Boomer retirements to limit Canadian economic growth: Conference Board

By Derek Abma, Financial PostApril 28, 2010

OTTAWA — Labour shortages caused by the onslaught of baby-boomer retirements will be "the dominant economic trend" in Canada between 2015 and 2030, due to the limits it will place on the country's economic growth, says a Conference Board of Canada report released Wednesday.

Defining the boomer generation as those born between 1947 and 1966, the report says the oldest members of this cohort are turning 63 this year. With an average retirement age of 61, the Conference Board concludes that "the wave of baby-boomer retirements has now begun."

Because the biggest part of this generation is at the younger end, the pace of retirements will accelerate in future years, the think-tank says.

The implications of the shrinking labour pool will be less economic growth, said Pedro Antunes, the Conference Board's director of national and provincial outlooks and author of the report.

He said Canada can expect relatively strong economic growth of more than three per cent, on average, between now and 2015. That's anticipated to slow to about two per cent between 2015 and 2020, and dip below two per cent beyond that until around 2030.

"Why is that important? Why growth for the sake of growth?" Antunes asked rhetorically. "What's really important are two things.

"One is, are we growing richer? Is the average household getting more real income per capita?

"The other factor is . . . we need to be able to grow the economy enough so that we can afford to pay for health care, education and other programs."

The federal government's current deficit position is "manageable," the Conference Board said in its report. However, it sees provincial deficits as more difficult to deal with, largely as a result of the increasing demands that will come of the health-care system, which provinces are primarily responsible for.

Some of the things that might be done, Antunes said, is increasing productivity through investments in equipment and technology, developing more efficient delivery of health care and government cutbacks in areas of spending deemed less crucial.

James Chauvin, policy director for the Canadian Public Health Association, which calls itself "the independent voice for public health in Canada," said his group urges more preventive health measures — such as promoting better awareness of physical fitness, nutrition and cardiovascular health — to help bring down demand on hospitals and doctors.

He also said government health policy should be expanded to cover areas such as housing, income and food security, which can be social determinants of people's health conditions.

The Conference Board's outlook assumes an immigration rate of 350,000 people a year by 2030, up from the current rate of about 250,000, according to figures for 2008. Antunes said this expectation is "optimistic" and still isn't likely to create the kind of economic growth needed to support social programs at current standards.

"Strong immigration will not reverse Canada's aging trend, but it will help keep total population growth relatively stable throughout the forecast period. By 2030, Canada's population will reach 41.7 million, up from 33.6 million in 2009," Antunes said.

Asked if higher immigration targets should be considered, Antunes said: "It's possible . . . Part of the analysis is to generate some discussion."

But even if Canada decided to open the doors wider to immigrants, Antunes said the country would face challenges with increasing competition from other industrialized nations to attract newcomers, and in making sure the people that come are qualified to do the jobs for which they're needed.

Kelli Fraser, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said the government is targeting between 240,000 and 265,000 immigrants this year, which she said is among the highest relative rates for industrialized countries.

She said there were no long-term immigration targets available, but that "the immigration program is constantly evolving to respond to Canada's changing economic goals."

Antunes said the coming demographic trends provide some upside for those who remain in the workforce in the form of higher pay and more choice. But this is unlikely to apply to low-skill jobs, for which companies will continue to look to countries where people work for less pay. In Canada, it's those working in higher-skill, value-added professions that will benefit from boomer retirements, he said.

"It has to be a win-win situation for everyone, otherwise investment goes elsewhere," Antunes said. "In the long run, we have to make sure that we're competitive. We have to make sure that we can afford those higher wages. And part of the answer is a more productive economy, more educated workforce, because we can't compete . . . in low-wage, high-labour-intensive manufacturing."
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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Canadian government proposes changes to Canada's immigration regulations relating to temporary foreign workers.

