Immigration & Diversity news headlines – April 9, 2013


We’re redesigning the Maytree website and want your help! (Maytree)
Our website,, is one of the key ways we keep you informed about our work, issues and ways to work with us. We’re giving it a needed overhaul! Please help us improve the website by completing the following online survey. We welcome your honest feedback and all responses will remain confidential.

Chuck Strahl’s “colour-blind” racism (Dr. Dawg)
Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl has declared that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, intended to investigate in depth the experience of First Nations people under the residential schools system, needn’t necessarily be chaired by an aboriginal person. “The steps being taken to appoint a new chairperson to the [Commission] are based solely on finding the best person for this demanding job,” he said.

Portrait of a Zimbabwean in Canada (Tsungai Chipato, New Zimbabwe)
IF THERE was a phrase to sum up the Zimbabwean way of life in Canada, it would be “Get that Dollar neMapepa”. The only other country, besides the United States, that Canadian-Zimbabweans seem to give respect to when it comes to shark-like tendencies regarding money is Zimbabwe itself. Welcome to the Canadian-Zimbabwe experience, where individualism and capitalism supersedes everything else.

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated at Toronto City Hall (Canada Newswire)
The City of Toronto hosted an event at City Hall this evening proclaiming April as Hispanic Heritage Month in Toronto. This event also celebrated the City’s Friendship City Agreement with the Ecuadorian city of Quito by launching an Ecuadorian art exhibit at City Hall. Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17 Davenport) were joined by MP Ted Opitz, Dr. Andres Teran-Parral, Ambassador of Ecuador to Canada, Roger Garland, Chair, Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee, and numerous Consul Generals.

Readers speak out on race and racism (Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun)
In last Saturday’s column, I wrote about race and racism in Metro Vancouver, and how it relates to news that a study done for Citizenship and Immigration Canada projected that by 2031, whites will be a visible minority in Metro Vancouver. In that column, I observed that while the news story on the study received only a modest response from readers — proof, I thought, of an absence of the more virulent forms of racism in Metro — I found it telling that the issue of Chinese-only signs in Richmond was widely commented upon and received national news media coverage.

Halt immigration to fix system (Brantford Expositor)
I totally agree with MP Kevin Lamoureux’s letter on April 3 in that “immigration needs real fixing.” I do not agree with his take on how to do it. For Canada to catch up, there needs to be a stop to all immigration for at least five years. This would give current Canadians a chance to get decent jobs and not have to support so many social programs for new Canadians. With a 7% unemployment rate, how will we provide work for these people?

CBSA arrest 1, deport 2 deemed ‘inadmissible’ to Canada (Montreal Gazette)
Border officials have arrested a man and deported two others they say were inadmissible to Canada for allegedly committing crimes or violating immigration rules. The Canada Border Services Agency says it has arrested Edgar Grant Tsovikian and deported Hong Guang Xue and Robert Akwasi Boakye.

Immigrants Need Solutions, Not Lip Service (Huffington Post)
The newest 2013 Economic Action Plan (its not a budget!) is a 2015 campaign document that only promises to sow further divides between working people. Little truth can be expected from Flaherty & Co. considering that the just-retired Parliamentary Budget Officer spent his last day at work in court trying to find out what happened following the 2012 Conservative budget. Canada’s “Temporary Foreign Worker Program” has received significant attention over the past year, including media reports on the HD mining crisis in BC, the Hampstead, Ontario, tragedy where 10 migrant workers died in a car accident without any coroner’s inquest being called, and the recent half-baked consultations by the Federal Government on future directions of Canada’s migrant worker programs.

Video: Rick Salutin’s views on the term ‘barbaric’ (Rick Salutin, Toronto Star)
Rick Salutin shares his views on the use of the term “barbaric” after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney referred to certain unacceptable cultural practices as “barbaric” in an updated guide for newcomers.

Rising Hate Crimes Alarm Canadian Muslims (OnIslam)
Alarmed by increasing hate attacks, Ontario Muslims have come together to plan a hate crimes workshop later this month to help Muslim women understand the crimes and report them to officials. “We’ve been hearing people … heard negative comments directed at them because of their Muslim identity,” Sarah Shafiq, chair of the coalition of Muslim Women of K-W, told The Record newspaper on Monday, April 8.

Why Startups Should Choose Canada Over Silicon Valley (David Quail, TechVibes)
Recently, there’s been a lot made about the advantages for starting technology companies in Canada, as well as the optimism for the Canadian Startup Visa. But to me, it’s always felt slightly disingenuine and self-promotional. Canadians trying desperately to convince themselves that they’ve arrived on the tech startup map. In a global market, would anyone with experience, connections, and residence in Silicon Valley, actually choose to start a company in Canada? Yes. I did.

