Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Portage sees benefits of Manitoba's immigrant population growth

Portage La Prairie Manitoba CanadaImage via Wikipedia

By Angela Brown, The Daily Graphic

Updated 13 hours ago


While Statistics Canada recently reported that Manitoba has seen a noticeable increase to its population based on an influx of new immigrants, Portage la Prairie appears to be seeing similar growth.
Daniel Bolton, president with  the Portage and District Chamber of Commerce, agrees Portage has seen a boost in its immigrant population.
"The RHA has had quite a lot  of newcomers and immigrants move into Portage, which is great to see," he said.
He said the Portage International Committee (PIC) is also making strides to attract newcomers.
"In working with the PIC, we have seen the Province take a few steps in the right direction in trying to entice immigration and newcomers to Portage," he said.
The benefits of having more newcomers settle here, said Bolton, mean the local economy also sees a boost.
Statistics Canada reports as of Jan. 1, Canada's population was estimated at 34,278,400, and saw an increase of 40,400 (+0.1%) from Oct. 1, 2010.
Demographic growth was the highest on the Prairies. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were reported as having high rates of growth that were above the Canadian average.
Manitoba had the greatest demographic growth in Canada in the fourth quarter. It saw an increase of more than 3,600 (+0.3%).
Specifically, the net international migration (+2,600) was the main factor for the demographic growth in Manitoba. As of Jan. 1, Manitoba's population was estimated at about 1,243,700.
Statistics Canada shows 16,900 more people arrived in Manitoba in 2010. That is the most the province has grown in almost 40 years.
The Province reports 15,805 immigrants came to Manitoba in 2010. That is more than the 13,520 who came in 2009; it represents the largest arrival of immigrant s since 1946.
Luis Luna, co-ordinator of Portage Learning and Literacy Centre's immigrant resource program, said Portage has been successful in attracting many newcomers and he credits the immigrants for coming here with valuable skills needed in the marketplace.
"We haven't seen the increase like Morden and Winkler, but we are having a steady number of immigration happening in Portage la Prairie," he added.
"The last big immigration project was with the RHA Central ...," he said. "They have continued bringing more immigrants into the region."
Mayor Earl Porter also concurs immigration has had a positive impact on Portage.
"We do have quite a few immigrants in here now," said Porter.
He said the Portage International Committee is currently working on its own strategic plan.
PIC members are also looking forward to the upcoming Citizenship ceremony in May to be held in Portage.  
The advantages of having more immigrants are that they help to build the population, said the Mayor.
"The nurses who came to Portage they are getting involved in the community," added Porter. "Some of them are buying houses. It's a boost for the economy."
Porter is pleased to see Manitoba's population see an increase and hopes it might also show a rise in Portage's numbers also.
"We have been sitting at 13,000 people  for so long … it's nice to grow the population a little bit, and increase your tax base."

Looming shortage of ICT workers: study

Cynthia VuketsStaff Reporter
Canada is facing an “alarming” shortage of information and communications technology workers due to a gap between the skills employers are looking for and the capabilities of job seekers, says a study released Tuesday.
“We’re looking at a labour market that isn’t working particularly well for employers or job seekers,” said John O’Grady of Prism Economics and Analysis, who authored the study for the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC).
Between 2011 and 2016, Canadian employers will need to hire about 106,000 ICT workers, but with declining enrolment in post-secondary program and increased difficulty bringing temporary skilled workers to Canada, those employees will be difficult to find, the study indicates.
In Ontario alone, about 50,000 ICT jobs will need to be filled in the next five years, said Paul Swinwood, ICTC President and CEO. Immigrants and new graduates will be able to fill 60-70 per cent of those positions, he added.
There will be particular shortages of computer and information systems managers, telecommunications carriers managers, information systems analysts and consultants and broadcast technicians due to increasing need in sectors such as cloud computing and virtualization.
“What we are seeing is the evolution of the ICT sector in Canada,” said Swinwood.
Employers are now looking for technologically proficient workers who also have “soft” business skills and specialized knowledge in areas such as health, finance or digital media.
Enrolment in ICT programs at post-secondary institutions is declining and those who do graduate don’t always have the practical experience needed to gain a foothold in the industry, said O’Grady. Post-secondary institutions should look to developing cross-disciplinary programs that help graduates attain skills in technology as well as business, communications and human resources.
The study, “Outlook for Human Resources in the ICT Labour Market, 2011–2016,” was based on an econometric model of supply and demand trends for ICT occupations developed by Prism Economics and the Centre for Spatial Economics, a review of third-party forecasts of ICT spending and employment, enrolment and graduation trends in relevant post-secondary programs, telephone interviews with 111 industry informants, 11 focus groups with post-secondary and industry representatives, and a web survey of 268 employers.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Spain's lost generation of graduates join wave of migrants in search of jobs