March 16 2010

In light of the recent rise in the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada, together with increased concerns for the fair treatment of foreign workers, the Government of Canada has proposed certain changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to address the treatment and hiring of temporary foreign workers. Specifically, the Government is proposing the following:

1. Placing a limit on the number of years a foreign national may hold a work permit

2. Imposing a ban on the ability to hire a foreign worker for any company or third-party agent who has failed to comply with Canada’s immigration rules and regulations

3. Establishing a set of factors to assess the genuineness of an offer of employment

4. Requiring all Labour Market Opinions to have time-specified and limited validity.

Four-Year Cap on Canadian Work Permits

Under the proposed regulations, foreign nationals will only be permitted to hold a temporary work permit for a cumulative 4 years. After 4 years, the foreign national will be required to wait for at least 6 years before he or she may reapply for a work permit. Some exceptions to this rule will apply, including work permits that have been granted pursuant to the NAFTA or other international agreement. While CIC recognizes that there is a continued need to hire foreign workers in Canada, this change is proposed to emphasize to both workers and employers alike that temporary work permits are designed to be just that – temporary. By placing a limit on the number of years a foreign worker may hold a temporary work permit, CIC seeks to encourage the use of other programs and pathways (such as the Canadian Experience Class) to permanent residence, when available.

Two-Year Ban for Non-Compliant Employers

In an effort to protect the rights of foreign workers in Canada, the Canadian Government proposes the imposition of a 2-year ban on the hiring of any temporary foreign workers for employers who have failed to provide the wages, working conditions, or occupation offered to any work permit holder in the past two years. Currently, employers may be subject to a fine of up to $50,000 or up to 2 years’ imprisonment for hiring a foreign national in a capacity in which he/she is not authorized to work. The proposed regulations will not only implement a ban on hiring future foreign nationals, but Immigration will also create a list to be published with the names, addresses and period of ineligibility of employers who are subject to this ban.

Assessing the Genuineness of an Offer of Employment

These new regulations additionally propose a number of factors to be considered by officers in assessing the genuineness of employment offers before approving both Labour Market Opinions and LMO-exempt work permits. Specifically, the officer will look to the nature of the employer’s business, the level of activity of the company’s operations, the terms of the offer of employment, and the employer’s ability to meet those terms (including payment of wages offered).

Limited Validity of Labour Market Opinions

Following HRSDC’s announcement in May 2009 that all Labour Market Opinions would be issued with a limited validity of 6 months, the Canadian Government’s proposed changes will make it required by law for all Labour Market Opinions to have an expiry date. If the foreign national does not apply for a work permit within that timeframe, a new Labour Market Opinion will need to be obtained by the employee.

These changes have been proposed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in collaboration with Canada Border and Services Agency and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. While they have not come into force yet, they provide an accurate insight of what we may expect in the near future.

This document has been created for informational purposes only and does not contain a full analysis of the law, nor does it constitute a legal opinion of the Bomza Law Group.

Canadian Immigration Options for Temporary Workers and International Students

Since 2008, the Canadian federal and provincial governments have had programs in place to make it easier for individuals working or studying in Canada to obtain Canadian permanent residency. The governments recognize that individuals currently living in Canada, contributing to Canadian society and to the economy are likely to be successful Canadian permanent residents. There are four categories under which a person working or studying in Canada can qualify for a Canadian permanent resident visa.

• Canadian Experience Class: Individuals with some proficiency in English or French who have an intention to live in Canada, outside of the province of Quebec may qualify if they have Canadian experience as a:

o Foreign student having obtained at least a 2 year diploma or degree from a post-secondary institution AND at least 12 months of full-time work experience in a skilled, managerial or professional occupation in Canada, on a valid work permit; OR

o Temporary Foreign Worker currently working or having worked within the last year in Canada for at least 24 months of full-time in a skilled, managerial or professional occupation in Canada, on a valid work permit.

• Quebec Experience Class (PEQ): An individual may qualify if they have intermediate level French proficiency and are a:

o Foreign student having obtained a 2 year diploma or degree from an educational institution recognized by the Quebec Ministry of Education, while on a valid study permit; OR

o Temporary foreign worker currently working in Quebec for at least 12 months in a skilled, managerial or professional occupation in the 24 months prior to their application, while on a valid work permit.

