Canada badly needs skilled immigrants

The best immigration policy is controlled immigration. That has been the practice of successive Canadian governments since the end of the Second World War.

Immigration alone can't solve the epidemic of Canada's low fertility rate. It has never been designed to solve inherently local social problems.

Canada's aging population is just at the beginning of its ascendency. Just imagine what Canada would look like without the 250,000 to 260,000 immigrants that it is getting each year.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business released a study in 2007 saying: "Sixty-nine per cent of small businesses expect the shortage of labour to get worse, but the immigration system does not come close to meeting the needs of smaller firms." Furthermore, by 2012 all labour growth in Canada will be dependent entirely on immigration.

In fact, in 2008 the government introduced a new category for immigrants called the Canadian experience class. It targets specifically international graduates and foreign workers already in Canada who most likely acquired language skills and basic knowledge of the country. We badly need these doctors, IT specialists, engineers, retail workers and general labourers in all trades.

The government is caught between a rock and a hard place: On one side, the business community keep lobbying and pushing for an immigration system that is adaptive and reflective of the economy's needs.

And, on the other side, demographers of all stripes and social conservatives are telling the government that immigration is not a solution and may well become a problem down the road.

By as early as 2015, a recent study by Statistics Canada predicts, Canadians aged 65 and older will, for the first time, outnumber those aged 15 and younger.

Immigration alone cannot change a demographic makeup of a country in one or two generations.

Columnist Dan Gardner is right in sending the message that producing babies, changing social habits and culture are more important and urgent than depending on foreign help to solve indigenous calamity that is heading our way. He is as thoughtful, elegant and well-prepared as ever.

Elie Nasrallah,

Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa to unveil proposals to reform refugee system

By Norma Greenaway, Canwest News ServiceMarch 28, 2010

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OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will unveil long-awaited proposals to reform Canada’s refugee system this week in what he has portrayed as a serious bid to speed the approval process for legitimate asylum-seekers while clamping down on abuse of the system.

Kenney plans a two-day roll out of the proposed initiatives, beginning Monday at a news conference at the Catholic Immigration Centre in Ottawa. On Tuesday, he is expected to introduce the legislative package to implement the changes, his office said Sunday.

Among other things, the package is expected to speed the initial handling of refugee applications by using trained federal civil servants to do the initial assessment, as opposed to the current system where applications are heard by a one-man refugee board. It would be part of a new system to fast-track applications from a list of so-called “safe” countries where human and democratic rights are deemed to be honoured.

Officials say the new system would still provide asylum from such “safe” countries to citizens who can demonstrate they are persecuted. They say the government has taken into account that women, gays and lesbians and other minorities can face persecution even in democracies.

The “safe” country idea is among the most controversial of the measures that will likely be proposed this week. The Liberals have indicated they are open to the idea, but the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois are opposed.

The reform package is likely to generate fierce debate in the minority Parliament and across the country, with several refugee organizations vowing to dig in to keep the system as open and fair as possible. One of the big questions hanging over Kenney’s head is how much money the government is willing to earmark for the changes, including a stepped up effort by the Canada Border Services Agency to make sure rejected claimants are removed quickly from Canada.

Kenney has said the government is determined to come up with a system that will speed the 18 to 20 months it now takes for asylum claims to be heard, thereby reducing the 60,000 backlog in claimants still waiting to get their day before the Immigration and Refugee Board. The legislation will still allow claimants to resort to the courts if the board rejects their claim, but it is expected to reduce some of the appeals avenues.

The legislation caps a months long campaign by Kenney to persuade Canadians the system is broken, and overly generous to “bogus” claimants, as he puts it. Canada accepts about 40 per cent of all claims, a higher percentage than many other industrialized countries.

Kenney brought attention to what he called a major flaw in the system when he decided last summer to force visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic to obtain visitors visas before entering the country after there was a sharp spike in refugee applications from Mexicans and Czech citizens as soon as they landed in Canada. He has warned the numbers coming in from Hungary also are unacceptably high, but so far has refrained from requiring visitors to have visas before arriving.

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Proposed regulatory changes amending the Canadian temporary foreign worker program

March 23 2010
Seyfarth Shaw LLP logo

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), in cooperation with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), has proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Among the proposed regulations are four main regulatory changes that, if enacted, would dramatically alter the existing Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

1. The TFWP would be amended to clarify the process for and establish the factors to be considered in assessing the genuineness of all offers of employment.

The proposed regulations provide a set of criteria by which immigration officers may assess the genuineness of an employment offer. The proposed regulations also clarify that genuineness will be assessed in all offers of temporary employment where an employer-specific work permit (as opposed to an open work permit) is required. Currently, there are no established factors by which an immigration officer may consider the genuineness of a temporary employment offer. However, before an officer can issue a work permit, he or she must be satisfied that there is an actual job opportunity for the applicant, that the employer is able to employ the applicant, and that the applicant is qualified and able to fill the proffered position.

Making a determination that a temporary employment offer is genuine will hinge on the following factors:

* Whether the offer is made by an employer that is actively engaged in the business in respect of which the offer is made;
* Whether the offer is consistent with the reasonable employment needs of the employer;
* Whether the terms of the offer are able to be reasonably fulfilled by the employer; and
* Consideration of the past compliance of the employer with federal or provincial laws that regulate employment in the province in which it is intended that the foreign national work.

2. Noncompliance would subject an employer to a two-year period of ineligibility to access the TFWP, as well as public notice of such ineligibility.

If it is determined that an offer of employment is not genuine (i.e., where an employer has been found to have provided significantly different wages, working conditions, or occupation than what was offered), the employer will be subject to a two-year bar from accessing the TFWP. Hence, the employer will be precluded from hiring any foreign nationals in Canada for a period of two years. In determining whether the bar will apply to a particular employer, the assessment would be undertaken at the time of the application or request and take into account any employment of temporary foreign workers in

the immediately preceding two years. In addition to being barred from use of the TFWP for the next two years, the employer’s name, address, and period of ineligibility to access the TFWP would be posted on CIC’s external website for public viewing. Please note that this determination of ineligibility will be made by the officer processing the application.

3. Work permits, with certain exceptions, would be issued for a maximum of four years in duration, followed by a period of six years in which the temporary foreign worker would not be authorized to work in Canada before a subsequent work permit could be issued.

Temporary work permits in Canada will only be issued for four years and will be truly “temporary” in nature. Once the fouryear maximum is reached, the foreign worker will be prohibited from seeking an extension or subsequent work authorization for a period of six years. The exception to this rule would be for foreign workers who perform work pursuant to an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries, such as NAFTA.

4. Established expiration dates for Labour Market Opinions (LMO)

According to the proposed regulations, HRSDC would be required to establish a period of time during which the LMO is in effect. The impact of such an expiration date would require employers to apply for a work permit for an employee within a specific time period or the employer would be required to request a new LMO.

Finally, these regulatory amendments would be applied prospectively; that is, they would apply only to those requests received by HRSDC and to applications received by CIC on or after the date on which the regulatory amendments come into force. It is expected that these regulatory amendments will come into force within the next six months.

Feds to introduce refugee-system reforms this week News Staff

Date: Sun. Mar. 28 2010 12:48 PM ET

Ottawa will introduce new legislation this week to fix what it calls a broken refugee system that delays legitimate asylum claims while allowing bogus claimants to remain in Canada through a years-long appeals process.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he will introduce a bill Tuesday that will offer faster protection for real refugees while scuttling the claims of those who use the refugee system to fast-track their way into Canada.

