Immigration & Diversity news headlines – September 4, 2013


Looking beyond the Charter of Quebec Values: City charters and immigrant integration (Piali Roy, Maytree)
Charters are used to express a communitys values and intentions towards its residents, but not all are alike. The Parti Quebecois proposal a ban on the wearing of religious symbols, such as kippas, turbans, hijabs and crucifixes, by all public sector employees stands in opposition to a growing city charter movement that emphasizes inclusiveness and anti-discrimination. Whereas the provinces so-called secular charter is meant to legislate the values of the majority population to promote assimilation, many city charters are used to show commitment to increased diversity.

Indecent Proposals: Why the Fraser Institute is Wrong on Immigration (Patti Tamara Lenard, CIPS)
My best guess is that the Fraser Institute expects no one to read the report behind their newest sensationalist press release, in which they claim that the cost of immigrants to Canada is staggeringly high. Anyone who looked at the report more closely would find false claims, deliberately misleading arguments, a naive understanding of global migration trends, and evident ignorance of what informs Canadas immigration priorities. The report is so poor and illogical that it cannot be taken seriously as contributing to public debates about policy reform in the domain of immigration.

Supporting Excellence in Health Care Communication (Settlement AtWork)
Your health matters and thats why its critical for Ontario to address the shortage of trained health care professionals throughout our province as efficiently as possible. One way to do this is through better leveraging of the immense talent of Ontarios internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs). Many immigrants to our province possess the necessary technical skills to help improve our healthcare system, but need support in attaining the appropriate communication competency to successfully navigate the cultural and linguistic demands of Ontarios health network.

Secularism or white supremacy (Mona Luxion, McGill Daily)
The big story these days in the Quebec media and political world is the newly-proposed Charte de la laïcité, or secular charter of values. The charter would forbid the wearing or display of religious symbols in public buildings, including any government office, hospital, or school. This is allegedly done in the name of the separation of church and state, though no ones ever adequately explained to me how what one wears affects whether or not one will support religiously motivated laws, or try to pass off religious doctrine as education. In fact, the only thing this charter seems certain to do is make life more difficult for people whose religion and culture require certain forms of dress most prominently Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs, and notably not the majority of Christians. As a result, this law does not unify people under a common umbrella of secularism, but in fact targets many religious people of colour and Jewish people for harassment, disciplinary sanctions, or difficult choices between employment, culture, and faith.

Senate snapshots: Sen. Don Oliver reflects on how Canada has changed for racial minorities (Fiona Buchanan,
Sen. Don Oliver has noticed a lot of change over the course of his life when it comes to discrimination. Oliver is the first black man appointed to Canadas Senate (he is preceded by Anne Cools, the first black person to hold a seat in the red chamber) and is one of only three black senators in a chamber of 105 seats. Appointed 23 years ago, the 74-year-old senator is set to retire this fall. During his time in office, Oliver has seen the Senate evolve in tune with some of the changes that took place in society during his lifetime. Growing up in Wolfville, N.S., Oliver says he frequently experienced overt displays of racism in the 1940s and 1950s, from barbershops that would refuse to cut his hair, to people spitting at him and calling him names.

Ontario’s premier criticizes Quebec’s secular charter, says diversity is strength (Winnipeg Free Press)
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has become the latest Canadian political leader to criticize Quebec’s proposal to ban public servants from wearing religious symbols. The Parti Quebecois government has proposed a Charter of Quebec Values which reportedly would restrict the right of public employees to wear religious items like turbans, yarmulkes, hijabs and visible crosses. That’s not something Ontario will be doing, Wynne said Tuesday. “It’s very important to me that Ontario is a diverse province, that our laws and our policies reflect that diversity,” she told reporters in Thunder Bay, Ont. “I believe that it is fundamentally one of our strengths, and as we talk about our place, Ontario’s place, in the global economy, our diversity is part of that.”

Kicking off the school year: What CCLET has in store (CCLA)
First the old. CCLAs education arm, the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust (CCLET), has been engaging students and teachers on the topic of rights and freedoms since 1968. In public schools all over Ontario, CCLET introduces civil liberties to kids through lesson plans, discussion materials, and our Thats Not Fair animated web series. You can view our complete collection of learning resources on our website.

New immigrant students face culture shock (Wanda Chow, Burnaby Newsleader)
The parent’s initial reaction is not uncommon for new immigrants from China, where school principals are very authoritative and parents are typically intimidated by administrators, Chan said. Dealing with this and other differences is all part of the culture shock new immigrants face when entering the Canadian school system. Settlement workers like Chan aim to ease the often-significant transition, and were hosting orientation sessions for such students last week. While refugee students often have the added challenge of coping with traumas faced before escaping their home countries amidst civil war, regular run-of-the-mill new immigrants have no shortage of adjustments to make.

