Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where business is booming Saskatchewan has 10,000 job openings. Bring your parka.

By Jon Birger, senior writer
November 4, 2008: 5:10 AM ET

(Fortune Magazine) -- Cold, landlocked, and boasting as its largest metropolis the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan may not be top of mind for most Americans. But the Canadian province is one of the richest spots in the world when it comes to natural resources. It's the world's largest producer of uranium. It's the biggest producer of the fertilizer potash (current price: $1,000 a ton, up from $300 this time last year). It is the world's largest exporter of green lentils and chickpeas. And it's home to enormous supplies of oil and gas: The U.S. buys more oil from Saskatchewan than it does from Kuwait. No wonder the CEO of one Fortune 500 company - Jim Prokopanko of Mosaic, which has a potash mine near the town of Esterhazy - describes the prairie province as "the next sovereign wealth fund."

Indeed, Saskatchewan - for the geography challenged, it shares its southern border with Montana and North Dakota - today enjoys Canada's fastest-growing economy; its GDP is expected to rise 3.9% this year, compared with 0.9% for the country as a whole, and it has a $3 billion budget surplus. Entrusted with "not screwing it up" (his words) is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, the pro-business conservative elected in 2007. Wall's goal is actually much more than not screwing it up. He's on a mission to tell Saskatchewan's growth story at home and abroad.

I first met Wall - a glib and personable 42-year-old who's as comfortable talking NFL football as he is quoting Thomas Friedman - when he was in New York City last spring to speak at an energy conference. He promised not to raise oil royalties, which won him a standing ovation from the bankers in the crowd.

But Wall's top priority is at home: He needs to fix Saskatchewan's labor shortage. An area the size of Texas, Saskatchewan has only one million residents. "For any business thinking about building a new mine or expanding an existing one, the top-of-the-list question [in Saskatchewan] is always going to be 'Can we get the tradesmen?'" he says. Because of the shortage, Wall is reluctant to spend much money on new infrastructure projects, despite having the cash to do it. (The province doesn't yet have a sovereign wealth fund, but Wall says it's on his radar.)

Wall wants to grow the population 10% in ten years. So far, his government has launched splashy recruiting campaigns in Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba, and has sent missions as far as the Philippines to recruit medical personnel.

In September Wall traveled to Toronto along with 50 Saskatchewan employers to sell the province at Canada's national job fair. During breaks he delivered his sales pitch to reporters. "Saskatchewan is not just a great place to live, it is a great place to make a life," Wall would say over and over to anyone with a notepad or a microphone, each time referring the listener to the 10,000 job openings listed at saskjobs.ca. (Diamond driller, salary $56,000, for example.)

Of course, life in Saskatchewan isn't for everyone. The average high temperature in Saskatoon in November is 29 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low in January is 9 below. "We need to focus on finding people who are looking for an economic opportunity," Wall says. But like any savvy marketer, he knows his limitations. "We have to be realistic," he says. "We'd better not be going to anywhere with a warm climate saying, 'Yes, but it's a dry cold.'"

Fed up Brits should come to Canada. The Country is looking at attracting 50,000 foreign workers within the next year alone

Canada is putting skilled British workers on a fast track for immigration visas to exploit our soaring cost of living. Its officials believe superior public services and the ability to weather economic turmoil will lure Britons fed up with fuel and food prices and with the state of schools and hospitals. Alberta's employment minister Hector Goudreau has been sent to this country to 'target' those tempted by a new life overseas.

It is one of the most audacious recruitment raids since Australia poached a million Britons - known as the Ten Pound Poms after the ship fare they paid - in the 1950s and 60s. The Canadians want GPs, teachers, nurses, electricians, carpenters, engineers, construction workers, management consultants, and cardiac and diabetic specialists.

Anyone of any age can apply, although workers who fit skills and experience criteria will be fast-tracked for visas.