    Metropolitan Areas of Spain, 2007 data.Image via WikipediaRising unemployment has led to an exodus of young Spaniards looking for better opportunities abroad on a scale not seen since the 1960s

    In a few weeks' time Nacho Luna will pack his bags and head for London. The 25-year-old graduate from a Madrid journalism school sees no future for himself in Spain and has decided to emigrate.
    "I am just one of the many young people who are forced to make this kind of decision," he said. "It's a hard thing to do, but I don't want to form part of what some are already calling the lost generation."
    Luna, pictured below, is not sure how he will earn a living, but anything is better than beating uselessly on the door of Spanish companies. The one job he has had since graduating lasted a year before the company went bust.
    With 20% unemployment at home, he thinks he can do better in Britain. During the last 10 years booming Spain was a magnet for immigrants, attracting 5 million foreigners. Now Spaniards are talking of a return to the mass emigration of 1960s, when 2 million left looking for jobs in northern Europe. "I only see jobs for exploited interns who earn €300 (£263) a month. That's barely enough to cover the costs of getting to work and back every day," said Luna. "Opportunities are scarce in a country with youth unemployment over 40%."
    Luna is not alone. The number of Spaniards living outside the country has increased by 20% over three years as unemployment among Luna's "lost generation" of young workers has climbed to 43%.
    When Der Spiegel reported that a Madrid visit by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, last month would produce an offer of jobs for Spaniards, language schools saw a leap in applicants for German courses. "There was a sudden flood," said Matilde Ferrolasa of Madrid's Tandem school.
    Exact numbers of those who have already left are hard to work out. An extra 100,000 Spaniards signed on at consulates abroad in 2010, but many more will have travelled without bothering to register.
    Geologist Ignacio Zafra packed his bags in January after finding himself, aged 34, living at home with his parents in Madrid again. He lost his job in 2009 and, after just five job interviews in a year, decided to leave. His only offer had been a job as a door-to-door salesman, with no contract or guaranteed income.
    "My unemployment benefits were stopped a few months ago, so I started thinking that emigrating was the best way to find a job that my own country won't give me," he said from his new base in Aberdeen. "I am a realist. I know that things are bad in the UK as well, but they will never be as bad as in Spain. The labour market here is much more active."
    The new Spanish emigrants are travelling further than in the 1960s. The US, for example, has received more of them than France and Germany together.
    María Elena Manzanares, a 29-year-old teacher and broadcaster, will be going to Canada in a few months' time. "It's going to take a couple of years for things to pick up here," she said. "I want to work and improve my skills."
    Emerging economies such as Brazil and other Latin American countries are also seeing more Spaniards arriving.
    The crucial difference between those leaving now and the manual labourers who sought work in German factories and Swiss restaurants in the 1960s is that today's emigrants are mostly young graduates with years of studying behind them. It is no longer clear that a degree is useful in Spain's paralysed job market. Unemployment among graduates aged 29 or under is running at 19% – almost the same as the national average for all age groups, regardless of education.
    Many graduates lie about their education when applying for work, worried that they will be rejected for being overqualified. And 44% of those who find work do so at below their skills level, twice the European average, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
    The contrast with booming Germany, which is short of 48,000 engineers, could not be greater.
    Those graduates who have left say that, for those prepared to chase them, opportunities are far more plentiful abroad.
    "Salaries, working hours, conditions and opportunities to advance in your career are far greater here," said 28-year-old Paula Mestre, who left her native Valencia five years ago and is now an IT consultant in Edinburgh.
    It took her four months, with relatively poor English, to find a job – but six months later her salary had almost doubled and her company was offering her training. "They kept putting my salary up and giving me more responsibilities," she said. "Spanish companies simply don't invest in their workforce and people tend to work their whole life in one company."
    Both she and her Spanish husband, a dentist, are doing far better than they would in Spain. "We're not thinking of going back. Why would I go? To join the dole queue?" she said.
    Those who are not leaving, however, are the 5 million immigrants who flocked into Spain during the booming noughties, even though many have lost jobs. Spain's foreign population has, in fact, increased slightly over the past three years. "Virtually no one is going, mostly because their families are already here," confirmed Juan López Jiménez of the Cáritas charity.
    Even the promise of free air tickets and financial help (in return for a pledge not to return for several years) cannot persuade them to leave.
    "We only had a few hundred people come to us last year," says Xavier Bosch, head of immigration for the Catalan regional government, which runs a scheme to help some of the region's 1.2 million immigrants return home.
    Immigrants are harder hit by unemployment than native Spaniards, though many may now be working in a black economy that accounts for 17% of GDP, according to the savings bank foundation Funcas. Figures show unemployment is worst among African immigrants, where it is running at 31%.
    The new wave of emigration is not confined to Spain. Similar trends have been spotted in other EU countries blighted by the economic crisis, most notably Ireland and Greece.
    But José García-Montalvo, an economist at the Pompeu Fabra university, says Spain is a special case "because we use our human resources so inefficiently". "People spend a lot of time working below their skills level and then, through a simple and pernicious psychological process, start lowering their expectations."
    Emigrating, he admits, is a sensible option. For Luna it is the only one. "My desperation obliges me to attempt even the most unlikely things," he says.


