Immigration & Diversity news headlines – August 6, 2013

Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival a spectacle of rhythms, costumes (CBC)
Close to a million people were expected to pack the parade route for drumming and dancing of the Caribbean Carnival grand parade on Saturday in Toronto.  The 46th annual three-week carnival brings together the colours and rhythms of the Caribbean with the parade spectacle as its premiere event.  “All of the Caribbean are supposed to be down there,” said Wenell Lampell Scott, who was looking forward to the steady stream of musical talent.
Food retailing changing in Canada and Alberta (Mayerthorpe Freelancer)
The Canadian Food Retail industry is changing.  As big-box stores continue to open across Canada, numerous ethnic (largely Asian) large-format grocery stores are also being built across the country. Empire Co., the parent company of Canada’s second-largest grocery chain Sobeys, acquired Safeway Inc.’s Canadian operations in June 2013.  This positions Sobeys as a leading grocer in Western Canada and the largest grocer in Alberta with 234 stores combined. The changes retailers are making reflect Canada’s increasingly diverse consumer base. Industry sales for food retail stores are estimated $85.5 billion in 2011, and it is projected to grow at a rate of 4.6 per cent annually, as more Canadians choose to eat at home.
B.C. privacy czar says no personal info shared in ethnic vote scandal (Maclean’s)
High-ranking British Columbia government employees did not share private voter information with the provincial Liberal party, as suggested in a controversial ethnic voter outreach plan, the province’s privacy watchdog said in a report released Thursday.  But Elizabeth Denham said her investigation did find that government employees regularly transferred emails from work accounts to private accounts, a potential violation of privacy laws.  Denham said some government employees were forwarding hundreds of emails to private accounts, possibly subjecting them to the prying eyes of the United States’ controversial security network.
Quebec’s new immigration rules put the emphasis on French skills (Marian Scott, Montreal Gazette)
Prospective immigrants to Quebec will need to master French better than in the past under new immigration rules that came into effect Thursday.  “We have re-thought our approach in order to select, around the world, immigrants able to respond adequately to Quebec’s needs and to contribute to its prosperity,” Immigration and Cultural Communities Minister Diane De Courcy said in a statement.  The government has tweaked the point system for selecting immigrants in hopes of boosting the proportion of immigrants who speak French on arrival to about 82 per cent from about 62 per cent.  “We want people who choose Quebec to be able not only to live and work in French, but also to find a job more easily,” De Courcy added.
Foreign service strike hits visa work (Windsor Star)
A strike by foreign service workers that now threatens to cripple the visa process for tens of thousands of would-be visitors, international students, temporary foreign workers and immigrants couldn’t come at a worse time, some experts suggest.  Not only is it peak travel season and a time when international students settle in for the school year, there’s concern the added pressure will also compound existing problems stemming from a plan to restructure and centralize visa processing.
Ottawa blasts Quebec for ‘fraud’ program that ‘takes money’ from rich immigrants who move to other provinces (National Post)
The Harper government signaled Thursday it will no longer put up with the Quebec government accepting thousands of deep-pocketed investor immigrants a year even though most settle in other provinces – especially British Columbia.  Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s statement echoed recent complaints from his predecessor, Jason Kenney, who told a parliamentary committee in June immigrants are engaged in a “fraud” that enriches the Quebec government while costing taxpayers in B.C. and elsewhere a bundle.
The ugly anatomy of a sweetheart deal for Quebec (Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun)
Last month I did a story on this “unsustainable” agreement that gave Quebec $285 million in resettlement funds last year, or close to triple what the province actually spends on such services, then-immigration minister Jason Kenney (left, after cabinet shuffle in July) told me.  And this week I reported on problems created for B.C. as a result of Quebec bringing in thousands of “investor immigrants” who end up in B.C.  Quebec gets their money, we get the social program costs.  The benefits to Canada as a whole are pretty marginal, as the $800,000 entry fee, in the form of an interest-free loan repayable to the immigrant in five years, is laughably cheap.  The foregone interest amounts to $90,000 over five years.  Imagine – the promise of citizenship in arguably the world’s most attractive country to a rich foreigner who very likely doesn’t speak English or French, and is under no obligation to actually work or invest in Canada, for a measly $90,000 contribution to Canadian society.
