IMMIGRATION AND DIVERSITY
Are you a city-builder? (DiverseCity Toronto)
We are calling for applications for the 2013 DiverseCity Fellows program. Apply now if you want to work with others on a city-building project, connect with a wide range of civic leaders, and strengthen your teamwork and leadership skills. Want to learn more about CivicActions DiverseCity Fellows program and Emerging Leaders Network? Join us for an orientation webinar on Thursday, July 27 from 12:00-1:00PM. Register online. Fellows bring their own perspectives to the program, and each takes away something different! Hear from some of the 2012 DiverseCity Fellows about their experience.
Permanent Resident Voting Isnt Backwards, Its Back To The Future (Desmond Cole)
Dissenters of the idea of permanent residents voting in our local elections, an idea Toronto city council endorsed this week, love to bang the drum of the status quo. Many reference, in the most superficial terms, the traditions enshrined within our British parliamentary system. They take offense at the mere suggestion of reform, as if the human and financial costs of our ever-lengthening citizenship process are mere inconveniences we must all bear. But why dont critics like the Globe and Mails Marcus Gee, who unfortunately called the request to enfranchise permanent residents a thoroughly backwards idea, ever mention that permanent residents have historically always been allowed to vote locally? This back-to-the-future proposal is a well-documented fact, and a seemingly inconvenient one for those who expect todays newcomers to pipe down and get back in line.
OCASI 35th Anniversary (OCASI)
For the past 35 years, OCASI has been actively involved in the promotion of the rights of immigrants and refugees in Canada. As things continue to change rapidly in our sector and with the Council, we see it necessary to take time to reflect upon and celebrate the continued efforts of our members and allies, as well as an opportunity to look into the future.
Globe and Mail Series on the growth of the Ontario city of Brampton – (Dakshana Bascaramurty)
Articles in this series:
A window to Canada’s future: how Brampton became a city to watch
How Brampton demonstrates the new vision of Canada
Diversity services in Brampton: A new frontier in treating patients
Tips on avoiding a clash between religious practice and medical
Diversity services in Brampton: A new frontier in treating patients
Video: How Brampton provides a glimpse into Canada’s future
Video: What one Brampton hospital is doing to accommodate its diverse population
Meet Harpal Singh, an Indian immigrant in Brampton
Sikh gurdwara reflects a radical openness to everyone
Five Thoughts about the Quebec Turban Kerfuffle (Navneet Alang, Ethnic Aisle)
Though a sensitive cultural issue in Quebec is a bit outside the purview of our Toronto-focused blog, given how it articulates so much about Canadian multiculturalism in general, I couldnt stay away from the topic. So here, in no particular order, are five points on the matter.
Behind the mask of perfection hides the flawed truth (Mohammed Al-Sharhan, Arab News)
How many times have you heard people repeating this sentence before, you would not see this in the western world, or If he was a westerner you wouldnt have seen him act this way. But why do Human Rights defenders in the Arab world constantly base their criticism on comparing between two different societies? Why are they deliberately trying to spread the view that their own society is a less civilized society that is a million miles away from the western perfect society? Although Canada is a multicultural society, the statistics of census of population have shown that the total number of interracial couples in 2006 was only four percent from the total number of 7,482,800 couples there. Also, the Canadian security intelligence investigations had conducted a poll in 2009 that have shown that racial crimes are up by 42 percent than it was in 2008, while the most common crimes were racial crimes with more than a half of the total number of hate crimes; religion, and sexual orientation had their fair share of the total hate crimes as well, with numbers of 29 percent that was reported to be crimes because of religion and 13 percent were crimes because of sexual orientation.