While he declined to reveal many specifics about the legislation, Kenney told CTV's Question Period that it will "streamline" the appeals process through which claimants who have been turned down by the Refugee Board endeavour to have their claims approved.

"It's a balanced reform," Kenney said in an interview from Montreal. "It will speed up the system and give faster protection to real refugees while sending the message to the bogus claimants that you're not going to be able to use the system in Canada anymore. We're going to remove you a whole lot more quickly."

According to Kenney, his ministry faces a backlog of 60,000 asylum claims, which has led to a 19-month waiting period for a hearing or a decision.

"That's terrible for real victims of persecution," Kenney said.

The minister said the slow-moving legal immigration system attracts false claimants who use the asylum system to "jump the queue" and gain entry to Canada "through the back door."

According to Kenney, 58 per cent of asylum claimants are found not to need protection and are either rejected by the Refugee Board, or withdraw their claims.

He pointed specifically to one "European democracy" that has become the number one source country for asylum claims, saying that 97 per cent of those who say they need protection withdraw or abandon their claims. Only three of 2,500 cases from that country that went before the Refugee Board last year were accepted, he said.

While Kenney did not name the country in question in Sunday's interview, earlier this month he said Hungary has become Canada's number one source country for refugee claims, at several hundred per month.

"This is telling me that Canada, with the highest number of asylum claims in the developed world, has become a destination of choice for false refugee claimants and it's simply burdening the system," Kenney said. "Each one of those claims can cost us as much as $50,000 and four-and-a-half years before they even exhaust all of the appeals under the current, totally dysfunctional system."

Kenney also said Sunday he will be introducing legislation later this spring to crack down on dishonest immigration consultants.

"We intend to come forward with legislative changes to crack down on the bogus, unscrupulous consultants and advisers who counsel people to commit fraud, who often take money and provide no services, and many of whom counsel immigrants looking for status in Canada to make false refugee claims."

Thriving Toronto tech firm shows wisdom of hiring immigrant talent

Samtack Computer Inc. doesn't believe Canadian experience is the best thing since sliced bread. 90 per cent of this tech firm's workforce is comprised of immigrants or folk trained outside Canada -- a hiring practice that has paid off big time.
3/26/2010 6:00:00 AM By: Nestor E. Arellan


"Help wanted. Canadian experience not necessary".

For many immigrants applying for jobs in Canada --be it as a factory worker or an IT professional -- those words are but a dream.

Unless, of course they happen to apply with Samtack Computer Inc. where having "Canadian experience" on your résumé doesn't mean a thing.

As a job qualification Fouad Jazouli doesn't believe Canadian experience counts for much. "I respect it, but set greater store on a person's attitude," said Jazouli, vice-president of marketing and operations for the firm.

Jazouli is originally from Lebanon.

Based in the Greater Toronto Area, in the city of Markham, Ont., Samtack is one of the largest computer and parts distributing companies in Canada. It counts Wal-Mart, Future Shop and Best Buy among its clients. More than 90 per cent of its workforce -- from factory floor to the board room -- is comprised of immigrants who've been educated and trained outside Canada.

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For nearly 20 years now the company's hiring strategy has been to tap into skills of immigrants rather than turn away job applicants because they lack Canadian experience that many hiring managers seek from applicants.

The strategy has worked very well for Samtack, according to Royson Ng, president of the company and himself an immigrant from Malaysia. In the past nine years, the firm's revenues soared more than six-fold from $20 million to $130 million.

The icing on the cake was when the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) recently awarded Samtack the RBC Immigrant Advantage Award in recognition of the company's efforts to hire newcomers. The Council's mandate is to create and champion initiatives that better integrate skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto labour market

Living the Canadian dream

"I am living the Canadian dream and would like to give other newcomers a chance to achieve it to," said Ng whose first job upon landing in Canada, 19 years ago, was working as a gas jockey at the age of 32. The going was tough. Ng's wife was pregnant and his salary barely paid for their needs.

Ng managed to snag a position as a salesperson at Furture Shop. Within three months he was a manager in training, another three months later he was manager of the branch. Within two years, Ng became regional manager for Future Shop. Eight years later he left the electronics store to take up a vice-president's position with Samtack.

"I know immigrants have it in them to succeed. That's why we give them the opportunity and training to achieve that," he said.

Ng said his company has 115 employees and about 90 per cent come from countries such as China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Africa and Malaysia.

Immigrants, typically, are hardworking because they come to Canada with a strong focus on getting a better life and providing for themselves and their families, he said. "They also usually have a great attitude, and you need that to succeed."

Immigrants with money -- keep them coming

By Don Cayo, Vancouver SunMarch 25, 2010

B.C. is doing much better than any other province at attracting immigrant investors, says a new study on my desk.

What the study doesn't say -- but what I think you'd find if you drilled deeper into the data -- is that Metro Vancouver is doing very, very much better. And the rest of the province, not so much.

I say this based merely on anecdote and casual observation, not the stuff of academic studies. But Roger Ware, an economics professor at Queen's University and one of the study's authors, agrees that immigrants tend to wind up in places like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. And he, like me, thinks it would be good policy to find ways to encourage newcomers to distribute themselves more evenly across the land.

Ware and two associates -- Pierre Fortin, emeritus professor of economics at Universite du Quebec, and Pierre Emmanuel Paradis, senior economist at Analysis Group -- found a lot of good reasons to want investor immigrants living nearby.

First and foremost, after 2-1/2 decades that Canada has been recruiting about 2,500 investor families a year (just three per cent of all our immigrants) this relative handful collectively adds about $2 billion a year to our economy.

In addition, they provide provincial governments -- mainly B.C., since we're home to 49 per cent of these new arrivals -- with $400,000 each in interest-free money that must be left on deposit for their first five years in the country.

Plus they come with an average of three family members -- more than most immigrants -- and they tend to be independent and well-educated.

Contrary to common perceptions, they also tend to commit to Canada. The study found that 80-plus per cent spend at least 10 months a year here, and they continue to do so years after they've immigrated.

Almost three quarters of Canada's new immigrants are of Chinese descent -- 29 per cent from Mainland China, 23 per cent from Hong Kong, and 22 per cent from Taiwan.

And investors who come to Canada tend to be younger than those who choose countries like Australia or the U.K., our competitors for attracting new citizens with money to invest. Ware speculates this might be because the $400,000 deposit required by Canada is less than these other countries demand, so we're affordable at an earlier stage in their careers.

While a relatively low financial requirement might be a positive when it comes to recruitment, Canada also has one big negative factor, he notes. This is the time it takes -- 31 months on average -- for our bureaucrats to process an application. This compares to 12 months in Australia, and just 14 weeks in the U.K. And it's getting worse as the number of applicants rises while processing capacity does not.

This is a shortcoming that Ottawa could deal with easily, assuming it wants to.

But the study also points to a deficiency -- and therefore an opportunity -- that the province could and should address. This is in the area of services available to help immigrants integrate into their new communities -- an area where many new arrivals find us wanting.

Although it's not the point of the study, this unmet demand might also provide a way for communities that are usually overlooked by immigrants to compete for a greater share. If they were to prepare a thoughtful and helpful welcome mat, so to speak, it might encourage at least a few newcomers to give them a second look.