Somebody from London might be able to sell their small flat and come to Alberta where they can buy a detached house with a huge back yard and huge front yard for the same amount. The cost of living is considerably less than in the UK. The salaries are comparable or even higher, so anyone who moves over would be able to make money and set some aside.

The economy in Alberta - which is founded on oil reserves - was constantly growing, and has remained steady despite the global credit crunch. There is beautiful scenery, the health care system is second to none in the world and the educational system is second to none in the world. Canada has some of the lowest business taxes, there is no province sales tax on goods.

The province covers a large chunk of prairie and Rocky Mountains and its major cities are Edmonton and Calgary. Its population is 3.4million - less than half London's - and it covers an area twice as big as Japan.

The average annual salary in Alberta for civil engineers last year was £44,428. And while income tax is higher in Canada, the living costs are much cheaper. Alberta is a big province, so whereas there is hardly any snow in the south in the winter, there is plenty of opportunity in the north for skiing, snowboarding and skating.

Then in the summer there are water-based activities such as boating, fishing and whitewater rafting but also have baseball and soccer. There is also a lot of culture, if you prefer the opera, musicals or ballet. It is known as the melting pot of Canada as they have a lot of immigrants coming here. Among the different nationalities living in Alberta are Chinese, Germans, Spanish, Ukrainians and Filipinos.

Alberta's booming economy is based on having the second largest concentration of oil in the world. There are 173 billion barrels in oil sands which can be recovered with today's technology. There is also an estimated 315 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil.

Alberta officials, who are also targeting workers from Germany, America, Mexico and the Philippines, have been encouraged to focus on Britain by figures showing a record 200,000 Britons left the country for new lives abroad in 2006.

In 2006, a record 207,000 British citizens left this country. A third went to Australia or New Zealand, more than a quarter to Spain or France, and one in 12 to the United States.

Nearly 1.6 million British citizens emigrated in the decade after Labour came to power in 1997. They have been replaced by foreign workers, with the overall population increasing by more than a million in ten years. A recent survey by YouGov found 37 per cent of adults are thinking about moving abroad because of the growing financial pressure of life in this country.

More than 603,000 Britons live in Canada.

External link: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1030680/Fed-Brits-come-Canada-says-Minister-sent-lure-workers-emigrate.html
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Canada seeks foreign tech workers The number of available jobs is expected to increase by about 100,000 over the next several years

An immigration system that favors tech workers. An exchange rate that puts the Canadian dollar almost at parity with its U.S. counterpart - Canada's strategy to grow its economy is working. And it's a strategy that is very dependent on foreign workers.

The economy in British Columbia is growing by as much as 4.5% a year, with technology being the fastest-growing sector. The province's total workforce is now at about 2.3 million people, and it's predicted that over the next 12 years, there will be approximately 1 million job vacancies in British Columbia -- half the result of retirements, and the other half due to the creation of new jobs.

But over that same 12-year period, the province's secondary schools are expected to graduate a total of about 650,000 students. On the very face of it, there will be short 350,000 workers, which will have to come through immigration.

The Canadian government has specific programs for quickly bringing high-tech workers with certain skills into the country, a process that can take two to eight weeks.

The government recognizes that these people don't exist within Canada. If an employer is seeking a worker who has a specific set of skills, education and work experience and will be paid a salary on par with what Canadians earn, a foreigner can successfully get a work permit. Unlike the annual cap on the number of H-1B visas issued in the U.S., there is no numerical limit on foreign workers entering Canada.

Microsoft, which is been a vocal critic of the H-1B program's restrictions, announced that it plans to open the development center in Vancouver -- a mere 150 miles from the company's Seattle-area headquarters. The software vendor said it decided to set up the Vancouver facility, which is due to open in the fall, partly to help it "recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S."

Canada is becoming more and more attractive to companies such as Microsoft for more reasons than its immigration policies alone.

One thing that's helping Canada retain jobs and create new ones is the fact that the Canadian dollar now is trading at about 96 cents to the U.S. dollar -- much higher than in years past.

Canadians also hope that the country's quality of life adds appeal. Canada offers national health insurance, a good university system and much lower crime levels.

