Immigration & Diversity news headlines – July 3, 2012


Majority (72%) of Canadians Disagree That Canada Should Admit More Immigrants than Current Levels, Split on Whether Immigration has Been Positive (40%) or Negative (34%) (Northumberland View)
Three-quarters (72%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (34% strongly/38% somewhat) that ‘Canada should let in more immigrants than it currently does’, according to the fourth instalment in a special series on Canada conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television. Believing that Canada should open its doors wider, three in ten (28%) ‘agree’ (5% strongly/23% somewhat) that Canada should take in more immigrants than its current amount.

Don’t boost immigration, Canadians tell pollster (Teresa Smith, Calgary Herald)
Almost three-quarters of Canadians don’t want the federal government to increase the number of immigrants it allows into the country every year, a new survey has found. The Ipsos Reid poll on Canadian values, commissioned for Postmedia News and Global TV for Canada Day, also shows, however, that four in 10 people feel those immigrants are having a positive effect on the country. “With immigration comes change, and people want to control the pace of change,” said Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker. “There’s a tolerance for immigrants once they get here, but Canadians do feel that there are an awful lot of immigrants coming in right now.” Bricker said the numbers also show Canadians continue to support multiculturalism, and have a strong tendency to just “live and let live.”

Federal court asked to enforce ruling on immigration delays (Toronto Star)
The Federal Court of Canada has been asked to compel Ottawa to honour a court-sanctioned agreement with litigants who recently claimed a legal victory over immigration processing delays. In a legal motion filed Friday, lawyer for the 900 litigants complained that the government has refused to act on the June 14 court judgment, which ruled Citizenship and Immigration Canada must process in a timely fashion their backlogged applications in the federal skilled worker program. The motion followed an extraordinary move by the presiding judge, Justice Donald Rennie, to reverse his own initial decision to deny the government’s rights to appeal, opening the door for Ottawa to take the case to the Federal Court of Appeal.–federal-court-asked-to-enforce-ruling-on-immigration-delays

IRPP releases roundtable report on temporary migration (IRPP)
On April 30, 2012, the IRPP, with support from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, held a one-day roundtable on Temporary Migration and the Canadian Labour Market. Participants included academic and other experts on immigration policy and labour market economics, federal, provincial and territorial government officials and graduate students.

Ottawa’s temporary halt on skilled worker applicants is needed (Globa and Mail editorial)
No government in recent memory has so swiftly and deliberately re-made Canada’s immigration program. For the most part, the reforms are overdue and welcome. The latest change, announced June 28 by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, is a temporary halt on applications for skilled workers without arranged employment. While this six-month moratorium will understandably frustrate prospective newcomers who were about to complete their paperwork, it is a good measure overall, and will help ensure talented, educated newcomers get the jobs they need to succeed in their adopted homeland.

Immigration Minister puts brakes on popular skilled labour programs until 2013 (Globe and Mail)
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.

Kenney halts popular Skilled Worker Program (Chronicle Herald)
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.

Application freeze placed on 2 immigration programs (CBC)
The federal government has placed a temporary freeze on applications to two immigration programs. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says changes to the Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program will reduce backlog. “We’re not reducing the number of immigrants,” he said. “We’re just reducing the number of applications going into a queue.” But some question the timing of the announcement, which Kenney made in Calgary Thursday

Ottawa to halt new immigration applications (Toronto Star)
Ottawa will stop accepting new immigration applications to the federal skilled worker and investor programs starting Monday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says. Kenney said the skilled worker program will be reopened in January, when “important changes” will be made. However, the investor program will be halted indefinitely so the government can “make progress on processing its existing inventory.” The news has caught prospective applicants and their lawyers off guard as they were not given advance notice to submit applications that are almost ready.–ottawa-to-halt-new-immigration-applications

More immigrants failing the citizenship test; how would you do? (Andy Radia, Yahoo News)
An immigrant can apply to become a citizen three years after moving to Canada. It’s the final step in immigrating and, as opposed to permanent residency, allows people to vote and carry a Canadian passport. But, according to an article in the Globe and Mail, more and more newcomers are failing the citizenship test since the Harper government made the exam a lot tougher. In 2010, the Conservatives overhauled the test, requiring a higher score to pass — 15/20 instead of 12/20 — emphasizing a need to speak English or French and making questions about Canadian history, identity and values more challenging.

Canada Day extra special for new Canucks who gain their citizenship (Melinda Maldonado,
For some, it marked a welcome end to long years of waiting. For others, it engendered a tremendous sense of achievement, and for many more, it brought simple relief. But amid the wide array of emotions on display at a special citizenship ceremony in Toronto, one reigned supreme — pure, infectious, joy. As the country marked its 145th birthday, the Canada Day weekend was made all the more special for a group of immigrants from 38 different countries who gained their citizenship ahead of the national holiday. To Shahied Gairy Friday’s oath-taking ceremony at Pearson International Airport was like a burden being lifted from his shoulders.

