Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Sept 13, 2013


Video: Canada: Still a Land of Opportunity? (TVO The Agenda)
For many immigrants to Canada, our country offered new hope and a new life. Does that still hold true for new Canadians? As part of the “Dude, Where’s My Future?” series, The Agenda examines if Canada is still a land of opportunity for immigrants.

I’m Albertan and a Muslim, not an ‘other’ Canadian (Dany Assaf, Globe and mail)
Can a timeline tell a story? As a born and bred Albertan, who happens to be Muslim, it seems surreal to be watching a part of my identity being portrayed as the “other” in recent debates in Quebec and elsewhere about values and the place of Muslims (and others) in Canada. In that light, the years 1867, 1938, 2012 speak to me.

Exploring multiculturalism (Elizabeth Mcsheffrey, Daily Herald Tribune)
Elementary school students far and wide may have greater access to multicultural learning thanks to the recent initiative of a Grande Prairie teacher. This month, Grade 3 teacher Aum Nicol announced the completion of her new children’s book, A Multicultural Alphabet: Embracing Canada’s Identity. The book is a letter-by-letter introduction to some of the best vocabulary in Canadian culture, drawn from examples in history, geography and the Multicultural Act of Canada. “Multiculturalism is quite a heavy topic and for integrating it into the classroom, I thought an alphabet book would a lot easier,” said Nicol.

Encouraging immigration (World Finance)
When times get tough, governments tend to point the finger at immigrants. Yet in Canada, new policies that encourage immigration are proving invaluable to the country’s labour market According to a recent OECD study, 50 percent of Europeans think immigrants contribute less in taxes than they receive in healthcare and welfare, thus draining the state of money and resources. If that’s the case, Canadians have reason to be afraid: one in five residents there was born in a different country. Oddly enough, the country’s economy hasn’t imploded: in fact, high immigration has helped Canada bounce back from the global financial crisis by improving the quality of its workforce. The secret to this success lies in clear-cut governmental policies that encourage immigration rather than hinder it.

World migrants rise above 230-M mark – UN (Agence France-Presse)
The number of migrants around the world rose above 230 million in 2013 with the United States, Western Europe and the Gulf oil states the biggest draws, the UN said Wednesday, September 11. The number who have left their own country has risen from 154 million in 1990 to 232 million and the proportion of migrants in rich countries is growing, said a new UN report. More than half of migrants are living in 10 countries, with the United States the leading host nation with an estimated 46 million in 2013. The UN said there are 13 million people from Mexico in the United States and about 2.2 million who were born in China, 2.1 million from India and two million from the Philippines.

World Migration Report 2013 (IOM)
The World Migration Report 2013: Migrant Well-being and Development – the seventh report in IOM’s World Migration Report (WMR) series – focuses on the migrant, exploring the positive and negative effects of migration on individual well-being. Many reports linking migration and development concentrate on the broad socioeconomic consequences of migratory processes, and the impact of migration on the lives of individuals can easily be overlooked. In contrast, the WMR 2013 focuses on migrants as persons, exploring how migration affects quality of life and human development across a broad range of dimensions.

10 Myths About Muslim Immigrants in the West (Doug Saunders)
This is adapted from my book The Myth of the Muslim Tide, now available in paperback in Canada, the United States, Germany and Sweden. A version of this list appeared in the Huffington Post.

2013-2014 Harney Lecture Series: September 19, 2013 (Munk School)
Jeffrey G. Reitz,Harney Professor in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies will give a lecture entitled “The Sociology of Multiculturalism: Empirical Data vs. Philosophical Debate”.


I have faith in Quebec. So should you (Justin Trudeau, Globe and Mail)
Earlier this week, Premier Pauline Marois unveiled her government’s much-anticipated plan to legislate values in Quebec. As I have said since her Parti Québécois first announced this plan back in the 2012 election campaign, I categorically oppose it. Like our fellow Canadians elsewhere, Quebeckers are open, positive people. We believe in defending each other’s freedoms, not restricting them. I have great faith in the people of my home province. My message to Canadians outside Quebec is simple and important: So should you.

PQ could learn from Jason Kenney the right way to promote cultural values (John Ivison, National Post)
Gérard Bouchard, co-author of the Bouchard-Taylor report on diversity in Quebec, once remarked that Jason Kenney’s reforms to Canada’s multiculturalism policies had brought the Quebec and Canadian models closer — an emphasis on integration over accommodation. This may be the unintended consequence of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ last-ditch, Hail Mary effort to salvage the fading dream of Quebec independence, via a naked appeal to tribalism; to put that dream once and for all in the ground, and in the process help propel another Trudeau to power. It would be a cruel irony, yes? But it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Montreal board of trade slams PQ values charter ahead of multicultural protest (Peter Rakobowchuk, Leader Post)
Montreal’s business community has urged the Quebec government to modify its proposed charter of values because it fears the legislation would harm the city’s reputation and economic performance. The Montreal Board of Trade is warning that the city has more to lose with the charter than with the status quo. “The government’s proposal is generating a great deal of concern in the Montreal business community,” Michel Leblanc, president of the organization, said in a statement Thursday. “It could harm the city’s reputation and its economic performance.”