• Provincial Nomination Programs: all of the remaining provinces and two of the territories in Canada have programs where they nominate individuals who intend to settle in that province. These programs are largely dependent on the applicant obtaining a full-time permanent job offer in a skilled occupation within the province, or having study and/or work experience in that province. Generally the provinces proceed quite quickly to issue nomination certificates at which point Citizenship and Immigration Canada completes their assessment of the application.

o Provinces and territories with nomination programs: Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon & the Northwest Territories.

• Federal Skilled Worker Program: individuals who have legally resided in Canada for one year as a foreign student or as a temporary foreign worker are eligible for this program, without the requirement of one year of experience in one of the 38 eligible occupations. Individuals who meet this requirement will then be required to obtain 67/100 points based on six selection factors: education, work experience, official language proficiency, age, arranged employment and other adaptability factors.(

Source: The South Asia Mail

Majority of Irish people ready to emigrate in search of better jobs.

Nearly 72 percent of Irish people expressed their willingness to move overseas in search of better jobs in Canada, UK, Australia or other nations. This was revealed by a latest poll conducted by Grafton Recruitment, one of the largest recruitment companies of Ireland. The findings of the poll were based on opinions of nearly 1,000 people in March 2010 throughout Ireland.

Among the top favored destinations for immigration named by people in the survey included Europe, Australia, UK and Canada respectively. Around 60 percent of respondents said they were open to seek jobs in Northern Ireland.

Managing director of Grafton Recruitment, Cathy McCorry, said that the fact revealed by the latest employment poll is a sign of the changing times when people accept immigration to other countries in order to improve their current job prospects.

Nearly one-fourth of the participants in the nationwide survey also expected to receive a hike in their salaries in the next year, the employment survey added. Nearly 50 percent of participants in the survey said that they were not ready to accept a decrease in the current pay.

The poll found that nearly 30 percent of survey participants had got a salary hike in the last year while 40 percent stated they are least expecting any hike in their pay, this year.

As per figures of December 2009, unemployment rate in the Republic of Ireland was 13.3 percent, which is almost twice the unemployment rate of Northern Ireland. However, despite such high unemployment rate in Ireland, 75 percent of respondents admitted being flexible regarding starting salary in a new work while 65 percent were willing to accept reduction in their salary between 5 and 10 percent.

The only cause of concern for employers in Ireland is that large-scale exit of talented workforce from Ireland to other nations will significantly have a long-term effect on Irish labor market, added McCorry.

She cautioned that there is a need to examine such trend appropriately. For this, Irish government and employers in Ireland must get together to meet the opportunities and the challenges posed by talent mobility.


Ontario modifies residency rules to attract foreign students

Students who earn their PhDs will no longer need a job offer to be fast-tracked for permanent residence status.

Elizabeth Church

Education Reporter — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Apr. 26, 2010 10:41PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2010 3:00AM EDT

Ontario is making it easier for foreign graduate students to stay in the province when their studies are completed, part of a wider strategy to fuel the economy by casting the province as a destination for higher education.

The new rules will allow students who have earned their PhD at an Ontario campus to be fast-tracked for permanent residence status. The measures are part of the province’s new Open Ontario plan, which aims to increase foreign student enrolment in Ontario by 50 per cent in the next five years.

“The economy today is more and more based on innovation. We want to make it easier for [PhD graduates] to remain in Ontario,” said provincial Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Eric Hoskins. “It’s good for us. It’s good for them. It’s good for employers, as well.”

In the past, only graduates with a job offer were eligible to be fast-tracked under the Provincial Nominee Program, which allows the government to select economic immigrants. Under the new rules announced Monday, students can apply themselves for the fast-track program as soon as they complete the requirements for their degree.

As well as keeping graduates in Ontario, Mr. Hoskins said the changes are designed to attract future students and increase the profile of the province on the international stage.

“This sends a message that Ontario is a better place to come,” he said. “This is a very specific program that allows this province to select what we feel are the highest value, most highly skilled individuals that are the greatest value to our economy.”

University of Toronto graduate student Wei Li, who recently completed a PhD in chemistry, said the new rules will help individuals who do not have Canadian work experience. Still, he said under the current system some graduate students such as himself have been able to get residency status because they get credit for work they do as research assistants during their studies. But as a past head of the campus Chinese Students Association, he said he knows that policy has not always been consistent.