Women could be leaders to polls (Debora Kelly, Newmarket Era)
We are the minority majority.  Women make up 52 per cent of the Canadian population, yet only 25 per cent of our municipal politicians are female — well below the United Nations’ goal of 30 per cent as the minimum percentage of elected women required for government to reflect women’s concerns.  In York Region, for instance, only three of 21 regional council seats are occupied by women: East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson, Richmond Hill Councillor Brenda Hogg and Vaughan Councillor Deb Schulte.  Does it matter? Do women bring something different to the table? Would our municipalities be better off if there were more women councillors? Are men incapable of providing leadership that reflects women’s concerns?  I don’t think so.
Edmonton’s Heritage Festival celebrates cultural diversity (Alicja Siekierska, Edmonton Journal)
Colombian empanadas. French crepes. German strudels. Sri Lankan beef curry. Sudanese samosas. Turkish baklava.  If you’re wanting to have a taste of any — or perhaps all — of these delectable food items, you’re in luck.  This Saturday marks the kickoff of the 38th annual Servus Heritage Festival, one of Edmonton’s most popular events, at Hawrelak Park. More than 85 cultures will be represented at 60 stands over the long weekend.
Immigration consultant rule a hurdle for universities (Editorial, Chronicle Herald)
Ottawa’s new rules on immigration consultants are putting the squeeze on Nova Scotia universities this summer.  Under the provisions of Bill C-35, which amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, those advising potential immigrants and international students who are not lawyers, paralegals or notaries must be certified consultants.  For cash-strapped Nova Scotia universities that attracted more than 6,000 international students last year, that is a problem.
What is racism? Confusion reigns (Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun)
“What river separates China from India?” someone asked at a recent social event in Metro Vancouver.  Answer: “The Fraser River.” No one laughed. It’s not that kind of a joke. It’s more a lesson in demographics. The Fraser River forms a clear boundary between north Surrey – with its concentrated enclave of South Asians – and Richmond, where the enclave is Chinese.  However, perhaps the real reason people did not chuckle was, as someone said, “That sounds racist.”  The remark reminded me of the difficulty people have understanding the word “racist.”
In defence of Jason Kenney (Chris Selley, National Post)
Jason Kenney’s unpopularity among Canadian progressives is no mystery. During his nearly five years as immigration minister, Liberals watched him galumph merrily across the same policy eggshells they tiptoed over for fear of the “ethnic vote,” even as he siphoned much of it away. He merrily picks and prolongs fights, holds his tongue for no one, has a reactionary streak that makes him say silly things, and was in his post longer than any of his recent predecessors. As such he makes a perfect villain for the “hidden Conservative agenda” set.
Edmonton’s growing cultural mosaic: From war to opportunity (Dave Lazzarino, Edmonton Sun)
Visit any Canadian city and the cultural mosaic that we’re so proud of is obvious. From the variety of foods to music to language, Edmontonians are no strangers to the brilliant landscape of culture. Stay in one place in for long enough, however, and it becomes pretty clear that the mosaic is a dynamic one, shifting in all directions and never constant. According to Statistics Canada’s latest household survey, what many call the census, Edmonton has become a place where some come for economic prosperity, others come to escape the horrible realities of war and some still just come to be a part of the patchwork quilt of this Prairie locale. Of a total population of 795,670 Edmontonians, immigrants make up 205,445 of them — 26%. Added to that, more than 173,000 have at least one immigrant parent.
