Friday, April 29, 2011

Canada needs more immigrants to boost economy, university study concludes

Homage to the Immigrant, in Rosario, Argentina...Image via Wikipedia
Canada needs an extra one million immigrants between now and 2021 in a move that would boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2.3%, it is claimed.
It would mean an extra 100,000 per year and would add $14 billion to the government’s tax revenue coffers as well as boosting investment in housing and creating more demand for goods and services, according to a study by Canadian professor Tony Fang.
The report from University of York in Vancouver looked at the impact of large-scale immigration on the Canadian economy and took into account factors such as how much immigrants participate in the labour force, spending on government services and infrastructure.
It also looked at funds brought in by immigrants, labour market differences between migrants and the effect of large-scale immigration on Canadian born workers.
Fang, an associate professor of human resources in the faculty of liberal arts and professional studies, concludes that higher levels of immigration will boost the economy.
Canada already has the highest immigration rate per capita out of major countries and has programmes in place to try to deal with skill shortages.
Fang’s previous work has found that training and development doesn’t help immigrants get ahead in their careers, even though it benefits other employees.
He found that immigrant and non-immigrant professionals are equally likely to undergo training and development initiatives funded by employers. However, immigrants don’t reap the rewards of higher pay, promotions, or increased job satisfaction reported by their non-immigrant counterparts.
‘We believe non-immigrants may be better able to leverage their training and, as a result, achieve higher salaries and promotions,’ he said.
‘There is an urgent need for employers to develop better policies for integrating and leveraging the talents of immigrant professionals,’ he added.
On average, immigrant professionals, that is those who hold at least an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree, earn less than non-immigrants. They also tend to have lower promotion rates and shorter tenure with their current employer. In addition, they are less satisfied with their jobs and compensation.
A major barrier for immigrants, Fang noted, is lack of cultural fluency including language limitations and unfamiliarity with local training methods.

N.S. wants to double number of immigrants by 2020

View toward halifax, Nova Scotia as the ferry ...Image via Wikipedia
Nova Scotia announced a new immigration strategy that aims to double the number of immigrants entering the province each year by 2020.
At the Canadian Immigration Museum at Pier 21 in Halifax on Friday, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter released the province's new strategy, which sets a target of 7,200 new immigrants by 2020, double what the province had previously aimed for.
The immigration strategy will be bolstered by an additional $790,000 for immigration efforts and targets a 70% retention rate.
"Welcome Home to Nova Scotia is the province's most ambitious and focused immigration plan ever, and one of the most comprehensive strategies in the country," Dexter said in a release.
"By focusing on attracting immigrants with the right skills and experience, this new strategy will make our immigration programs more responsive to employers' needs," Immigration Minister Marilyn More said.
In 2007, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed a new immigration agreement to give the province the ability to nominate more skilled immigrants for quicker processing by the feds in an attempt to help counter declining population trends in communities across the province.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birth rate up for sixth year in a row: StatsCan 2