In addition, Canada has become far more receptive to immigration than the U.S. is. In 2006, nearly 1.3 million foreigners became permanent residents of the U.S. But Canada -- with a total population that is only about one-tenth the number of U.S. residents -- has been accepting about 250,000 new permanent residents annually.

In the technology sector, such immigration is needed to fill new jobs. It's estimated that there are about 620,000 high-tech workers in Canada. The number of available jobs is expected to increase by about 100,000 over the next several years. But Canadian universities graduate only about 15,000 students with tech skills annually, short of what is required.

Employees who are brought in for temporary work can usually get permanent residency. When you have a job in Canada, that's a pretty fair indication to the immigration department that you are of value to the country.

External link: http://www.computerworld.com
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Miss Melanie Vogel
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Immigration Fast Track for Students in Canada Point system to check qualification

A programme that allows international students to work for up to three years after graduation just might increase Canada's recruitment competitiveness. Employment of that duration puts them on an immigration fast track.

The Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit Program has already proved popular and is attracting a flood of applications. International students, immigration advocates, student advisers and universities have long called for more attractive post-graduation working conditions and welcomed the scheme.

This had definitely made Canada more competitive, said Anna Done Choudhury, an international student adviser at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Choudhury said that allowing students to work three years after graduation "has closed the gap between international students and Canada wanting qualified immigrants". Having taught immigration studies, she said many students who previously wanted to increase their eligibility for permanent residency had to go to the US to work and then return to Canada to apply.

Canada uses a points system in deciding who best qualifies to be a citizen and a simple university degree, without post graduation work in Canada, earns few points. The new programme takes those who have worked during the post-graduation period out of the points system and either passes or fails them although an overwhelming number, more than 95%, have passed.

According to the 2009 Survey of International Students, released at the Canadian Bureau for International Education conference in Toronto last week, half the students surveyed said post-graduation work opportunities in Canada were an important factor in choosing to study in the country.

The same number said they planned to work in Canada after they graduated. An even larger number, almost three in four students, cited the work opportunities as an important reason. In 2008, 18,000 work permits were issued by the government, a 63% increase on the year before.

In a session at the CBIE conference, Citizen and Immigration Canada's Jorge Aceytuno told delegates introduction of the postgraduate work programme had led to the interest in work permits. Aceytuno said his ministry would like to see a large increase in work permits as a result of the programme.

Bureau Vice-President Jennifer Humphries agreed there was now more than just a university choice for international students interested in studying in Canada. People were looking at the potential for career advancement for their education. If they had three years of work after graduation, this looked better on their resumes, Humphries said.

Part of the rationale for introducing the programme was probably playing catch-up with recruiters from England and Australia which have similar schemes, as well as to gain an edge over the US whose postgraduate work programme is not as liberal.

Choudhury's colleague Lise Pedersen was also relieved to see the programme, saying it helped not only in getting students some employment after graduation but also gave them more opportunity during their studies.

Even though the government had earlier introduced a scheme that allowed students to work off campus, Pedersen said employers were sometimes reluctant to hire international students for co-op programmes because of their lack of future availability for what might turn into a permanent position.

Now, she said, they knew the student could work not only up to three years following graduation but also they were likely to become a Canadian citizen.

External link: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20091113142434988

Source:Career-journal.com

Sunday, December 20, 2009

China-Canada agreement to boost tourism.

By Mel Tobias.

British Columbia’s tourism industry will definitely get an economic boost to the tune of something like $15 million a year or more, with the announcement that the Chinese government granted Canada approved destination status after many years of waiting.

As approved destination, the province can expect to receive about 15 percent more visitors from China, up from the 100,000 that now visit BC. Current visitors spend about $1,000 each, so the increased numbers would mean about $15 million annually. BC tourism suffered badly with the significant drops in US visitors. There was a 12 percent drop from last year. American visi-tors spend an average $800 each.