Map: How immigrants scored on Canada’s citizenship test (Globe and Mail)
This map shows the success rate for applicants who took the Canadian citizenship test in 2011, according to data kept by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and obtained by The Globe and Mail. Individuals are mapped according to their country of origin. Green indicates a high success rate – meaning more people passed than failed test – while red indicates a low success rate.

Do people want equal rights for immigrants? MIPEX vs. public opinion (Thomas Huddleston, MIPEX)
Would the public generally support their country’s policies on equal rights for immigrants? According to my new analysis, there is no contradiction in the EU between governments granting equal rights and opportunities for immigrants and public support for equal rights. Countries that grant more equal rights to immigrants tend to have more people who support equal rights, see the benefits of immigration to society, and see the need for non-EU labour migration. In these countries, including Denmark, Finland, Italy, and The Netherlands, politicians may discuss restrictions to immigrants’ rights as a reaction to the far-right—but these restrictions do not necessary respond to the opinion of the general public.

Visible minorities absent from judicial selection process : report (Kendyl Sebesta, Law Times News)
Visible minorities are significantly less likely to become federal judges compared to straight, white men and are noticeably absent from the judicial selection process, a new report by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute shows.

Few visible minorities among Canadian judges, study finds (The Link)
Visible minorities are grossly underrepresented in Canada’s judiciary, especially among federal court judges, apparently a result of a “less transparent” appointment process, says a new study. People of colour made up only 2.3 per cent of the 221 federal judges sampled in the study by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, which focuses on research and strategies on diversity in the workplace.

The future of law (Gail J. Cohen, Canadian Lawyer)
In 2009, I embarked on a major project to look at the state of diversity in the law in Canada. At the time, there were perhaps one or two women managing partners of law firms of any size across the whole country; the number of black lawyers who were partners in Bay Street firms could be counted on one hand; and while many law firms had diversity initiatives, they often consisted of nothing more than a “muliticultural calendar.” In another issue, we wanted to write a story about being gay or lesbian in Big Law. Not one Bay Street lawyer would put their name to the story and talk about the issue. We had an associate from a national firm’s Calgary office on the record, but that’s as close as we could get even though law firms insisted that they were welcoming to all diverse groups.

Judges should reflect entire community, including minorities (Toronto Star)
It’s hardly news that Canada’s visible minorities lag in just about all areas of power and influence. Now there’s more evidence that they are particularly under-represented in one of the most important — the federal judiciary. The good news is that Ottawa has a clear opportunity to start addressing this glaring gap. The fresh evidence comes in a study by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute looking at representation of women and visible minorities among judges in Ontario. Women, it turns out, are making considerable strides. A third of federally appointed judges in Ontario, and 32 per cent of judges appointed by the province, are women. That does not fall far short of the approximately 40 per cent of practicing lawyers in Ontario who are female.–judges-should-reflect-entire-community-including-minorities

Who benefits when new immigrants are held to high language standards? (Globe and Mail)
Holding settled immigrants – already employed or otherwise functioning as part of Canadian society – to high language standards isn’t logical, say two Canadian academics who study immigration policy. While skilled workers obviously need a solid grasp of an official language to work here, that’s not everyone’s role, said Sharry Aiken, associate dean and professor at Queen’s University’s law faculty, who teaches immigration and refugee law. “They’re already living within our society, they’re already participating in Canada in whatever way they are, whether it’s working [or] managing a household and raising children,” she said.

Thousands attend Canada Day fest in Montreal but it’s not a sign of stronger ties to country (Steve Mertl, Yahoo News)
Commentators have long observed Quebec’s separation from the rest of Canada seems to have become de facto reality since the 1995 referendum. Political realignment, a westward shift in the economic centre of gravity and the steady withdrawal of Quebecers from active participation in federal decision-making have played a role. But also seems to be a matter of benign neglect, mutual disinterest, like a married couple sharing the house but with separate bedrooms. So the Globe and Mail story Monday reporting a big turnout for Canada Day celebrations on Montreal’s Ste. Catherine Street might come as a surprise.

Parade celebrates diversity (Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette)
A band on a flatbed truck passing by blasted the Canadian rock classics Summer of ’69 and Born to be Wild, but the unique thing about the Canada Day parade is that it’s not just a celebration of Canada. Sure there are lots of Canadian flags and red maple leafs to be seen, but as much as anything this is about underlining the eclectic ethnic roots of folks in this country. So the parade included everything from the Bavarian dance group Alpenland Montreal to the local chapter of the Girl Guides of the Philippines. Mahdi Altalibi was at his first-ever Canada Day parade helping carry a big banner for Iraqi Canadians, and he said he was there to underline the origins of his family. He was born in London, England to parents from Iraq.