View of downtown Montreal.Image via WikipediaCASSANDRA DRUDI, QMI AGENCY

It's not a baby boom. It's not even enough to replace our own numbers. But more so than other parts of the developed world, Canadian women are becoming moms.
The number of births in Canada rose in 2008 for the sixth consecutive year, according to data released Wednesday.
In 2008, there were 377,886 live births in Canada. That number reflects a rise in every province and territory other than the Northwest Territories.
The rise in births seems to be slowing down, however, with a 2.7% increase in 2008, down from rises of 3.6% and 3.7% in the previous two years, Statistics Canada said.
That reflects a total fertility rate in 2008 of 1.68 children per woman - the highest total fertility rate on record since 1992, when it was 1.69.
While the rate is still "well below" the generational replacement level of 2.1 children per woman - the rate to replace the country's population in the absence of migration - it is still above other developed nations such as Italy at 1.39, and Japan at 1.21.
The numbers in Canada can be attributed to more women reaching their late 20s and early 30s, the ages at which the likelihood women will have a child is highest, said David Foot, an economics professor at the University of Toronto.
Foot, the author of Boom, Bust, Echo, a book about Canadian demographics in the 21st century, says that the recent growth in the number of births can be expected to continue for the next decade or so, as the children of the echo generation reach child-bearing age.
The echo generation are those born to baby boomers, who themselves were born in the post-war period between 1947 and 1966.
"This is the echo of the echo, the grandchildren of the baby boomers," Foot says.
In part, the rise in the national fertility rate can be attributed to a rise in the fertility rate in Quebec, Foot said. More than a third of the total increase in births in 2008 (35%) came from Quebec, StatsCan said. There have been more births there "primarily because of expanded child care," Foot said.
The continued increase in the number of births is likely to have "big implications" for child care in the next four or five years, before going on to affect elementary school enrolments as children grow older, Foot said.
And although the fertility rate is below the generational replacement level, immigration compensates for a fewer births than at other times in the country's history.
"The population of Canada would still be growing without immigration, but at a slower pace," Foot said.
An ideal fertility rate is somewhere between 1.6 and 2.6 births per 1,000 women, Foot said.
A society with too few children can't afford the costs of caring for its aging population, and a society with too many children will suffer from political instability because there won't be enough jobs for them all, Foot said.
Canada, with a fertility rate of 1.6, is on the right track.
"I think our position's very good," Foot said. "Canada's demographic future is considerably better than most of Western Europe and Japan, and Southeast Asia."

Board of Trade workplace program connects immigrants and Burnaby businesses

MetrotownImage via WikipediaBY JANAYA FULLER-EVANS, BURNABY NOW



The Burnaby Board of Trade is working to break down barriers to employment for new residents.
The board has conducted six Breaking Down the Barriers workplace tours and is hosting its final forum for the project on April 28.
The aim of the project was to connect more than 250 immigrants with Canadian companies over a period of 18 months.
The project was designed to create meaningful dialogue between immigrants and employers, allowing attendees to exchange experiences and share perspectives.
The project has helped immigrants and employers better understand the challenges each faces, according to Darlene Gering, president and CEO of the board.
"Employers are saying, we do have to look at our hiring practices," she said.
And immigrants get an idea of what businesses are looking for, Gering added.
For instance, one of the common threads on the tours was that immigrants looking for work didn't realize employers do the majority of hiring through networking or employee recommendations, she explained.
"It was quite new for immigrants to learn that," Gering said, adding this surprised her, as people on the tours have gone through employment training with social service agencies.
Another interesting challenge for immigrants was understanding the different types of workplace culture in Canada, as they often expect to have to adapt to one cultural standard, she said.
But in fact, workplace culture varies depending on the industry and the type of company, Gering explained.
Gering addressed some of the challenges immigrants face in finding employment at a recent tour..
"The Canadian employment market is significantly more robust than others, but accessing it can be difficult and daunting for immigrants for whom language and cultural difference pose an inhibitory barrier to entry," she said.
"However, we need more immigrants to drive innovation, which is fundamental to our economy's success. We must continue to position British Columbia as the preferred destination for the world's best and brightest - therefore Canadian companies need to understand the challenges immigrants face in accessing the employment market. Additionally, immigrants need to be given the tools to market themselves so they are more appealing to employers."
Gering added that she is proud of the board's partnership with the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table, which is leading the initiative.
The final tour was on April 14.
The board has been conducting the tours over the past 18 months, to introduce new immigrants to businesses in Burnaby. Tours have included the healthcare industry, engineering, finance, the IT and technology sector, green businesses, and accounting.
The forums are intended to raise awareness and reach out to the business community regarding the importance of newcomer integration into society, particularly through employment opportunities.
They are designed for immigrant job seekers, industry professionals and hiring managers.
The final forum, which is free to employers, is on April 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Hilton Metrotown.
Bob Elton, chair of the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia and former president and CEO of B.C. Hydro, is presenting.
The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia have provided funding for the Breaking Down the Barriers project.
For more information, go to: www.bbot.ca.


Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/Business+leaders+building+bridges+breaking+barriers/4682677/story.html#ixzz1KlceyRTb

Alberta targets mature workers to combat future labour shortage

The National Institute for Nanotechnology on t...Image via Wikipedia
EDMONTON - The Alberta government wants aging workers to put off retirement instead of putting golf balls as a way to stave off a looming labour shortage.
Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk released Wednesday a strategy aimed at encouraging more mature workers to stay on the job.
It’s one way to avert the worker, skills and knowledge crunch expected when the forecasted economic upturn crashes into Alberta’s aging population.
“We’re walking into a perfect storm,” Lukaszuk said, after announcing the report Engaging the Mature Worker: An Action Plan for Alberta at a human resources conference.
“2011 is the first year during which officially baby boomers are turning 65, so we’re looking at a large exodus of workers, not only in numbers but experience.”
Alberta faces a shortage of at least 77,000 workers in the next decade, he said. “That means no doctors, that means no coffee shops open, that means no daycare.”
Lukaszuk said he wants to maximize groups which are under-represented in the workforce — aboriginals, youth, immigrants and older people. A similar government report on engaging aboriginals is on the way.
Mature workers now account for about 16 per cent of the workforce and fewer than one in four employers have strategies in place to address the aging workforce.
In 2010, 17,400 Albertans retired, 2,300 more than in 2009. About 190,000 workers are expected to retire during the next 10 years.
Lukaszuk said the government wants to tap into mature workers — age 55 and above — who don’t want to stop working.
“We’re finding that our pre-retirees and retirees no longer follow the pattern of turning 65 and instantly hitting the golf course and never working again. Most mature workers want to stay engaged in the labour force in some capacity — maybe doing what they were doing all their lives but on a part-time or casual basis or changing careers altogether.”
The strategy was met with mixed reviews at the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton.
“Sixty-five is too young to retire,” said one senior, who declined to give her name.
Diana Bacon, 77, retired as a kindergarten teacher when she was 58 and said that as it turned out, if she had kept working, it would have robbed her of a blessing.
“I retired early because my husband retired early and I’m glad I did because we had a few trips and things before he died,” Bacon said.
“If I’d have kept on working, I’d have missed that. And after he died, I could have gone back to work but I have enough to live on and I don’t require a lot.”
Bacon, who volunteers at the centre preparing taxes for seniors, says encouraging people to work longer will have another unintended consequence.
“If you allow people to work endlessly, you’re going to cut back on the people available to do volunteer work. It’s very well-known that the best volunteers are the seniors.”
The plan calls on government to work with employers to retain mature workers by developing age-friendly workplaces, succession planning and phased retirements.
Mature workers who want to keep working should have more employment and career services and post-secondary education options.
The plan also calls for educating employers on the value of older workers and to revise pension and tax policies.
It suggests employers consider reducing hours and responsibilities of mature workers, move some to part-time work, recall retirees for busy times, use them for mentoring and consulting and redesign their jobs.
“There’s nothing magical that happens to us at 65,” Lukaszuk said.
“We don’t lose our capabilities. We not only could be as productive but frankly, could be even more productive because of the wealth of experience that we have.”
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour said he supports mature workers staying on voluntarily but worried some may be coerced to stay on.
“If (Lukaszuk’s) talking about forcing people to work past retirement age against their choice, then he’s going to have a war on his hands. Working Albertans won’t take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined or taken away.”
He was also skeptical that employers would go out of their way to accommodate older workers.
“We in the labour movement have been calling on both governments and employers for years to discuss more flexible approaches to retirement for mature workers, but the truth is we’ve met a lot of resistance especially from the employers’ side.
“I’m not as convinced as the Minister seems to be that employers will get behind a more flexible approach.”
Charlotte Bouchard, chair of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, said employers are looking at ways to retain older workers and reviewing their retirement policies.
“That’s a lot of experience that’s going out the door,” Bouchard said.
But employers face some challenges when it comes to retaining mature workers. “Is there the desire for them to stay? Secondly, what initiatives do you need to put in place to get them to stay? Do you need to help them more with benefits? Do you need to give more life balance?
“You need to have some flexibility.”
Lukaszuk said the province will work with the federal government to make sure tax rules and other policies don’t deter people working past retirement age.
“If you’re collecting your pension and choose to work part-time, you will just jump yourself one bracket over and everything you’re earning will be deducted in income tax and making it a futile exercise.”
Lukaszuk said keeping aging people working could boost workforce numbers by 40,000 but it still isn’t a long-term solution to Alberta’s labour shortage.
“At the end of the day, if we were to be 100-per-cent successful with persons with disabilities, mature workers, aboriginals, women and those who are chronically unemployed or underemployed, that still won’t suffice.
“At the end of the day, our population growth is still not catching up with our labour force requirement to our economic growth.”
Lukaszuk urged the federal government to revamp Canada’s immigration policies to better address the economic needs of provinces.