    BMO Named One of Canada's Best Employers for New Canadians for Third Consecutive Year

    A typical BMO branchImage via Wikipedia

    Partnership with ACCES Employment to roll out a national Speed Mentoring program: Example of important initiatives that enhance employment and career opportunities for immigrants.


    TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 28, 2011) - BMO Financial Group has been named one of Canada's Best Employers for New Canadians by Mediacorp Inc.
    "This award is a reflection of BMO's longstanding commitment to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in our workforce, and to creating a work environment in which all employees can truly reach their full career potential," said Sonya Kunkel, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, BMO Financial Group.
    "Skilled newcomers bring vast knowledge, experience, creativity, and innovation to the Canadian workforce and it is incumbent upon every employer to do everything they can to open their doors to this talented pool of skilled professionals," she added.
    Judges took particular note of the seminal work BMO has undertaken with ACCES Employment to introduce a nationwide Speed Mentoring program. The program gives newcomers opportunities to network with established professionals in their fields of expertise. BMO is the exclusive industry sponsor.
    Already, more than 1,900 immigrants have benefitted from contacts established through Speed Mentoring sessions. Overall, ACCES has an 80 per cent success rate in helping new Canadians enter the workforce.
    "Our first year of Speed Mentoring in partnership with BMO Financial Group has been extremely successful," said Allison Pond, Executive Director, ACCES Employment. "Together, we are helping new Canadians meet professionals and expand their networks. These connections are vital in helping newcomers successfully integrate into their fields. The tremendous response from both mentors and mentees provides us with the opportunity to share Speed Mentoring, with organizations doing similar work across the country, so that more new Canadians can benefit from Speed Mentoring and accelerate their success."
    "We do this not just because it is the right thing to do for the bank and for our customers, but because it is also the right thing to do for our communities," said Ms Kunkel.
    NOTE: UPCOMING SPEED MENTORING EVENT
    BMO is holding its next Speed Mentoring event at the bank's new Customer Contact Centre in Mississauga, Ontario on April 15, 2011, between 2:00-4:00 pm. The event will pair mentees interested in call centre careers with BMO mentors working at the bank's new contact centre. Media are welcome to attend:
      Meadowvale CCC
      2465 Argentia Road,
      Mississauga, L5N 0B4