A reason not to become a citizen (Readers’ Letters, Toronto Star)
I have been living in Toronto for 10 years and I decided a long time ago not to become a Canadian citizen. Why? My reason is quite simple. My home country does not allow for dual citizenship. If it did I would run to the immigration office and become a true Canadian. The Canadian Immigration Act is very liberal compared to most other countries. I come from Norway and it does not accept dual status. I could give up my Norwegian citizenship, but after serious consideration I have chosen not to do so. The only reason being that my children can have dual status as long as I stay Norwegian. If I give up my Norwegian status, my kids would lose their status as well. I want them to have the right to make their own choice when they are old enough.
Who is a good citizen? A good MP? Deserving of voting rights? This week in #cdnpoli identity crises (Leora Smith, Samara Canada)
Electoral reform alert! Toronto city council voted to support ranked ballots in municipal elections (read more here) and to let permanent residents vote. Now its up to the province to give them the O.K.
Survey shows immigration flows rising in OECD countries (Workpermit.com)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released its International Migration Outlook for 2013. The report shows that the level of immigration in OECD countries is rising but remains lower than it was before the economic crisis of 2007. Permanent immigration to OECD countries rose by 2% in 2011 and by a further 2% in 2012. It also finds that the number of international students continues to rise. There were over 2.6m such students in 2010. By far the greatest number of migrants, 1.06m, settled in the US in 2012. Next came Russia (413,000), Spain (349,000), the UK (321,000) and Italy (312,000). The US also has the highest total immigrant population. 40.38m people who reside in the US were born elsewhere. This compares with 7.43m in the UK, 6.93 in Canada and 6.03m in Australia.
CIC announces proposed changes to ‘dependent children’ definition – International Law Office (International Law Office)
On May 10 2013 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced proposed regulatory amendments that will narrow the definition of ‘dependent child’ by reducing the age limit to children under the age of 19 and removing the exception for full-time students. Once implemented, this proposed change will adversely affect the dependent children of all prospective immigrants to Canada.
Proposed reduction in age of dependent children (CCR)
The proposed changes will likely be published in the Canada Gazette on May 18, with a 30 day period for comments. This means that groups concerned about these proposals will need to give their comments to government by Monday June 17. For an update on where to send comments, check back here: http://ccrweb.ca/en/reduction-age-dependent-children
Are Canadians ready to be represented by their elected visible minorities? (South Asian Focus)
Even as the outcry against the decision in Quebec to ban kids from wearing patkas or keskis while playing on the soccer field rises to a crescendo, the issue of race continues to be a contentious one across Canada. The words themselves may variously address such terms as religious accommodation or human rights or diversity equity or visible minorities and these terms no doubt speak to different aspects of a central theme but make no mistake about it, for its the issue of race that stitches together all these words.
Revised Canadian citizen test results in more failures (Agora Cosmopolitan)
More people than ever are failing the citizenship exam since Immigration Canada increased the difficulty level of the test last year in March of 2012. The CBC reports that there is a correlation between education level and how much of a decrease can be seen in their pass rate. For example, those with a bachelors degree saw an 8 % decrease in their pass rate, whereas those with a high school education dropped as much as 15 %. It should also be noted that those with a bachelors education and above fall into the immigration category called economic class and are seen as most likely to stimulate the Canadian economy. Those who fall into a family class may have lower levels of education and are interested in coming to Canada to reconnect with family members who already live there.
Love or country? Immigration law means hard choices for gay couples (Moni Basu, CNN)
Canada is the top destination for same-sex binational couples in the United States because of proximity and its immigration system. Canada uses a point system to determine who will be allowed in to live and work. Applicants are awarded points for proficiency in education, job experience and language skills. If one partner qualifies for immigration status in Canada, he or she can sponsor the other.
Canada surfs Silicon Valley for immigrant startups, but can it keep them? (Danny Bradbury, Financial Post)
Who knew Canadians could be so cheeky? tweeted Paul Graham, one of the founders of San Francisco-based tech accelerator Ycombinator last month. The tweet accompanied a picture of a billboard, looming above the 101 highway. H-1B problems? It commiserated. Pivot to Canada. New Start-Up Visa. Low taxes. Canada is surfing Silicon Valleys neighbourhood, looking for immigrant talent. But if we get it, can we keep it?
