Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Oct 22, 2013


Two-year study paints tough picture for new Canadians (Tabia Grant, Globe and Mail)
They live life at the edges of the economy, caring for children, cleaning corridors, packaging food and driving cabs. A two-year study released on Tuesday offers a rare glimpse at the working lives of newcomers in Toronto, shining a light on what it calls invisible hands in the citys marketplace. Its findings are based on surveys and interviews with 453 immigrants. Seven in 10 respondents are working in poor conditions such as jobs that have irregular hours or violate labour laws. Nearly half work in the informal economy for cash, without receipts to supplement their incomes. Seventy-one per cent earn less than $30,000 a year. And just 3 per cent who were professionals in their home countries are now working in their fields. The report also noted that 68 per cent of those who could find only casual work had some postsecondary education.

Press Release: New Report Shows Pervasiveness Of Informal Economy In Toronto (Wellesley Institute)
Shadow Economies: Economic Survival Strategies Of Toronto Immigrant Communities documents the realities of many immigrants who are stymied at the edge of the economic mainstream. The research conducted by the Toronto East Local Immigration Partnership and funded by the Wellesley Institute shows that many newcomers survive by participating in parallel economic activities, often facing exploitation in substandard work conditions, even in established businesses. Shadow Economies reports on surveys with over 450 immigrants in Toronto about their household economics. It found people working and living in the informal economy revealing a high number of newcomers working in poor, substandard jobs, where bullying and harassment are common and few employment standards are known or followed. Unregulated economic activities are widespread both in substandard employment and in undocumented, cash-centred shadow economies.

Immigration Beyond MTV Research Report 2013 – PDF (Canadian Coalition of Community-based Employability Training)
The Immigration Beyond MTV research report is the result of a pan-Canadian study conducted by the Canadian Coalition of Community-Based Employability Training (CCCBET) that focused on the integration of immigrants into the labour market outside of major urban centres. Since the research began in January 2010, 152 immigrants as well as employment counsellors and executive directors from 12 organizations located in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic Region have participated in the project. The goal of the research is to contribute to a better understanding of immigrants pathway toward social and occupational integration as well as to share best practices pertaining to the employment integration of newcomers outside metropolitan areas.

Will a new minister fix Canadas ideas-free citizenship policy? (Natalie Brender, Toronto Star)
It would be a truly excellent thing if Canadas government, and its new Citizenship and Immigration minister Chris Alexander, decided to figure out where the facts lie with respect to these matters, and then fix any glaring problems that need fixing. The government could even talk to New Zealand and Australia about their approach to resolving dilemmas of citizenship in a new globally mobile era. But theres not great reason for optimism on that front. As former Privy Council clerk Mel Cappe noted in a recent interview, last weeks Throne Speech as with the governments general track record was devoid of bold evidence-led ideas. Amid all the consumer-friendly measures dangled before voters, the speech said little about Canadas citizenship policy. While reaffirming some now-standard Conservative lines about the intrinsic value and commitments of citizenship, it left the governments commitment to action wholly vague: To strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship, our government will introduce the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.

Canadian Citizenship means the world to me (Adrienne Clarkson, New Canadian Media)
I arrived in Canada in 1942, when I was about two and a half years old. My family took refuge here after the Japanese conquered Hong Kong. We were welcomed, and were very fortunate to have a number of people take interest in us; helping neighbours was and still is an instinctive Canadian action. I became a Canadian citizen when I was 10 years old, and with each passing year, I grow more proud to say I belong to a country that welcomes the world.

News Release Celebrating Citizenship Week, Putting Canada First (CIC)
Canadas Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today invited Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take part in Citizenship Week 2013 activities happening in communities across Canada. Citizenship Week calls attention to the rights, privileges and responsibilities we have as citizens of this great country, said Alexander. Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.