In Montreal, a new-look patriotism peeks out on Canada Day (Globe and Mail)
A Maple Leaf worn with pride is a rare sight along Ste. Catherine Street, where gratuitous nudity promoting a strip bar is far more common than ostentatious displays of Canadian patriotism. But the flags were out by the thousands on Canada Day, hanging from pockets, used as hair pins, with none of the furtiveness or defiance that usually accompanies the red and white in Quebec. Forget the sad, sparse gatherings of cranky anglos of years past: Visible minorities formed the vast majority in this downtown crowd. They also fuelled the procession, with marching bands (Jamaican), dance troupes (Indian, Iraqi, among many others) and a Chinese dragon.

Canadian Forces warned of white supremacists reaching out to rank-and-file (David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen)
Canadian Forces intelligence officers have been warned that a U.S. white supremacist group is expanding into this country and that military members could be attracted to the organization. Officers with the National Counter-Intelligence Unit were told about the expansion of such groups into the Canadian Forces, as well as the attraction these groups have for members of the Forces, during a meeting of specialists looking into hate crimes and extremist movements. “Many of the conference speakers and attendees were aware of serving or retired DND/CF members that are part of these groups,” the counter-intelligence summary report from January 2011 pointed out.

Vancity Puts Diversity Into Action on Canadian Multiculturalism Day (VanCity)
As we celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27th, AMSSA is pleased to acknowledge the 1,000 Safe Harbour-certified locations across British Columbia that are taking a stand for diversity in their community. “The Safe Harbour: Respect for All program creates opportunities for businesses, institutions, agencies, and municipalities to join together to promote their leadership in diversity, inclusion, and corporate social responsibility” says AMSSA’s provincial program coordinator, Lindsay Marsh.

Dying Toronto lawyer has one last chance in battle against citizenship oath (Toronto Star)
Charles Roach estimates he has at least a year and a half left to live before brain cancer kills him. The Toronto lawyer and activist has spent nearly 50 years in courtrooms, trying to win mostly human rights cases. He wants one more victory before he takes his last breath. Roach, who moved to Canada in 1955 from Trinidad and Tobago, wants to become a Canadian citizen. In the 1970s, he fulfilled the requirements to do just that. But one thing got in the way of receiving his citizenship certificate.–dying-toronto-lawyer-has-one-last-chance-in-battle-against-citizenship-oath

‘Every beginning is difficult’: My Jamaican grandma’s Canadian journey (Janet Thorning, Globe and Mail)
When she arrived in Toronto she felt elated: It was the beginning of her better life. In the early years, racism made things really hard for her. Canada was still in a dark womb in terms of racial equality, and my grandmother was told to sit at the back of the bus. There were times when shopkeepers wouldn’t let her into their stores, saying they didn’t want “her kind of business.” One incident in particular she never forgot. She was walking downtown when a little boy holding his mother’s hand pointed at her and screamed, “Mommy, look at the monkey!” My grandmother was beyond devastated. The little girl with the bird in her hand felt utterly broken. Later that day, when her employer (a wealthy Jewish woman) saw her sitting on her bed crying, she offered some wise words: “Every beginning is difficult.” Despite these experiences, my grandmother was still proud to be a Canadian citizen. It was her new Canadian identity that opened her eyes to the fact that under the layers of pain she was a strong woman.

July 2012 e-bulletin (CCLA)
In this issue:
Repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act an Important Gain for Expressive Freedom
CCLA Calls on Government to Rescind Refugee Healthcare Cuts
New Privacy Principles Released between Canada-U.S. for Security Perimeter
In brief

Canada Day in the capital (Karen Chen, Ottawa Citizen)
Under a blazing sun, people are celebrating Canada Day across the capital today. Citizen reporter Karen Chen is bringing some of their stories to our Canada Day vignettes page. What are you up to today? Let us know in the comments area or send Karen your tweets: @ckaren15. Family celebrates 17 years of citizenship Silvie Cheng, 21, and her parents had two reasons to wear red and white on Canada Day. Not only were they celebrating the national holiday, but they were also celebrating 17 years as Canadian citizens.