Businesses find anxiety and opportunity in Quebec’s values charter (Barrie Mckenna, Bertrand Marotte And Sophie Cousineau, Globa and Mail)
The escalating controversy over Quebec’s proposed charter of values is spreading unease among Quebec businesses, and opportunity in the rest of the country. One Ontario hospital is already taking direct aim at disaffected religious minorities in the province with a recruitment ad in a McGill University newspaper featuring a young woman in a head scarf. “We don’t care what’s on your head. We care what’s in it,” explains the provocative tag line for the ad by Lakeridge Health of Oshawa, Ont.

Video: The Diversity Diary: 2.05 – Charter of Quebec Values (CIDI)

Quebec’s identity politics (The Economist)
MOST people would agree that the crucifix that hangs prominently in Quebec’s provincial legislature is a Roman Catholic symbol. As such it should be banned under proposals Quebec’s government released on September 10th aimed at enshrining secularism in provincial law. But in the French-speaking province of 8.1m, where the majority still identify themselves as Catholics even if they no longer bother with church, removing the crucifix would be a step too far. So in its proposed ban on the display of “conspicuous” religious symbols in public buildings or by public employees, the ruling Parti Québécois made an exception for “items of cultural heritage”. Not surprisingly, these turn out to be Catholic.

Letter: ‘As a Jew, I will wear a hijab, to show my support’ for Muslim women (Montreal Gazette)
I am a graduate student in the Religion Department. I am a Jewish woman, a Canadian, a Québécoise. I am ashamed by the minority government’s suggestion that sartorial markers of religious identity need to be regulated by law. I am ashamed to live in a society which seeks to exclude and restrict the freedom of religious identity of its members. I am ashamed to be subjected to exclusionary policies that make impossible the integration of people into the social fabric. I am ashamed to see xenophobic tendencies magnified and manipulated in the name of some elusive nationalist ideology.

Quebec values charter draws fire (Windsor Star)
The Quebec government’s proposal to ban public employees from wearing “overt” religious symbols including hijabs, turbans, kippahs or skullcaps was condemned Wednesday by Muslim and Jewish leaders in Windsor. “What’s next? Are they going to try to legislate what clothes we can wear, legislate how we do our hair, what kinds of makeup we wear? It’s completely and totally ridiculous,” said Remy Boulbol, the executive director of the Rose City Islamic Centre. The proposal by the governing Parti Québécois makes her wonder if Muslims are being targeted, said Boulbol, who converted to Islam as an adult and wears a hijab.

Pauline Marois issues fatwa on Quebec secularism (Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star)
The Afghan Taliban and the Iranian ayatollahs force women to wear the hijab or the niqab. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is forcing Muslim women not to. Misogynists won’t grant women individual sovereignty. Nor does Madame Marois. Ostensibly a lefty liberal feminist, she, too, makes the maddening assumption that Muslim women, including the Canadian-born and highly educated ones, are incapable of deciding for themselves. Some Catholics insist on saving pregnant women from abortion. Marois is out to save Muslim women from the scarf. Demagoguery knows no geographic or ideological bounds.

Bloc kicks out MP who spoke against Quebec religious-symbols (Les Perreaux, Globe and Mail)
A sovereigntist Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament who spoke out against the Quebec government plan to ban some personal signs of religious faith from public workplaces has been kicked out of her party caucus. Maria Mourani, who was one of only five Bloc MPs, was expelled Thursday. On Wednesday, Ms. Mourani described the Parti Québécois plan as discriminatory, probably illegal and strategically disastrous for a sovereignty movement that has struggled to convince Quebec minorities of the allure of national independence.


Canada’s Refugee Problem: Are We Being Too Selfish? (Dan Wagner, Maytree, Huffington Post)
The first Syrian refugees will arrive soon. We can certainly be proud. No we can’t. Why not? Because 1,300 is an extremely low number during a crisis that has generated over 2 million registered refugees. Remember when Canadians rallied to resettle over 60,000 Southeast Asians after the Vietnam War? That was exceptional. You mean politically? Or the public support?

Photo exhibit challenges stereotypes of Roma in Canada (CCLA)
From now ’til October 4, Osgoode Hall Law School Library is playing host to Roma Rising/Opre Roma: Portraits of A Community. Sponsored by the Toronto-based Roma Community Centre, the exhibit features 24 black-and-white portraits of members of the Canadian Roma community, meant to challenge the negative stereotypes surrounding Roma in this country. Subjects of Roma Rising’s photographs are professional, successful, productive members of Canadian society. Several of them are former refugee claimants.


RBC: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce that is Representative of the Wider Community (
To provide excellence in client service, improve customer satisfaction, and capture new markets, RBC, one of North America’s largest financial institutions, is leveraging the talents of a diverse workforce that is representative of the wider community, including the immigrant population. This, according to a new case study released by Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO), which describes the innovative practices RBC is using in Ottawa to integrate skilled immigrants into their workplace.

