Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Oct 18, 2013


Experienced board directors on putting diversity into action (Bonnie Mah,
Board diversity is a hot topic of discussion these days especially following the Ontario Securities Commissions public consultation on the requirement for companies to disclose the number of women on their board and in senior management. But how do we move beyond talk?

Lunch: the most terrifying time of the day (Arlen Redekop,
Students at the Surrey School District English Language Learner Welcome Centre have two common goals: to learn English and survive Canadian high school. “Students feel isolated without English,” said teacher Jaime Courtade, a settlement worker from El Salvador. “This is a safe environment for six weeks. It can give them a pause to prepare for school.” The Welcome Centre has one of the biggest school caseloads of newcomers in B.C., conducting 2,000 English assessments in 2012-13, and serving 11,000 clients from 123 countries with 93 languages.

Youth in limbo (Elaine O’connor,
School’s out for the summer, but in a Port Moody Secondary portable, a dozen teens circle a table dabbling in fingerpaints. Their palms turn colours as they create a collage of cultural values. Some youth – newcomers from Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Egypt and Colombia – draw symbols: mountains, money, hearts. Several draw flags from Korea, Iran, Mexico. No one paints a Canadian flag. The teens are part of the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.’s Multicultural Youth or “MY Circle” peersupport program.

Immigrant Welcome Centre clientele up 300% (
The Immigrant Welcome Centre in Campbell River has seen a 300 per cent increase in clients over the last 18 months. That was part of the message Board of Director President Barb Walker gave to their Annual General Meeting last week at Robron Centre in Campbell River. “In the past 18 months our staff have seen more than a 300 per cent increase in clients,” said Walker. “Their needs are as diverse as the over 60 countries they represent. One thing remains the same, from Courtenay all the way to Port Hardy, immigrants want to build their families here.”

Alternative to Quebec’s Charter of Values Proposed (Yosie Saint-Cyr,
Although the Parti Québécois government has yet to table any legislation regarding it’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values, and has not provided any firm date as to when it expects to do so, on October 9, 2013, a Québec solidaire member of the national assembly tabled private member’s Bill 398, Charter of Quebec State Secularism in the assembly. This Bill conveys that partys position and tries to provide a compromise to end the contentious debate sparked by the PQs proposal.

OSC urging corporate Canada to recruit more women (
The scarcity of women in Canadian boardrooms has the country’s biggest regulator pushing for mandatory changes that would shame corporations for their lack of gender diversity. The Ontario Securities Commission said Wednesday it expects to make recommendations to the provincial government later this fall, which may include asking companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange to disclose how they’re increasing the number of women in their highest executive ranks.

Man Pleads Guilty to Immigration Act Breaches (VOCM)
A 52-year-old Portuguese man has pleaded guilty to charges after breaching the Canada Immigration Act. José Fernandes was arrested by Canada Border Service Agents after improperly arriving in the country on September 8th. He was a passenger on the cruise ship Eurodam when it docked in St. John’s for the day. Fernandes had paid a man who claimed to be an Immigration Officer $25,000 for a forged passport using the name James Swift. The fraudulent passport alerted border officials leading to Fernandes’ arrest in St. John’s.

This Map of Torontos Ethnic Distribution Raises Questions (Peter Goffin,
Sure we’re inclusive, but are we equal? At first glance its impossible to ignore: Jeff Clarks map of ethnic distribution in the GTA (you can see a big, zoomable version on his website) shows that in large swaths of Toronto along the lakeshore, around the city centre, and up the west bank of the Don, Toronto the Good looks more like Toronto the Fairor, at least, the fair-skinned. But according to Clark, thats just an illusion. The professional programmer created the piece as a way of exploring Statistics Canada census information, and also as a means of flexing his data analysis skills for prospective employers. At least to his eye, the map lives up to Torontos reputation as a multicultural haven, despite what appear to be several highly concentrated, homogenous areas around town. If you zoom in very far on any area within the city, you will find members of different minority groups, Clark said. The distribution is certainly not uniform, but there does not appear to be any artificial separation to me.