Metro Morning 40 Years: Excerpts From The Show (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt spoke about South Asian violence with Naila Butt. She is the executive director of the Social Services Network… Claude Germain is the co-CEO of SMTC, the winner of this year’s CBC Toronto Immigrant Advantage Award, and Ratna Omidvar, the chair of the board of directors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, spoke about the importance of the CBC.

Struggling Malton immigrants tell the story of changing Peel (
Balvir Khaira, seen here with daughter Ravneet Khaira in their Mississauga home, couldn’t find work as an electrical engineer when he arrived here in 1999. So he and his wife got factory jobs that paid less than $10 an hour. They shared a two-bedroom basement apartment with their three kids. Toronto Star photo For all its complexities, Balvir Khaira’s settlement story — the hope, the struggle, the compromise — reflects the common experience of many immigrants who have poured into Peel Region in recent years.–struggling-malton-immigrants-tell-the-story-of-changing-peel

You don’t know Mr. Sheriff? That makes two of us (Faith Johnston, Winnipeg Free Press)
An error has been made, admitted an agent of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. “You are not in the system. You will have to submit your application again.” More than one error, I thought. But I have no choice. Three months after submitting an application to sponsor my husband, I must start all over again. In 2011, 10,997 immigrants in the family class were admitted to Canada. This compares to 91,765 economic immigrants and 13,150 refugees. For the family class, an applicant pays a $550 processing fee and another $480 if the application is successful.

Tough-on-crime model backfires in deportation of Allyson McConnell (Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal)
Stephen Harper is tough on crime. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is tough on crime. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is tough on crime. They’re especially tough on criminals who aren’t Canadian citizens. It’s already federal policy to deport landed immigrants or temporary residents convicted of serious crimes as soon as they’re released from custody. Bill C-43, which rejoices in the absurdly literal name, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, is currently before the Senate for second reading. It makes deportation of non-citizens who’ve served their sentences even more automatic.


Key refugee and immigration issues for women and girls (CCR)
There have been many recent changes in immigration and refugee policies in Canada. How might these changes affect women and girls?


Media Advisory – List of ‘accelerated’ TFW approvals reveals widespread abuse of program (Canada Newswire)
A list of fast-tracked temporary foreign worker applications shows that scandals at Royal Bank and HD Mining are just the tip of the iceberg. The document, which the Alberta Federation of Labour will release at a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process. Thousands of ALMO guest worker permits – which are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled employment – have been granted to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations.

Ottawa admits it approved request for foreign workers to replace RBC employees (Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle, Toronto Star)
How an overseas outsourcing firm managed to get Ottawa’s nod to bring in foreign workers to replace 45 Canadian employees at the Royal Bank has become the centre of an official probe. On Monday, the federal government confirmed iGate, based in Fremont, Calif., was granted a positive labour market opinion (LMO), which is supposed to be issued only when an assessment determines the hiring will not take jobs away from available and qualified Canadians.

Controversial RBC outsourcing made easier by government regulations: observers (City News)
Observers say the controversy over the Royal Bank of Canada’s decision to outsource dozens of Toronto jobs is part of an alarming trend bolstered by government policy. Immigration law expert Audrey Macklin says the government encourages companies to employ temporary foreign workers either directly or indirectly by processing their immigration documents faster and by allowing companies to pay those workers up to 15 per cent less than Canadians. She says a company like RBC is simply responding to incentives the government has created.

Outsourcing under scanner? Canada to probe RBC’s work with iGate (First Post)
Canada is investigating a report that its largest bank is using temporary foreign workers hired by outsourcing company iGate,which has most of its operations in India, to effectively replace existing staff, a situation the government said it would not accept. A Conservative government minister revealed the probe on Saturday after a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC story said Royal Bank of Canada was planning to eliminate about 50 employees in its investor services division in Toronto and have the work done by outsourcing company iGate Corp.

RBC and the Harper government’s double message on ‘guest workers’ (Karl Nerenberg, rabble)
The Royal Bank of Canada is furiously spinning a story about who is really responsible for bringing in foreign temporary workers to replace some of its Canadian employees. It is not us, says the Bank. It is the outsourcing company we hired, U.S. incorporated “iGATE,” a company that does most of its business in India. We trusted iGATE to abide by the rules, the Bank’s spokespeople say, and if they did not, you cannot blame us. For those who were under the impression that most temporary foreign workers in Canada were picking fruit or slinging coffee at donut shops, the facts of the Royal Bank affair should come as a revelation.