MOSAIC to feature top Pakistani painter Jimmy Engineer (News East West)
The upcoming Mosaic South Asian Heritage Festival, which features Bollywood, comedy, new wave and parallel cinema, Indie music moves and grooves, will also showcase paintings by top Pakistan painter Jimmy Engineer.  One among the very best artists, philosophers and writers to emerge from Pakistan, Jimmy Engineer was born into a Parsi family in Balochistan.  His life story makes a fascinating reading. He was given a few months to live when at age 6 years both his kidneys failed.
Many faiths under one roof (Amira Elghawaby, Ottawa Citizen)
In a leafy little nook by Ottawa’s bustling downtown, a rare experiment in pluralism is inspiring young people to draw on religious values to help fuel positive social change.  Its managers are an eclectic mix of students and youth who have taken up residence in Faith House Ottawa, a space where they are collectively encouraged to explore their spiritual diversity. It’s a revolutionary project, considering that many young people often dismiss religion as exclusive, divisive, even useless. But that’s not the case here.
Canada’s Increasingly Multicultural Community (Izabela Melon,
Globally recognized for its commitment to pluralism, Canada’s reputation as a place of rich multicultural diversity was established decades ago. With the Philippines, China and India making up the top 3 sources of newcomers year after year, it’s not surprising that Asia has become a significant source of origin, representing over half of new Canadians each year. Only 13.7% come from Europe, which is drastically different from 1970s stats when Europe was the continent of origin for over 78% of Canadian newcomers.  Today, the country is more diverse than ever and shifts in its multicultural mosaic have created an opportunity to capture market share among a growing number of Chinese and South Asian Canadians.
Refugee urges government to get her children, grandchildren out of Haiti (Teresa Smith, Ottawa Citizen)
A Haitian refugee living in Ottawa is desperate to get her children and grandchildren out of the troubled island nation after one of her daughters was kidnapped and killed two months ago.  Now, Marie Yvena Senatus-Prince, 45, says the federal government is dragging its feet and putting up roadblocks to her application by asking for documents they should already have.  Senatus-Prince fled Haiti when her brother was kidnapped and killed in 2006. She went first to the United States, despite not having proper identification or a visa.
Ottawa woman pleads for family after daughter killed in Haiti (CBC)
The federal NDP is calling on the Canadian government to end the delay in an Ottawa woman’s application to bring her family from Haiti, after she said her daughter was killed by kidnappers in that country.  Marie Yvena Senatus-Prince, a refugee, has been trying to sponsor her family to join her in Canada since 2010, before her daughter was kidnapped in May 2013.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada lists the average time to resolve files from Haiti at under 12 months.
North Korean defector training in Toronto to be a voice for his people (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Lee Seong-min came here not just to improve his English, but for a far bigger purpose: learning to be an effective voice for his 24.5 million compatriots living under North Korea’s oppressive communist regime. The 26-year-old defector is part of a program by Toronto’s HanVoice Support Association, an advocacy group for North Koreans, to help develop skills in lobbying for change on the international stage. “It is so important to learn to communicate with people outside North Korea,” said Lee, who fled to South Korea in 2010 after a tumultuous trip through China, Laos and Thailand.
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Launches Improved Website (IRB)
On July 31, 2013 the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) launched an improved website. This initiative is part of the implementation of the Government of Canada’s new web standards, designed to make websites more user-friendly and accessible. These improvements will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of websites as part of the government’s efforts to modernize its web presence to better serve Canadians.
Thousands of failed refugees lured home with federal government’s bonus (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
A year after Ottawa launched a controversial program to pay money to failed refugee claimants for leaving Canada, more than 2,000 people have taken up the offer. As of June, some 2,157 failed refugees had participated in the federal government’s Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration pilot program, which offers as much as $2,000 and a one-way plane ticket to any refugee claimant denied asylum who will voluntarily go home. The average time it takes between the registration in the program and the person’s departure date to their home country is 32 days. The five top countries to which participants returned were Hungary, Colombia, Mexico, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
What the premiers really want: A national partner (Sherri Torjman, Globe and Mail)
Despite the wide-ranging program, another message emerged loudly and clearly from last week’s meeting: The premiers would very much like to have a national partner with whom they can engage in conversation. They need someone at the other end of the table to help formulate pan-Canadian responses to the myriad challenges the country faces.  For its part, the federal government says it prefers to stay out of provincial business (which makes all the more questionable its intrusive Canada Job Grant program). On occasion, it does engage in bilateral discussions with individual provinces on selected issues.