    Canada could lead developed world in growth: RBC head

    The Royal Bank Plaza building in Toronto, OntarioImage via WikipediaMONTREAL — Canada could enjoy a "breakaway decade" of economic growth if businesses invest more to improve productivity, the head of the Royal Bank of Canada said Monday. Gordon Nixon told a Canadian Club audience in Montreal that Canada has the potential to significantly outperform the developed world in terms of economic growth and social leadership.
    "Our economy has been resilient, the housing market is up, past federal surpluses have provided flexibility, the banking system is stable and corporate tax rates are low," he said.
    But Nixon said the country's promise can only be realized by tackling several key shortcomings.
    They include reducing provincial and federal deficits, increasing immigration and tackling Canada's Achilles heel of low productivity.
    In particular, he challenged businesses to spend more on innovation, noting that over the last 30 years the productivity gap between Canada and the United States has more than tripled.
    "Innovation-fuelled productivity is the lever we can pull to increase the economic pie we all share and, in doing so, improve our standard of living and gain competitive clout in the global marketplace."
    Governments have helped by cutting regulatory and tax burdens, but Nixon says they must now work aggressively to balance their budgets.
    Meanwhile, Canada should gain a competitive advantage as other countries are forced to boost taxes and cut spending.
    "Canada today is an attractive place to live, work and build successful businesses. And, with continued fiscal responsibility, we should be able to avoid the current plight of many countries that will be forced to undergo painful restructurings to address their systemic failures," he said.
    "It's our turn as business leaders to say thanks to the government for the tax reform and now we are going to use it to invest and (make) innovation part of our agenda."
    Meanwhile, he said Canadian governments at both the federal and provincial levels must continue to put their financial houses in order after the recent recession.
    "We cannot let the advantage gained through 15 years of fiscal responsibility slip away," he said.
    "Notwithstanding the political challenges of fiscal restraint, it is essential that the provinces and the federal governments aggressively work their way back to fiscal balance."

    New rules of engagement proposed for marriages involving immigrants

    Jason KenneyImage by mostlyconservative via Flickr
    By: Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


    OTTAWA - The Harper government has quietly proposed that people coming to Canada to join their partner must stay in the relationship for two years or more before being formally granted permanent residence.
    The planned regulatory move — which follows a series of town halls and online consultations — represents a federal bid to stamp out fraudulent marriages that are used to dodge immigration laws.
    Under the proposal, a spouse or partner from abroad who has been in a relationship with the Canadian sponsor for two years or less would be granted only "conditional permanent residence."
    The newcomer would then have to remain in a bona fide relationship with their sponsor for two years or more following arrival — or risk having their permanent residence status revoked. In turn, this could lead to their removal from Canada.
    A federal notice published just before the election writ was issued Saturday says the measure would "send a message that Canada is taking a strong stance against marriage fraud, and immigration fraud in general."
    It would also bring Canada's policies in line with those of other countries, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, all of which already have a form of two-year conditional status for those in new relationships, the notice says.
    The director of a legal clinic that serves the Asian community says the move will hurt women in violent relationships.
    "It's going to be disastrous for women who are abused," said Avvy Go of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.
    The federal notice says that given concerns about violent relationships, "a process for allowing bona fide spouses and partners in such situations to come forward without facing enforcement action" would be developed should the new measure be put in place.
    But Go says many vulnerable women simply won't report abuse by their partners.
    In addition, she doesn't trust immigration officers "who are not trained to deal with domestic violence situations" to decide whether or not a woman has actually fled an abusive relationship.
    The public has 30 days to comment on the federal proposal.
    The government says while most relationships are believed to be legitimate, the spousal sponsorship process is open to fraud.
    In some case, both parties may be using the system for immigration purposes. In others, the sponsor thinks the relationship is genuine while the sponsored partner intends on breaking up shortly after gaining permanent residence status.
    The government says "firm figures" on the extent of marriage fraud are not available. However, about 16 per cent of the 46,300 immigration applications processed last year were refused for various reasons.
    Many were rejected because the relationship was considered a sham, while others were refused for reasons including criminal history, security and medical issues, the government says.
    Last fall, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney held town hall meetings in Vancouver, Brampton, Ont., and Montreal to discuss marriages of convenience. His department also consulted the provinces and territories.
    An online consultation drew 2,342 responses from the general public and 89 from interested groups.
    The federal notice says respondents "expressed considerable concern" about marriages of convenience. "Most considered the issue to be a threat to the integrity of Canada's immigration system."
    As an additional measure, the government proposes to introduce a "sponsorship bar" that would prevent sponsored partners and spouses from sponsoring a new partner for five years.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Federal Funding to the Bridge Training Program Works for Skilled Immigrants

    OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 25, 2011) - The Government of Canada is providing $22 million to help skilled immigrants in Ontario find jobs, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
    The Bridge Training program helps skilled immigrants enter the Canadian labour market and find employment that matches their education and skills. The program funds regional projects in Ontario that help skilled immigrants get a Canadian license in a regulated profession, or the training they need to get work in regulated and non-regulated careers. The program also funds initiatives that reduce barriers to the integration of foreign-trained workers.
    "This program helps skilled immigrants in Ontario enter and integrate into the Canadian labour market," said Minister Kenney. "It is absolutely critical to engage employers in this process, and this program does just that."
    The Bridge Training program has been co-funded since 2007-08 by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. Given the success of this program, the Government of Canada is continuing its contribution with $12M in 2011-2012 and $10 million in 2012-2013.
    To date, over 200 projects have been funded and over 35,000 immigrants in Ontario have benefited from the program.
    The Government of Canada is committed to attracting, retaining and integrating immigrants into Ontario communities. Federally funded settlement services have enabled significant expansion and enhancement of both language training and settlement services. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has tripled funding for settlement services in Ontario.

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    Sask., Man., lead population growth

    Pie chart of the area of provinces and territo...Image via Wikipedia

    Immigration in 2010 highest since '50s

    Saskatchewan and Manitoba emerged as the country's growth leaders in population numbers released by Statistics Canada Thursday.
    The agency estimated that Canada's population grew by 1.1 per cent in 2010 to total 34,278,400 as of January 1, 2011.
    But Saskatchewan's rose by 1.5 per cent and Manitoba's increased 1.4 per cent, helped by strong economic growth prospects.
    Movement from other provinces helped Saskatchewan while immigration was a strong factor in Manitoba's growth.
    The growth of 40,400 from October 1, 2010 was lower than in the same period in 2009, when the number of Canadians grew by 55,900.
    While growth due to natural increase was relatively stable, net international migration declined from 25,400 to 10,900.
    "This decline in net international migration can be explained by a larger decrease in non-permanent residents living in Canada," it said.
    Canada received more than 280,000 immigrants in 2010, the highest level recorded since the 1950's. This was 28,500 more immigrants than in 2009

     (Note:CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)
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    Mentoring new immigrants