Investor immigrants bring money, and money creates jobs. The $2 billion a year in continuing benefits is a big boon to Canada, and attracting young families is becoming increasingly important to communities where old folks will soon outnumber the young.

Visit Don Cayo's blogs, one on tax issues and one on globalization, at
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

The Canadian Government Must Expand Opportunities for Immigrant Investors, Study Concludes

Annual Contribution of $2 Billion to the Canadian Economy

TORONTO, March 24 /CNW/ - Three prominent Canadian economists recommend that the Canadian government expand its Immigrant Investor Program, which provides an annual contribution estimated at $2 billion to the Canadian economy.

A study released today by Analysis Group measured the economic impact of the Program, which was founded 25 years ago to encourage the immigration of individuals likely to provide a positive economic and social contribution to Canada. In the study, Roger Ware, Professor of Economics at Queen's University, Pierre Fortin, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Université du Québec à Montréal and Pierre Emmanuel Paradis, Senior Economist at Analysis Group, conclude that Canada should welcome more immigrant investors, as they directly contribute to alleviating the country's demographic and economic challenges.

The authors of the study state that the "Immigrant Investor Program should be not only maintained, but expanded. It is financially profitable from a management standpoint, and results in the presence in Canada of thousands of affluent families who significantly contribute to the economy. Moreover, their demographic profile and the integration of the second generation directly contribute to respond positively to our future economic and social challenges. Also, because they still represent only 3% of new immigrants to Canada, their numbers may well be raised substantially."

Since its inception, more than 130,000 individuals have immigrated to Canada through the Immigrant Investor Program. About 34,400 of these immigrants were principal applicants and the rest were their family members. Program participants must demonstrate a net worth of at least $800,000 (all countries combined), commit to an interest-free investment of $400,000 for five years and possess adequate business and management experience.

Mr. Ware, Mr. Fortin and Mr. Paradis indicate that the Canadian Program is clearly competitive vis-à-vis similar initiatives designed to attract wealthy immigrants throughout the developed world. In addition, they recommend that Canadian authorities leverage the study's analysis as a starting point to optimise the Program's criteria and conditions compared to similar international initiatives and improve its weaker aspects. Specifically, they suggest reducing the processing time of applications, analysing the levels of initial contribution and wealth requirements, and improving the integration of new immigrants.

On the selection process, the study states that "although the number of applications processed reached an all-time high of 3,700 in 2008, it represented only half of the total number of applicants during this same year. A huge inventory has resulted from this excess demand, with nearly 9,000 files still waiting to be processed at the end of 2008."

The benefits of the Program include direct foreign cash inflows, productive use of investor funds, acquisition of personal assets (houses, cars, etc.) and personal consumption items, net productive contribution of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs, and the integration of second-generation immigrants in Canadian labour force and society.

Additional findings of the Analysis Group study include:

- top-5 countries of last permanent residence for immigrant investors
in Canada are China (29 %), Hong Kong (23 %), Taiwan (22 %), South
Korea and Iran. After 1999, mainland China became the main source
country, accounting for 53% of all investor immigrants;
- British Columbia is chosen as the primary province of settlement by
49% of all investor immigrants, followed by Ontario (23%) and Quebec
- each immigrant investor is accompanied, on average, by three family
members, which is almost twice as much as in other economic immigrant
- the majority of immigrant investors were between 40 and 49 years old
at the time of immigration;
- educational attainment has substantially improved over time, as the
proportion of individuals with a high school education or less
dropped from 50% to 30% in recent years after 2000;
- immigrant investors are active players in the Canadian economy,
having acquired an average of $721,500 in personal and business
assets in Canada, including real estate;
- a majority of immigrant investors (82% of respondents) reside in
Canada on average between 10 and 12 months a year. About 90% of them
bought an apartment or house after settling in the country;
- among self-employed immigrant investors, some 30% were active in
business in Canada, with 12% having invested more than $1 million in
business assets;
- about 80% participated in philanthropic activities by donating their
time and/or financial support to a charity organization.

Canadians immigration looks at future skills needs as economy improves

Posted on 23 March 2010 by Apostolos Papapostolou

The Canadian economy is doing better than expected. There are increased job opportunities, overall trade data including oil exports are on the up. It is against this background that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced recently a consultation to identify likely future skills needs. Canadian immigration will look at possible changes to make it easier for immigrants with the right skills to gain entry to Canada.
The Canadian Government would like views of Canadian on steps to take to make sure that Canada fully recovers from the recent Worldwide economic recession. The consultations will consider worker shortages in trades and professions in Canada. It will also look at factors that affect an immigrant’s ability to find a job in Canada.

The immigration consultations will help with the development of instructions to immigration officers on which economic immigration applications should be eligible for processing to help meet Canada’s skilled labour needs. The Action Plan for Faster Immigration resulted in the first set of instructions being issued in November 2008 which kept the backlog of applications from growing, and reduced the waiting times for immigrants.
“The Action Plan for Faster Immigration is designed to make immigration more responsive to Canada’s economic conditions. When these conditions change, the instructions are meant to change too,” said Minister Kenney. “The first set of instructions has had a significant impact, but our research shows it is time to revise them to make sure they continue to meet their goals.”
Canadian immigration says that the Action Plan for Faster Immigration has reduced the federal skilled worker category backlog by 40 percent. Previously there was a backlog of 600,000 applicants. Canadian skilled worker immigration applications are now dealt with within a year. This compares with processing times of perhaps six years under the old immigration system.

Internationally Trained Engineers Experience Success Through Employer-Led Bridge Training Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Toronto and Region Conservation Celebrate Success of Professional Access and Integration Enhancement (PAIE) Program Participants -

TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - Thousands of trained and educated professionals immigrate to Canada every year with the intention of building a better life, advancing their careers, and contributing to the Canadian economy. However, significant barriers restrict internationally trained professionals from continuing their careers in Canada. Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) is taking action to promote access to Canadian work experience through the Professional Access and Integration Enhancement (PAIE) Program for Internationally Trained Environmental Professionals, a program that is funded by federal and provincial levels of government through Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. On March 23rd, TRCA will be hosting an event to celebrate the successful completion of the program by 45 Internationally Trained Environmental Engineers representing India, China, Egypt, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Iran, Philippines and Venezuela to name a few.

The event also celebrates the dedication and support of funders, partners and employers who helped make the program a success. Many participants have been gainfully employed in their professional field and obtained their professional licenses through Professional Engineers Ontario and the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario.

"The inclusion of sustainable communities and social equity within The Living City vision is a testament to our role as a leader and innovator within the environmental field," said Brian Denney, CAO, Toronto and Region Conservation. "PAIE candidates bring technical expertise, global perspective and cultural insight; assets that are pertinent to the success of organizations operating within the GTA. These participants have worked very hard to complete the program and their dedication, along with the support from our funders, partners, and participating employers will help make the GTA a greener, healthier place to live."

Now in its fourth year, PAIE is well established and recognized as a successful and effective mechanism to connect employers with highly skilled talent, offsetting the labour shortage and filling employment gaps that have been identified in the environmental sector, while providing much-needed Canadian experience to deserving candidates.

The PAIE Program provided participants with 150 hours of Enhanced Language Training, over 80 hours of Technical Training Workshops and a series of hands-on field excursions led by TRCA and industry experts. In addition, the program offered highly-skilled 12-month paid engineering work placements with host employers in the public and private sectors.