The changes in Ontario come as jurisdictions across the country and around the world compete for foreign students and skilled workers. Several provinces, including New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba, have taken steps to hold onto foreign students after graduation, said Jennifer Humphries, a vice-president with the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

At the same time, jurisdictions such as Australia and Scotland, which calls its initiative Fresh Talent, have long had special programs aimed at making it easier for foreign students to stay when their studies are done, she said.

Research by the CBIE has found that about half of all foreign students in Canada are interested in working or remaining in the country after graduation, up from just 25 per cent five years ago.

Changes by the federal government now allow students from other countries to remain in Canada for three years following their graduation, during which time they are eligible to work.

“I do like Ontario’s new focus on international talent,” Ms. Humphries said, noting that about one-third of all foreign students in Canada are at campuses in the province.

Still, she said if Canada hopes to increase its profile in higher education, its provinces need to work together to put forward a national strategy and brand.

Canada leading the economic recovery of G20 nations: Finley

OTTAWA — Canada is “clearly” leading the G20 out of the recession, Labour Minister Diane Finley told QMI Agency.

Finley was in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with her counterparts in the other G20 countries to discuss the strength of their respective workforces and how to combat high levels of unemployment, which could hinder the global economic recovery.

Canada’s unemployment rate has remained steady at 8.2%, but the situation is far worse in other countries.

In 2009, the global economy shed 34 million jobs, hitting a record high 212 million unemployed.

The first-ever two-day meeting was a setup for the G20 leaders summit in Toronto this June when the economic recovery will be discussed.

Finley said the labour ministers all agreed education and skills training strategies are key to strengthening the labour force.

Canada, she said, was the marvel of them all.

“It was very evident in our discussions that as a result of the quick action undertaken by our government ... Canada is clearly leading the G20 out of the recession,” Finley said from Washington. “It really is clear that our plan is working and we’ve become a marvellous success for the G20 nations.”

Finley said the next step for Canada is to focus on better matching available skills to employers’ needs.

“We all need that. People who are looking for jobs need it, employers need it, and we need it as a country,” she said.

Saskatchewan immigration website a first for Canada

By Joe Couture, Leader-Post

Saskatchewan is now the only province enabling applications for immigration to be made online, part of a new website that immigrant Ercoph Bongomin said would have made his journey to the province easier -- if it had been available 10 years ago.

In 2001, Bongomin and his family came to the province from Egypt, where they had been living as refugees from their home country of Sudan. Today, Bongomin, his spouse and their four children call Regina home. Bongomin works as an accountant and the whole family cheers for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I didn't know much about Regina," Bongomin said, referring to the time before his move to the city. "But my attitude was, anywhere people live, I can live. They (officials) told me, 'If you don't find it good for you, you can move to another province.' "

That was almost 10 years ago. The Bongomins have stayed.

"My experience here has been very good," he said. "As soon as I arrived here, I found also some people that came from my country before me and that makes it even better. I would tell (others) that Saskatchewan is a good place to live, especially Regina. It has all the feeling of a big city. At the same time ... the community is very supportive ... People are very friendly."

Bongomin upgraded his education at the University of Regina. He values the education system for his children, two of whom were born here. The story of their success is one of several featured on the new website.

The provincial government launched the website this month. It provides a central, comprehensive source of information about immigration, including how to apply through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program -- the only program that allows people to submit their applications online, as well as track the status of their applications on the website.

Such a website would have made a difference for Bongomin.

"It took me longer to get all the information I needed. If this website had been there, it would have been easier," he stated.

"I think this demonstrates the real benefits of co-operation with Ottawa," said Rob Norris, provincial minister responsible for immigration, noting the federal government provided funds for the new project over three years to the tune of $450,000.

The website will allow for more efficiency within the provincial office, Norris said, noting staff will be able to focus on processing applications. A continuing goal is to reduce the time it takes to process an application, though some of that responsibility rests with the federal government.

Norris said he hopes the website will encourage prospective immigrants to choose Saskatchewan. Last year, about 9,000 immigrants came to the province as a result of the SINP. This year, the goal is 10,000.