    Mary Teresa Bitti, Financial Post · Mar. 18, 2011 | Last Updated: Mar. 24, 2011 11:53 AM ET
    Gautam Nath is very active in Toronto’s immigrant community. In addition to being director of Cultural Markets Research at Environics Research Group, he is a director on the board at Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS), has been invited to join the advisory board of York University’s Internationally Educated Professional (IEP) Bridging Program and mentors newcomers through the TRIEC's mentoring partnership.
    He brings something to his role as mentor that many of his counterparts do not: Mr. Nath is a newcomer himself. He moved to Canada with his wife in November 2008 and, like many of the people he guides, had to restart his life and career.
    “I built a career over 25 years in India with corporate multinationals in a variety of roles including marketing, corporate communications, change management,” says Mr. Nath. “But I had no network when I landed in Canada. When I talk to people, they relate to me because the experience is so fresh and it is one they are living. As a tourist, you know you have a safety net back home. As an immigrant you have moved life. There is no network, no brand image. You walk down the street and you are as strange to yourself as you are to every one else.”
    For that reason, Mr. Nath says it’s important for new immigrants to move fast and start meeting people and building connections. This is particularly true for foreign educated professionals, less than a quarter of whom find employment in their field.
    “They land here and realize although they have education and experience, they are essentially starting from scratch with respect to getting placed in a career commensurate with their education and training. And that can chip away at confidence. On the flip side, all that knowledge and expertise is going to waste,” says Nora Priestly, project manager, Internationally Educated Professional Bridging Program, York University. “Then there is the challenge of settling their families into a new city, new home — all the aspects of starting a life in a new country.”
    While many of the attributes and benefits of mentorship apply to everyone, mentoring is a critical leg up to new Canadians, says Ms. Priestly. The bridging program was designed to offer new immigrants two types of mentorship. “Professional mentorship gives them the opportunity to be connected to, or sitting in, the industry where they want to be,” says Ms. Priestly.
    “They get an inside take about common practice in Canada, very pragmatic suggestions about how to get to where they want to be, as well as a quiet reassurance about knowing the cultural terrain. It builds confidence and shows individuals they are not the first to tread this trail and that it is possible for them to succeed here.”
    The Bridging program also offers peer-to-peer mentoring, where new participants are paired with other IEPs further along in the program. “They are helping them to feel like they belong. And they can work together so that the relationship is equally valuable. The faster you get settled in and feel connected, the more chances you will be successful,” says Ms. Priestly.
    Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles facing new immigrants is lack of Canadian experience. “Employers want Canadian experience. And when you have someone coming in whose first language is not English, whose name is difficult to pronounce, and who has worked in organizations Canadian employers may never have heard of, that’s tough,” says Mr. Nath.
    “One of the key messages I give to the people I’m mentoring is that you have to make your own opportunities. Netgiving or volunteering in a way that you can use your wisdom and experience is a way to get the Canadian experience employers want to see and to build a network.”
    Mr. Nath’s own volunteer efforts as a marketing advisor led him to a meeting at Environics and his current role. His efforts on behalf of other new immigrants have led him to be shortlisted for the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants award for 2011. “Imagine, just two years in the country to be recognized in this way. Thanks to God’s support, my network of friends and a bit of hard work.”

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Canada and New Zealand Partner to Tackle Immigration Fraud

    Ottawa, March, 24, 2011 — Canada’s efforts to combat immigration fraud have been strengthened following the signing of a new information-sharing initiative with New Zealand, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, announced today.
    “This initiative will help Canadian immigration authorities detect foreign criminals and previous deportees who are trying to re-enter Canada without permission,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada already has similar initiatives in place with the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and we are pleased to expand this partnership to include New Zealand.”
    Under this arrangement, Canada will be able to securely and confidentially check the fingerprint information of asylum seekers and foreign nationals facing deportation in Canada with those stored in New Zealand immigration databases.
    “The ability to check identities with each other helps Canada and New Zealand identify people using false identities or people with criminal histories,” said New Zealand Immigration Minister Dr. Jonathan Coleman. “The initiative gives greater confidence that non-genuine immigration cases will be refused through the improved detection of fraudulent identity and immigration claims.”
    The initiative was developed as part of the Five Country Conference (FCC), a forum for immigration and border security comprised of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency in partnership with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. To date, as a result of data-sharing:
    • The U.K. returned to Australia a wanted rapist posing as an asylum seeker, who subsequently pleaded guilty.
    • Canada revoked the refugee status of a man whom British records proved to be an American citizen.
    • The U.K. took action against an asylum seeker who used nine identities and six different documents across the FCC countries.
    Canadian citizens will not be affected, nor will visitors, foreign students or foreign workers. Most permanent residents will not be affected either, other than those who acquired their status via a successful refugee claim.
    The protection of personal information is important to all the countries involved. Each FCCcountry has in place a number of safeguards to protect privacy and has completed a comprehensive privacy impact assessment.

    Alberta foreign workers can apply to government for permanent residency

    Alberta Legislature BuildingImage via Wikipedia
    Province can nominate 5,000 skilled labourers this year.