The “Royal We”  (Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute)
Canada’s Premiers had a jam-packed agenda at their recent meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Despite the wide-ranging agenda, a clear message emerged.  The Premiers would like to have a national partner with whom they can engage in conversation regarding their myriad challenges.  Ottawa argues that it is better to let both orders of government – federal and provincial – take care of their respective areas of business.  But while the provincial plate is overflowing, the federal cupboard seems bare.
What soiled diapers tell us about poverty (Steve Barnes, Wellesley Institute)
Having recently welcomed a baby into our family, I’ve been thinking a lot about the conditions that kids need for a good start in life.  A new study from the United States really brought home the connections between income and child health. The study looked at the ability of low income moms to afford the most basic of baby supplies: diapers. It found that one in 12 low income moms delays changing their baby’s diapers after they’ve been soiled as a way of making their supply last a little longer. Not changing soiled diapers can lead to skin and urinary tract infections and discomfort.
New taxes are usually inefficient or unpopular – and that’s a good thing (Frances Wooley)
No tax is completely non-distortionary. Bev Dahlby, for example, estimated that the cost of generating an extra dollar of government revenue, once efficiency impacts are taken into account, is $1.11 per dollar of federal GST revenue, but $40.83 [sic] per dollar raised by the BC corporate income tax. In terms of the diagram above, Dahlby’s analysis suggests that sales taxes are in the green, efficient circle, but corporate income taxes are not.  Few taxes generate enthusiastic popular support, but some are more popular than others. Those are the ones that fill the red circle.
Why wait until 18 to vote? Let’s start at 16  (Hirad Zafari, Globe and Mail)
Trustees exist for school boards, and school boards exist for children and for young adults. Their policies and actions specifically affect students under the age of 18 but, unfortunately, it is only parents who have the luxury of deciding who will make these decisions. This should change: Municipalities should give students aged 16 and older the right to vote for school board trustee.  I have always believed that education should be a partnership between educators, parents, and students. In an attempt to develop and play an active role in this “partnership,” I became involved in student leadership by discussing current issues in education at local meetings at age 14, and I was elected as a student trustee on the Toronto District School Board , a role that I held for two terms, at age 16.
Canadian Social Research Newsletter : August 4, 2013 (Canadian Social Research Links)
Canadian content
1. Ontario Social Assistance, Pension and Tax Credit Rates, July to September 2013 (Ministry of Community and Social Services)
2. SPARmonitor – Monitoring Toronto’s Social Change – July 17 and July 31 issues
[SPAR = Social Policy Analysis & Research, City of Toronto]
3. Media and Policy News for July 23 (Jennefer Laidley, Income Security Advocacy Centre)
4. What Makes Us Sick? Canadian Medical Association Town Hall Report (July 30)
5. Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2011 (PROOF – Food insecurity Research) – July 2013
6. Fewer people are below the poverty line now than ever before : Coyne (July 22)
Oh, really? : Goldman (July 30)
7. One Woman’s Fight for Equal Funding of First Nations Children Lands Feds in Court ( – July 15
8. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics Canada]:
— Police-reported crime statistics, 2012 : CANSIM tables – July 29
— Payroll employment, earnings and hours, May 2013 – July 25
— Police-reported crime statistics, 2012 : report + tables & charts – July 25
— Total income of farm operators, 2011 – July 22
9. What’s new from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Moving the Rights Yardstick (Debbie Douglas, OCASI)
On July 15, 2013, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) launched its new policy Removing Canadian Experience as a Barrier to Employment. The policy aims to clarify the existing code grounds where discrimination is prohibited in employment. The Commission boldly states in the policy that requiring Canadian experience as a condition of employment is discriminatory on its face and the onus is on employers to prove that there is a legitimate and necessary reason for such a requirement. This is significant. The Commission is acknowledging that ‘Canadian Experience’ is often a proxy or euphemism for race, place of origin and/or ethnic origin. The policy notes that it is shorthand for ‘you don’t fit’ within our (often ethno-racial homogenous) organizational culture.