Immigration is one of several avenues of population growth being pursued. Growth is important for both economic and revitalization reasons, Norris said. With many open jobs on the horizon, more people will be needed; plus, growth of the economy is related to population. There also are intangibles.

"We want to foster and facilitate increasingly diverse, dynamic and cosmopolitan communities," said Norris, noting newcomers are moving to 160 different communities, which are becoming more inclusive as a result. He said the province also is working with partners to enhance services to help immigrants settle.

For more details, go online (
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

Can’t Cut Spending? Look Around the Globe

Published: April 16, 2010
Source: The New York Times.

AMERICA’S long-run fiscal outlook is bleak, mostly because of an aging population and rising health care costs. To close the gap between expenditures and revenue, we’ll likely see a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. And we’ll need to focus especially on reducing spending, largely because that taxes on the wealthy can be raised only so high.

Consider the tax burden on high earners once the Bush administration’s tax cuts expire next year. Add up the federal, state, city and sales taxes for a lawyer in New York City who earns $300,000 a year. Depending on the circumstances, this individual could be facing marginal tax rates in the range of 60 percent. Higher income tax rates would discourage hard work and encourage tax avoidance, thereby defeating the purpose of the tax increases.

The most potent way to add revenue is to impose a value-added tax. As its name indicates, a V.A.T. takes some percentage of the value added at each stage of production. V.A.T.’s raise money so readily and so invisibly that they often climb to a range of 15 to 20 percent; politicians like the revenue, and voters don’t always notice the burden.

A move toward a V.A.T., however, also brings price inflation, a big increase in the tax-collecting bureaucracy and the emergence of favored sectors with exemptions or lower rates. Though we may well end up with a V.A.T., it isn’t obviously the best option.

Burdening citizens with much higher taxes would fundamentally change what this country is about. Our founders envisioned a government that would provide public goods but not guarantee everyone’s well-being against every possible obstacle. Immigrants would be offered a franchise to come here and make good if they could — while bearing considerable risk themselves. To this day, this openness has elevated many millions in health, prosperity and liberty — and enabled many newcomers to innovate and offer new goods and services, or scientific ideas, to the world.

Higher levels of government spending and taxation would also soak up resources that might otherwise foster innovation and new businesses. And sentiment would most likely turn ever stronger against those immigrants who consume public services and make the deficit higher in the short run. Current residents might feel more secure in a larger welfare state, but over time the loss of commerce and innovation takes a toll.

The macroeconomic evidence also suggests the wisdom of emphasizing spending cuts. In a recent paper, Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna, economics professors at Harvard, found that in developed countries, spending cuts were the key to successful fiscal adjustments — and were generally better for the economy than tax increases. Their conclusion was based on data since 1970 from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The received wisdom in the United States is that deep spending cuts are politically impossible. But a number of economically advanced countries, including Sweden, Finland, Canada and, most recently, Ireland, have cut their government budgets when needed.

Most relevant, perhaps, is Canada, which cut federal government spending by about 20 percent from 1992 to 1997. The Liberal Party, headed by Jean Chrétien as prime minister and Paul Martin as finance minister, led most of this shift. Prompted by the financial debacle in Mexico, Canadian leaders had the courage and the foresight to make those spending cuts before a fiscal crisis was upon them. In his book “In the Long Run We’re All Dead: The Canadian Turn to Fiscal Restraint,” Timothy Lewis describes Canada’s move from fiscal irresponsibility to a balanced budget — a history that helps explain why the country has managed the current global recession relatively well.

To be sure, the spending cuts meant fewer government services, most of all for health care, and big cuts in agricultural subsidies. But Canada remained a highly humane society, and American liberals continue to cite it as a beacon of progressive values.

Counterintuitively, the relatively strong Canadian trust in government may have paved the way for government spending cuts, a pattern that also appears in Scandinavia. Citizens were told by their government leadership that such cuts were necessary and, to some extent, they trusted the messenger.

IT’S less obvious that the United States can head down the same path, partly because many Americans are so cynical about policy makers. In many ways, this cynicism may be justified, but it is not always helpful, as it lowers trust and impedes useful social bargains.