Canada promises faster immigration, more student visas for India

TORONTO: Just days before Canadian parliamentary elections on May 2, political leaders are wooing Indo-Canadians by promising less waiting time for immigration and more student visas from India.

Speaking at a roundtable organized by the Canada- India Foundation (CIF) here, top leaders of the opposition Liberal Party promised a comprehensive relationship with India. They said their party government will take the bilateral ties beyond trade to increase immigration and tourism from India and foster deeper education and research cooperation.

Top Liberal Party leader and Toronto MP Bob Rae reminded Indo-Canadians the role played by his party leader and former prime minister Paul Martin in ushering in G20 to include India and other developing economies for wider consultation on global economic issues.

He said Canada should focus on its core competencies in engaging with India and leverage its expertise to continue to push for stronger nuclear ties with India.

Suggesting more visas for Indian students to study in Canada, John McCallum, MP from the Toronto suburb of Markham-Unionville, said Australia was "eating Canada's lunch'' in attracting Indian students and the federal government must usher in friendlier policies on visa and work.

Canada currently gets about 3,500 Indian students compared to over 40,000 going to Australia each year.

Rob Oliphant, MP from the Toronto constituency of Don Valley West, said his party had identified Gujarat as a great business destination 20 years ago. He said he was happy that the current Canadian government has recognized the importance of Gujarat by being a partner country at this year's Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Since Canada still doesn't have any official presence in Gujarat, he favoured a full consular office in the state.

Oliphant promised that his party government would reduce wait times for the family class immigration category from 11-13 years now to five to six years. He also said his party government would be more careful in addresses sensitive issues like the visit of union minister Kamal Nath here last year which led to protests by Sikh groups for his alleged involvement in the 1984 riots.

Bengali-origin Rana Sarkar, who is contesting for parliament for the first time from the Toronto constituency of Scarborough Rouge River, said that based on past history, his Liberal Party has "the DNA for dealing with India and now there is need for India 2.0 engagement strategy.''

Maria Minna, MP from the Toronto constituency of Beaches-East York, emphasized the need for serious engagement of the Indian diaspora for deepening Canada-India relations.

Canada-India Foundation leaders Aditya Jha and Ramesh Chotai, said the Indian diaspora was pleased that the Liberal Party recognizes its role in shaping Canadian policies.

Representatives of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, IIT Alumni of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization also quizzed Canadian politicians about India.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Foreign buyers buoy Vancouver housing

Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel and residences, dow...Image via Wikipedia
On a recent trip to Vancouver, Jin Wang, a Chinese businesswoman, toured a large home – six bedrooms and seven baths – listed at $3.6-million in the British Properties, a wealthy enclave on the north shore overlooking the ocean and the city.
Ms. Wang and her husband, Hui Huang, made their money in the import and export of electronics, leveraging government connections in Beijing to do business in Shanghai. The Chinese nationals also expanded their business to domestic real estate in China.
Now, they’re looking to invest more heavily in Vancouver real estate. Three years ago, the couple first bought a $2.1-million home on Vancouver’s west side and rented it to a local family. Its value has since hurtled past $3-million. Back this month to scout more buys, Ms. Wang closed a deal for a $3-million home on Chartwell Drive in the British Properties and mulled the additional $3.6-million home on the same street.
Investments by Chinese buyers such as Ms. Wang and Mr. Huang are playing a role in helping to buoy the hottest real estate market in Canada, according to local realtors. Canadian realtors do not tally data on foreign investment in residential real estate, unlike the national realty association in the U.S., but widespread anecdotal reports from local players suggest investment cash from China is a small but significant factor, especially in the market for expensive homes. The additional demand may be helping to underpin a market whose prices seem to impossibly levitate above the typical local incomes in the region.
And it may increase, as more affluent Chinese aim to move, as well as invest their money abroad. There are nearly 600,000 high-net people worth at least $1.5-million in China this year, according to the consultancy Bain & Co. About 10 per cent of them have already left, another 10 per cent are planning to apply for immigration, and about 30 per cent are considering it, according to results based on Bain’s survey of 2,500 rich Chinese released last week.
The method of exit is to qualify abroad as an “immigrant investor.” In Canada, that means an immigrant must have a net worth of $1.6-million and make an $800,000 investment – figures that are twice what they were last year. The Vancouver region has already welcomed about half of 10,000 or so immigrants who come to Canada annually under such programs.
Yolanda Chen and Simon Yang arrived earlier this year as immigrant investors. The couple, and their six-year-old daughter, came for the same reason cited by a majority of people from China: a better education system. Ms. Chen, who was a television executive in Shanghai, has purchased a $2-million home in White Rock, south of Vancouver.
“It’s a better, and healthier, life here,” she said.
While realtors cite the influence of rich immigrants and investors on markets such as Vancouver, data suggest that the absolute number of buyers in such categories is small.
In the U.S. the most recent figures show that foreigners are a factor in real estate markets but not a massive one. Foreigners spent $41-billion on U.S. real estate from April, 2009, to March, 2010, about 4 per cent of the American market. Canadians accounted for about quarter, roughly $10-billion, of that total. Buyers from China counted for $3.3-billion, behind Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Of the properties purchased, half of them were bought as a primary residence, with only about a quarter for investment purposes.
The U.S. figures are the result of a survey by researchers at the National Association of Realtors. In Canada, there are no comparable numbers, “because there wasn’t demand for us to collect these statistics,” said Pierre Leduc, a Canadian Real Estate Association spokesman.
But the U.S. market results echo what realtors in Vancouver are seeing. Ian Gillespie, head of Vancouver developer Westbank Projects Corp., just opened a Shanghai office. In the company’s last major project, the $450-million Fairmont Pacific Rim luxury condo-hotel tower on the harbour, completed last year, Mr. Gillespie said about one-third of the apartments went to people with roots in China, largely for residences rather than investments.
“They’re not coming in to speculate, throwing money at things. They’re not trying to flip. They probably flip less than anybody,” said Mr. Gillespie.
Ms. Wang – who was scouting another home in the British Properties – buys for investment purposes, and although she and her husband don’t plan to move to Canada, the desire for a stronger education is a factor. Ms. Wang’s 17-year-old daughter lives in Vancouver, where she attends private school, a motivation for the family’s investment in the city.
“The weather is good, the scenery is good, and the education is good,” said Ms. Wang, speaking in Mandarin in an interview. “For the next generation, Canada is a more fair country.”
Last year’s Winter Olympics has sparked additional interest from overseas, said John Lichtenwald, whose Metro Vancouver Properties sold $3.7-billion of residential real estate in 2010 under the Re/Max banner. He estimated that about of a sixth of his firm’s buyers are foreign, led by those with China roots.
“The Olympics was a great advertisement program for all of Vancouver, it really helped,” he said.
Quickly rising home prices have led conservative commentators to point to the role of foreign buyers, though there is no evidence investment money is a primary fuel for the hot market. Peter Ladner, a business leader, recent mayoral candidate for the city’s conservative-leaning party and former city councillor, this month suggested foreign ownership of local real estate should be restricted to discourage “overseas property speculators.” The high cost of living hurts businesses looking to attract workers, he said.
The price of a “standard” two-storey house in the city and on the north shore jumped 10 per cent to $1.1-million in the first three months of 2011, according to research last week by real estate agency Royal LePage. The figure puts Vancouver at triple the national rate for a typical two-storey residence – an average of $379,000, up 4 per cent in the past year.
The city’s most recognizable real estate face, the condo marketer Bob Rennie, insists Vancouver has become a multipart market. There are some neighbourhoods, such as the west side, that can’t be judged on traditional metrics such as income to house price.
And while Mr. Rennie says prices in some areas such as the west side are “pretty frothy,” he leans on another exhortation common among realtors: In a city bounded by the mountains to the north, the water to the west and the U.S. to the south, hot neighbourhoods with spacious homes are rare.
“Even if it slows down, where is the supply?” Mr. Rennie said. “It’s not like we’re producing mansions.”
It is a message embraced by Guo Tai Sun, a 48-year-old who works in real estate and building materials in Guangzhou near Hong Kong. In April, he came to visit friends who had moved to Vancouver and to look at real estate investments. He’s not moving here but made an offer on a $2.5-million home on the city’s west side, popular among China buyers for the quality schools in the area.
“They told me it was a beautiful city,” Mr. Sun said. “I look at the potential of a city. I think Vancouver has great potential.”