A Point of View: Confessions of an Unconscious Bias (Travis Jones,
Several weeks ago I had an enlightening, although embarrassing, experience that after I shared with only a few people I thought, Ill just tuck this memory away in the embarrassment corner of my mind and hope it doesnt surface again. But after some thought, the ripeness of the lesson learned and the power of confession convinced me to share it with all of you.

CASSAs 3rd Annual Health Equity Conference (
Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, CASA invites you to the 3rd Annual Health Equity Conference. Building an Effective South Asian Health Strategy in Ontario.

What is Diversity? Part 4: From Invisibility to Sameness (Mary-frances Winters,
There was a cartoon a few years ago that said, I would like to find some diverse candidates as long as they are diverse like me. While we found the humor in it we also laughed because we knew, as with many jokes, there was a lot of truth in those sentiments. Last week I wrote about the The Visibly Invisible. The diversity iceberg (pictured below), that so many of us are familiar with, depicts diversity dimensions that we can see and others that we cannot see. I postulated that many people who identify with the seeable dimensions still often feel invisible.

Obtaining passports or travel documents for landing from the Canada Border Services Agency and officers discretion to waive the passport requirement for landing purposes Operational Bulletin 553 October 17, 2013 (CIC)
This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides instructions for retrieving passports or travel documents in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices in Canada to complete stage 2 processing or landing procedures for all permanent resident applicants. It also clarifies guidelines for officers discretion to waive passport requirements when an applicant is close to landing, when circumstances warrant.

Letter: Members of religious minorities are Canadians, not immigrants (
The debate on a secular society, especially in Quebec, is not only academically stimulating, but also a very timely and necessary one. My issue is with its framing and the lack of understanding shown by a large proportion of the population. In case anybody still has any doubt, all of the immigrants sporting those now controversial kippahs and hijabs did not all come to Canada yesterday.

Media Advisory: Toronto Hosts 1,500 as Highlight of ESL Week Celebration (
Did you know that English language training professionals do more than teach language skills? They are also key resources for the multitude of community services their students need to adapt and succeed in their new way of life and chosen place of residence in Ontario.

Manitoba proclaims October as Islamic History Month (
The province has officially proclaimed October as Islamic History Month. The proclamation was made Wednesday at the legislature to recognize and celebrate the history and heritage of Manitoba Muslims. Its the first time a province has designated Islamic History Month, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Christine Melnick said Wednesday in a news release. “In Manitoba we value and cherish our ethnic diversity, to which the Muslim community contributes so richly,” said Melnick in the release.

Canada Muslims Celebrate Inclusive `Eid (Muneeb Nasir,
Overcoming challenges to share `Eid with all Muslims, special `Eid prayers and celebrations have been hosted at Torontos CNE Direct Energy Centre with a colorful display of the communitys diversity and compassion to the citys special needs population. Weve organized this `Eid to be accessible to all members of our community, Abdussalam Nakua, spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Canada, told

Town recognizes importance of ESL education (
The Town of Midland has declared the week of Oct. 20-26 as English as a Second Language (ESL) Week in celebration of learners and educators throughout Ontario. The week is intended to raise awareness of the importance of ESL education for Ontarians and newcomers to Canada.

Welcome to Cosmopolis Toronto!
This project should speak to modern day Toronto (including the Greater Toronto Area) a city that some argue is the most cosmopolitan in the world. For this project I (Colin Boyd Shafer) set out to photograph someone born in every single country of the world, who now calls Toronto home. Cosmopolis in fact means a city inhabited by people from many different countries. Travelling, I was often told I look Canadian. This never really made sense to me, given the fact that the Canadians I know are an extremely diverse bunch and besides, neither of my parents were born in Canada!

Presentation Videos: #CdnImm Event #17 – Francophone Immigration to Ontario (Settlement AtWork)
Following up on the success of #CdnImm Event #15 held in French in May 2013 on the topic of Immigration and the Francophone Community in Ontario, this event in English was organized to bring together Anglophone and Francophone communities to discuss issues specific to Francophone immigration in Ontario. The Francophone community in Ontario is growing. Numbered at 611,000 people in 2013, its internal diversity is a richness which can benefit the community. In terms of immigration, how can the Francophone community build a win-win partnership with the majority Anglophone community? What can Francophone agencies learn from Quebecs experience in terms of welcoming and integrating newcomers? For many observers of the Franco-Ontarian scene, the added value brought by Francophone newcomers has not been sufficiently taken into account by the mainstream Francophone community.