Need not greed? Business tries to reframe debate on Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Karl Flecker, rabble)
Stinging from the public outrage of how some employers and labour brokers have been taking advantage of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is now trying to tell a different story. CFIB has produced an 18 page booklet titled, Making it Work: Real stories of small business and foreign workers. The publication features 6 stories of businesses that have come to depend on ‘nimble’ access to temporary migrant labour. Reeling from a mountain of damaging media stories challenging the integrity of the TFWP — business is desperate to change the frame.
Fee set for temporary foreign worker applications (Don Butler, Tobi Cohen, Vancouver Sun)
The federal government expects Canadian employers to request 30 per cent fewer temporary foreign worker positions this year as a result of a new $275 user fee that came into effect Wednesday.  However, since employers applied for 60 per cent more positions in 2012-13 than they actually required, it’s not clear the fee will do anything to stem the rising tide of foreign workers entering Canada.  The new fee, which employers have to pay for every temporary foreign worker they apply to hire, is among a number of amendments and regulatory changes announced earlier this year in response to concerns that temporary foreign workers are taking jobs from Canadians.
Immigrants help solve oilpatch labour woes (Derek Sankey, Vancouver Sun)
The growing immigrant population is not only changing the face of Calgary, it’s also serving an increasingly vital part of helping oil and gas companies solve labour shortages, which are only expected to increase in the next 10 years.  In 2010, Calgary’s immigrant population was estimated at 304,000 – almost 30 per cent of the total population, and the visible minority population is projected to reach 40 per cent by 2020, according to data from Statistics Canada based on the last census.  Over half (52.7 per cent) of those immigrants were in the crucial working demographic of 25-44.
Minimum wage needs to be re-engineered (David Olive, Toronto star)
Properly understood, the minimum wage is a stimulus benefiting the entire economy. The minimum wage puts a floor under poverty among the working poor. (It would surprise many people to learn that most poor people work.) It enables entry-level employees, notably youth working their way through college and university and immigrants intent on self-sufficiency, to get a solid start as dynamic contributors to a more prosperous Canada. And in times of anaemic GDP growth like these, increases in the minimum wage boost economic activity to the advantage of all.
Panel chair says no to minimum wage challenge (Raise the Minimum Wage)
Could you live on minimum wage or a little over for a month?  Over 750,000 workers in Ontario do – but the chair of the minimum wage advisory panel feels it would be too difficult for his family of four.  The Ontario government recently announced an advisory panel, made up of community, labour, business and youth reps, to study a possible increase in the minimum wage.  The panel, chaired by Professor Anil Verma of the University of Toronto, will write the final report that makes recommendations to the government on minimum wage.
Scotiabank and BioTalent Canada help new Canadians start right with the next chapter of their careers (Canada Newswire)
Scotiabank announced a new partnership today with BioTalent Canada to help newcomers become a part of Canada’s bio-economy through the launch of the Biotech Resumé Builder.  The creation of this new online tool was funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It targets immigrant job seekers and helps internationally educated professionals build a professional, standardized biotech resumé, to optimize their chances of landing a job in the Canadian biotechnology industry.
Time running short on a deal for jobs training (Donna Wood and Thomas Klassen, Globe and Mail)
The proposal by the federal government to create a Canada Job Grant program for the unemployed has the provincial governments incensed, increasing the tension between Ottawa and the provinces. The Job Grant program – which is to provide money for unemployed Canadians to purchase job training courses – will only come into existence if the provinces agree. Right now, they are unwilling to co-operate with Ottawa’s plan, fearing both a loss of autonomy and money.
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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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