Cross-country journeys reveal diversity of citizenry, geography (Michael Lightstone, Chronicle Herald)
I was the sole Canadian-born person in the classroom. My three fellow volunteers were affable high school students from foreign lands, and the teacher was a Canadian citizen from the United Kingdom. Some of the newcomers may have been economic refugees hoping to make a new life for themselves in Canada. Others came here for a chance at something new to them but old hat to most of us — freedom. Among other things, they learned about Canadian history and culture, the sacrifices made during the First and Second World War, our political system and the importance of voting, our justice system and the different regions of Canada. They also learned the words to O Canada, something we sang at the end of every class. I learned — again — how fortunate I am to have been born and raised in this diverse country. That fact was plainly obvious months ago as Karen and I rolled through northern New Brunswick, the Quebec City region, Ottawa, Lake Superior Provincial Park, the Prairies, Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park and on to the Vancouver area.

The Tide of Canadian Immigration Captured in Silent Movies (Dick Eastman, EOGN)
Library and Archives Canada has released digitized silent movies of immigrants and the immigration facilities, filmed from 1919 to 1921. If your ancestors arrived in St. John, New Brunswick, you can see what they saw upon arrival at the Department of Colonization. Another film shows the Barnardo Orphanage in Peterborough, Ontario.

$750K in grants available to support B.C. diversity (BC Gov News)
To honour, promote and celebrate the diverse cultures that shape British Columbia, our government is launching a $750,000-Multiculturalism Grant program to support and help 150 or more communities and organizations raise awareness of multiculturalism. Projects that raise awareness about British Columbia’s rich multicultural identity, or strengthen the ability of cultural organizations to become more involved, could be awarded a maximum of $5,000. Non-profit societies and community-based organizations that reflect Aboriginal or ethno-cultural communities are all eligible to apply. Through two intake periods, applications will be accepted until Aug. 31, 2012 and Feb. 15, 2013.

A Markham street reveals much about GTA ethnic enclaves (Toronto Star)
Hung’s story of struggle and success has long been a typical one for many Toronto immigrants. So has her family’s slow migration from downtown to the suburbs. Within the past decade, however, a dramatic shift in migration patterns has transformed much of the 905. By 2006, the suburbs had become the gateway to Canada. From Toronto’s bustling inner city, the site of integration has moved to the sprawling subdivisions of service-challenged suburbs. Visible minority residents suddenly became a majority in Markham and Brampton. Yet 95 per cent of immigrant services, according to one academic study, remain in Toronto. Isolation and affordable housing are pressing issues. “Our growth has happened so fast, we’re trying to catch up our community services,” says Markham’s services commissioner, Brenda Librecz, echoing the challenge of all municipalities in the 905 area code.–a-markham-street-reveals-much-about-gta-ethnic-enclaves

Six new Canadians; six reasons to celebrate (Winnipeg Free Press)
‘You don’t have any problems with people who think differently than you. You are free’ IF I never came to Canada, I believe I would be dead,” Guillermo Vodniza said calmly. “That is what Canada Day means to me: safety and belonging. I did not have that before.” Vodniza was born in Puerto Guzman, Colombia — a nation with a polarized political climate. Political allegiance was socially important, and towns were generally all of one political mindset, Vodniza said.

6 things that will change on Canada Day weekend (CBC)
As the midpoint in the calendar year, and a nationally symbolic one at that, June 30 and July 1 are dates on which new regulations or tax changes often come into effect or current ones expire and quarterly adjustments are made to some government programs. This year, Canada Day weekend will see some of the country’s richest people (at least in Ontario) get a little poorer, the poorest seniors get a tiny bit richer, refugees and would-be immigrants perhaps a little frustrated and MPs come out ahead, as usual.

Hundreds of local immigrants to benefit from government investment (John Matisz, Metro News)
London’s dipping unemployment community received good news Friday morning, as the federal and provincial governments announced a contribution of $1.3 million towards aiding immigrant workers in the area. The investment will help more than 520 skilled newcomers in London, according to an estimate by the governments. “They come to Canada, are usually underemployed, so this provides us with the opportunity to fully fund employment help programs,” said Mary Pierce, chair of Fanshawe’s Lawrence Kinlin School of Business. The $1.3 million is a portion of a province-wide initiative by Ontario and the federal government, which will hand out $35 million and $22 million, respectively. More than 11,000 immigrant workers are expected to reap the benefits of the investments.

Funding will help newcomers into the local economy (Sean Meyer, London Community News)
For years now, immigrants have faced obstacles in having the skills they picked up in other countries be officially recognized by governments at both the provincial and federal level. Ontario and Canada are now working together to help more than 520 skilled newcomers in London get the training and support they need to find work in their fields and contribute to the local economy.


Feds may backtrack on proposed reforms to refugee health policy (Louisa Taylor, Ottawa Citizen)
The federal government appears to have quietly backtracked on sweeping changes to its refugee health policy, a turnaround applauded by doctors even as it is denied by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In April, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced reforms to the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides temporary health benefits to refugees until they qualify for provincial and territorial coverage.