Start-Up Visa is just the beginning for immigrant entrepreneurs (Chris Riddell, Financial Post)
For many, the governments Start-Up Visa launched in April is making Canada an even better place to start a business. The program, which awards permanent resident status to those who qualify, is a huge incentive. The 2,750 visas are intended to attract the best and brightest, which means applicants must meet a set of criteria to qualify, and even if a visa is awarded it doesnt guarantee success for the business. Naeem Noorani knows how difficult a new start can be. He came to Canada 15 years ago and unable to find a job in the world of advertising he took a job in publishing. A round of layoffs in 2003 again left him looking for a job. Unable to find a good paying position, he decided to start a business.
Terry Fox preps Chinese students for Canada (News1130)
Zhang has been accepted into the business management program at the University of B.C. (Okanagan campus), while Zhou who designed the T-shirts her peers are wearing will attend Torontos York University to take fine arts. The pair are among a graduating class of 27 students in the school of 124 who next year will also attend institutions including the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, the University of Western Ontario, the University of P.E.I. and St. Marys in Halifax. But while these soon-to-be international students from mostly affluent Chinese families have put in vast hours of not only academic study but preparatory efforts for a smoother transition to life in the West, statistically its expected most from this school will return home again with their highly-regarded Canadian degrees.
The new African Diaspora in Vancouver (Gillian Creese, rabble)
Editors Note: This article is the first in a Mainlander series that will bring the research of academics into the public sphere. The aim of the series is to further our understanding of Vancouvers many hidden corners while strengthening connections between local movements. In particular, we hope to disseminate research whose true importance lies beyond the university. Gillian Creese is a Professor of Sociology at UBC and the article is based on her 2011 book, The New African Diaspora in Vancouver: Migration, Exclusion and Belonging (University of Toronto Press).
Quebec soccer federation scraps controversial turban ban after FIFA ruling (Ryan Remiorz, Calgary Herald)
Quebec’s soccer federation is ending its much-criticized turban ban. The organization made the announcement one day after soccer’s world body said wearing turbans on the pitch was acceptable. The ban prompted the Canadian Soccer Association to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation earlier this week.
Poll: Over 80% of Canadians support stripping citizenship from Canadian terrorists (Jason Kenney)
A poll conducted by NRG Research group in October of 2012 showed that Canadians overwhelmingly support stripping citizenship from convicted terrorists. Detailed results are below. Over 80% of Canadians support stripping citizenship from convicted terrorists, regardless of voting preference, country of birth, age, gender, or region.
Petition: NDP defends citizenship for convicted terrorists (Jason Kenney)
Convicted terrorists should be stripped of their Canadian citizenship. Anyone who commits terrorist acts in Canada or abroad has clearly renounced their Canadian citizenship by rejecting Canadian values and the loyalty to our country that citizenship requires. I believe it is absolutely shameful that Thomas Mulcairs NDP are fighting against stripping Canadian citizenship from convicted terrorists.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care spearheads national protests (Sun News Network)
Doctors, nurses and medical students across Canada will once again urge the government to “reverse the reckless cuts to refugee health care.” Organized by Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the second coast-to-coast National Day of Action will feature protests in 17 cities Monday. “It has been almost one year since the government made changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) which has left many patients including sick children and pregnant women fleeing sexual violence suffering,” the CDRC said in a statement. “These events are a demonstration of health care workers and allies unwavering support of refugee patients and ongoing opposition to the IFH cuts.”
Day of Action June 17, 2013 (Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care)
Join us for a National Day of Action on June 17th, 2013! Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care is organizing a second National Day of Action on June 17th to take the facts directly to the streets and tell Canadians the consequences of the federal governments cuts to refugee health care. Despite widespread opposition from a broad group of health care workers across Canada, the federal government has implemented cuts to health insurance for refugees. As predicted, many are suffering as a result. There have been well documented cases of people being denied care including pregnant women and sick children. Health care workers join others in continuing to speak out for those who do not have the opportunity to do so. Join us on June 17th for the second National Day of Action. It is an opportunity to show the Federal Government that Canadians will stand up for the most vulnerable among us.