Program helps a new wave of Irish immigrants transition to Montreal

Montreal City HallImage via Wikipedia
MONTREAL — There's a steady increase in the number of Irish immigrants coming to Montreal for job opportunities.
The Canadian government has increased quotas in its working holiday program with Ireland and a new Montreal group is helping Irish immigrants make the most of Montreal.
Catherine McKee moved from Ireland to Montreal in January.
She studied French in university, and wanted to continue improving her language skills.
"I've lived in France previously, so I wanted a new experience and I thought that Montreal would be a good place to learn," she told CTV Montreal.
McKee quickly found work as a receptionist at an IT company.
She credits a newly formed group, called the Irish Immigrant Integration Initiative, with helping her get started.
"It all seems to be very well organized," she said. "They're really looking out for the Irish people that are coming in."
The group organized a networking event back in February. Newly-arrived immigrants had the opportunity to learn about Montreal's Irish community.
More importantly, they were introduced to potential employers. 
Michelle Vahey of the St. Patrick's Society of Montreal says that ever since the economic downturn there are fewer opportunities in Ireland. 
"Some companies folded, some other companies weren't taking on possibly as many graduates as they had done in the past," she said. 
Canadian and Irish governments also have a working holiday program agreement available for people aged 18-35. Canada has increased the number of Irish working holiday visas -- from 2,000 to 5,000 -- and the term has also been extended -- from one year to two. 
Vahey says it shows the strong ties between the two countries and stands to benefit both.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Study Shows Vast Skills, Labour Shortages Looming for Canada’s Tech Sector

Facade of Ives Hall, Cornell UniversityImage via Wikipedia
20 April 2011
March 29, 2011
Canada’s ICT sector, representing the country’s information, communications and technology employment base, is facing alarming skills and labour shortages in the next five years. Today’s release of Outlook for Human Resources in the ICT Labour Market, 2011-2016 by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) , in partnership with the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) , underscores the shortages, and paints a picture of a new job market for ICT that has radically changed. ICTC also reported that all stakeholders in the sector—industry and education, the associations that represent them, and government—recognize the looming shortages and are poised to act.

The new report underscores that in most regions in Canada and for most ICT occupations, demand will far exceed supply.  Employers will encounter systemic shortages when recruiting for ICT jobs that require five or more years’ experience. The severity of these shortages will increase when employers are seeking to recruit ICT people with leading edge skills such as marketing, accounting and finance competencies.