Ottawa probes outsourcing of RBC jobs to foreign workers (Bill Curry, Grant Robertson And Sophie Cousineau, Globe and Mail)
The federal government is investigating Royal Bank of Canada’s move to outsource technology jobs and reviewing paperwork submitted by its contractor to bring in temporary foreign workers. The probe centres on what the government sees as “apparent discrepancies” regarding RBC’s explanation of the events. RBC came under fire on the weekend after allegations emerged that Canada’s largest bank contracted iGate Corp. to handle the outsourcing of certain technology jobs, and the firm was using temporary foreign workers to displace RBC technology staff. The bank denied those claims, and said it does not get involved in the hiring practices of the companies it hires.

NDP blasts temporary foreign worker program amid RBC scandal (CTV)
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair blasted Canada’s temporary foreign workers program on Monday, saying loopholes are allowing corporations to take jobs away from Canadians. Mulcair’s comments come as the Royal Bank of Canada attempts to quell a firestorm of controversy after news broke that Canada’s largest bank is outsourcing 45 Toronto-based IT jobs. “They’re using the techniques put in place by the Conservatives to lower the working conditions of Canadian workers,” Mulcair told reporters on Monday.

Royal Bank says it will find new jobs for downsized staff (Grant Robertson, Globe and Mail)
Royal Bank of Canada says several dozen staff affected by the bank’s decision to outsource technology functions to a company with operations in India will be offered jobs elsewhere in the bank. In an internal memo to staff Monday, obtained by The Globe and Mail, RBC chief executive officer Gord Nixon told employees that roughly 45 affected employees will be offered other roles at the bank after RBC shifts technology jobs to an outside company, iGate. The company has most of its operations in India and has been contracted by the bank to handle technology functions for its Dexia business.

RBC takes heat for Ottawa’s flawed outsourcing policy: CD Howe expert (John Greenwood, Financial Post)
Royal Bank of Canada has landed in the middle of a public relations fiasco following reports over the weekend that it is in the process of contracting out jobs of Canadian staffers to lower paid foreign workers. In this case we’re talking about just 45 positions at RBC Investor Services in Toronto that according to the CBC will be transferred abroad through a deal with iGate Corp., a leading global provider of outsourcing services with significant operations in India.

Royal Bank outsourcing encouraged by government policy, immigration lawyer says (Vancouver Sun)
Observers say the controversy over the Royal Bank of Canada’s decision to outsource dozens of Toronto jobs is part of an alarming trend bolstered by government policy. Immigration law expert Audrey Macklin says the government encourages companies to employ temporary foreign workers either directly or indirectly by processing their immigration documents faster and by allowing companies to pay those workers up to 15 per cent less than Canadians.

Don’t believe the hype! RBC layoffs not about foreigners vs. Canadians (Chris Ramsaroop Syed Hussan, rabble)
Once again the temporary foreign worker program has erupted in controversy where it is being used to pit workers against each other. News reports point out that the Royal Bank of Canada has decided to move its information technology department abroad. To do so, it has brought in temporary workers from India that will learn the ropes from their Canadian counterparts. Following this training, the Canadian workers will be laid off, and the Indian workers will transition the IT department to India and return there. This is not a story of so-called “foreign” workers coming to replace “Canadians”. It is a story of broken immigration laws where workers can be brought in to do short-term dirty work that no one else wants to do and can then be removed at the whim of the employers.

McMaster student leads online charge against RBC hiring practices (CBC)
A McMaster student’s disdain over The Royal Bank’s hiring practices is quickly picking up steam online. McMaster University student Jennifer Ridge was one of the first Facebook users to join the “Boycott Royal Bank Of Canada” page after news broke that the company has been employing foreign workers to replace Canadian staff. Now she’s an administrator who is constantly updating and promoting the page. The group has ballooned from 300 users to more than 3,000 virtually overnight.

Royal Bank defends using foreign workers as public backlash grows on social media (Diana Mehta, Edmonton Journal)
The Royal Bank of Canada was scrambling to explain its hiring practices to customers after a media report claiming the bank was employing foreign workers to replace Canadian staff prompted a flood of outrage. Canada’s largest bank (TSX:RY) said it has not hired foreign workers to take over the job functions of current employees, but said it uses outside companies as one of its strategies to improve “operational effectiveness.”

Canada’s dilemma on temporary foreign workers (Globe and Mail)
The purpose of Canada’s temporary foreign worker program is to fill short-term gaps in the labour market, to allow Canadian companies to remain nimble even when our national labour market is not. Over the past decade, few cases were more compelling than the oil sands, where thousands of skilled workers were needed and not enough qualified Canadians were available or willing to move to remote work camps. The massive amounts of capital raised to construct such projects could not be put on hold for, let’s say a decade, while training colleges prepared Canadians for those ultimately temporary jobs.