When was the last time you thought about Canadian citizenship? (
Monday, October 21, marks the beginning of National Citizenship Week and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a national non-profit chaired by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul, is asking all Canadians to make their connection to citizenship: take a moment to welcome a new citizen, play an active role in your community or connect with Canadian culture. The ICC is celebrating with special community citizenship ceremonies and events focused on igniting all Canadians’ passion for citizenship. “Citizenship Week offers a chance for us to push the national conversation on citizenship further, helping more people connect with our country’s newest citizens by reflecting on their own citizenship,” said Gillian Smith, ICC Executive Director & CEO. “Our programs create a sense of belonging for all Canadians regardless of whether a family has been here for five years or five generations. We’re excited by everything that’s happening and hope to involve as many as possible.”

Support Striking Prisoners in Ontario: Panel Discussion and Letter Writing Night #MigrantStrike (
The Toronto ABC, No One Is Illegal – Toronto and the End Immigration Detention Network are organizing a panel of speakers and letter writing night to support striking prisoners in Ontario.
Sunday, October 27th 2013
6pm – 9pm
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham Avenue, Toronto.

Ottawa sweetens immigration pitch to foreign entrepreneurs with promise of mentorship (
Ottawa announced on Monday plans to bolster its existing startup visa program to include a new stream that connects prospective immigrant entrepreneurs with Canadian business incubators. Business incubators provide guidance to young business owners on everything from how to attract investors to advice on how to grow your startup into a fully fledged business.

Federal government launches business incubator immigration visa (Tobi Cohen,
The federal government is expanding its new start-up visa program for immigrant entrepreneurs even though it has yet to issue a single visa since the program launched six months ago. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced Monday a new business incubator immigration stream to complement existing venture capital and angel investor streams.

News Release Attracting the worlds best and brightest to Canada (CIC)
Canadas Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announces a new visa stream to attract foreign entrepreneurs to Canada. As part of our governments focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, it is critical for Canada to attract the best entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world, said Alexander. This new stream will partner Canadas world class business incubators with immigrant entrepreneurs, driving economic growth and placing Canada ahead of its competitors in the global economy of the 21st century.

Celebrating Citizenship Week, Putting Canada First (
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today invited Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take part in Citizenship Week 2013 activities happening in communities across Canada. “Citizenship Week calls attention to the rights, privileges and responsibilities we have as citizens of this great country,” said Alexander. “Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.”

Canada Shares Personal Information of Immigrant Applicants with U.S, Comments (
This fall, Canada will launch a new information-sharing system with the United States to strengthen border security by reducing the entrance of fraudulent refugee claimants and foreign criminals into the country. FWCanada comments in this regard that, as long as the new information system is implemented in accordance with privacy regulations in Canada, the increased efficiency promoted by the new information sharing system will benefit Canadian society. According to Alexis Pavlich, spokesperson for Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, this new platform “supports mutual efforts to facilitate legitimate travel and protect our common borders through improved screening of visitors before they enter our country.”

Jewish and Portuguese communities honour Second World War diplomat and humanitarian with playground dedication (City of Toronto)
On Sunday, October 20, City of Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul’s) and City staff joined representatives from Associação Cultural 25 de Abril, Leo Baeck Day School, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto to unveil the newly designed Sousa Mendes Playground and plaque honouring Second World War diplomat and humanitarian Aristides de Sousa Mendes for his selfless act of issuing visas, enabling thousands to escape the Nazi invasion of France in June 1940.

Portraits of mixed race couples (Cheryl Chan,
Statistics say were pretty colour-blind in Metro Vancouver. About 8.5 per cent of couples in the Lower Mainland are in mixed unions more than double the national figure of four per cent. We wanted to put a face to this fast-growing demographic, and asked readers in mixed-race pairings to share their photos with us. We asked for the basics: names, backgrounds, and the city they live in. Some couples graciously shared a bit more of their love story with us, which we included below.

More funding for immigrants language skills announced in Canada (Ray Clancy,
The Canadian government has announced more funding to help people arriving in Canada to ensure their language skills are stronger. Canadas Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said that the support is for newcomers as they acquire language skills, find work and integrate into the community.

