Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canada’s best and worst run cities


This survey, the first of its kind in Canada, provides citizens in 31 cities across the country with comparative data on how well—or poorly—their city is run, measured by the cost and quality of the public services it delivers. (Why 31? We took the 30 largest cities in Canada, added whatever provincial capitals were not on the list, then subtracted a few cities from the Greater Toronto Area for better regional balance. Somehow that left 31.)

Though the overall results—Burnaby, Saskatoon and Surrey, B.C. lead the pack; Charlottetown, Kingston, Ont., and Fredericton trail—will be of particular interest, they are less important than the process this is intended to kick off. We aim not merely to start some good barroom arguments, but to help voters to hold their representatives to better account, and indeed to help city governments themselves. For without some sort of yardstick to measure their performance, either against other cities or against their own past record, how can they hope to know whether they are succeeding?

To compile the survey, Maclean’s commissioned the Halifax-based Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, expanding on the institute’s earlier work measuring the performance of municipalities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Unlike other studies, this does not try to measure quality of life, or which city is the “best place to live.” Rather, it focuses on the contribution of local governments to this end.

This survey looks at a city’s efficiency—the cost of producing results—and the effectiveness of its services, including how well each city does when it comes to things like maintaining roads and parks, picking up garbage and putting out fires.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

North Bay: Canada’s new immigrant destination.

By Chantal Flores. Source: Canadian immigrant.ca

A case study by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has recognized North Bay, Ontario’s successes in terms of immigrant attraction and retention.

The community project included three cities: North Bay, Brockville and Chatham-Kent. The results will contribute to new government policy aimed at encouraging immigrants to settle in communities other than major cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

North Bay’s mayor, Vic Fedeli, stated that the city's focus on immigrant attraction and retention originated after realizing that the city was homogenous.

“It was just a natural feeling that we needed to expand our horizons. When we did our business and retention program we realized there were huge gaps in our labour pool and we knew that immigration was one way to bring people here,” he states.

The first step before developing the project was to work with the area newcomers. Marla Tremblay of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development formed the North Bay Newcomer Network (NNN). In April 2006, an immigration symposium was held with more than 80 participants. One of the main outcomes of the symposium was the need to establish an immigrant settlement agency for both attraction and retention.

FedNor, a federal regional development organization in Ontario, provided funding in December of 2006 to hire a researcher and give NNN a better understanding of newcomers’ needs.

After listening to Citizenship and Immigration Canada note how settlement agencies are funded, NNN members chose a non-profit media organization, Young People’s Press, to apply for settlement funding. Their work resulted in the opening of the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre in February 2008.

With the progress that has happened in three years, Fideli still sees immigration as a priority. “We’ve got a lot of sweat equity into our immigration strategy and it would be a huge step backward to let it fall from being a priority,” he says.

Statistics Canada points out that by 2011, all net growth in the Canadian labour force will be through immigration, and by 2026 all growth in population will be through immigration.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why to be proud of Canada?

Invited article:By Mel Tobias

In the past, Canadians don’t generally think of their own country among the world’s great vacation spots. That’s all changed now with the economic downturn. A global poll listed Canada first as the most appealing vacation destinations in the world, ahead of Italy and Australia. More and more Canadians are staying home instead of going after the sunny Caribbean, exotic Asian cities and Europe’s historic capital. The world sees Canada for its unspoiled nature, vibrant cities, fascinating history and friendly people. Here are other Canadians attractions, having talked enough about Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec.

Newfoundland has St. John’s, North America’s oldest city. It has heritage sites and outdoor adventures. The National Park was designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Hiking trails are an integral part of the Newfoundland travel experience.
Nova Scotia has Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Island. There are all kinds of festivals like the Halifax International Busker Festival and the Luneburg Folk Harbor Festival and the Pictou Lobster Festival.

Prince Edward Island is a wonderful island for adventure and culture. The Charlottetown Festival is a three-month festival of musical theater, comedy and artistic performances by top Canadian performers. Then, there is the 2009 Canada Games with 18 events and one can watch future Olympians. No Canadian province has a monopoly on great golf. Prince Edward Island is the country’s top golfing holiday destination.

New Brunswick has colorful Fredericton, the provincial capital that has been designated as one of Canada’s cultural capitals. There are several outstanding galleries and it is a must to visit the historic St. Andrews By-The-Sea.

Then, there’s the festival oriented Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, enchanting Saskatchewan with its rolling terrain and Calgary with its world famous Calgary Stampede, an event that can compete with the cowboys of Texas.

For a finale, there is Nuvavut (in the north). It is home to the meeting point of glaciers and sea ice. The Northwest Territories is the best place to watch the Aurora Borealis, something that must be seen in a lifetime, just like the pyramids of Egypt. Visualize breathtaking ghostly colors dance in the night sky. The entire province is really the perfect viewing post for this experience that will bring to mind episodes of The X-Files.

We celebrated Canada Day last July Ist. It was Canada’s 142nd birthday and there are a lot of things to be proud. Here’s a collection of data from different publications that will make every Canadian proud of Canada.