Let’s Celebrate Canada Day by Punishing Refugees? (Avrum Rosensweig, Huffington Post)
On June 18, the Toronto Board of Rabbis (TBR), wrote a powerful letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They asked the federal government to cancel its plans to cut basic medication for refugees. They also spoke out against the idea of designating specific countries as “safe,” and therefore unlikely to produce valid refugee claimants. Under new rules to take effect on Canada Day, refugees from designated countries will no longer have access to even emergency health care, and will effectively lose the right to appeal the results of their refugee hearings.

Kenney rejects refugee health care concerns from provinces, doctors (Kristy Kirkup, The Observer)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended refugee health care reform Friday following a chorus of criticism from provincial counterparts and doctors. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews wrote a letter to the feds on Thursday urging the government to reconsider changes, fearing downloaded costs and a “class system” for health care, but Kenney sent a sharp message back at an Ottawa press conference. “I don’t understand why they seem to be more concerned about providing supplementary health benefits, like dental care and eye care, to, for example, rejected asylum claimants, than to their own citizens,” Kenney told reporters.

CCLA Calls on Government to Rescind Refugee Healthcare Cuts (CCLA)
CCLA is deeply concerned about an Order that seeks to deprive individuals of this fundamental right, and that does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner. On June 18, we joined Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care in a National Day of Action to protest the cuts to refugee health care services, who argue that depriving people of healthcare is more costly in the long run as more serious and critical conditions develop.

Opposition mounts to refugee health coverage changes (Michelle Lalonde, Montreal Gazette)
More than 800 doctors, nurses, patients and staff at the Montreal Children’s Hospital have signed letters sent to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney Friday expressing opposition to changes that would severely limit health care coverage provided to refugees in Canada. Opposition to the federal government’s move to cut health care funding to refugees – particularly those from countries the minister deems to be usually safe – has been almost unanimous among health care workers across the country. The new policy was to come into effect Saturday, although the Quebec government has announced it will temporarily cover some costs abandoned by the federal government.

Denying health care to refugees nasty, brutish and short on sense (Troy Media)
Maria left her country in the middle of the night. She and her husband dodged armed patrols to get across the border. They would have been shot if they were discovered. Her husband had only recently been released from detention as a political prisoner, where he was tortured. Soon after their escape, they came as refugees to Canada. They arrived on a ship, with nothing but what they wore, and a very small amount of money they received as part of the resettlement process. They were my grandparents. On June 30, Canada radically altered the way refugees are treated. The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto states that these new changes to our health care system “will leave many refugees with less access to care than what they may have received in refugee camps, putting them at risk of developing new onset mental health problems.”

Changes to Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program for Refugees (Jason Nickerson, Global Health Hub)
On June 30, bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, came in to effect, drastically changing the access that refugees in Canada have to health care. The short name is a misleading one: rather than enhancing the protections that refugees have in this country, the bill dismantles them for many claimants, reducing their access to essential health services. With this bill comes sweeping changes to the way Canada treats refugees seeking asylum in this country, the most notable changes being the elimination of something called the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), a program that provides temporary health insurance to refugees and their dependents who are not yet covered under a provincial health care plan. Effectively, the program ensured that refugees arriving in Canada were not without access to healthcare, which seems the compassionate, ethical, and all-around right thing to do. It ensured that hospitals and health care professionals had a way of being compensated for providing medically-necessary treatment to refugees and also reduced the barriers to accessing the care that new arrivals to our country needed.

Canadians Fighting Back on Cuts to Refugee Health Care (Amy Boughner, Care2)
Across the country, people are fighting back against the Harper government’s bill C-31 — a move to cut temporary health care provided to refugee claimants while they wait for a decision on their claim. The changes would mean that some refugees would only have access to urgent care, and some would have no health care at all, unless they have a disease that could endanger the public at large.

Kenney v. Matthews (Maclean’s)
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has written to Jason Kenney and Leona Aglukkaq—pdf here—to protest the government’s changes to health care for refugees claimants. The Canadian Press, CBC and Sun cover the back-and-forth. The Montreal Gazette explains the situation.

Federal government seeks comments on tighter rules for foreign students (
The Immigration Department is looking at tightening the rules covering foreign students, and wants to know what Canadians think. A notice in the latest Canada Gazette asks for written comments from interested parties on proposals that would ensure students from overseas actually go to school, and would prevent them from staying here legally if they quit their studies. New rules would also ensure that schools drawing foreign students are legitimate operations. The proposal says the present rules are loose compared with other countries.

