistance during emergencies like heart attacks and even during childbirth. Those children being birthed of course will be Canadian citizens, but they are still not entitled to receiving assistance during their delivery. What does this say about Canada and our values? And what is our government saying on our behalf to all newcomers?

The real costs of cutting refugee health benefits are coming (Steve Barnes, Wellesley Institute)
Canada is now just a few days away from cutting health benefits for refugees. The cuts will substantially reduce, and in some cases completely eliminate, access to health care for refugees. The opposition to these cuts amongst health providers has been comprehensive. Dozens of leading professional groups have spoken out against these cuts, including the Canadian Network of Public Health Associations, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Canadian Association of Social Workers, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Association of Community Health Centres, Canadian Association of Midwives, and Ontarios Council of Medical Officers of Health.

Health providers unveil plan to monitor consequences of cuts to refugee health services (Global TV News)
Physicians, nurses, community health workers and other medical professionals made a final plea to save health services for refugees from the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) on Wednesday. The Canadian Doctors for Refugee group will also unveil a plan to monitor the health consequences of these cuts, which are scheduled to take effect June 30. Proposed changes include no longer covering necessary medications like insulin for many refugees living in Canada, and denying some refugees access to physicians unless their condition is considered a threat to public safety, like tuberculosis. Prenatal care for pregnant women, child care and access to mental health would also be stripped for some refugees.

Doctors start study to monitor effects of cuts to refugee health benefits (680 News)
Health care providers across the country are starting a research project to monitor what they say will be the adverse effects of federal government cuts to health-care benefits for refugees. As of this weekend, the government will no longer cover the cost of extended benefits such as medication and vision care for refugee claimants. And for some claimants, the only access to health care they’ll have at all is if they pose a danger to public health.–doctors-launch-study-to-monitor-effects-of-cuts-to-refugee-health-benefits

Doctors will monitor cuts to refugee health care (Globe and Mail)
Doctors say they will keep records of refugees who suffer serious untreated ailments or die as a result of health-care cuts planned by the federal government and they will hound Conservative politicians with their findings. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, a coalition of concerned health-care providers, said on Wednesday that it has has asked physicians and coroners across Canada to report any negative outcomes arising from the changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) that have been announced by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Those stories will be relayed to the public, the media, and Conservative politicians, Philip Berger, chief of family and community medicine at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, told a news conference.

Health-care coverage for refugees is about to change in Canada (Julia Belluz, Maclean’s)
When refugees or asylum seekers arrive in Canada, they receive basic health-care coverage and access to supplemental services such as pharmaceutical, dentistry, and vision care. But beginning on June 29, under reforms to the Interim Federal Health Program, this coverage will be scaled back. Way back. The biggest change is that refugees who are brought to Canada or who arrive here from countries the government considers unsafe will lose their supplemental health care benefits, such as the drug coverage. As well, rejected refugee claimants who are waiting to go home and those who arrive from countries the government has declared safe will basically lose all access to health care, unless their condition poses a risk to public health and safety. Health professionals across the country are incensed about the changes, saying they amount to an inhumane, public-health disaster. Our Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, maintains that this is a cost-cutting measure that will lead to $100 million in savings over the next five years, not to mention that the changes will actually protect public health and safety and deter health tourists from gaming the system.

End of interim health program puts vulnerable people at risk (Lezlie Lowe, Chronicle Herald)
Refugees are not average Canadians, says the interim executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees. They are vulnerable people, Shropshire says. To put them in the same category as your average Canadian, thats been here, thats been working, thats been able to purchase private health insurance for what their provincial plans dont cover? It doesnt make sense. And vulnerable Canadians, such as those on income assistance, actually do receive supplementary coverage. The poorest dont pay out of pocket for prescriptions or eyeglasses. In 2002, Canada signed a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agreement to accept more high-need refugees. Its quite normal for us to meet refugees at the airport with a wheelchair paid for through the Interim Federal Health Program, says Gerry Mills, director of operations at the Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services in Halifax. Saturday that changes.

“Dividing The Canadian Public” (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about Canada’s health care program for refugees with Doctor Chris Keefer. He is a family medicine resident at McMaster University.


Canada Rolls Back Refugee Protection: Bill C-31 receives Royal Assent (CCR)
Yesterday, Bill C-31, the Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act, received royal assent and became law. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is concerned about the new laws grave consequences for the protection of refugee rights in Canada. Our fears that this legislation, creating a two-tier system of refugee protection in Canada, would be adopted have now been realized, said Wanda Yamamoto, CCR President. Our refugee system needs to ensure a full, fair and independent decision process to decide who is a refugee, based on the facts of their case and regardless of their countries of origin. The new system is vulnerable to political considerations, while the rhetoric about bogus refugees in public pronouncements about the bill has been shameful. Since Bill C-31 was introduced on February 16, 2012, legal experts and organizations working with refugees from across the country have expressed grave concerns about the proposed changes. These include: tight timelines without adequate time to prepare for the steps in the process; provision for Designated Countries of Origin; mandatory detention without sufficient independent review for Irregular Arrivals; and denial of an effective appeal.