Support Refugees in Canada (St. Joseph’s)
What: National Day of Action to Stop Cuts to Refugee Health Care Where: Parliament Hill Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/181089698720274/?ref=22 The Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care are organizing their second National Day of Action to urge the federal government to rescind last years cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program. Join them on Parliament Hill to show your support.
Rally for newcomers’ health care (Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press)
Hundreds of health-care workers, newcomers and their friends are set to rally at noon today in Central Park to celebrate Manitoba’s “compassion” and to call for help for refugees in other provinces suffering without health benefits. The National Day of Action for Refugee Health Care is being held in Winnipeg and 18 other Canadian cities and is organized by doctors and health-care providers. It’s a response to the federal government cuts to supplemental health benefits for privately sponsored refugees approved and invited to Canada.
Join the June 17 day of action for refugee health (Jesse Mclaren, rabble.ca)
These are some of the results of the Harper governments cuts to refugee health care over the past year. According to Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital. The patients we see have fled unimaginable terror to seek a safer life in Canada, and our government is telling doctors that they cannot provide necessary treatment. On April 25 of last year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, implemented on June 30. Kenney claimed the cuts would be fair, save money and protect public health — and all these claims were bogus. As the Canadian Council for Refugees immediately predicted, the cuts would create a two-tier system of refugee care, deny essential medical care, institutionalize gender discrimination and offload costs to the provinces. Thats exactly what has happened.
Refugee Care: We Are Standing Up To Say That This Is Wrong (Huffington Post)
Today, as we celebrate the National Day of Action against the Refugees Healthcare cuts on June 17th, I decided to interview Benjamin Langer, a third-year medical student, to enlighten Canadian readers regarding the budget cuts in Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). Benjamin currently holds the position of National Officer for Human Rights and Peace for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, in this role coordinator the organization’s Global Health Advocacy Program. He has been involved with activism for over a decade, ranging across many ecological, human rights, and social justice issues. The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) is a program managed by the canadian government that provides access to health care for refugees and refugee claimants in the country. Last June, an important part of its funding was cut, restricting even more the limited provided coverage for “essential and urgent services.” Many groups of physicians and other health professionals advocate to cancel or amend those disastrous changes, without any major success so far.
Viktoria Mohácsi seeking asylum in Canada (Mirjam Donath, Scotsman)
From being a leading human rights activist and member of the European Parliament, she is now an asylum-seeker living in a one-room flat in Toronto, Canada. The 38-year-old mother of three fears if she returns to her native Hungary, her life will be in danger, because she is a Roma.
Threatened with torture abroad, faced with limited health coverage in Canada (Julia Wong, Global News)
Isaac Ochwo fled his native Uganda for Canada after he was threatened with torture for his human rights activism, but he is facing another battle in this country: limited healthcare coverage for refugee claimants. Ochwo, 35, arrived in Halifax in early April. He was forced to flee because the Uganda government was displeased with his work advocating for childrens rights, womens rights and gay rights. Ochwo says the decision was hard to make but he did not have a choice. I came to Canada because I had to come, in order to be alive, he said simply.
EU lawmaker to Canada asylum seeker: A Roma’s long trek (Mirjam Donath, Reuters)
Less than four years ago, Viktoria Mohácsi enjoyed the life of an international politician, eating at pricey restaurants in Brussels and winning awards as a human rights activist. Today, the 38-year old mother of three sleeps on the floor of a one-room basement apartment in Toronto and faces deportation. As a political asylum seeker, she hopes to convince Canada that the life of a former member of the European Parliament could be in danger in a democratic country like Hungary.