Interfaith Dialogue an FAQ for Christians and Muslims (
Muslims are just as curious about the ins and outs of Christianity as Christians are about Muslims. That quickly became apparent at the Interfaith Dialogue hosted by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada on Wednesday night at its Campobello Rd. mosque in Meadowvale. Some 30 people attended. Imam Syed Badiuddin Soharwardy founded the ISCC, which has six mosques across the country, including the one in Mississauga. The Calgary-based worship leader also founded the group Muslims against Terrorism. “We live in the information age,” said Soharwardy, “but people still don’t know each other.” This was the first of what he hopes will be a continuing series of such dialogues in Mississauga. He has held 137 in Alberta.–interfaith-dialogue-an-faq-for-christians-and-muslims


Legislation to Protect Canada’s Immigration System Receives Royal Assent (Marketwatch)
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today welcomed the final passage and Royal Assent of legislation that will protect and improve Canada’s immigration system. “This legislation will help stop foreign criminals, human smugglers and those with unfounded refugee claims from abusing Canada’s generous immigration system and receiving taxpayer funded health and social benefits,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada’s immigration and refugee system is one of the most fair and generous in the world and will continue to be so under the new and improved system.”

UNHCR welcomes positive elements in the Canadian refugee reform, as Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, receives Royal Assent (Canada Newswire)
Today as Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act received royal assent, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) welcomes the positive elements introduced with the refugee reform and the important amendments brought to Bill C-31 during the legislative process. UNHCR supports Canada’s refugee reform and its commitment to achieving faster and more efficient asylum procedures. In particular, UNHCR recognises the introduction of an appeal mechanism and welcomes measures to facilitate the reintegration of failed asylum claimants in their country of origin. UNHCR believes that these legislative changes reinforce Canada’s long standing humanitarian tradition of providing protection and assistance to tens of thousands of refugees each year.

Seeking refuge: challenges and changes in the Canadian refugee system (Emily Chan, Vancouver Observer)
For many Canadians, Canada Day translates to a long weekend of backyard barbeques, firework displays and red and white face paint. But for thousands of refugee claimants, awaiting decisions from the Immigration and Refugee Board, the significance of Canadian citizenship goes far beyond July 1 festivities. The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, defines a refugee as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, over 24,900 people came to Canada and made a refugee claim in 2011.

Video – Canada Refugee Conference 2012 (Global Immigrant News)
Global Immigrant News visits the National Refugee Conference in Vancouver – June 2012.

Graduation day at Adult High School: ‘To see these people make it through is the real difference’ (Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen)
Born in Rwanda, Joaquina Lavres grew up in Angola but left in December 1996 when life in the war-torn country became too difficult. She came to Canada at age 28, with two children and a third on the way (she later had a fourth). After arriving in Montreal, where she stayed at a YMCA, the family soon moved to Gatineau, where they lived briefly in a women’s shelter — “They took very good care of us,” Lavres recalls. A travel agent back home, she upgraded her English and got a job at a retirement home. More than a decade went by before the September day in 2010 when she walked into Adult High School. “When I first got there to register, my heart was beating so fast because I didn’t know what to expect. And then I got into my first class and I realized I was in the right place.” The teachers made her feel welcome, made school seem somehow much less intimidating. They were flexible, supportive, encouraging.

The amazing milk machine sold one refugee on Canada (Gabriela Perdomo, Maclean’s)
Seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old, it was an adventure: escaping from Budapest; dodging military checkpoints; crossing the border into Austria, traversing cornfields at night; spending three months at a refugee camp. For Michael Newman, it was the trip of a lifetime when he and his parents left Hungary in the midst of a revolution against Soviet rule to emigrate to Canada. One snowy night in January 1957, his family and another 80 refugees landed in a military plane at the base in Goose Bay, Labrador, to refuel before continuing on to Ottawa. At 3 a.m., as the group was served a breakfast of eggs and sausages, Newman watched, incredulous, as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force walked over to a dispenser and poured a glass of milk. The boy copied him, lifting the lever, letting the white, frothy liquid fill half a cup. He drank it quickly and ran back to his parents, mesmerized by the “amazing milk machine.” The soldier then approached with a large jug, gesturing toward the milk dispenser. “He took me by the hand and led me back to the machine,” Newman says, “and together we filled the jug to the brim.” He was sold on Canada. “Here was a country where you could drink all the milk you wanted,” he says. “No standing in line with your ration card.”

Canada deports family back to Trinidad after refugee status denied (Stabroek News)
A family south of Ottawa was scheduled to fly back to Trinidad and Tobago yesterday, CBC News reported, as they were deported after their refugee claims were denied. Members of the Maharaj family from Kemptville, Ontario, about 60 km south of Ottawa, were set to be returned to the Caribbean country after spending four years in Canada. Government officials removed them from their home and took them to the airport just after midnight Thursday, neighbours said. The family, which also owns a video store in Kemptville, claimed refugee status when they arrived in Canada but federal government officials have said the family “lacks credibility”.