The PAIE Program is working in conjunction with ACCES Employment Services, Professional Engineers Ontario, Workplace Communication & Diversity Inc., A2Z Technical Services Ltd., Council for Access to the Profession of Engineering, Skills for Change and MCB Solutions.

DATE: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
TIMES: 8:30 a.m. (Registration); 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (Event and
LOCATION: Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway,
Downsview, Ontario
WHO: Meeta Bhimani, Director of Settlement Operations, Toronto &
York, Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Rahel Ogbagzy, Senior
Program Advisor, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration; Gerri
Lynn O'Connor; Chair, Toronto and Region Conservation
Authority; Brian Denney, CAO, Toronto and Region Conservation
Authority; Kathy Wallace, P. Geo Associate Terraprobe; and
Meranda Morcos, PAIE Participant.

With over 50 years of experience, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) helps people understand, enjoy and look after the natural environment-creating a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live, for you today and for your children tomorrow. For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at

For further information: For media information contact: Rowena Calpito, Supervisor, Media Management, Toronto and Region Conservation, (416) 661-6600 ext 5632,

Canadian Immigration a boost for economic and social diversity

Since 1892, Canadian immigration programs have helped boost the country’s economic, social, and cultural diversity by helping new migrants enter the country.

The Canadian immigration service, or Citizenship and Immigration Canada, was created in 1994 to link Canadian immigration services with citizenship registration, to promote the unique ideals all Canadians share, and to help build a stronger Canada.
In 2008, the Multicultural Program was moved from the Canadian Heritage department to the Canadian Immigration department.

The mission of Citizenship and Immigration Canada is to develop and implement policies, programs and services that facilitate the arrival of new migrants and their successful settlement into Canada, as well as enhancing the values of Canadian citizenship, and fostering increased intercultural understanding.

The main goal of the Canadian Immigration department is to advance the global migration policies in a way that supports Canada’s immigration and humanitarian objectives, with an approach to Canadian immigration that responds to the needs of communities in all parts of the country.

To achieve this goal the department strives to deliver impartial, unbiased and accountable decisions for all applicants.
Some of the work that the Canadian Immigration service does includes:

* Admitting migrants, overseas students, temporary workers and tourists who will aid Canada’s economic growth and social vibrancy;
* Resettling and protecting refugees;
* Aid new migrants in adapting to Canadian society;
* Provide security and integrity of the Canadian borders and laws; AND
* Help Canadians and newcomers alike to be full participants in the economic, political, social and cultural life of Canada.

These roles build upon Canada’s history of welcoming migrants, and the Canadian immigration and refugee system, combined with a network of other organisation, are among the best in the world.

Recent statistics show that one out of every six Canadian residents was born outside Canada, proof that Canadian immigration has helped make the country culturally rich and progressive.

In terms of migration, Canadian Immigration service handles five different types of processes: tourism visitors, temporary workers, overseas students, permanent migrants, and refugees.

Depending on the country of nationality, and the reason for your visit, you may need to meet certain entry requirements to enter Canada. In some cases Canadian Immigration will require you obtain a Temporary Resident Visa, which can be applied for online but must be obtained before you can board a flight to Canada. Even if you are a citizen of a country where you do not need a Canadian Visa to enter you must still have a valid passport. For specific information on passport requirements it is recommended to seek advice from the Canadian Embassy in your country.

It is important to note the visa exemption does not guarantee automatic entry into Canada, as you must still satisfy a Canadian immigration officer that you are admissible.

If you want to work temporarily in Canada you are part of some 90,000 foreign workers who enter Canada and help address skills shortages.

Canadian Immigration issue work permits for temporary workers, but not all temporary workers need a permit and your employer will help you determine if you are eligible. If you do not need a work permit to work in Canada you will still need to adhere to other Canadian immigration rules.

For example, athletes and coaches are one category for which you may not need a work permit but if you are from a country that Canada requires having a visa you must apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.

Foreign students to Canada obtain a Canadian Study Permit, or a Temporary Resident Visa depending on the length of stay and the country of origin. But before you can apply to Canadian immigration for a study permit you must be accepted at a recognised school, university or college in Canada.

Canada has a number of different categories whereby a person can immigrate to Canada, with programmes for: skilled workers and professionals; Quebec-selected skilled workers; Canadian experience class; investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed people; provincial nominees; and a family class.

Negotiating the permanent migration process can sometimes be difficult; some many people choose to use a migration agent to help them with Canadian immigration. A migration agent also may also be able to help a new permanent migrant beyond the immigration process, with advice for moving, government services contacts, and other relevant information for completing the move to Canada successfully.

Canadian immigration also offers protection for refugees, in and outside of Canada, who fear returning to their home country. Canadian immigration provides protection to thousands of people every year who fear persecution or whose removal from Canada would subject them to any danger.

Canada operates a global refugee resettlement program that in 2007 resettled refugees of about 70 different nationalities. On average, Canada resettles 10,000 to 12,000 refugees every year, and both the domestic refugee system and the resettlement program have been praised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Source: Whitehaven News

Wealthy Iranian family cruises Tofino looking for investments

By Stefania Seccia, Canwest News ServiceMarch 22, 2010 1:02 PM

TOFINO — Wealthy investors from Iran toured Tofino Sunday looking for potential financial prospects that may help them immigrate to Canada, according to Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce president Ram Tumuluri.

B.C. has the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) that opens the doors for both business investors and skilled workers to immigrate to Canada. "If a foreigner invests a minimum of $200,000 in B.C. they are considered for permanent residency," Tumuluri said. "It could be more, but it's a minimum of $200,000 to qualify."

There were about 15 members of an Iranian family touring and each had a net worth of approximately three million CAD, Tumuluri added. The family wants to escape its country's current struggle and move to a more peaceful nation, he explained.

"It helps the Canadian economy," he said. "It's the right approach and the right program." Larger cities tend to get a lot more attention from foreign investors and Tumuluri said he knew the Iranian family was traveling to Nanaimo for a tour.

"So we organized a day trip and a program including going out on a boat and eating lunch," he said. "So they could get a feel of the natural beauty here." However, the incumbent immigrants must invest in a related field of their occupations.

"For instance if one of them is a restaurateur in his own country he has to invest in a restaurant," Tumuluri said. The members in the group have backgrounds in the media, medical and real estate development professions, according to Tumuluri.

B.C.'s PNP is a collaboration between the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development and the federal Citizenship and Immigration Canada, according to its website

There are two components to the program: strategic occupations and business immigrations. A successful applicant to the PNP program accelerates the permanent resident application process. "Tofino can use the exposure," Tumuluri said

Putting skills to the best advantage

By Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa Citizen March 19, 2010

Henry Akanko is the director of Hire Immigrants Canada, which is one of five winners of the 10th annual Arthur Kroeger College Awards for Public Affairs.

Henry Akanko is the director of Hire Immigrants Canada, which is one of five winners of the 10th annual Arthur Kroeger College Awards for Public Affairs.
Photograph by: Chris Mikula, The Ottawa Citizen, The Ottawa Citizen

Hire Immigrants Ottawa has been working since 2006 to assist employers who are integrating skilled new Canadians into the workforce.