Racism in Paradise: Interracial marriages still stir prejudice among many Canadians (Cheryl Chan,
Raj and Ashley Brars love story is an ordinary tale, at least in Metro Vancouver. Hes a high school teacher, shes a student nurse. They met through friends, drawn together by their love of history and a common Christian faith. They dated for two years, got married in August, and honeymooned in Hawaii. For the most part, their different skin colours hes brown, shes white havent mattered. Certainly not to them, their friends, or their families, not anymore anyway.

Montreal is a city running hot and cold, business leader says (Rene Bruemmer,
Yet Montreal has been hitting below its weight economically compared with the Canadian average for years. What, then, if anything, can a new mayor and administration do to revive it? The answer, economists say, lies in finding new revenue streams besides property taxes, streamlining city management, and increasing population by attracting more immigrants and giving them jobs, an area in which Montreal performs poorly. Why is it that, systematically, Torontos economy grows faster than Montreals? asks Mario Lefebvre, the director for municipal studies with the Conference Board of Canada, an independent research organization. One of the key answers resides in population growth. But you better be sure that if you want immigrants to pick (your city to live in) that employers are going to be willing to hire them.

So how do we change? (The Province)
Throughout our series, we have been asking people we’ve interviewed and people who’ve written columns for us: what needs to change. Here are some of their answers. Next, we want to hear from you. What needs to change to make ours a more inclusive and harmonious community? Send your thoughts on that, and on our series about racism to racism. We’ll run some reader feedback Wednesday and on Sunday. I feel like we are screaming in a snowstorm – we have to have basic equity in family supports.

Dont Tell Grandma (Helen Mo, Ethnic Aisle)
This might happen in other cultures, though every time Ive heard such a story it involved an Asian or South Asian family. I understand the rationale. How many of us, in the wake of awful news, want to crawl back into the seconds just before we knew? Yes, the truth would have been a blow. Yes, my grandmothers were ostensibly near the end of their lives. Yes, their children wanted only to preserve their happiness, to protect them. But preservation and protection have a cost. In her untroubled state, my paternal grandmother gave no informed consent to the treatments that others chose for her. Although my maternal grandmother was our bedrock, my family denied her a last opportunity to share the burden of grief. With one act, its possible to both love and disrespect. In Canada, preserving peace of mind doesnt take precedence over peoples right to know. After all, if its culturally acceptable to lie to people for their own good, is it just as acceptable for governments to protect citizens from messy truths? Transparency offers its own protection and respect, one that trusts people to choose their own fates and shoulder their own burdens.


Webinar Nov 6: Law’s Borders: Challenging assumptions about refugee resettlement (CCR)
Shauna Labman will present highlights of her research which challenges the assumption that resettlement is merely a voluntary complement to Canada’s refugee protection regime. She will look at how the law intersects with resettlement and how resettlement influences asylum law. The webinar will also be an opportunity to explore ways that academia and advocacy communities can and should connect.

FCJ Refugee Centre update (FCJ Centre)
The Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network is organizing a series of roundtables Building Collaboration to Combat Human Trafficking in the city of Toronto. The first roundtable will take place on 28th and 29th October, 2013. The event will be followed by two subsequent meetings that will take place next year to finalize the groundwork laid at the first meeting.

Former refugees help P.A. church sponsor family (Matt Gardner, Prince Albert Daily Herald)
Wesley United Church welcomed its first refugee family from Myanmar in the fall of 2007. Haenay Htoo and his family, a member of the countrys Karen minority, had lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for years before moving to Canada. Four or five years ago, Haenay Htoo asked us would we be willing to sponsor his brother, and we hesitated, church outreach committee member Ken Torbert said. But (we) agreed that it was such a good deal for us that we would. Their initial hesitation stemmed from the immense responsibility that sponsoring another family would involve, including food, accommodations, clothing and utilities.