Provincial human rights commission slams proposed Quebec values charter and other charter news (Andrew Griffith, Multicultural Meanderings)
Not surprisingly, the Quebec provincial human rights commission comes out against the proposed Charter. As the provincial charter can be amended by a simple majority vote in Quebecs Assembée nationale, not an insurmountable obstacle. The federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on the other hand, is in our Constitution and is not subject to easy amendment (in practice, likely impossible).


Inside look: Uxbridge photographer documents experience at Syrian refugee camp (Shawn Cayley,
While the sights and sounds are sometimes difficult to stomach, Brad Catleugh takes plenty of pride in what he does, exposing the hidden world that lurks inside many refugee camps. The 25-year-old Uxbridge photographer recently spent time inside a Syrian camp in the small Turkish town of Killis during a three-month foray overseas. That visit came on the heels of a trip to Jordan to investigate its refugee camps earlier this year.

COUNTERPOINT: Genuine refugees still covered (
Your Oct. 12 article, Refugees health at risk, compels me to write to set the record straight for your readers. The Wellesley Institute report that was cited is deeply flawed. It is both unscientific and anecdotal, and was done by an activist group that is trying to mislead people to prove an inaccurate thesis.

Langley mother yearns to re-unite with son (
Harriet Kamara just wants to bring her son to Canada. The Langley woman came to Canada as a refugee more than a decade ago, and has spent her time building a new life. She has supported herself as a hairdresser, working her way up to managing a local salon. Every month, she’s sent money home to relatives in Sierra Leone, a country still recovering from a brutal civil war – she’s been helping to put several relatives through school.

Migrant boat tragedies in the Mediterranean spark calls for action (CBC The Current)
Thousands of people fleeing poverty and conflicts in Africa and beyond are escaping to the island of Lampedusa, trying to start a new life. Those who make it to shore alive are the lucky ones, because just in the past few weeks, several hundred migrants have drowned during their unsafe passage. Today we look at what’s happening on Lampedusa and what changes need to take place.


Building Community Leadership for a more Competitive Toronto Region (hireimmigrants)
On November 13, 2013, the Toronto Region Board of Trade is hosting this RBC-sponsored diversity panel: Building Community Leadership for a more Competitive Toronto Region.

Cap temporary foreign workers: report (Tobi Cohen,
A new report is calling for a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers admitted to Canada on an annual basis, pending wholesale changes to the beleaguered program that currently risks taking jobs away from young Canadians entering the labour market and from lower-skilled Canadian workers. The Institute for Research on Public Policy, a non-partisan think-tank, calls preliminary changes to the program announced by the federal government earlier this year a “step in the right direction.”

Economic Implications of Recent Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Christopher Worswick, IRPP)
Recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program are a good start, but further reform is necessary to prevent excessive reliance on the program by Canadian employers. The author of a new paper from the IRPP considers four of the recent changes. Christopher Worswick of Carleton University says that an annual cap on the number of temporary workers entering Canada should be implemented while additional changes are considered. An increasing number of companies are looking outside the country when hiring, and there are claims that this may come at the expense of younger and less-skilled Canadians. In 2012, 213,573 temporary foreign workers were admitted to Canada, almost two and a half times as many as in 1995. For Worswick, the growth in the number of temporary foreign workers numbers is a cause for concern. Its timing, which coincides with a period of weakness in the Canadian economy, is especially troubling.

Kenney urges companies to double, triple, their efforts to hire Canadians (Amanda Stephenson,
Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney urged business owners Thursday to work harder to hire Canadians first, warning that the Temporary Foreign Worker program they may be depending on will not be allowed to keep growing at its current rate. I dont want to hear any employers coming to me now or in the future saying they want access to the Temporary Foreign Worker program unless or until they tell me first of all what theyre doing to recruit underemployed or unemployed Canadians, Kenney said in an address at the National Skilled Migration Conference, a first-of-its kind event being held in Calgary this week and hosted by Calgary Economic Development.