Forces like the Tea Party movement argue for fiscal conservatism, though it isn’t obvious that they are creating the conditions for success. Over the last year, we have been treated to the spectacle of conservatives defending Medicare against proposed cuts, in large part to curry favor with voters and mobilize sentiment against the Democratic health care plan.

Right now there is plenty of concern about debt and deficits, but little consensus on which expenditures should be cut or reined in. Sooner or later, we’ll have to reconsider virtually every segment of the federal budget.

The issue of fiscal responsibility isn’t going away. So the question is now this: How deeply will we dig ourselves in before we create a more mature and more forward-looking political culture?

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Why Quebec has so much trouble attracting immigrants

By HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette April 17, 2010

One of the most frustrating social trends in Quebec is the way that we as a society treat immigrants.

It's a crazy situation. We need - seriously need - immigrants. We need them to fill jobs that will be left vacant by Quebec's shrinking labour pool. We need them to pay the taxes that will pay for the health and social costs of this province's looming geezer-ization. And we need them to help pay back Quebecers' public debt (including our part of the federal debt), which the province's finance ministry rates as the world's fifth-highest (after Japan, Italy, Greece and Iceland).

And yet, as a study this month by the Montreal think tank CIRANO suggests, we as a society are blowing it.

The study notes, for example, that the jobless rate for immigrants who have a post-secondary education is 13 per cent. According to the 2006 census, that's almost twice the jobless rate among comparable immigrants in Ontario and British Columbia. It's three times the rate for Canadian-born holders of post-secondary diplomas.

This partly explains why only 18 per cent of all immigrants to Canada come to Quebec, too few for a province with 23 per cent of the country's population. (By contrast, Ontario and B.C. between them account for 51 per cent of the population but get 63 per cent of immigrants.) What makes Quebec's situation all the more unacceptable is that for decades the province has wielded more power over the selection of immigrants than any other province. Quebec sets its own criteria on who gets in.

You'd think that those it chooses to welcome would be more likely to do well. Not so: 19 per cent of immigrants age 25 to 54 are unemployed five years after arriving. Compare that with the 12-per-cent level for Canada as a whole.

Why this appalling record? Let's not heap too much blame on Quebec's language law. Yes, the primacy of French here induces many people to settle in English Canada, but it doesn't explain why even French-speakers often fail to crack the job market. Indeed, language theoretically ought to be less of a barrier to finding work here than in other provinces: 60 per cent of immigrants to Quebec in 2008 spoke either French or English upon arrival, the highest rate of any province.

So let's look beyond language.

The study suggests that part of the unemployment problem (although perhaps only a modest part) is Quebec's standing as "l'État providence" - that is, as the province with the most generous social benefits. The study's authors, the Université de Montréal's Brahim Boudarbat and Maude Boulet, note that the 2001 census shows that immigrants age 25 to 54 in Quebec obtained a whopping 52 per cent more public money than did their counterparts in the rest of Canada. The authors note this hardly spurs some people to work at a poorly paid job.

The problem here is not only with freeloading but also with the Quebec government's immigrant-screening process and social-benefits rules. They do too little to guard against parasitism.

A bigger problem is Quebec employers' well-known reluctance to recognize diplomas and experience acquired elsewhere than in North America or Europe. The study says this wariness is more acute here than in Ontario or B.C. Given that most immigrants are visible minorities, the study suggests racial bias can play a role.

The study does not deal with it, but Quebec's business establishment is notably remiss about putting out a welcome mat for visible minorities. Example: Of the 25 members of the Montreal Board of Trade's board of directors, not one is a visible minority.

The Quebec government itself is part of the problem. On the one hand, it recognizes the economic imperatives of attracting more immigrants and, indeed, it is doing so: It settled 49,500 immigrants last year, the most since 1991. On the other hand, it fails to use its own colossal civil service as a model by hiring immigrants or even their born-in-Quebec offspring.