The results also show a new job market for ICT, one that has radically changed. Industry now needs workers with the leading edge package of skills, for example systems analysis and design combined with marketing, operations management and HR management, or people with particular combinations of domain experience (such as e-health, e-finance and digital media) together with ICT expertise.

Over the next five years, Canadian employers will need to hire an estimated 106,000 ICT workers.

“The potential skills and labour shortage crisis has been identified as one of the most defining issues facing the ICT sector in Canada today, said Bernard Courtois, President and CEO of ITAC. Global job mobility, technological change, demographics, declining enrolments, and shifting investment patterns have combined to create a pending shortfall among skilled ICT workers. “ITAC and other sector stakeholders asked ICTC to help us understand the reasons for these trends and offer regional and occupational forecast,” said Courtois, “and we are now armed with this fresh survey information and ground-breaking analysis by leading Canadian experts to assess current and forecasted trends, and to recommend and implement corrective actions.”

British expats have voted Canada the best place to live in.

Map Gaels Brythons Picts GBImage via Wikipedia
According to a study of over 1,000 expats carried out by NatWest International, Canada is the country which offers the best qualify of life for Britons abroad.
92 per cent of British expats in Canada surveyed by the bank praised their working environment as "very good” or "excellent”, while 90 per cent rated their financial security as meeting the same criteria.
Canada's health care system, educational standards and attractive natural environment were similarly rated highly by respondents.
Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking said: “This is the second year Canada has topped the tables of the NatWest IPB Quality of Life Index. Its excellent working conditions, financial security and peaceful reputation have pushed Canada into this year’s pole position.
“As a member of the Commonwealth, Canada offers Brits common values and goals shared with the UK, helping British expats settle into the country and feel at home.”
Expat Stephen Davis, who lives in Toronto, said: "The media gives excessive attention to areas of sun, sand, sea and easy living etc. Life is not like that in Canada, but what we do have is a meritocracy in an ordered and quite well-organised society... where salaries are reasonable, the country's economy is relatively sound, and almost everyone has access to high quality health care. While no country can ever be perfect, I'm personally very glad I live here."
Stephanie Ash, a British expat who lives in Thunder Bay, north-western Ontario, added that she had personally found that the quality of life in Canada was “superior to anywhere else in the world”.
“Families here enjoy a high disposable income, which means a great lifestyle,” she said. "We have large and affordable homes, a clean and beautiful environment, great employment standards, plenty of business opportunities, and world-class education."
The country does, however, have one crippling disadvantage for expats. It is one of the 150 or so countries where British migrants can expect to have their pensions frozen at the rate they are when they first start drawing them abroad - something which causes serious financial difficulties for many of the country's oldest British settlers.
New Zealand and Australia occupied the second and third places on the index respectively.
The survey found that more than half of those Britons living and working abroad earn between £50,000 and £100,000, with expats based in Hong Kong earning the highest salaries. Nearly half of the expats based there said they were earning more than £100,000 a year
Canada has long sought to boost economic and demographic growth through immigration, and has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world.

McGuinty wants more control over immigration

Dalton McGuinyImage via Wikipedia
TORONTO - Ontario should have greater control over which immigrants come to the province and the programs that help them settle in, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.
"We want the federal government to devolve to Ontario the authority to administer, plan and design our own integration and settlement programs for newcomers," McGuinty said.
"We also want more say in the selection of immigrants coming to Ontario so we can make choices that support our economic growth," he said Wednesday.
At present, for example, Ontario gets 16% of economic-class immigrants while the national average is 25%."
Manitoba, B.C. and Quebec have been given more autonomy over immigration matters than Ontario, he said.
Employers complain to the government that they cannot find workers with necessary skills and the province needs to be able to attract immigrants with economically important skills to boost its overall bottom line, he said.
But McGuinty said the province will still welcome new immigrants who arrive through other routes such as family reunification.
"Most of us here come from other parts of the world at some point in time and I bet you that most of our parents, or grandparents or great-grandparents didn't have extraordinary skill sets," he said.
"We started at the bottom. That's certainly where my family came into this. So we never want to shut those people out but what we do want is a better balance."
He intends to continue raising issues of concern to the province, like immigration and health care, throughout the federal campaign, McGuinty said.
Tory MPP Jim Wilson said the premier is deflecting criticism from his own domestic policies that have led to an unemployment rate that's been higher than the national average for 51 months.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also accused McGuinty of trying to change the channel, insisting he should focus on finding appropriate jobs for immigrants who have already arrived.
"We still see many, many people who have skills who are driving cabs, who have skills who are delivering pizzas," Horwath said.
antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canada undergoing temporary growth spurt: BoC