It is a commitment that has led the group to be one of five winners of the 10th annual Arthur Kroeger College Awards for Public Affairs presented by Carleton University.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa "brings together employers, immigrants, agencies and other stakeholders, including post-secondary institutions and labour groups to address the systemic barriers that affect the effective integration of immigrants into the local labour forces," said the organization's director Henry Akanko.

"We know that the average skilled immigrant isn't working in a job that reflects the education and experience they bring to this country. So if you look at the underutilization of their talents, that's huge, both from the point of view of the loss to the economy in terms of what they're capable of producing and what they are able to earn for themselves," he said.

The organization has helped 750 skilled immigrants find meaningful employment over the past four years. It is funded by the government of Ontario, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and with support from the United Way.

With lower birthrates, declining numbers of post-secondary graduates and unprecedented numbers of retirements, labour shortages will soon be felt across several sectors of the economy.

Ottawa is the second largest recipient of immigrants in Ontario, says the organization. The underusage of skilled immigrants costs Canada's economy between $3.4 and $5 billion per year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Akanko said about 20 per cent of new immigrants to Ottawa have backgrounds in licensed professions such as medicine, pharmacy, law and engineering. The other 80 per cent, "should be able to apply to a position and don't need to have their qualifications assessed and require a licensee to be able to work in their field. That's quite a big number."

Akanko said "there's a wide range of issues that account for this. There are employers who are not familiar with the education or the institutions that these people attended and so don't know how that compares with Canadian university standards. You often hear immigrants talk about employers' preferences for Canadian work experience. It becomes a chicken-and-egg then. That becomes a barrier," he said.

He said "you meet people who have incredible work experience and incredible levels of education and yet have been unable to find skills appropriate to work in their fields and are doing other dead-end jobs. There are lots of individuals who are doing jobs very unrelated to their skills in terms of what they're able to contribute."

Hire Immigrants Ottawa's objective is to increase the capacity of employers in the Ottawa region to effectively integrate skilled immigrants into the local workforce. This objective is being achieved through three key elements:

- Employer Council of Champions: Hire Immigrants Ottawa's "Employer Council of Champions" (ECC) is a cross-sector council featuring senior executives from top Ottawa public and private sector employers, influential business associations, and labour groups. The ECC gives employers a collective voice, enabling them to champion successful integration of skilled immigrants into the workforce.

- Working Groups: To complement the work of the ECC, there are sector-specific Working Groups in health care, information technology, finance, public service and biotech industry. Human resource representatives from ECC organizations sit on the appropriate sector working group, working together with expert stakeholders to address systemic barriers to employment for skilled immigrants.

- Create Awareness: Hire Immigrants Ottawa is creating local awareness to promote greater understanding of the social and economic value immigrants bring to Ottawa.

As well, said Akanko, Hire Immigrants Ottawa hosts sector-specific coaching events, bringing together employers, potential employees and other stakeholders.

Kroeger award organizers say the success of Hire Immigrants Ottawa in working with employers, immigrant assistance agencies and other stakeholders is a model for other municipalities to follow.

The Arthur Kroeger Awards, named after the late chancellor of Carleton University and a public servant of singular distinction, celebrate commitment to the public good.

The awards will be presented at a gala dinner at the Fairmont Château Laurier on April 8.

600,000 skilled workers in line for Canadian visas

By Mata Press Service

Close to 600,000 skilled workers around the world are waiting in line to get into Canada with some processing missions showing visa queues that could stretch up to 15 years, a top immigration expert said.
Using data obtained via Access to Information requests, Richard Kurland, a lawyer and one of Canada’s top immigration analysts said that the numbers are an early warning sign for Immigration Canada to act and reduce the waiting times.
There are 594,274 people in inventory waiting for 80,055 skilled workers visas in 2010, Kurland estimated.
“Parliament does not want long processing queues for skilled workers, and gave the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration harsh policy tools (“C-50”) to be deployed in this kind of situation,’ said Kurland in his latest Lexbase information bulletin.
“The Minister needs to consider downsizing the number of eligible occupations from the current 38, to a much smaller number.”
The global average waiting times for all categories at all missions is 2.64 years.
“But then we examined the skilled workers. A very different picture emerges. Global average for all missions is 7.62 years ,” Kurland noted.
Kurland said downsizing the total number of eligible occupations does not mean Canada loses out on potential immigrants.
“The people who are no longer eligible federally, may apply under Provincial Nominee Programs, or can choose to seek temporary status in Canada under the Foreign Worker Program and subsequently apply under the Canada Experience Class… Canada’s door remains open,” said Kurland.
“It may be unpopular politically, but the Minister needs to fix this.”
Current projections and estimates show processing times for skilled workers of 12.79 years (New Delhi 117,098 people); 7.69 years (Hong Kong 30,763 people); 57.80 years (Nairobi 8,960 people); 33.51
years (Accra 18,688 people), or 30.06 years (Islamabad).
“Experience shows that unless a Minister is able to say ‘no’, processing inventories will bloat, and processing times will continue to lengthen beyond reasonable limits,” warned Kurland.
Kurland’s warning comes as Statistics Canada reported that Vancouver’s visible minority population is on track to become the majority over the next two decades.
The report shows visible minority groups are growing rapidly and will account for 59 per cent of the metro region’s total population by 2031, up from a current figure of about 40 per cent.
Immigration — led by China and South Asia — is a leading factor in the changing demographic picture.
Of the estimated two million visible minorities living in the region in 20 years’ time, one in three will be Canadian-born, the report states.
Nationally, Vancouver’s diversity projections are second only to Toronto, which could be home to 63 per cent of visible minority residents by 2031. The Abbotsford-Mission region ranks third with an estimated population of 39 per cent over the same time period, followed by Calgary (38 per cent), Ottawa (36 per cent), Windsor, (33 per cent) and Montreal (31 per cent).
Meanwhile, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said he is streamlining the process for assessing the language skills of applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience classes.
“The language requirements themselves have not changed,” said Minister Kenney.
“But beginning April 10, 2010, prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply. This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing.”
Previously, to prove language ability in French or English, applicants could either submit an independent, third-party test or a written submission to a visa officer.
An immigrant’s English or French language ability is one of the strongest predictors of their success in the job market.
Kenney also announced a new internet resource for newcomers to help them quickly and easily find a range of government services, in addition to settlement services, in their communities
This resource is easy to find at

Canada’s Open Arms Immigration Policy: A Stark Contrast with US and Western Europe

Posted on March 18, 2010

by Andrés T. Tapia; research by Susan Welch–

Canada faces an unprecedented labor shortage. In Calgary, Alberta McDonald’s is paying $15/hr and bookstores are forced to close at 3:30 pm because there are not enough workers to keep the stores open. A Globe and Mail report announced in 2008, that due to its aging population, the growth of Canada’s workforce is slowing down considerably each year, and by 2016 its workforce growth will be zero. This spells economic and societal trouble for Canada in the years ahead, which according to demographers and economists will lead to lower living standards as the ratio between workers contributing to state pensions through payroll taxes and retirees gets increasingly unbalanced.

The bright spot in this demographic shift is the youth and vitality new immigrants continually bring to Canada. And it’s Canada’s Open Arms policy to newcomers that keeps this labor pipeline flowing. In fact, in the developed world, Canada has the highest rate of immigration. This in turn is dramatically transforming the face of Canada.

