Immigration & Diversity news headlines – January 4, 2013


Immigration not the primary solution to skills gap (Editorial, Vancouver Sun)
Matching potential skilled immigrants with employers in Canada is a worthwhile goal. So Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s notion of a Web-based system to be set up by the federal government that would allow employers to express an interest in individual applicants is on its own a worthy initiative. But it also has to be viewed in the broader contexts of how we got to the point in Canada where we have a shortage of skilled tradespeople while at the same time we have high unemployment, of what we are trying to achieve through our immigration system, and how well the government is doing at meeting its goals.

Canada at 150: Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to highlight value of citizenship as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration (Tobi Cohen,
Newcomers are more prepared than ever to appreciate the significance of Canada’s 150th birthday, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who believes the citizenship process is a key way for official Ottawa to engage recent arrivals in the 2017 festivities. “One of the big things we’ve made an effort to do is deepen civic literacy for all Canadians, but particularly new Canadians in the citizenship process so when they reach Canada’s 150th anniversary, they’ll be able to understand the historical context,” Kenney said in an interview with Postmedia News.

The Measure of Canada’s Compassion? (
It is a trite, but true, saying that the measure of a society lies in its treatment of its weakest and most helpless citizens. By this standard Canada comes up quite small, particularly when you consider the treatment accorded to one young and extremely vulnerable Canadian citizen. Sabreena Shabdeen is in a precarious position through no fault of her own. She is a 17 year-old with significant autism and resides with her parents in Paterson, New Jersey. Her parents have an appointment with US immigration authorities in the coming days and face the prospect of being deported to Sri Lanka, their country of nationality. They have decided that, given the circumstances, Sabreena would be better off if she were to return to Canada, the country of her birth.

Applicants for Canadian visas will be checked against U.S. databases (Globe and Mail)
Almost all applicants seeking a visa to enter Canada will have their identity checked against American immigration databases to see whether they have been previously blacklisted, under a bilateral treaty signed with little fanfare last month. And in a separate measure, Canada will be fingerprinting visa applicants from about 30 countries, including Colombia, Haiti, the Palestinian territories, Yemen and Iran by the end of this year. The measures are part of a sweeping effort to keep out the unwanted and dangerous, while simultaneously easing movement across the common border. The new rules will affect millions – an estimated 2.2 million people seek visas to enter Canada every year.

Canada begins to accept skilled foreign workers (China Daily)
Canada began accepting applications from skilled foreign workers Wednesday under a new program to address labor shortages in parts of the country. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement that the new Skilled Trades Program will address serious labor shortages that some regions of the country are facing, and will help grow Canada’s economy. “These long-overdue changes are part of the government’s plan to build a fast and flexible immigration system that is responsive to the needs of Canada’s economy,” he said.

Immigration changes should address skills shortage (Winnipeg Free Press)
What do immigrants want most from Canada? There are as many answers to that question as there are applicants, although freedom and prosperity are obviously top attractions. But what does Canada want from immigrants? In the midst of an overhaul of immigration policy, Ottawa’s unequivocal answer is skilled labour. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s response to skills shortages at home, and stiff global competition for skilled immigrants, has been to move from a passive system that operated on a first-come, first-served basis. Under the new activist paradigm, the priority is to receive, and even recruit, immigrants whose resumes correspond with Canada’s economic priorities.

Toronto conference on South Asian philanthropy – January 2013 (South Asian Philanthropy)
It’s official! The AFP Inclusive Giving conference on South Asian Philanthropy is coming up in Toronto very soon! If you are in Toronto (or interested in coming for this occasion), please sign up.

Refuge for Cindor Reeves (Michael Petrou, Maclean’s)
Cindor Reeves, once the brother-in-law of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and the man who risked his life to bring Taylor to justice, has been granted landed immigrant status in the Netherlands. Reeves helped Taylor run guns and diamonds between Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s and 2000s. He has never denied this. Then, at great risk to himself and without asking for anything in return, he helped the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor. Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes, including murder, terror, and rape. Reeves was initially put under witness protection in Holland and then Germany, but took his family to Canada on his own accord and in doing so lost the Special Court’s protection.

Human Rights (Your Legal Rights)
The following email bulletin provides you with the latest news, legal information resources, common questions and training webinars from Your Legal Rights on Human Rights.

Nova Scotia eager for more immigrants (CBC)
The number of immigrants arriving in Nova Scotia has slowly dropped over the last five years, but government officials say they’re confident they can double it by 2015. There were 2,138 immigrant landings in the province in 2011, the last year for which numbers are available. That’s down from 2,408 in 2010 and 2,424 in 2009. But the province expects that number to jump.

Family ‘shocked, numb’ (Carol Mulligan, Sudbury Star)
Roman has had “a shadow hanging over his head,” knowing he was living in Canada illegally, said his mother-in-law. “I understand the system wants to treat him like a criminal,” but, as a husband and father, Roman is “awesome, hardworking and devoted.” Said Legault: “If it was your daughter and your grandchildren … you would weep to think of him being torn away.” Her daughter and Roman wed last February when Bonita, whom Legault calls Beth, was expecting the twins. “Bit by bit” the couple began doing the complicated paperwork to apply for family sponsorship, she said. Johnson met Roman several years ago when they were working at a volunteer refugee centre in Toronto. For some time, they were waiting for his divorce from a woman in Mexico to be finalized. Two years ago, the couple started applying for sponsorship. Johnson admitted Thursday she didn’t know what was in store for her family. Both mother and daughter are optimistic there will be a good outcome.