Due to its soaring value against the American ...Image via Wikipedia
The Canadian economy likely expanded by a surprisingly strong 4.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, but it was a temporary burst of activity that is already over, the Bank of Canada says in its new outlook.
Topics : 
Canada , United States , Middle East
The central bank's new quarterly outlook paints a picture of an economy that is settling down to a protracted period of slow growth, being held back by a high loonie, a tapped-out consumer and government spending restraint.
The bank says the current second quarter will see growth brake to two per cent, less than half what it was in the first, in part because of supply disruptions to Canada's auto sector caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The disruption will lessen going forward, however.
On an annual basis, the economy is forecast to slow from 2.9 per cent this year, to 2.6 per cent next year and 2.1 per cent in 2013.
The overall take from the document is that the bank appears in no hurry to start raising interest rates to slow the economy because other factors are doing the job.
The bank doesn't appear to be overly worried that high oil and food prices might trigger inflation. It briefly notes that inflation may hit three per cent, at the upper end of the bank's acceptable range, in the next few months, but appears unconcerned.
"The combination of modest growth in labour compensation (wages) and higher productivity is expected to continue to dampen inflationary pressures, with the higher assumed value of the Canadian dollar providing further restraint," the bank said.
Economists had been pointing to either May or July as the most likely dates for the bank to start raising its policy rate from the current one per cent, which would have the effect of also raising short-term interest rates for such things as variable mortgages.
But the dovish tone of the latest outlook suggests interest rates could remain low longer, especially amid fears that moving aggressively in advance of the United States likely would have the undesired effect of lifting the loonie even higher.
The bank does concede that it has been taken by surprise by the 3.3 per cent expansion in the fourth quarter of 2010, and the likely even stronger 4.2 per cent spurt in the first three months of this year.
That means Canada's economy will likely return to full capacity by the middle of next year, earlier than previously expected.
But it stresses temporary factors were responsible, including stronger exports and domestic consumption, and that there is still plenty of slack in the economy.
The exports surge is already over, the bank says, and the persistently strong dollar averaging $1.03 US will continue to restrain exports going forward.
"The bank continues to project ... that the recovery in exports will be subdued relative to earlier global recoveries, with the higher level of the Canadian dollar assumed in this projection adding to long-standing competitive challenges," it said.
Consumption may remain moderately stronger than would be assumed, the bank says, in part because high commodity prices are increasing household purchasing power through gains in the terms of trade, the difference between export and import prices. It estimates the country's gross domestic income will rise by 4.7 this year.
Still, it believes the housing market will continue to cool and that government spending restraint will be a net drag on the economy this year.
The biggest engine of growth remains business investment, it says, in part because the higher Canadian dollar makes investment in foreign-made machinery and equipment less expensive.
Globally, the bank sees little change in the economic outlook, although it continues to stress risk factors such as high debt both among households and governments in the advanced economies, the Japanese crisis, turmoil in the Middle East and high commodity prices, especially oil.
Despite the risks, it says the global recovery is becoming more rooted and that even growth in troubled Europe is strengthening.
"The global economic recovery is projected to proceed at a steady pace over 2011-13," the bank says, projecting growth of 4.1 per cent this year and 3.9 per cent next.
The bank has slightly lowered its forecast for U.S. growth this year to three per cent, from its previous 3.3 per cent call four months ago.