Check out these eye-popping stats. While, by 2001 the census had already crowned Toronto the world’s’ most diverse city, with half its population born outside Canada, here’s what the picture is going to look like by 2031 as reported in The Globe and Mail:

* one-third of Canada’s residents will be visible minorities (what Americans refer to racial/ethnic minorities)
* one-fourth of Canada’s residents will be foreign-born
* 63% of Toronto will be visible minorities
* 60% of Vancouver will be visible minorities, with a majority from China
* 30%+ of Montreal will be visible minorities, most will be Blacks and Arabs
* 28% of visible minorities will be South Asians from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; 21% will be Chinese.

Canada’s foreign-born boom is rooted in an immigration policy change enacted in the 1960s. Following World War II, Canada opened its doors to European immigrants (later closing them to Eastern European immigrants as the Cold War began). Eventually, as racial and ethnic discrimination increasingly was discouraged, Canada eliminated racial, ethnic, and religious barriers to immigration. By 1971, a majority of immigrants to Canada were non-European.

Today, Canadian leaders such as John Barrett, Ambassador to Austria and whom I heard speak at the World Diversity Leadership Summit held in Vienna in early March 2010, believe their country is poised to reap the benefits of its open immigration policies: “Immigrants are welcomed to Canada,” Barrett said. But listen to how he then captures Canada’s open-arms policy in an extraordinary and simple statement: “We see immigrants as future citizens.” He then goes on to explain the rationale: “We believe that bestowing the honor of full citizenship on them begets full participation from them. We say to the new arrivals, ‘Welcome to Canada. Make it better.’”

Canada’s welcome provides a dramatic contrast to current attitudes toward immigrants elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe, where the presence of the foreign-born elicit for many a spectrum of negative feelings anywhere from discomfort with their different looks and ways to fears that lead to outright hostility. The US and countries throughout Western Europe face contentious and controversial debates around immigration policy that, unlike Canada’s stance, reveal a lack of social consensus as to whether immigrants are welcome or not, or whether or not they are good for the economy.

In the meantime, Canada has made up its mind: immigration is good for us. It has bet its future on it.

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

By:Fareed Zakaria

The legendary editor of The New Republic, Michael Kinsley, once held a "Boring Headline Contest" and decided that the winner was "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." Twenty-two years later, the magazine was rescued from its economic troubles by a Canadian media company, which should have taught us Americans to be a bit more humble. Now there is even more striking evidence of Canada's virtues. Guess which country, alone in the industrialized world, has not faced a single bank failure, calls for bailouts or government intervention in the financial or mortgage sectors. Yup, it's Canada. In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th, Britain's 44th.

Canada has done more than survive this financial crisis. The country is positively thriving in it. Canadian banks are well capitalized and poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize. The Toronto Dominion Bank, for example, was the 15th-largest bank in North America one year ago. Now it is the fifth-largest. It hasn't grown in size; the others have all shrunk.

So what accounts for the genius of the Canadians? Common sense. Over the past 15 years, as the United States and Europe loosened regulations on their financial industries, the Canadians refused to follow suit, seeing the old rules as useful shock absorbers. Canadian banks are typically leveraged at 18 to 1—compared with U.S. banks at 26 to 1 and European banks at a frightening 61 to 1. Partly this reflects Canada's more risk-averse business culture, but it is also a product of old-fashioned rules on banking.

Canada has also been shielded from the worst aspects of this crisis because its housing prices have not fluctuated as wildly as those in the United States. Home prices are down 25 percent in the United States, but only half as much in Canada. Why? Well, the Canadian tax code does not provide the massive incentive for overconsumption that the U.S. code does: interest on your mortgage isn't deductible up north. In addition, home loans in the United States are "non-recourse," which basically means that if you go belly up on a bad mortgage, it's mostly the bank's problem. In Canada, it's yours. Ah, but you've heard American politicians wax eloquent on the need for these expensive programs—interest deductibility alone costs the federal government $100 billion a year—because they allow the average Joe to fulfill the American Dream of owning a home. Sixty-eight percent of Americans own their own homes. And the rate of Canadian homeownership? It's 68.4 percent.

Canada has been remarkably responsible over the past decade or so. It has had 12 years of budget surpluses, and can now spend money to fuel a recovery from a strong position. The government has restructured the national pension system, placing it on a firm fiscal footing, unlike our own insolvent Social Security. Its health-care system is cheaper than America's by far (accounting for 9.7 percent of GDP, versus 15.2 percent here), and yet does better on all major indexes. Life expectancy in Canada is 81 years, versus 78 in the United States; "healthy life expectancy" is 72 years, versus 69. American car companies have moved so many jobs to Canada to take advantage of lower health-care costs that since 2004, Ontario and not Michigan has been North America's largest car-producing region.

I could go on. The U.S. currently has a brain-dead immigration system. We issue a small number of work visas and green cards, turning away from our shores thousands of talented students who want to stay and work here. Canada, by contrast, has no limit on the number of skilled migrants who can move to the country. They can apply on their own for a Canadian Skilled Worker Visa, which allows them to become perfectly legal "permanent residents" in Canada—no need for a sponsoring employer, or even a job. Visas are awarded based on education level, work experience, age and language abilities. If a prospective immigrant earns 67 points out of 100 total (holding a Ph.D. is worth 25 points, for instance), he or she can become a full-time, legal resident of Canada.

Companies are noticing. In 2007 Microsoft, frustrated by its inability to hire foreign graduate students in the United States, decided to open a research center in Vancouver. The company's announcement noted that it would staff the center with "highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S." So the brightest Chinese and Indian software engineers are attracted to the United States, trained by American universities, then thrown out of the country and picked up by Canada—where most of them will work, innovate and pay taxes for the rest of their lives.

If President Obama is looking for smart government, there is much he, and all of us, could learn from our quiet—OK, sometimes boring—neighbor to the north. Meanwhile, in the councils of the financial world, Canada is pushing for new rules for financial institutions that would reflect its approach. This strikes me as, well, a worthwhile Canadian initiative.

© 2009

Quebec pushes immigrants to Gatineau

Quebec has renewed its push to lure immigrants from Montreal to regions with lower unemployment, and that is bringing more newcomers to the Outaouais.

"We face a big challenge in Quebec," said Robert Mayrand, head of Service intégration travail Outaouais (SITO), noting that the province is trying to boost the population in its regions.

He estimates his group, which offers employment and training services to immigrants, helps 200 people find jobs in the Outaouais every year.

"It means we are contributing in terms of personal revenue to the economy of Outaouais — See, it's $6 million a year that we push in the system."

In 2008, 87 per cent of immigrants settled in Montreal, and just 2.7 per cent in Gatineau, Immigration Québec reports. About 1,200 immigrants make their home in Gatineau each year, the province reports.

However, Montreal's unemployment rate was 9.2 per cent in February 2010 — significantly higher than the 6.1 per cent rate in Gatineau, the most recent Statistics Canada labour force survey shows. Statistics like that have led the Quebec government to work harder to redistribute its immigrants around the province.

Immigrants on the bus trip heard from politicians about the region's advantages, took a tour of the city, and attended a job fair.Immigrants on the bus trip heard from politicians about the region's advantages, took a tour of the city, and attended a job fair. (CBC)One of the province's initiatives is to fund bus trips that take immigrants to different regions of Quebec to learn about the area and meet local employers. Mayrand said the tour to the Outaouais restarted this year after a short hiatus in the program, which launched in 2002.