We can be proud that Canada is renowned and respected peacekeepers around the world and that we are known to be polite and that we have more fresh water than anyone else. And that we are only 33.7 million of us which means we have space to move around.

Other things to be proud about is the fact that Canada ranks No. 2 among the top industrialized countries in the world and we are ahead of Britain, France and Germany.

Canadians have a higher household incomes than the Australians and the British and a higher level of home ownership than the Americans.

On the subject of immigration, maybe we are letting too many people into the country. Canada granted more new citizenships per capita than any other nation. Canada’s wealth, education system, diverse and tolerant society are primary lures to immigrants.

When it comes to life expectancy, Canada is now estimated to be 81.23 years, eighth in the world and when it comes to quality of life, the number of years lived free from disease, Canada tied with France.

The health issue could be due to the fact that Canada was named the second-fittest and second-most relaxed country in the world (behind the Netherlands and Spain). And despite having the third-largest number of McDonald’s franchises per capita in the world, Canadians are relatively careful about what they put in their bodies. This is specially true in British Columbia, specially in Vancouver.

Healthcare In Canada

Healthcare In Canada by Dave Lympany

Healthcare in Canada is a vital subject for anyone moving to or residing in Canada. The Federal Government does provide some funding from the taxpayer for the health system, however, each Province is individually responsible for its own Healthcare system.

There is a basic free system (Alberta, BC and Ontario charge the residents a healthcare tax or premium to pay for this!) that every legal resident and citizen of Canada is entitled to which includes access to a family doctor and most hospital treatment (definitely emergency care). This is governed by the Canada Health Act (1984) which lays down the basic entitlements of free coverage. Prescription drugs and supplies are provided in the hospitals in most cases as long as you remain an in patient.

The costs start to mount up for prescription drugs and medical supplies when you are not in hospital. Drugs are bought from the pharmacy at the standard cost which for specialist drugs can run into hundreds of dollars for one course of treatment. Other medical services will probably not be covered such as Physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. Custom made medical supplies such as knee braces or orthotics can cost over a thousand dollars to purchase in some instances.

The amount of coverage and standard of Healthcare in Canada is described in detail on the main Government site but does vary between Provinces however.

Each Province also has its own regulations for the practitioner�s qualifications and even nurses will have to recertify if they move between Provinces. This does cause confusion to new migrants to Canada as most foreign qualifications just may not be enough and will most likely result in some level of retraining. Dental treatment is normally NOT included in the healthcare system and you will have to pay for treatment.

Many Canadian employers offer fairly comprehensive benefits packages that include coverage for Prescription drugs and other services such as physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment though this is most often only up to 80% of the cost. As each Province has different rules for qualifying times to gain access for the free service ensure you thoroughly research your Province of choice via the links above.

If your employment doesn't come with coverage or you wish to improve it you will need to take out a private policy

If you require short term coverage for when you first arrive in Canada, make sure you have a proper policy (travel insurance may not be sufficient) and CHECK you are covered.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Polish immigrants are leaving USA

Iga Babinska

There are thousands of Polish websites that describe the process of moving to the U.S. They include:
“How to get a job in the US?”
“Ways to get your American visa”
“What does one need to have to apply for an American visa?”

These websites have been and still are extremely popular among Polish people. Most Polish citizens want to experience living a better life, an American life.

Some Polish immigrants escape to Canada…

However, many of Polish immigrants, who succeeded in coming here, are leaving. Years of dreaming about America and then months of applying for a legalized stay don’t matter when the economic crisis hits.

Such is the story of Anna Kowalska*, 32, a Polish immigrant who lived in the U.S. for over eight years, during which she got married and had children. Last May however, Kowalska moved to Canada to seek a better and economically safer life.
“We realized that it’s going to get worse; that it’ll be hard to keep a job, especially in the construction business, where my husband worked. It was my husband’s job that really constituted our ‘be or not to be’,” said Kowalska.

Upon receiving a welcoming letter from the Canadian government three years after submitting an application, Kowalska was determined to take the opportunity and move there.
The decision of leaving the U.S. was not an easy one though.

“We were saying goodbye to our many friends; we were leaving behind jobs we liked. I think our kids understood that they wouldn’t go back to their ‘old’ schools. Our apartment stopped being ours,” Kowalska said.

…Others return to Poland

There are many more Polish immigrants who, out of fear of the crisis, moved to different countries, such as Canada and Poland. However, there are no available statistics to show their exact number.

Monika Kaminski, 35, a branch manager for one of Chicago’s tax companies, popular in the Polish community, met dozens of people who decided to leave.

„Last year, some people decided to leave for Canada; others said that in a year or two they’d be going back to Poland. They are all not here this year,” Kaminski said.

One of Kaminski’s clients, a Polish immigrant working at a shipping company, told her about the number of people who decided to move back to Poland. Most of them returned to their home country last year, during the time when the price of American dollar dropped significantly.

„He [the shipping company worker] sent containers with people’s belongings to Poland. There were thousands of people who decided to move back there. Most of them were here illegally. During a week, this customer said he would send over 50 containers to Poland,” Kaminski said.

*Name of the immigrant has been changed to protect her identity.
Source: http://museumoftime.blogspot.com/