With China’s emerging middle class looking to spend disposable income on travel, China is expected to be one of the world’s largest outbound markets, sending 100 million tourists out of the country by 2020. And for the first time, Canadian tour operators will be allowed to advertise and book groups of Chinese tourists in China.

The China-Canada agreement will also make it easier for Chinese residents to visit Canada in time for the 2010 Olympics. More than 130 countries already have China’s approved destina-tion status, and have enjoyed the Chinese tourism windfall.

The 2nd Annual Expat Experience survey revealed that expats in Canada have the best quality of life and found it among the easiest places in the world to integrate with the local popula-tion. Australia and Thailand also came in the top three in the survey of people working in 30 different industries and 50 countries. Last year, Germany, Canada and Spain were the top coun-tries deemed to have the best lifestyle for expats.

Giving immigrants hope; Ottawa's one-year credentials plan gets a qualified welcome

Canwest News Service

When Iranian-born Fariborz Birjandian came to Canada 21 years ago with a degree in management and maritime science, he quickly realized he had transferable skills that could be applied to several occupations.

At the time, the process of foreign credential recognition was nearly non-existent compared with today and that process is now undergoing what the federal government says is another step to speed up the assessment of internationally trained immigrants.

Ottawa recently announced a plan to ensure newcomers to Canada in certain fields will know within one year whether their qualifications will be recognized by provincial and professional regulatory and accreditation bodies across Canada, working in conjunction with provincial officials to coordinate implementation of the new framework.

"We have to give these people hope to see light at the end of the tunnel," says Birjandian, who is now the executive director of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. "At least the federal government is trying to engage all other partners in a meaningful way. Hopefully, there will be some accountability around it."

The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications sets an initial deadline of Dec. 31, 2010 to assess the first round of eight occupations: architects, engineers, financial auditors and accountants, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and registered nurses. It's part of Ottawa's previously announced $50-million plan to work with provincial and territorial ministers to address barriers to credential recognition.

"This framework complements initiatives such as the Action Plan for Faster Immigration, as they make our immigration system better meet the needs of our labour market," says Jason Kenney, federal minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, in a news release.

During the next phase of implementation ending December 2012, the framework will expand to include dentists, engineering technicians, licensed practical nurses, medical radiation technologists, physicians and primary school teachers.

"Ensuring that foreign credentials and qualifications are assessed … in a timely manner will enable newcomers to maximize their talents," adds Diane Finley, minister of human resources and skills development.

Birjandian hopes the plan will address the length of time it can take to immigrate to Canada, which he says is often four or five years — delays that can cause highly sought-after workers to find their skills no longer needed upon arrival.

At the start of the boom in Alberta, for example, welders were in high demand. By the time they were recruited and accredited in Canada, the recession took hold and many now find themselves working in menial jobs. Similar stories are heard from engineers.

"We think that if we deal with those [credential recognition] issues they have … we're going to solve the problem, but at the end of the day, it's employers that accept the assessment or not," says Birjandian. "If we don't address the numbers [of new immigrants], we're still going to be in the same situation where everybody will be qualified and certified in Canada, but supply and demand will tell us how many of them get jobs."

The Foreign Credentials Referral Office, established in May 2007, helps foreign-trained workers get the information and support services they need to speed up the process of credential recognition in Canada and before they arrive.

While Birjandian is encouraged by the recent announcement, he worries Canada's immigrant selection system, based on a points scale targeting specific occupations, will result in unneeded professionals as supply and demand shifts.

"It's a rapidly-changing environment we're dealing with in the business community worldwide," he says.

CCIS helps new immigrants identify transferable skills that can be applied to occupations that utilize their skills to avoid highly trained newcomers working as taxi drivers or day labourers.

The new framework is meant to improve pre-arrival services, timely assessments that are fair and eventually improved workforce participation.