Join Health for All and put pressure on Ontario to #FillTheIFHGap (Health 4 All)
Dear health providers, social service providers and community members in Ontario: In response to drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program in Canada, 2012 was marked by historic mobilizations where health care workers and allies took to the streets, occupied Conservative MP offices, rallied outside Citizenship and Immigration Offices, launched a Non-Cooperation Campaign in response to drastic cuts to refugee health care coverage in Canada. These cuts mean a man in Saskatchewan was denied chemotherapy for his cancer treatment, pregnant women have been denied coverage for their deliveries, countless refugees and claimants have been cut off from access to medications and now, those seeking refuge from countries Jason Kenney has designated as ‘safe’ will not be able to get care even for a heart attack. These cuts are in line with ongoing regressive immigration policies introduced by this government including Bill C-31.


Media and Policy News for 3 January 2013 (ISAC)
Round up of mainstream media news on poverty and policy across Canada.


Employment rate for immigrants improved last year, but still lags (Inayat Singh, Montreal Gazette)
Immigrants are seeing better employment prospects in Canada, but they still lag behind their Canadian-born counterparts because of a gap in local experience, experts say. Employment among immigrants between 25 and 54 years of age jumped 4.3 per cent in 2011, compared with the previous year, a new Statistics Canada report says. But total immigrant employment in that key age group was 75.6 per cent in 2011, well below the 82.9 per cent rate for Canadian-born workers. That’s mainly because seniority counts in the workplace, said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.

January is mentoring month (TRIEC)
The perfect way to make a difference in 2013 is becoming a mentor to a skilled immigrant. The Mentoring Partnership, TRIEC’s imitative, has now been successfully matching skilled immigrants with established Canadian professionals for nine years reaching a milestone of over 7,000 mentoring matches. Mentors admit that they gain as much as they give by improving their leadership and cross-cultural communications skill.

Saleha Hussain – Mentor to 10 or more skilled immigrants (TRIEC)
Saleha’s parents immigrated to Canada when she was a teenager. She witnessed their struggle settling in Canada and trying to find jobs in their professional fields. Unfortunately, it never happened for them and they had to work survival jobs to take care of their four children. “Many immigrants still face these same challenges, but it’s great that we now have programs like TRIEC’s Mentoring Partnership to help them out,” says Saleha. Working at the City of Toronto as a Building Engineer, Saleha is a big supporter of the partnership and is currently supporting her tenth mentee.

Sam Samanta – Mentor to 10 or more skilled immigrants (TRIEC)
Having mentored eleven times since 2004, Sam Samanta, a senior financial analyst at Corporate Finance Division, City of Toronto, always finds it rewarding. Sam is a Professional Engineer and holds a Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Waterloo. “I enjoy mentoring. It not only helps me to be a better listener, but also to be a better person and to appreciate the challenges a newcomer, which I was once, has to go through,” admits Sam. “I learn a lot. I learn about other countries, culture and education systems. And it’s an eye-opener.”


Friday’s headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on City Hall, Transit and Other News.

OLG Estimates $50–$100 Million in Hosting Fees for a Downtown Casino (Hamutal Doltan, Torontoist)
On page six of that primer, a new and important number: $50–$100 million. That’s how much the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation now estimates the City of Toronto would make in annual hosting fees, if we decided to allow an “integrated entertainment complex” at Exhibition Place, the Port Lands, or in the convention centre area. (An earlier report from Ernst & Young estimated hosting fees as high as $168 million—though as we wrote at the time, the basis on which they did so was always unclear.) It’s a substantial sum, but in the scheme of Toronto’s $9.4 billion operating budget, it’s hardly a deal-maker. The now-cancelled vehicle registration tax brought in about $49 million a year, for instance, and newly elected mayor Rob Ford had no difficulty convincing councillors to cancel that in December 2010. Even for the fiscal conservatives on council, policy considerations were more important than the amount of money involved in that case. Similarly with a casino: while the amount of money is non-trivial, it also isn’t overwhelmingly large. There’s certainly recently political precedent for saying that other goals can outweigh it, and many councillors have indicated they will be arguing just that in March, when they make a decision on the matter.


Tech trends of 2013 and what your nonprofit needs to know (TechSoupCanada)
With everyone buying smartphones and tablets and more services going online, you might be wondering how this all relates back to your nonprofit? How do these trends affect your fundraising, service delivery and administration? Join us on Jan 12th to catch up on what’s going on in the tech world and get a glimpse of the future (and the present, which sometimes feels a lot like the future!) in a friendly, non-techy, nonprofit-focused environment. At our first event of 2013, Jane Zhang (the ED of TechSoup Canada) will be joining us to speak about the technology trends she is seeing, how they are changing the way we live, play and interact, and what this means for us as nonprofits. She will discuss how technology is shifting from something that we need to adapt to, to something that adapts to us and makes our lives more convenient. This includes touch screens and gesture-controlled interfaces, mobile payments, integration across devices, 3D printing and more. The session will include concrete examples as well as discussion around why nonprofits need to be aware of these trends and how we can make use of them in our work.

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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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