We are the world (Raza Shah, Star Phoenix)
I’ve often heard people say countries like Canada have no culture. After having travelled abroad over the past few years, however, I realized that Canada’s culture is its multiculturalism. While other countries take pride in their individual cultures, people from nearly every nation on Earth have made a home in Canada. This makes this country a bouquet of diversity.!

Federal government to reduce citizenship backlog by slashing dormant applications (Tobi Cohen,
The federal government is hoping to reduce wait times for citizenship by slashing its inventory of dormant applications, Postmedia News has learned. Starting Wednesday, Citizenship and Immigration will shut the files of those who fail to attend multiple scheduled citizenship tests or interviews. Applications submitted on or after April 17, 2009 will also be considered dormant and closed if applicants fail to provide proof of residency after receiving two notices to do so from the government.

Canadas Cultural Conundrum (Anna Wild, Hush Magazine)
(NOTE: image at top of article may not be suitable for work)
Canada has long been known for being one of the most diverse, polite, accepting and accommodating countries on the planet. Canadian citizens who are born and raised here are by-and-large taught to be tolerant and non-discriminatory of all races, cultures and people with various lifestyle preferences. The unfortunate part is that a growing portion of people who were not born and raised here seem to be taking this tolerance for granted or even abusing it. Take, for example, the recent case of a Chinese woman in Richmond who demanded a formal apology from a local McDonalds restaurant after being refused service because the order-taker could not understand her due to her inability to speak proper English. The woman, Hai Xia Sun who allegedly immigrated to Canada roughly 10 years ago ordered a hot chocolate from the fast-food chain but instead she received a mocha (cue the violin music). She then complained and tried to correct the order in broken English, but the manager who was serving her could not understand her and finally asked her to leave because there was a long lineup and it didnt seem like they were getting anywhere. Sun then took her story to the media claiming racial discrimination and demanding a formal apology from the company.


More than Bricks and Mortar: Employability and Housing in Refugee Communities (Cities of Migration)
When Youssouf first arrived in Bolton, Greater Manchester, as an African asylum seeker, his chances of finding employment seemed slim. Although he had a professional background in local government and was keen to work, local unemployment levels and some hostility towards asylum seekers made him wonder how he would possibly get his foot on the ladder. Meanwhile, a Bolton housing association was suffering a skills shortage. Their manager particularly identified that they needed people who would understand the housing needs of refugees and asylum seekers in the area. The innovative Reach In project, run by housing charity HACT, matched them up for a work placement. The result? Youssouf is now employed as a customer services officer with the housing association and leads HACTs liaison efforts with refugee community members.

Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 8 #5, 3 September 2013 (CCR)
In this issue:
A Step Forward: Supreme Court clarifies standards of refugee protection and exclusion
Towards a thirty year low in refugees accepted in Canada?
Kick off a new season of refugee rights at the CCR Summer Working Group meetings
Show you are Proud to Protect Refugees this fall
Chair of Truth and Reconciliation Commission to open CCR Fall Consultation

Canadian government examined limiting refugees with health problems: documents (Benjamin Shingler, Ottawa Citizen)
The federal government has examined setting limits on the number of refugees that Canada takes in with health problems, such as trauma from torture. Staff at Citizenship and Immigration Canada were asked last year to suggest ways to cut down on the number of “high needs” refugees in order to reduce strain on the health-care system, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press. That request came from former immigration minister Jason Kenney, who is still the Conservatives’ minister responsible for multiculturalism.

Interim Federal Health Program: Administrative Burdens Compromise Refugee Health Care Access (Sonal Marwah, Wellesley Institute)
The new IFH is a painful bureaucratic maze to work through! No one is still clear on what exactly our patients are covered for or not! And this is not the reason why I became a doctor. The IFH administrative maze can be attributed to the use of ambiguous terminology in the IFH regulations and the new refugee categories. Refugee claimants (consisting of DCO and rejected refugee claimants, which combined constitute a larger share of the refugee applicants as compared to the number of Government-Assisted and Privately sponsored refugees) receive public safety health care coverage, where health assistance is provided only if the health condition is deemed to be a public health risk. Yet there is no clear definition on how to determine the public danger, or the degree of risk which warrants treatment, or who is qualified to make the decision.

From Congo to Winnipeg, starting school in a new country (CBC)
Monique Burke of the N.E.E.D.S Centre, (Newcomers Employment and Education Development Services), an agency that provides support for immigrant and refugee children, said Bomera is able to start school right away, but there are many others who benefit from support. “We just try to help students develop the essential skills, language and other skills, before they enter the public school system,” she said. Burke said 45 children just went through their program to get ready for school in Winnipeg. Bomera said he’s getting used to the peace and quiet, and life without war.