Expats weigh in on ‘Destination Canada’

By Fouzia Khan
Source: Saudi Gazette

Canada is a popular immigration destination for expatriates here as it continues to provide funding to support new migrants and assist them to settle, this apparently being one of the reasons for its huge popularity.
“Canadian immigration, which is a set of rules, regulations, directives, policies and the Act of Parliament that regulates the entry of each person into Canada, has always played a central role in Canadian history,” said Colin R. Singer, an immigration lawyer at a Canada-based immigration company.
He said his firm provides the necessary employment-based search consulting assistance that applicants to Canada require.
According to another immigration company, Canada has implemented fast-tracking of visa applications for “safe” countries, and formalized the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program, in order to make traveling easier for tourists and other travelers.

Akbar Ali, a taxi driver in Canada, says that despite major inconveniences caused to immigrants, people still prefer migrating to Canada and other western countries, in general, because their governments “take care of the citizens even after retirement and children can get a better education”.
“The hard work pays off after retirement as individual companies or the government provides high pensions, free medical care, etc.,” he said. Mirroring Ali’s views, Imran Ahmed, an accountant in Jeddah who is soon moving with his family to Canada, said a potential Canadian immigrant had to satisfy 40 different criteria, with clauses, such as, professional experience, education, relatives already living in the country, if any, etc.
“I applied through a Canadian immigration firm, which assured me that they would not charge me unless I got my visa,” said Ahmed.
The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is less than that in Canada or any European country, where there are various commodity taxes. However, when it comes to higher education, these countries score well above the Kingdom.
“I have joined an Islamic center here called Huda Institute that is excellent for Islamic Studies for Muslim girls. Quality education is not hard to find here,” said Ameena Kapoor, a 14-year-old girl living in Canada.
“I plan to join one of the best universities in Canada for my higher education, which otherwise would not have been possible in Saudi Arabia, where there are not many opportunities for higher education,” she added.
The Canadian Temporary Work Permit is one of the most popular ways for newcomers to come to Canada, earn money, and gain valuable Canadian work experience.
“Immigration policies and conditions are constantly changing, and some of these changes may affect an immigrant’s eligibility to immigrate to Canada, the UK, Australia or the US,” am immigration agency statement said.

Process of obtaining Canadian immigration:
The Canadian Immigration and Citizenship department, also known as CIC Canada, is one of the most important departments of the Canadian government. In order to obtain Canadian immigration, an applicant is required to fill in the prescribed immigration forms.
He must first apply to a well-known Canadian immigration company that will help him through the process of moving to Canada.
For example, some immigration agencies require the applicant to be registered with them, take a free Canadian Visa Eligibility Assessment according to the type and requirements of the visa, e.g., work visa, student’s visa, general immigration, business immigration, etc.
For general immigration, the individual’s evaluation is based on their education, training and work experience, which reflects their ability to economically establish themselves in Canada. –

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Canada: The best place in the world to live

Submitted by Carolyn B. Heller on November 30, 2009
Source: Living Abroad in Canada.

Is Canada the best place in the world for expats to live?

According to the 2009 HSBC Expat Experience Survey, it is.

Canada topped the list of best places to live, with expats there reporting the highest overall increase in their quality of life since arriving in the country.

The survey polled more than 3,000 expats around the world, assessing whether their overall quality of life increased or decreased during their overseas assignment.

Canada was also number 1 in “quality of accommodation,” with 68% of expats reporting that their homes were better in Canada than in their native country.

Canada received high scores in how easy it is for expats to make friends, to pursue hobbies, and to improve the quality of life with their families.

According to survey respondents, the top reasons for living in Canada include:

* Better environment/quality of life for my children (39%)
* Lifestyle (38%)
* Career prospects (35%)
* Less crime (13%)

Other interesting findings:

* Canada has a high proportion of retired expats: 24% compared with 7% worldwide.
* Canada’s expat community is older than average, with 61% age 45 or over.
* More than two-thirds of Canadian expats own property in the country, which is double the global average of 31%.
* More than 60% of expats in Canada reported that organizing their finances and their health care was easy.
* Nearly 40 percent said that their health improved since arriving in Canada.