Foreign workers program seen growing too big, too fast (Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail)
It’s still unclear the extent to which the temporary foreign worker program played a role in the decision to scrap 45 jobs at bank. But it comes as the number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada has tripled in the past decade, reaching a record 338,189 by the end of last year. It’s little surprise that employers are expanding their use of the program, given the ease at which they can recruit workers from abroad, and the expected cost savings given that employers are permitted to pay foreign workers 15-per-cent less than the prevailing rate paid to Canadians, said Arthur Sweetman, an economist at McMaster University in Hamilton and an expert on immigration policy.

iGate caught in Canadian visa controversy over violation of immigration laws (Economic Times of India)
Technology services company iGate said, on Monday, that it has abided by all applicable laws and regulations, amid reports that Canada will investigate whether the country’s largest bank Royal Bank of Canada violated immigration laws by replacing local workers with contract staff from iGate. The Fremont, California-based iGate, which has most of its 30,000 employees based in Bangalore, said in a statement that it provides appropriate information to the relevant immigration authorities while deploying its employees in other countries.

Statement from the Honourable Diane Finley (Canada Newswire)
Canada is experiencing significant skills and labour shortages in many regions. When there are jobs available, Canadians must always be the first in line for opportunities from employers who are hiring. We have recently learned of allegations that RBC could be replacing Canadian workers by contracting with iGate, which is filling some of the roles with temporary foreign workers. If true, this situation is unacceptable.

RBC clarifies recent media reports (RBC)
RBC wants to address media reports and provide clarification. Contrary to allegations, RBC has not hired temporary foreign workers to take over the job functions of current RBC employees. Like most businesses, RBC works with many suppliers to provide certain products and services in Canada and globally.

Video: RBC responds to outsourcing allegations (CBC)
Zabeen Hirji, Chief Human Resources Officer for RBC, responds to allegations that dozens of Royal Bank employees are losing their jobs and being replaced by temporary workers from overseas.

Outsourcing? (CBC Metro Morning)
The Royal Bank of Canada is on the defensive this morning over reports that it is employing foreign workers to replace staff in Toronto. Matt Galloway spoke with labour and human rights lawyer Fay Faraday.

Jobs Lost (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with Michael Hlinka. He is our business commentator on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Diane Finley’s broken record (NDP)
The revelation that one of Canada’s largest banks used the temporary foreign workers program to replace Canadian employees has shocked many. But for Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley it’s just another opportunity for her to utter feigned indignation. “If true, this situation is unacceptable,” said the Minister, in no uncertain terms.

Ontario Liberals must act to protect most vulnerable workers: Editorial (Toronto Star)
For the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians employed in low-paying, temporary jobs, the concept of standing up for workplace rights is little more than a fast track to unemployment. Many are vulnerable to the shady practices of employers who withhold pay, abuse their power or fire workers on a whim. There’s a reason why the Law Commission of Ontario, among others, has identified these workers as “precarious.” Their lives — and futures — are limited by increasingly vulnerable jobs. It’s a terrible way to live.

Outsourcing: The business in Canada and beyond (CBC The Current)
Outsourcing is not new but the practice is currently under renewed scrutiny. From the alleged ‘in-sourcing’ of workers at the Royal Bank of Canada to the HD Mining case in B.C., we explore the wider impact on Canadian workers.


Toronto’s Urbanism Headlines: Monday (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Casino, Mayor Rob Ford, and Other News.

Newsstand: April 9, 2013 (Terri Coles, Torontoist)
High of 15 today! We’ll just ignore those reports of a storm later this week. In the news: Premier Wynne says Ontario needs tolls and taxes to pay for transit, City Hall is getting a bike station, Doug Ford could win a seat in the Ontario Legislature, and a 10-minute grace period for parking could soon be mandatory.

Shawn Micallef on the state of Canadian modernism (Spacing Toronto)
The Canadian landscape has been easy to define because it’s so much a part of our national identity: wilderness, rural, water; repeat. Trying to define the Canadian cityscape is much more difficult, as our traditional Canadian identity has totally avoided cities, even though these are where most Canadians live. Try picturing “The Canadian City.” If you can conjure up something that represents the whole country, you’re a visionary. There are certainly landmark buildings and neighbourhoods across Canada that are famous for their striking images, such as the multi-coloured clapboard houses of St. John’s, or the walled Old Québec City. Distinctive cityscapes are an important part of the Canadian identity, but they are in no way typical of a wider Canadian style of urbanism.

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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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