New refugee law less fair, less accountable (Northumberland View)
With Canada Day just around the corner, the Harper Conservatives are celebrating with the Royal Assent of a new bill, which – alongside cuts to health care for refugees – hurt those seeking refuge in Canada from persecution, according to the NDP’s Citizenship and Immigration critic Jinny Sims. “Minister Kenney may be celebrating today, but for thousands of vulnerable people, this is a sad day,” said Sims, the MP for Newton – North Delta. “Canada was built on the idea that we all have a responsibility to take care of one another – especially the vulnerable. Conservatives are ignoring this with their mean-spirited legislation and draconian cuts.”


Caledon Institute rescues work of ill-fated National Council of Welfare (Toronto Star)
A social policy think-tank is stepping in to continue the pioneering work of the federal National Council of Welfare, axed by the Harper government in its recent budget. The Caledon Institute of Social Policy announced Friday that it will collect and analyze data from the provinces, Statistics Canada and other sources that were part of the council’s annual Welfare Incomes report and regular Poverty Profileseries. “Over the years, these reports have become invaluable tools for the public policy community,” said Caledon Institute president Ken Battle and vice-president Sherri Torjman in a statement. “Their loss would leave a huge hole in Canada’s shrinking data base and diminish our understanding of welfare and poverty in this country.” Welfare Incomes “is the only comprehensive source of welfare data and information in Canada openly accessible to a wide readership. It must be saved,” they added.–caledon-institute-rescues-work-of-ill-fated-national-council-of-welfare

Caledon Institute of Social Policy saves welfare incomes and poverty profile (The information policy blog)
Thanks to the Caledon Institute of Social Policy for picking up some of the important social data dropped by the Harper government The following excerpt from the announcement is a useful analysis of what we have lost.

Canadian Social Research Newsletter (Canadian Social Research Links)
Canadian content
1. Saving Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile (Caledon Institute of Social Policy) – June 29
2. Bill C-38 passes in Senate, Parliament closes for summer (Ottawa Citizen) – June 30
3. Harper Government celebrates Royal Assent of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (Finance Canada) – June 29
4. Cost of Poverty in BC: Huge Human Suffering and at least $4 Billion (Raise the Rates) – June 28
5. Hunger on Our Doorstep (Olivier De Schutter : UN Special Rapporteur for the right to food) – June 26
6. SOUNDBITES e-Bulletin (Social Planning Toronto) – June 26
7. Child poverty rate drops in British Columbia, rates for all persons still the worst in Canada (First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition) – June 18
8. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics Canada]:
— Payroll employment, earnings and hours, April 2012 – June 28
— Total income of farm operators, 2010 – June 27
— Family income and income of individuals, related variables: Sub-provincial data, 2010 – June 27
— Study: Measures of employment turnover post 2000, 2001 to 2009 – June 27
— Registered apprenticeship training programs, 2010 – June 26
— Spotlight on CANSIM
9. What’s new from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Canadians think government is too generous with aboriginals: poll (Teresa Smith, Vancouver Sun)
Canadians are frustrated with what they see as an endless flow of cash from federal coffers to Aboriginal People — with little to no results — according to an Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by Postmedia News. On average, 64 per cent of those asked agreed with the statement “Canada’s Aboriginal People’s receive too much support from Canadian taxpayers.” But attitudes vary across regions. The numbers who thought this were highest in Alberta and British Columbia (79 per cent and 74 per cent respectively), but lowest in Ontario and Atlantic Canada (55 per cent and 59 per cent respectively). As well, 66 per cent – two-thirds – agreed that “Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples are treated well by the Canadian government.”

New WI research underlines health, equity and social benefits of scattered site housing (Wellesley Institute)
An all-day ‘ideas forum’ sponsored by the City of Toronto on July 3 will take a detailed look at plans for the sell-off of more than 600 of Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s affordable homes. A new research paper by Wellesley Institute analyst Steve Barnes and a discussion paper from Wellesley Institute Director of Housing and Innovation Michael Shapcott will be presented at the forum. The research paper includes a selected survey of North American municipalities, with a more detailed examination of New York City and Chicago. Both cities have added to their ‘scattered site’ housing (single family or low-rise social housing) in recent years at the same time that TCHC is proposing to sell its entire stand-alone portfolio into the private market. The Wellesley Institute paper notes that there are strong health, social and equity reasons for maintaining a stand-alone portfolio. In both New York City and Chicago, the scattered site units are managed by community-based non-profits.