Canadas skills gap widening, survey shows (Richard Blackwell,
The shortage of skilled employees in Canada is deepening, and government policies that tightened the rules governing foreign workers have made the situation worse. Thats the message of a new study from global recruiting firm Hays PLC, which surveyed the skills gap in 30 developed countries around the world. Canada ranks ninth among those countries for the severity of its skills shortage, and its score deteriorated in the past year.

Where did all our skilled workers go? (Gary Mason, Globe and Mail)
Once upon a time, shop class was mandatory in most high schools. There was a belief that even if a student wasnt intent on becoming a mechanic or carpenter, having some basic life skills in these areas wasnt a bad thing. Over time, however, shop began to look dated and irrelevant and was given less status. Somewhere along the way, it was drilled into students that the only way to get ahead in life was to go to university and earn a degree.

Migrant Workers Seeking Parental Benefits (Maureen Revait,
A ruling on seasonal workers rights to parental benefits should come down shortly. The Agriculture Workers Alliance is representing 102 workers who worked in the Niagara and Simcoe area, who applied for employment insurance benefits, but were declined. Government officials contend they took too long to file, but the workers alliance argues the timing doesnt matter. The parental benefits are for workers who returned home from Canada and helped care for a newborn before returning back to Canada. Because they pay into the same EI benefits as everyone else, the law says theyre entitled to the same benefits offered to all Canadians.

Young, unpaid workers face thin protections under Ontario law (Zoe McKnight, Toronto Star)
Ontarios labour ministry has been warned that holes in provincial labour law leave young workers particularly vulnerable, the Star has learned. Unpaid interns arent protected by health and safety laws. Apprentices may not be fully protected by the Employment Standards Act. And many unpaid internships could be illegal. According to a confidential internal ministerial briefing note obtained by the Star, the Occupational Health and Safety Act the cornerstone legislation for workplace health and safety may not apply to workers if they dont get a paycheque. That especially affects those who are part of the growing phenomenon of unpaid interns.

New law protects immigrants (Yorkton this week)
The Saskatchewan Government recently proclaimed The Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act and regulations. The new legislation will protect immigrants and foreign workers from exploitation and mistreatment while they are in the process of immigrating to the province or are being recruited to work. The legislation proclaimed will ensure fair treatment of foreign workers coming to Saskatchewan, Minister responsible for Immigration Bill Boyd said. This Act is one of the most comprehensive and progressive pieces of legislation in Canada to protect foreign nationals. It will protect newcomers to the province who may be vulnerable to exploitation because of their language ability or lack of knowledge about law or culture.


Edmonton plan calls for end to poverty in a generation (
With just days left in the municipal election campaign, a City of Edmonton-led committee is trying to get poverty on the agenda. Committee co-chair Allan Undheim said poverty costs Albertans $7 billion a year in health-care and crime expenses. (CBC) The Edmonton Poverty Elimination Steering Committee, which includes 26 governmental, non-profit and private entities, has set a goal to eliminate poverty in the city by 2024.

Democracy’s secret ingredient? We found it. (Jennifer Phillips,
What makes democracy tick? Everyday people who jump into the fray and make their voices heard. For the past four months, Samara has been collecting the stories of Everyday Political Citizens, people who work through the political system to improve their communities, and who often go unrecognized for their important work. We already have 100 nominees, ranging from grassroots activists to campaign workers to lifelong party members.

Report on income inequality from the Social Planning Council of Hamilton ()
Sara Mayo at SPCH has recently published a report on income inequality in Hamilton, Ontario. Here’s a quote from the release: Even after inflation, the average income of the top 1% richest in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan area has grown by almost 50% since 1982, while the average income of the bottom 90% of taxfilers has grown by only 2% in this same period. For every dollar in new income in the Hamilton community in the last three decades, the top 1% have received 13 cents, while the bottom 90% have only shared 60 cents.

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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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