Hospitals paying for federal cuts to refugee care (Joanna Frketich, Hamilton Spectator)
Hamilton’s hospitals are starting to bear the costs of federal cuts to refugee care. “I see the cuts beginning to bite,” said Dr. David Higgins, president of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “We’re going to see more of these patients present to hospital.” St. Joseph’s is caring for at least one refugee a week with no health coverage after the federal government made significant cuts a year ago, affecting, in particular, those from countries deemed to be safe by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Open doors to refugees: council (Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now)
Canada needs to better support refugees – that was the key message coming from the Canadian Council for Refugees, which held a national conference in Burnaby recently. “We need to continue and reopen the doors and be proud to protect refugees,” said Loly Rico, the council’s president. The three-day conference was held at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, from May 30 to June 1, to share best practices and advice on how to create secure and welcoming communities for refugees.
Opinion: Cuts depriving refugees of essential care (Camille Gérin, Montreal Gazette)
In June of last year, the federal government made drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, the health-insurance plan for refugee claimants and refugees. These cuts to different types of coverage, depending on refugee category and country of origin, are discriminatory and arbitrary, and deprive many refugees of essential health care. Over the past year, along with other health-care providers across Canada, we have documented numerous cases in which refugee claimants have faced demands for fees or refusal of health care, compromising their well-being and undermining their dignity.
Reasonable Doubt: Tortured Nigerian barred from making refugee claim (Carmen Hamilton, Straight.com)
In her article last week, Laurel Dietz related the story of Ugochukwu Nwanebu (“Ugo”), a Nigerian national who was convicted of using his uncle’s passport to enter Canada. Due to his ethnic origin and his participation in a non-violent political group, Ugo had been subjected to interrogations and torture at the hands of the Nigerian police, and was fleeing Nigeria to escape persecution. Ugo saw Canada as a safe haven. Unfortunately, he did not understand how to make a refugee claim.
Take a stand for refugee health (Chronicle Journal)
I have just completed my first year at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. I am the global health advocate for my school and I am also involved in immigrant and refugee health. On Monday, several cities in Canada are participating in the National Day of Action to stand up for refugee health. In the past year, there have been drastic changes to policies on refugee health care. On June 30, 2012, changes to refugee health through the Interim Federal Health Care Program (IFHP) were implemented. The IFHP is the program that funds health care for refugees in Canada. Prior to the changes, all refugees received the same health care, which is similar to provincial health care coverage for people receiving social assistance.
Newer refugees struggle more over time (Jeff Outhit, The Record)
Drawing on a Statistics Canada database, The Record analyzed average incomes for refugees who landed in Waterloo Region between 1996 and 2010, who filed tax returns here and who declared an income.
Local services ease often painful transition for refugees (The Record)
When they look in the mirror, they see themselves as Somalians, Sudanese or Ethiopians. But when African youth arrive in Canada, they are often labelled as black. “In Africa, we were identified by our country, but here you lose your identity,” said Sadia Gassim, a Somalian who arrived in Canada with four sons in 1993. “Our children have the identity of black. The dominant culture saw them as black,” she said. “Accepting that label is very hard.”
Refugees still welcome but fewer are coming (Jeff Outhit, The Record)
Imagine that you have been threatened and must flee your home and country. It’s not safe for you to return. Waterloo Region could be your safe haven. In the last decade, 5,444 international refugees resettled in the region after fleeing violence or oppression abroad. Although this is a refuge, it’s a strange place with a new language, unfamiliar weather and different customs. You have to learn English, find an affordable place to live, find a family doctor and find work. “Settlement trauma can be even harder,” said Mira Malidzanovic, who directs programs at the Reception House in central Kitchener where many refugees spend their first weeks. Refugees bring trauma and pain with them and then face new hardships.