    EDMONTON — Skilled temporary foreign workers certified in Alberta’s optional trades can now apply directly to the government for permanent residency instead of having to apply with their employers, the province announced Monday.
    The federal government limits the number of people Alberta can nominate for permanent residence. In 2011, Alberta is allowed to nominate 5,000 people. With limited numbers, Alberta’s focus will be on nominating people who currently work in permanent jobs, those who have job offers, and those with the skills and qualifications in occupations that are in demand here.
    “We need skilled workers living in Alberta permanently,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, minister of employment and immigration, in a statement. “We have to make sure we are ready for the coming labour shortages as economies around the world are competing for the same skills and the same people. This change will allow Alberta to nominate the most qualified and experienced tradespeople working in occupations that are needed in Alberta.”
    There are currently 50 designated trades in Alberta. Of these, 31 are in the optional trades (including occupations like roofer, tile setter, concrete finisher and cabinetmaker). Nineteen occupations fall under compulsory trades (including occupations like welder, iron worker, gasfitter and plumber).
    Before this change, workers in the optional trades applied with their employers for permanent residence. Workers in the compulsory trades had the option to apply either directly or with their employers.
    This change will simplify the application process for temporary foreign workers in both compulsory and optional trades applying to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program.



    Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Alberta+foreign+workers+apply+government+permanent+residency/4436560/story.html#ixzz1HWZrbhty



    Legislation Targeting Crooked Immigration Consultants Receives Royal Assent

    Minister of the Economic Development Agency of...Image via Wikipedia
    OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/23/11 -- Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney welcomed today the final passage of legislation to crack down on crooked immigration consultants.
    Bill C-35, originally introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, has now received Royal Assent and is expected to come into force in the coming months.
    "Once in force, this legislation will make it an offence for anyone other than an authorized immigration consultant, lawyer, other representative or authorized entity to conduct business at any stage of an application or proceeding," said Minister Kenney. "We are targeting undeclared "ghost" consultants as well as other unscrupulous immigration representatives who are engaging in unacceptable activity."
    The Act strengthens the rules governing those who charge a fee for immigration advice or representation; closes certain loopholes; increases penalties for unauthorized representation; and allows for more government oversight in order to improve the way in which immigration consultants are regulated.
    "Crooked immigration consultants pose a threat not only to their victims, but also to the integrity of our immigration system," said Minister Kenney. "This new legislation will help us protect people wanting to immigrate to or stay in Canada, as well as the integrity of Canada's immigration system."
    In response to issues raised by stakeholders and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, amendments to the Bill were made during the Committee's study of Bill C-35. Among key amendments are measures to:
    --  Double maximum fines for the offence of providing unauthorized
        immigration advice from $50,000 to $100,000 and summary convictions from
        $10,000 to $20,000;
    --  Amend the offence provision to capture both direct and indirect
        representation and advice; and
    --  Recognize paralegals regulated by a Law Society as being exempted from
        prohibition on providing representation and advice.
    

    Once in force, the Act will impose penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee, at any stage of an immigration application of proceeding. This includes the period before a proceeding begins or an application is submitted. In addition, the legislation authorizes the disclosure of information on the ethical or professional conduct of an immigration consultant to those responsible for governing or investigating that conduct.
    Bill C-35 received Royal Assent this afternoon after it was approved in the Senate on March 21, 2011. It was unanimously adopted at third reading in the House of Commons on December 7, 2010, after being introduced on June 8th.
    This process is part of a broader strategy to protect people wanting to immigrate to or stay in Canada from immigration fraud.
    Minister Kenney raised the issue of immigration consultant fraud in meetings with officials in China, India and the Philippines last fall and more recently in Pakistan. He has urged those governments to protect their citizens from exploitation and abuse by crooked immigration consultants.

    BUDGET 2011: Credits for re-training foreign workers

    Canadian parliament from the Musée Canadienne ...Image via Wikipedia
    Foreign workers forced to obtain additional Canadian credentials before practicing in their field will feel some financial relief in the Conservative’s budget, tabled Tuesday.
    Source: OBJ
    However, the document – which still needs to be approved by parliamentarians – is vague on increased recognition of foreign credentials, an important issue for Ottawa’s technology sector.
    “There are very qualified people not being able to work in their field in Canada because of a recognition of their experience and credentials, so I think a large number of organizations have asked for some relief there,” said OCRI chief executive Claude Haw in an interview before the budget's release on Tuesday.
    That said, the budget included few details about how immigrants could gain equivalency for medical, law, engineering and other professional degrees overseas, only saying details would be announced shortly.
    Instead, the government focused on tuition relief for those foreign workers that are looking to switch careers or supplement their existing credentials.
    “Many foreign-trained workers have difficulty paying for the tuition and other training costs associated with the foreign credential recognition process,” budget documents stated.
    University and college tuition fees in Canada are eligible for a tax credit, but examinations for professional certifications – like nursing or accounting – don't fall under this bracket.
    The budget proposes making all of these trade, occupational and professional examination fees eligible as long as a provincial or federal statute lets the person do the trade in Canada.
    Around 30,000 people nationwide are expected to receive this assistance, reducing federal revenues by $1 million in 2010-11 and $5 million for the following two years.
    “During the downturn, people asked if we need more people in the country, but I say it creates vibrancy and innovation,” Mr. Haw said, noting that Canadians do very well when working with Silicon Valley companies and he has seen the same phenomenon when foreign workers come here.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Canada to scrap one avenue for refugees