Eric Rakotomena, who is originally from Madagascar, was among the 50 immigrants who boarded a bus from Montreal last week to check out the Outaouais and the job opportunities there.

He has already visited Quebec City, Mont Tremblant and Tadoussac, but admits he didn't know much about Gatineau before his visit. He was impressed by what he learned.

"I want to stay here now," he said. "It's quiet and for life, there are fairly a lot of opportunities to do what you want to do and they're very helpful here in Gatineau."

Rakotomena and his tour-mates heard from city councillor Joseph De Sylva, who spoke of his own experience coming from an immigrant family. De Sylva, who represents Versant ward, said Gatineau is warm and open, and everyone finds his or her place there. Another city councillor and a Quebec immigration official were also on hand to pitch the community's advantages.

Afterward, the visitors took part in pre-arranged job interviews before heading to a job fair at Robert-Guertin arena organized by Emploi-Québec and the Gatineau chamber of commerce. They also received a tour of the city.

Rakotomena hoped to find a job as a maitre d'.

"I have my resume, I have everything — even my suitcase," he said. "As I said, I am ready to remain here today."

Rakotomena worked as a maitre d' in Madagascar and Israel before arriving in Montreal four years ago. In Canada, he has been unable to get a job in his field, despite the fact that he speaks five languages, including French and English.

He blamed the fierce competition and high unemployment in Montreal.
'The need is there'

Mayrand said employers in the Outaouais, meanwhile, are eager to hire, in part due to the stability in the job market provided by the federal government.

Robert Mayrand of SITO acknowledged that while the need for workers benefit immigrants who want to work in areas such as finance, things are more difficult for professionals such as doctors.Robert Mayrand of SITO acknowledged that while the need for workers benefit immigrants who want to work in areas such as finance, things are more difficult for professionals such as doctors. (CBC)"The need is there," he said.

He added that the community is multilingual and multicultural due to its proximity to Ottawa. "This helps to develop a good sense to be open to other people."

He acknowledged that while the demand for workers may help immigrants in the finance and service industries, things are more difficult for professionals such as doctors, who require accreditation by a regulatory association.

"That's another ball-game," he said. "It's a big big challenge. For us it's like a wall that we hit every time."

Hicham Alaoi, who is originally from Morocco, was another hopeful job seeker on the bus tour. Alaoi earned degrees in civil engineering and urban planning in France. He arrived in Montreal in January, and said he is attracted to the Outaouais by the opportunities for skating, cycling and the cultural scene in neighbouring Ottawa. However, Alaoi, who doesn't speak English, believes there are more job opportunities for him in Gatineau.

"The level of work in Gatineau, the culture in Ottawa — you need both," he added in French. "One complements the other, in my opinion."

Alaoi said he will need to pass some exams in order for his skills to be recognized in Canada, and acknowledges that he may have to take a job that is less interesting to him.

Meanwhile, job-ready Rakotomena didn't manage to land a job on his first visit to Gatineau and had to join the others on the bus back to Montreal.

He said he'd be back soon.

"I'm sure," he said. "Yes, [that's] why I come here."

Read more:

Gatineau works hard to welcome immigrants

Immigration is now driving population growth in the Outaouais, and the City of Gatineau says it is working hard to welcome the flood of newcomers with open arms.

"What we want [is] that the people any citizen in the city — that they have the same opportunities to work, to develop themselves, to be involved in the development of this city," said Annie-Claude Scholtès, the cultural community coordinator for the City of Gatineau.

Last year, more than 1,200 immigrants moved to the region. In fact, between 1,000 and 1,200 immigrants have arrived in the Outaouais every year since 2001-2000.

Proportion of foreign-born residents and visible minorities in Gatineau
2006 2031 (projected)
Foreign-born 8% 15%
Visible minorities 6% 14 %

Source: Statistics Canada

Migration is already outstripping births as the major force behind population growth in the Outaouais, and its relative influence will grow significantly between 2010 and 2031, the Institut de la statistique du Québec forecasts. The proportion of immigrants and visible minorities within the population of Gatineau are expected to double between 2006 and 2031, Statistics Canada predicts.

Scholtès said the City of Gatineau has been working hard to make all newcomers feel at home. A staff of three, working with about 80 community groups, implements the city's cultural diversity policy with a budget of $400,000. It offers a variety of programs for newcomers including two welcome sessions:

* One is an orientation that provides information about services that connect residents with the history, geography and regulations in the city. It is delivered in conjunction with the city's police force and its recreational services department.
* The other is a bus tour of the region in collaboration with the Societé de Transport de L'Outaouais, with visits to a police station and other centres that offer city services from Aylmer to Buckingham.

Scholtès said it is important for immigrants to have the chance to step inside a police station.

"'Cause some of them are afraid or insecure," she said, adding that the trip provides an opportunity to develop links with the police.

About 50 people a month take part in the tour, she estimated.

Read more:

McGuinty focuses on China and India

China and India were not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne at Queen's Park Monday. But China and India are what Dalton McGuinty is banking on for two of his key initiatives to turn the provincial economy around. He wants to sell more natural resources overseas and attract more overseas students to Ontario. The market for both is in China and India.

The two emerging economic giants – China is projecting 10 per cent growth this year and India 7.6 per cent – are the ones expected to lead the economic recovery worldwide, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Both are scouring the world for natural resources, thereby driving up commodity prices as well as exploration, including in northern Ontario, particularly for chromite, a key ingredient in stainless steel.

China and India are already the top sources of immigration to Canada, mainly Ontario. China is also the single biggest source of foreign students to Canada – 42,000 out of 178,000.

Across Canada, those foreign students spend $6.5 billion a year in high tuition fees and living expenses. Ontario's 38,000 post-secondary education foreign students spend $1 billion a year. McGuinty wants a 50 per cent increase to 56,000 foreign students by 2015. Most will come from China and India.

Many will end up staying here, encouraged by a new federal program that allows Canadian-educated foreign students to apply for landed immigrant status. This is good for Ontario.

Educating foreign students is a growth industry. There are 2 million students (1.4 million of them Chinese) pursuing studies in countries where they were not born. That number will grow to 8 million by 2025.

Australia has cashed in on the trend. It has nearly 90,000 students from India and 70,000 from China. It is raking in $13 billion a year from foreign students, its third largest source of foreign revenues after coal and iron ore.

China is buying some 300 million tonnes of Aussie iron ore a year. Mount Whaleback, once 450 metres high, is now a hole, having been cut up and shipped out, raising alarm over environmental degradation, according to a detailed report in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Similar concerns are already emerging about the McGuinty plan for opening up what the throne speech called "the most promising mining opportunity in Canada in a century," the exploration of chromite in the James Bay lowlands, the only deposit of its kind in North America.

McGuinty has promised to develop it in "a responsible way, with aboriginal partners," who have land claims and have already set up blockades.

China is now Australia's Number 1 trading partner. It has already invested $40 billion there. An estimated 500,000 Chinese tourists go to Australia every year.

Not bad for the Aussies, who have had a history of phobia about the Yellow Peril and the Asian hordes. Still, old habits die hard. There has been a spate of attacks against Indian students, prompting a protest march by 4,000 of them in Melbourne in June and complaints of police indifference to the menace of "curry bashing."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and others tried to downplay the racism angle. But the attacks have continued and a student was stabbed to death early this year, prompting New Delhi to warn that bilateral relations may be imperiled. There's already a study projecting a drop in Indian students this year.