Refugee family now calls the region home after escaping Iraq (Luisa D’Amato, The Record)
She just had a feeling that something wasn’t right in her house. Something told her to get out. So Sajidah Ghadhban quickly gathered her three children and went next door to her sister’s place. A few minutes later, her home blew up. Nothing was left but rubble. Ghadhban and her children Mohammad, 16, Eman, 14, and Ali, 12 had been targeted by the terrorist group al-Qaida in their native Iraq. After their home was destroyed in 2005, they fled to Lebanon, but weren’t really safe there either.
Timeline of refugee settlement in Waterloo Region (Luisa D’Amato, The Record)
From the 1840s to today.
The Conservative Assault on Refugees (Larry Rousseau, Huffington Post)
If there is one aspect of the federal Conservatives’ program to reshape Canada that best encapsulates the values that inform their actions, it is the new, cold treatment refugees arriving at Canada’s doorsteps are now facing. Changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which previously provided refugees with healthcare in line with programs available to Canadians on social assistance, were announced in Budget 2012 and came into effect last June. Under the revised IFHP, all refugees (including children) lose access to medication coverage and vision and dental care. Moreover, all refugees arriving in Canada from one of some 35 countries deemed “safe” by the Conservatives lose all health coverage, including urgent care.
POVERTY / HEALTH / HOMELESSNESS / SOCIAL INCLUSION / POLICY
Canada Job Grant program is deeply flawed, report says (Barrie Mckenna, Globe and Mail)
Ottawas $900-million job grant scheme is a windfall for companies that already train workers, opens few new opportunities for the unskilled and saps funds from existing government efforts, according to a new report. The program is deeply flawed public policy and should be scrapped, say the authors of a report to be released Monday by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. A government incentive program to do something governments are already doing doesnt seem to make much sense, Mowat director Matthew Mendelsohn said in an interview.
EMPLOYMENT & WORKERS
Survey shows widespread ESA violations, including pay below minimum wage (Workers’ Action Centre)
A recent study released by the Chinese Canadian National Council-Toronto chapter documents widespread employment standards violations facing Chinese workers. The study One Step Forward, Two Steps Back found that 20% of workers surveyed were paid less than minimum wage. Many workers described problems getting paid on time or at all. 45% of workers reported working hours that they did not get paid for, and 19% said they had been paid late. Only half of the workers received public holiday pay and a shocking 77% of workers said they did not receive any overtime pay.
Migrant Workers Are Parents Too (UFCW)
Migrant workers are parents too. Each season, migrant agricultural workers leave their families for as long as three years to do hard and gruelling work to put food on the tables of Canadian families. Now, the Harper government has attacked some of the most vulnerable workers in Canada by disqualifying migrant workers from Employment Insurance (EI) parental and compassionate care benefits despite the fact that migrant workers must continue to pay over $25 million a year in EI premiums, and have paid hundreds of millions of dollars into the EI fund for decades.
Campaign Sends Harper a Message that “Migrant Workers Are Parents Too” (Marketwired)
As Father’s Day approaches, a national grassroots, multimedia, and postcard campaign has been launched by UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) to tell the Harper government that “Migrant Workers Are Parents Too”, and to re-instate the right of migrant agriculture workers who contribute to Employment Insurance to have equal access to the Parental Benefits of the program. The activism kicks-off Friday, June 14, with the launch of national web-based “Migrant Workers Are Parents Too” campaign delivered to Stephen Harper (www.ufcw.ca/migrantparents).
Accused wasnt going to discard Filipino nanny like a piece of trash, defence lawyer tells jury (Keith Fraser, The Province)
A man accused of enslaving a Filipino nanny knew that she was in Canada illegally but didnt want to put her out on the street like a piece of trash, the accuseds lawyer said Tuesday. Franco Orr and his wife Nicole Huen have pleaded not guilty to human trafficking charges arising from an allegation they brought Leticia Sarmiento to Canada from Hong Kong under false pretences. Sarmiento has claimed that things went well in Hong Kong but that her life changed dramatically when she arrived in Vancouver and that she was kept in domestic servitude for nearly two years.