    Trudeau (left) is seated next to Darfurian ref...Image via WikipediaBY ELIZABETH THOMPSON, IPOLITICS.CA



    Refugees from some of the world's most dangerous countries could soon find it more difficult to find refuge in Canada.

    Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has put forward a proposal to eliminate one of the three classes Canada uses to resettle refugees. The source-country class allows residents of designated countries to apply directly to Canada for refugee status from inside those countries.

    In its notice of the proposed change, the government says the groups most likely to be affected by the change are Colombians and Eritreans.

    The refugee spaces that had been allocated to the source-country class will be reallocated to the larger convention-refugee-abroad class. In the convention class, Canada works with the United Nations human rights commissioner for refugees to resettle refugees located outside their country of origin.

    Applications under the source-country class that have been approved in principle will be processed, and candidates who meet the criteria will be issued a visa. Those not already approved in principle will be reassessed under the remaining refugee resettlement classes. Unsuccessful applicants who feel they need protection will be referred to the UN human rights commissioner.

    The government says the change is being proposed because the source-country class isn't "effective or efficient."

    However, Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said scrapping the class instead of reforming it will close the door to people who can't easily leave their home countries to apply for refugee status and force them into the arms of human-smugglers.

    "They are proposing to close one of the few options Canada has which allows people who face persecution to avoid smugglers."

    The source country class, which has existed since 1997, allows prospective refugees from designated countries to apply to Canada for refugee status before they leave the country.

    Currently, six countries are designated: Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The last time the list of designated countries was revised was 2001. While Canadian government travel warnings have since been reduced for some countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, the Department of Foreign Affairs still warns against any travel to Sudan and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.

    In its proposal, the government said a review of the source-country class in 2009 found it isn't effective.

    "The source country class was intended to be a flexible tool for humanitarian intervention, capable of responding to a variety of populations and situations," the government wrote.

    "However, the review found that the class can only be used successfully in a narrow range of humanitarian situations in a small number of countries around the world."

    In some countries, the system was being swamped with applications from citizens of other countries located in the designated country.

    "Direct access was granted in the six source countries to accommodate applications from source country nationals," the government explained. "However, the provision is also being used by non-nationals residing in the source countries who would normally be required to have a referral or a private sponsor, since Canada cannot restrict the application of direct access based on nationality. As a result, any foreign national living in a source country may use the direct access provision to apply for resettlement without referral."

    In some countries, such as Columbia, where the average acceptance rate is 13 per cent, the Canadian embassy was swamped with thousands of applications. In Sierra Leone and Sudan, fewer than 100 applications have been submitted in each country.

    Dench said part of the reason that the source-country class hasn't been working as well as it could is that the government hasn't been trying to make it work.

    "We're particularly critical of the fact that the program has never really been made to work in Africa."

    Dench said improvements are needed, such as not having a published list of countries. However, she said she was shocked to learn the government is proposing to scrap the source country class altogether.

    "From our perspective it is a very bad idea."

    Liberal immigration critic Justin Trudeau said the government's proposal makes a case for the move and he supports the idea of working with the UN human rights commissioner.

    However, Trudeau said he also has concerns about the move and would like to see the House of Commons immigration committee hold hearings into the question.

    "Any time we're eliminating an entire class of refugee applicants I get very wary."

    elizabeththompson@ipolitics.ca

    Twitter.com/LizT1


    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/partner/shell/Canada+scrap+avenue+refugees/4476507/story.html#ixzz1HKqyBBjQ