Eritrean boat people need Canadas help (Aaron Berhane Mary Jo Leddy, Toronto Star)
Very few people from Eritrea, a dry and mountainous country, know how to swim. How tragic that their last hope lay in the waters of the Mediterranean. Such desperation seems far removed from Canada. We are separated from the suffering of Eritrea and other African countries by that ocean of indifference the Pope described. We sponsor very few refugees from Eritrea; we continue to return refused refugee claimants to certain imprisonment and possible death. We must learn to cry again, to cross this ocean of indifference. There is room enough in this vast country for a few more of these desperate boat people. In 2012, Canada fell well short of its goals for government sponsored refugees, 2,000 people short. We could rescue at least four boatloads of people from a terrible fate in the Mediterranean. As the vigilant vacationer off Lampedusa said, they are people. We must remember that.

Ottawa not expecting Czech refugee claims to surge (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says he is confident Canada wont see a spike in refugee claims from the Czech Republic after it lifts its visa requirement. The restriction against Czech nationals an effective tool in controlling the inflow of refugee claimants will be removed in coming weeks as part of the recent Canada-European Union Trade Agreement, said Alexander. In 2009, when Ottawa imposed the visa condition upon travellers from the Czech Republic, it immediately grounded the influx of Czech asylum seekers, mostly Roma, from 2,213 to 70 a year.

Monitor: Canadian government is getting tougher on refugee claimants, even if there’s danger at home (Katie Derosa,
A Tamil asylum seeker who came to Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea says shes hopeful her husbands deportation order will be suspended after news that one man deported to Sri Lanka was tortured and another was jailed and has since disappeared. I think its going to be good for us because my lawyer can show if we get sent back to the country it will happen the same thing to us, the woman said in an interview last week. Her name is not being published to protect her identity she said its even dangerous to be in contact with her parents because Sri Lankan officials have been questioning them on her whereabouts. Shes not surprised at allegations of torture by the Sri Lankan army, which she said is common against ethnic-minority Tamils.


Report refutes claims of Canadian labour shortages (Tavia Grant,
For all the cry over skills and labour shortages in Canada, little evidence points to their widespread existence, a new report says. Some pockets of Canada may be seeing shortages such as in the Prairies, but a study to be released Tuesday refutes the notion of looming economy-wide labour shortages. Analysis of vacancy, wage and unemployment rates in the country finds no proof of an imminent skills crisis. Perceptions can take on a life of their own without hard underlying facts supporting them, said Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at Toronto Dominion Bank, who wrote the paper with other bank economists.

BCTA Seeks Immigrant Drivers to Test Skills Assessment Tool (
The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) has developed a new skills-assessment tool called IDRIVE and is looking for 25 recent immigrants with professional truck-driving experience to participate in a pilot test to be scheduled in November or December 2013. BCTA is working with carriers to find ways to address a shortage of professional drivers that could run as high as 33,000 across Canada by 2020, according to a Conference Board of Canada study.

Skilled workers asked to consider P.G. (
Tomorrow will mark the beginning of a media campaign urging new Canadians in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to move to Prince George. The Consider Prince George campaign will use print media, TV ads, Facebook and Twitter to tell the stories of recent immigrants who came to Canada and built a new life in Prince George. The Prince George Chamber of Commerce is launching the campaign as part of a four-part campaign by local agencies to attract skilled workers to the city, chamber CEO Christie Ray said.

For your consideration (
On Tuesday the Prince George Chamber of Commerce is launching the Consider Prince George campaign. The media campaign is designed to encourage new Canadians living in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to consider relocating to Prince George. The campaign – a combination of print advertising, TV ads and social media – showcases the stories of new Canadians who have successfully settled in Prince George and made the city their home.

Would you move to Prince George? Media campaign invites new Canadians to take the plunge (Arthur Williams,
A media campaign is urging new Canadians in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to move to Prince George. The Consider Prince George campaign will use print media, TV ads, Facebook and Twitter to tell the stories of recent immigrants who came to Canada and built a new life in Prince George. The Prince George Chamber of Commerce is launching the campaign on Tuesday as part of a four-part campaign by local agencies to attract skilled workers to the city, chamber CEO Christie Ray said.