Saturday Sept. 14, Minimum Wage Carnival : 13 cities in Ontario (Workers’ Action Centre)
Toys “R” Us says they care about the community they serve. But Toys “R” Us chairs the board of directors of the Retail Council of Canada – an influential lobby group that is wanting to keep wages LOW for Ontario workers. Help us tell Toys “R” Us that 1 in 7 kids in Ontario live in poverty. If they care about our communities they will support a minimum wage that brings families out of poverty!

Claims of concern (Jamaica Observer)
CHIEF Technical Director in the Labour and Social Security Ministry Errol Miller says the entity will be looking into allegations of Jamaican migrant workers harassing women in the town of Leamington in Ontario, Canada, made in a media report on Monday. While it also fingers seasonal workers from other countries, the National Post report makes specific mention of Jamaican workers. When contacted yesterday, Miller told the Jamaica Observer that he was unaware of the claims. “The report you indicated is a report I am hearing for the first time and it is a report that we would have to investigate first of all, to ensure the authenticity and, also, to see what we could put in place to obviate those claims,” he told the Observer.

Fast-food sector wages hard to digest (Greg Fingas, Leader Post)
One KFC franchise operator with 53 temporary foreign workers already on its payroll (the thirdhighest total of any employer in the province) submitted a request for more. And four McDonald’s operators employed a total of 110 temporary foreign workers. That level of reliance on temporary foreign workers in fast food reflects one of the oft-cited problems with the temporary foreign worker program. In theory, employers may only hire temporary foreign workers if there’s an absence of workers with specific skills available in Canada. And it doesn’t seem particularly plausible that there are no Saskatchewan residents capable of working in fast food if offered a fair wage to take on the job.


Melt the Charity Chill with Ken Wyman – a webinar (Sustainability Network)
“Melt the Charity Chill”. Charities are legally allowed to spend up to 10% of their resources on advocacy. Yet it doesn’t always feel safe. Outspoken environmental groups (and charities in other sectors) have been publically attacked, and had their government funding cut. This session is designed to make sure that nonprofits and registered charities have a sound understanding as to what is safe to say, and what is too political in terms of CRA requirements.


Caledon’s 150-second challenge (Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute of Social Policy)
In 2012, the federal government announced − with no warning − that it was dismantling the National Council of Welfare and cutting all its work, including Welfare Incomes. After much deliberation, we decided at Caledon that we needed to keep alive this vital source of information. We had developed the original methodology and knew how very difficult it would be − and how long it would take − to reconstruct credible numbers. But Welfare Incomes is only one example of a larger problem. Information is under attack by the current federal government. We’ll have more to come on this vital issue and broader solution, the Canada Social Report, on which we are currently working. In the meantime, we are seeking help to keep alive Welfare Incomes, which provides the objective evidence to make the case for decent incomes and for welfare reform. Together we need to preserve this powerful weapon in the war on poverty.

Good Stats? (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with Armine Yalnizyan. She is a Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and our business commentator on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Hamilton’s poverty decline misleading, expert says (Molly Hayes, Hamilton Spectator)
While new national numbers suggest Hamilton’s poverty rate is in decline, a local expert warns the data should be taken with a grain of salt. According to the newly released 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) — which has replaced the long-form census — Hamilton is now ranked as the city with the 14th highest poverty rate in Ontario. On paper, that looks like a major improvement after being ranked fourth highest in 2006, and second highest in 2001 (according to the past two census reports). But Sara Mayo, social planner for the Social Planning and Research Council, says the figures are like apples and oranges — and advises against drawing comparisons.

Renfrew-Collingwood: Poverty stats spurred neighbourhood house to preserve and pickle (Vancouver Courier)
By offering classes in everything from Canning for Convenience, bread baking, Pickling Vietnamese Style, and drop-in gardening, this year’s fall schedule offered by the Food Security Institute at Collingwood Neighbourhood House reads like something out of a hipster-foodie bible with a side of 100 Mile Diet. Stephanie Lim, who coordinates Food Security Institute programs with co-worker Jason Hsieh, said the classes and initiatives were developed over time in response to a disturbing census find in the early 2000s that showed 30 per cent of the neighbourhood’s residents were living below the poverty line. The institute was established in 2002, with a $65,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

Affordable housing that works (Shawn Micallef, Toronto Star)
This year two rather special housing developments celebrate their 100th birthdays, the Spruce Court co-op in Cabbagetown, which received a Heritage Toronto plaque last weekend, and the Bain co-op in Riverdale, celebrating with an all day festival on Saturday. These co-ops might not be what you think of as “affordable” or “public” housing, but they represent a historic shift how Canada and Toronto accommodated people with lower incomes. Spruce and Bain were originally designed by British-born architect Eden Smith in the Arts and Crafts and English Cottage style, with additions in the 1920s.

Latest Media and Policy News: 12 Sept 2013 (ISAC)
Roundup of policy and poverty news from across Canada.

Upcoming Ontario conference “Make every vote count” (Unlock Democracy)
For those living in Ontario, we hope you can join us in Orillia from Sept 27th to 29th for this regional conference about voting reform!

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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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