Project demonstrates success of bridging programs for new Canadians (Humber College)
Like a lot of other immigrants, I struggled in the beginning. I struggled for 2 ½ years, sending my resume to different companies. I saw an ad for the bridging program for internationally trained engineers, and it has helped me a lot. All of us have gotten employment before graduating. As a new immigrant last year, I was a little lost I wanted to create a career for myself as a developer here and now I have. This program gives foreign-trained engineers hope. I could describe it as one of those golden tickets to a solid future.

Predictive labour market model possible: CAF (Kelly Lapointe, Daily Commercial News)
It is possible to develop a model that assesses labour market conditions in the Canadian skilled trades which takes into account immigration and mobility patterns, among others, according to a Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) study. We want to be able to respond to labour market shortages and we have to understand where they are…I think it opens the doorway to something that could be next, said CAF executive director Sarah Watts-Rynard.–predictive-labour-market-model-possible-caf

Lowering our standards for workers’ rights (Trish Hennessy,
The right-wing Fraser Institute has released a paper that, if implemented, would dramatically lower our standards for worker pay, workers’ rights and workplace protections. It urges governments in Ontario and B.C. to adopt American-style “right-to-work” (RTW) laws which violate a core principle upheld in Canadian law: if a majority of workers in a workplace vote to form a union, everyone should be a member and pay dues — because all workers in that workplace benefit from the gains made by the union in their workplace. Effectively, it would undermine unions’ right to organize in Canada.

Open Letter to the Mayor of Leamington John Paterson over recent comments pertaining to migrant workers (Justice for Migrant Workers)
Your analysis does not acknowledge the power imbalance in your community. You and your council are free to condemn and stigmatize migrant workers without any real and significant response from workers themselves; a population who have lived and worked in Leamington for fifty years, but continue to be considered temporary. Your recent remarks pertaining to lewd behaviour of migrant workers cannot be taken in good faith. Instead of dealing with sexual harassment on an individual basis, you skip right to racialized stereotypes; drawing from some of the worst parts of Canadian history. It does not escape us that the community of Leamington once supported sundown laws which made it illegal for Black Canadians to walk freely in the community after sunset.


CSI Innovators Newsletter Everything Social Innovation (CSI)
And the winners are… Meet your 2013 Youth Agents of Change!

How much do you know about social enterprises in Ontario? – Paul Chamberlain (Helen Burstyn, ONN)
If youre interested in the social enterprise space, youve likely heard a lot of fascinating stories about social enterprises (SE). Social enterprises that are hiring people who face barriers to employment. SEs which are helping farmers sell food locally or are sharing our culture through museums and theatres. I love to hear and share these stories. But in my work at CCEDNet, I get asked more difficult questions. The how many questions. The whats the real impact questions. Its because of these kinds of questions that I was really excited to work with my colleagues at CCEDNet to conduct the BALTA survey of nonprofit social enterprises for Ontario, the first provincial study to focus exclusively on social enterprise.


Close the Housing Gap campaign to enter new phase (City of Toronto)
The City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing will announce an exciting new phase in the Close the Housing Gap advocacy campaign, unveiling the poster that will appear in 135 bus shelters throughout Toronto and in Ottawa. Campaign co-chairs Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport), Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, and Toronto Community Housing Chair Bud Purves, along with Toronto Community Housing President and CEO Gene Jones, will be joined by social housing tenants and representatives from supporting organizations.

Ontario welfare reforms roll out this month (Laurie Monsebraaten, Toronto Star)
Linda McNeils passion is food. But the part-time cook works only about 10 hours a month, because for every dollar she earns, she loses 50 cents off her monthly $1,075 Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) cheque. Its really not worth it, says the 46-year-old self-professed Jill of all trades. She was forced onto welfare in 2009 due to a rare auto-immune disease. Starting this month, however, people on social assistance will be able to keep the first $200 they earn before triggering welfare claw-backs. The measure, announced in last springs provincial budget, is a change NcNeil and anti-poverty advocates say is long overdue.

Video: Food Insecurity is a Lack of Humanity: Lynn McIntyre at TEDxCalgary (TEDxCalgary)
Lynn McIntyre speaks eloquently about how inadequate access to food due to financial constraints comes from a lack of appropriate policy and action.

On income inequality, Andrew Coyne misses the mark (Andrew Jackson, Broadbent Institute)
Andrew Coyne marshals an impressive range of statistics to make the case that rising income inequality is not a serious issue. A careful reading of his article shows that this is not the case. As Coyne himself agrees, top incomes (incomes of the top 20%) rose much faster than those of middle and lower income groups for two of the last three decades. Things got worse over the 1980s and 1990s, and then there was a change, of sorts.


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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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