Tory tough-on-refugee stance hitting nerve with Jews (Tobi Cohen,
It appears the Conservative governments tough-on-refugee stance is hitting a nerve with Canadas Jewish community. In the latest salvo, the Toronto Board of Rabbis sent a letter to Stephen Harper raising concerns about his governments decision to designate some countries as safe, democratic, non traditional producers of refugees under Bill C-31 which becomes law this week. They further slammed the government for singling out Hungarys Roma population, discriminating against refugees based on how they arrive in Canada and taking away some of their access to health care.

Top court to review extradition case of Czech refugee who alleges police torture (Natalie Stechyson, Vancouver Sun)
Bretislav Zajicek has lived in Canada for 15 years, building a life for himself as a father, husband, and manual labourer. But ghosts from his past could see him sent back to the Czech Republic to face allegations of crimes he says he was forced to confess to when he was 19 years old. The Supreme Court of Canada announced Thursday that it would review a lower court’s decision to give Zajicek a new extradition hearing. Originally, Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson opted to surrender Zajicek to the Czech Republic to stand trial on allegations of robbery and property damage. In reviewing the lower court decision, Canada’s top court dips its toe into an already complicated and lengthy case involving allegations of police torture.

Deportation to separate Ottawa-area family (CBC)
A family south of Ottawa will be deported back to their home country of Trinidad and Tobago because the federal government does not consider them refugees. The Maharaj family has received a deportation order to leave Canada by early Friday morning. That is despite concerns their safety is at risk back home.

Courts reject Kemptville familys bid to remain in Canada (Your Ottawa Region)
On the eve of Canada Day, a family who has been living in Canada for the past four years has been told by the government that they are not welcome. After several weeks of collecting names on petitions and daily calls to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Maharaj family has been told they have to leave Canada. The family is devastated, supporters are angry and friends of the family in the North Grenville community are in shock.–courts-reject-kemptville-family-s-bid-to-remain-in-canada

Webinar: Completing the Group of Five Refugee Sponsorship Forms (Settlement AtWork)
The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program invites you to a webinar: Completing the Group of Five Refugee Sponsorship Forms. Join this online-based seminar to learn more about the forms that are required.


Saving Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile (Ken Battle and Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute)
The 2012 federal Budget abolished the National Council of Welfare (an advisory body to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development). The cut places in jeopardy the future of two of the Councils most important series Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile. We cannot and will not let these essential resources come to an end. The Caledon Institute of Social Policy will take over the task of gathering and analyzing the welfare and low income data in the two series. This vital information will form the first elements of a new Caledon product, the Canada Social Report. Caledon will seek continued input and advice from the provinces and territories. Over the years, they have provided the National Council of Welfare with key data and other information welfare rates and rules on social assistance and related income programs. Their continued participation in and commitment to this vital work are imperative.
More background info:


Buddy Program Helps New Hires Integrate at Pythian (
A simple buddy program that pairs new hires with established employees has a big impact on a skilled immigrant employees ability to integrate into the workforce, says Paul Vallée, Founder and Executive Chairman of Pythian. The program, which helped the Ottawa-based company garner a 2012 Employer Excellence Award from Hire Immigrants Ottawa, matches new hires with an employee who has a similar background to help the newcomer quickly learn the companys culture and processes.

Buddy Programs Help Newcomers Integrate Faster (
Buddy programs go beyond an organizations formal orientation programs. They provide customized support to help new employees quickly integrate into the organization. At fast-growing Pythian in Ottawa, where every third employee is in their first year with the company and many are newcomers to Canada, the buddy program is essential to helping these new hires learn the companys culture and processes, says Paul Vallée, the companys Founder and Executive Chairman.

Deloitte wins social responsibility award (Jim Middlemiss, Financial Post)
By 2031, Census data show that as much as 32% of Canadas population could belong to a visible minority group and 28% will be foreign born. Diversity matters, said Ken Fredeen, general counsel and secretary to the board at Deloitte & Touche LLP. Mr. Fredeen, who chairs the firms Inclusion and Diversity Council, is responsible for the accounting giants corporate responsibility mandate. That includes building its diversity vision and strategy. He and his legal department are acknowledged this year for their work with the Canadian General Counsel Award for social responsibility.

Charles Sousa promises to help skilled immigrants find jobs (Corriere Tandem)
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announces four new training projects at UofT By Simona Giacobbi “We’ll help 11,000 new qualified immigrants find a job.” That’s the promise of Charles Sousa, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who recently announced four new bridge training projects at the University of Toronto for physiotherapists, engineers, lawyers, and business professionals.


Thursday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on OneCity Transit Plan, Pride, Brothers Ford and Other News.

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

OneCity Plan Reviewed (Steve Munro)
The OneCity plan has much to recommend it even though in the details it is far from perfect. The funding scheme requires Queens Park to modify the handling of assessment value changes, and they are already cool to this scheme. Why OneCity proponents could not simply and honestly say we need a 1.9% tax hike every year for the next four years (not unlike the ongoing 9% increases to pay for Toronto Water infrastructure upgrades) is baffling. A discussion about transit is needlessly diverted into debates about arcane ways of implementing a tax increase without quite calling it what it is.

The following two tabs change content below.


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.

Read previous post:
Daily Reads/Micro Thoughts Summary

New charity offers $250,000 to support pluralism, interfaith collaboration in Canada #inclusion #diversity RT @jenditchburn: I received a sincere,...