Ontario’s injured migrant workers lose out on WSIB benefits, critics charge (Toronto Star)
Jeleel Stewart’s left hand was crushed and permanently damaged in a 2008 workplace accident at a Niagara nursery. The migrant farm worker returned to Jamaica but continued his treatment there under Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage. When doctors determined his hand would not heal to allow him to do farm work again, the board ended his benefits, deeming he could use his other hand to work as a gas bar cashier — in the Niagara area. Commonly known as “deeming,” the practice, introduced in 1990, is used by WSIB to justify the reduction and elimination of compensation to injured workers by identifying alternative jobs available in the area where the person previously worked. The practice is common in all provinces. While deeming is problematic for most permanently injured workers in Ontario, critics say it is outright unfair to apply it to migrant workers because neither those jobs nor retraining opportunities are available in their home countries. Injured migrant workers, often sent back home, are unlikely to get a work visa to return to do the lighter jobs filled by Canadians.–ontario-s-injured-migrant-workers-lose-out-on-wsib-benefits-criti

Skilled Immigrants are coming to Ottawa – PDF (Hire Immigrants Ottawa)
Over the next ten years, Ottawa is projected to receive between sixty- and seventy-thousand new immigrants. These new Canadians will come from a variety of countries around the globe, and will represent an incredibly rich and diverse set of cultures, languages,skills and experiences. They will constitute an impressive pool of new and diverse talent. Among newcomers who are of working age, a large majority will have completed some form of post-secondary education, whether a university degree, a college diploma or a skilled trades certificate. Ottawa’s employers derive great benefit from having one of the most skilled workforces in the country. Census data show that of Canada’s 33 largest metropolitan areas, Ottawa ranks first in terms of the percentage of the employed population with a university degree. Like other large cities in Canada, immigration represents a large and growing component of Ottawa’s net labour force growth.

Company fined $12,000 in illegal worker bust (Toronto Sun)
A Manitoba company at the heart of a high-profile immigration debacle that led to the deportation of three hard-working Filipino men affectionately dubbed the “Three Amigos” pleaded guilty and fined $12,000 for breaking Canadian immigration-protection laws. 5896941 Manitoba Limited — operating as a Shell gas station in Thompson, Man. — pleaded guilty last week before provincial court Judge Tim Preston to counts of misrepresentation and employing illegal foreign workers under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Preston fined the company $12,000.

Changes to EI and migrant worker wage cut part of a “cheap labour agenda” (Workers’ Action Centre)
WAC joined the Good Jobs for All Coalition at an info picket to expose the “cheap labour agenda”, which include the recent changes to Employment Insurance and to the migrant worker program. The EI changes will force unemployed workers to take lower-paying work or risk losing their EI benefits. Meanwhile, employers are now permitted to pay migrant workers up to 15% less than the prevailing wage. Over 40 union and community activists came out for a lively picket outside the Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration offices at 25 St. Clair Avenue East in Toronto today. Good Jobs for All has launched a petition campaign to rescind these changes.

Canada lagging on the labour front (Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Herald)
Canada has been a Johnny-come-lately to this post-secondary strategy, despite the fact that our universities like to have foreign students who tend to pay “full freight.” All this was the subject of a Thursday conference co-hosted by the Haskayne School of Business and the C.D. Howe Institute, which included representatives from federal and provincial governments, academia and the private sector. The primary sponsor of the event was Royal Bank of Canada and thus it was the bank’s youthful president and chief executive, Gord Nixon, who kicked things off by talking about Canada’s competitive advantage and the need to leverage what we have. “When it comes to immigration, integration and diversity, we do as good a job as any other country in the world,” Nixon said in an earlier interview.


Monday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Rob Ford, In the City, OneCity, Plastic Bags, G20 and Other News.

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

TO2015 marks three-year countdown to TORONTO 2015 Games with celebrations (
PAN AM/PARAPAN AM DAY, Play Me I’m Yours–the 41 Pianos project and the multimedia project highlight the Toronto 2015 Games focus on diversity and Pan American culture through art and celebration.


Charity and Prosperity: A Response to the Current Critique on Philanthropy in Canada (Tides Canada)
On June 27, 2012, Ross McMillan, President & CEO of Tides Canada, spoke at The Economic Club of Canada on the current critique of environmental charities, accountability and transparency in the charitable sector, and the work that Tides Canada is doing across the country to support healthy communities and a healthy environment. The following is a copy of the text from his speech.

Charities should be even more involved in politics (Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen)
The Harper government is absolutely right that we have a problem with charities getting involved in politics: They don’t do it nearly enough. “Many charities have acquired a wealth of knowledge about how government policies affect people’s lives. Charities are well-placed to study, assess, and comment on those government policies. … It is therefore essential that charities continue to offer their direct knowledge of social issues to public policy debates.” That’s the government talking. More specifically, that’s the government’s principle policy statement on the involvement of charities in political activities. It came into effect in 2003. It’s still in force.

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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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