Law firms on wrong track on diversity, professors argue (Glenn Kauth,
Ontario law firms are focusing too much on external factors in explaining their lack of diversity and should instead look inward to question why their ranks aren’t more reflective of society, according to two professors who are studying the issue. The burden that has to be lifted is on those organizations that are not reflective of society, said Avner Levin, chairman of the law and business department at Ryerson Universitys Ted Rogers School of Management.

Ontario migrant workers win healthcare extension (Jeff Cottrill, OHS Canada)
The Health Services Appeal and Review Board (HSARB) has reaffirmed its decision to allow extended healthcare coverage for Ontario migrant workers in extreme medical cases, following an appeal by the provincial Ministry of Health. The initial decision, on Aug. 16, resulted from the case of two Jamaican workers, Kenroy Williams and Denville Clarke, who had been seriously injured in a road accident in Aug. 2012. As the two men were working under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), their Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage was originally slated to expire on Dec. 15, at the end of the agricultural season. The provincial government challenged the decision, but HSARB ruled in favour of the workers again on Oct. 4.


New CRA self-assessment helps determine acceptable political activities (CharityVillage)
The tool can be used to determine quickly whether the way your charity uses its resources for political activities is likely to raise concerns with the CRA. Note, however, that to be sure that your charity’s political activites are within the limits set out in the Income Tax Act, the CRA will have to examine the activities in detail.


Ontario Launches Open Government (Gov of Ontario news)
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Ontario’s new Open Government initiative today, which will give the people of Ontario a more transparent and accessible government, and more opportunities to access information and engage with the government on things that matter to them. A group of academic, business and community leaders will form an Open Government Engagement Team, which will be chaired by Don Lenihan. They will gather feedback from people across the province and report back to the government in spring, 2014.

Poverty Reduction Plan Presented to City Council (James Murray,
12.8 percent of Thunder Bay are considered to be living in poverty. That would be 15,000 of our residents. The final report will be available at the Brodie Street Library, the LU Library and at the Lakehead Social Planning Council Office. Council was told that there are many needs for low income residents. Those needs include affordable housing, infrastructure, recreational support, and stronger approaches to public safety.

To fight income inequality, we need a new politics (Keith Banting John Myles, Toronto Star)
Canadians are confronting a new inequality, and tackling it will require a new politics. The one great success of the Occupy Movement was to shift attention away from the ups and downs of Canadas poverty rate to the larger issue of income inequality and the phenomenal and ongoing rise in the incomes of the top 1 per cent. But an exclusive focus on the very top income earners obscures two important realities. First, if the division was the top 1 per cent versus the 99 per cent, the politics of managing inequality would be much easier. However, recent gains have not been limited to the top 1 per cent. Much of the top half of the income distribution has been doing better since the 1990s, pulling away from the middle.

Its not about charity, its about justice (Deirdre Pike,
And at the top of the food chain, there is a belief that those at the bottom should just pull up their socks, quit drinking and get a job. And somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is the ever-shrinking middle class. The majority of us belong to the 90 per cent category (including people in poverty) with average earnings of just over $31,000 and the most minimal increase in the last 20 years just 2 per cent. This widening gap between “the rich and the rest of us” is of great concern for many reasons. Besides the economic impacts of having so many people among us who are not able to use their skills and abilities to contribute to society, the social impacts of this new reality have proven to be even more troubling.

Public service losing its ability to provide policy advice, former top bureaucrat says (Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen)
There are not a lot of policy ideas floating around Ottawa these days because cabinet ministers dont ask for any and public servants may not be offering them. As Mel Cappe, one of Canadas former top bureaucrats puts it, there is a supply and demand problem for ideas in public policy. On the supply side, there is a shrinking number of smart policy analysts and researchers in the public service. Thats exacerbated on the demand side, where ministers are not asking for evidence or advice.

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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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