This presents an opportunity for Canada – Ontario, in particular – to emphasize our peaceful multicultural reality. But Australia spends $50 million a year drumming up overseas student business. Canada spends less than $1 million. This needs to change.

McGuinty – far more than Stephen Harper – has been focusing on trade with India, having been there twice. As a result of his trip last fall, an Indian company, Solar Semi Conductor, a maker of solar modules, is investing $60 million to establish a manufacturing plant in Oakville this year.

His reorienting of Ontario toward China and India is a welcome economic, political and social development.

Source: The

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday.

Improvements to Proof of Language Rules Will Increase Fairness, Reduce Delays, Says Immigration Minister

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 10, 2010) - The Government of Canada is streamlining the process for assessing the language skills of applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience classes, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

"The language requirements themselves have not changed," said Minister Kenney. "But beginning April 10, 2010, prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply. This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing."

Previously, to prove language ability in French or English, applicants could either submit an independent, third-party test or a written submission to a visa officer. The written submission was intended for people whose first language is either English or French. However, many applicants whose first language was not English or French were taking advantage of the written submission. The submission wouldn't adequately prove their ability and they would have to provide further evidence, leading to processing delays that could take months.

"We expect that applicants will have the language skills they claim on their application. Now, applicants in these categories will have only one opportunity to prove their language ability," said Minister Kenney. "They can still make a written submission to a visa officer if they wish, but only once."

For faster, fairer processing, all applicants are encouraged to submit independent, third-party language test results. The language test gives applicants a clear indication of their ability before they apply. When submitting written proof, applicants don't know what their results will be until their application is assessed by the visa officer, after a formal application and fees are lodged with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

"We strongly encourage applicants whose first language isn't English or French to take a language test," said Minister Kenney. "We don't want immigrants to be surprised if their written submission doesn't match their reported ability, and they don't get the desired assessment."

An immigrant's English or French language ability is one of the strongest predictors of their success in the job market. Canadian Experience Class applicants must meet minimum language requirements based on the job they do. On a selection grid worth 100 points in total, Federal Skilled Workers can be awarded up to 24 points for their official language ability.

Further information about language requirements for applicants is available at

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TD Bank says 7 million baby boomers set to retire, disrupt economy

OTTAWA — TD Bank has joined a growing chorus warning about economic disruptions if Canada does not move to deal with its aging workforce.

The bank says seven million baby boomers are set to retire in the next two decades, more than one-third Canada's labour force.

The report written by economists Don Drummond and Francis Fong says pension reform is needed to prevent many retirees from falling into poverty.

And it says Canadian employers will be hard-pressed to find skilled workers as the labour force shrinks.

Immigration alone won't solve the problem, the economists say.

The report notes the C.D. Howe Institute recently calculated immigration levels would need to rise 2.5 times to meet the country's historic labour force growth.

But the bank says there are ways to mitigate the apparent labour crunch many are forecasting.

Those include making better use of underrepresented groups, such as women, Aboriginals and immigrants.

As well, the report says firms must increase incentives to keep older workers in the workforce.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Guelph fast becoming part of the global village

Joanne Shuttleworth

GUELPH — Businesses should embrace the wave of immigrants coming to Guelph since they add richness to the community and profitability — both as employees and as consumers — to their bottom lines.

And if they build a sense of community within their organizations, businesses can help immigrants settle into their new surroundings as well.

That was the gist of Roya Rabbani’s presentation Wednesday to business leaders at a lunch and learn event hosted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

Rabbani, executive director of Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington, said Guelph is becoming a destination for new immigrants to Canada. She said according to 2008/2009 data, approximately 477 new immigrants come to Guelph each year to the point where immigrants make up 14 per cent of the population.

“So we have to look at work environments and agencies to see how well (immigrants) are represented in the workplace,” she said. “Many workplaces don’t have that diversity in managerial positions.”

Rabbani said most immigrants come to Canada with post-secondary education, are in good health, and have money.

“What they don’t necessarily have is the language and the accreditation they need to work,” she said in an interview after her presentation.

She agreed it’s important for professionals from other countries to meet Canadian standards, but there are ways local business leaders can help while immigrants work through that process — like mentorship programs, internships and peer partnering in the workplace.

“Sometimes training managers and current staff around these issues is helpful too,” she said. “Studies have shown that when business is involved with social entrepreneurship, they see more profit margins.”

Lloyd Longfield, president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, said there are three initiatives businesses are taking part in to ease the transition for new Canadians: The Guelph Inclusiveness Alliance, a group of 27 organizations; the Local Immigration Partnership, which strives to make it easier for immigrants to settle here; and the Leadership Intercultural Council, which oversees these projects.

“With the imminent retirement of baby boomers, the workplace will need more workers,” Longfield said. “Immigration is often the source of growth.”

“Guelph is proactive in this regard,” Rabbani agreed. “That’s the beauty of our region.”

Throne speech to tackle lack of skilled workers

The speech from the throne on Wednesday will not just promise more jobs, it will address a lack of skilled workers that has left some Canadian jobs going begging, government sources say.

Sources told CBC News that the speech, to be delivered by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean at 2:30 p.m. ET in Ottawa, will include a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining immigrant skilled workers, by giving more weight to work experience.
Workforce report

A recent report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce found that a low Canadian birth rate combined with an inefficient immigration system has created a perfect storm. The report, released Feb. 22, predicts that in the next decade, 100 per cent of net workforce growth will come from new immigrants to Canada.

Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association, said the government simply can't afford to ignore tradespeople and craftspeople in its new productivity agenda.

"Sometimes the construction industry, like other industries, is painted as being yesterday's economy, as an old world economy. And that's just not true," he said.

"It's the construction industry that builds our laboratories, builds the clean rooms, builds our fibre networks, builds the research centres. So, from our perspective, the construction industry builds Canada."
Post-secondary education valued, not trades

Atkinson said his industry will need to replace 317,000 workers by 2017, including on-site workers, managers and supervisors. That's going to be difficult, he said, because of current barriers within the immigration system.

"Our point system is really geared towards people with post-secondary education and with proficiency in both of our official languages, with very little points or merit given for experience or qualifications in a trade," he said.

"It's easier to get into Canada as a permanent resident with a couple of degrees in Greek pottery or Greek mythology rather than 25 years experience as a welder."

Tina Kremmidas, the chief economist for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the author of its latest report, said Canada risks losing out in the global competition for workers.

She cited the Australian example, where skilled immigrants are brought into the workforce more quickly to fill needed trades, along with students who are encouraged to stay on.

"Those are the things that Canada's immigration policy needs to look at," she said. "We're certainly competing with Australia, we're competing with the U.K. and other European countries, not to mention the U.S., for skilled immigrants and highly educated immigrants. Not only in the skilled professions but what we call unskilled labour."
Focus on family reunification

For some trade representatives, the change will require a shift in government philosophy away from the social aspects of immigration in favour of economic variables.

"They really have to look at changing the nature of immigration from a social policy to an economic policy," said Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia.

"For too long we were involved in not bringing in enough skilled people and were focused on family reunification. And that's fine. But the economy in order to recover will need skilled people to do that."

All eyes will be on Ottawa this week as it lays out a broader agenda, beginning with the throne speech on Wednesday, and culminating in the tabling of the federal budget on Thursday.

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