To be sure, politicians say they want to do better. In 1990, the Bourassa government expressed embarrassment that a minuscule 1.7 per cent of its public service was from the cultural communities (loosely, first- or second-generation immigrants); it said it would double the rate by 1994. Only now, 16 years later, are we reaching Robert Bourassa's modest interim target. Most other provincial governments are miles ahead.

No other province needs immigrants so badly. No other province has so much power to choose desirable applicants. And yet, of the three provinces that receive the lion's share of immigrants, Quebec has the most trouble easing immigrants into roles in which they can contribute to society.


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Regulator Cautions the Public: Only Use Immigration Representatives Authorized by the Canadian Government

/CNW/ - The RCMP charged an uncertified immigration consultant in Windsor with fraud yesterday, prompting the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) to warn consumers who might decide to hire a paid immigration representative to only hire one that is authorized by the Canadian Government.
Francesco Salvatore (Sam) Burgio is facing eleven charges for fraud after clients allegedly paid his firm thousands of dollars to submit their immigration applications and got no service in return. CSIC revoked Burgios membership in 2006.
That should have set off red flags for anybody who was considering hiring him, said John Ryan, CSIC Chair and Acting CEO. Most people would never consider hiring an unlicenced doctor or lawyer, and consumers need to realize that hiring an uncertified immigration consultant is just as unwise. Its easy to check because there is a list of all current and former members on the CSIC website.
Only members of CSIC, a provincial or territorial bar, or Quebec notaries can advise, represent or consult clients on immigration matters before the Government of Canada for a fee.
CSIC membership is important because CSIC members must meet rigorous ongoing educational requirements and adhere to strict Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, CSIC provides extensive consumer protection measures by offering a complaints and discipline process, requiring members to carry errors and omissions insurance and maintaining a client compensation fund.
Unfortunately uncertified immigration consultants, known as ghost agents, have exploited legal loopholes that allow them to continue offering immigration services with little danger of law enforcement taking action.
CSIC has long advocated for legislative changes that would introduce penalties for those who pretend to be Certified Canadian Immigration Consultants. We look forward to the changes promised by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants is the professional regulatory body for Certified Canadian Immigration Consultants. Established in 2004 it currently has nearly 1,700 members. CSICs mandate is to protect consumers of immigration consulting services. Consequently, it is responsible for ensuring the education, competency testing and the discipline of its members. CSIC also requires its members to carry errors and omissions insurance and to contribute to a compensation fund. The best way to find a CCIC is via CSICs toll free referral line, 1-877-311-7926.

Canadian Immigration signs working holiday deal with Taiwan

April 16 2010 by Liam Clifford

The Canadian immigration authorities and their counterparts in Taiwan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a working holiday scheme between the two nations.

Working holiday schemes allow young people, usually aged 18-30, but in this case aged between 18 and 35, to live in another county, working temporarily to pay for their trip.

This scheme would allow young people from Taiwan to live in Canada and obtain a temporary Canadian work visa to allow them to work for a short periods in certain industries. The agreement will also allow young people from Canada to spend time living in Taiwan under the same terms.

Taiwan has had a similar agreement in place with Australia since 2004 and thousands of people have benefitted from the chance to experience living and working in Australia as a result.

The scheme is intended to boost the number of people from Taiwan visiting Canada, and maybe even eventually deciding to move to Canada. The number of visitors from Taiwan has reduced from 112,413 in 2004 to just 61,893 last year, according to official statistics.

The agreement is set to come into effect on 1 July.

Work Force Fueled by Highly Skilled Immigrants

ST. LOUIS — After a career as a corporate executive with her name in brass on the office door, Amparo Kollman-Moore, an immigrant from Colombia, likes to drive a Jaguar and shop at Saks. “It was a good life,” she said, “a really good ride.”

Amparo Kollman-Moore, 60, moved to St. Louis in the 1970s and is now a consultant and business school professor.

As a member of this city’s economic elite, Ms. Kollman-Moore is not unusual among immigrants who live in St. Louis. According to a new analysis of census data, more than half of the working immigrants in this metropolitan area hold higher-paying white-collar jobs — as professionals, technicians or administrators — rather than lower-paying blue-collar and service jobs.

Among American cities, St. Louis is not an exception, the data show. In 14 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York and San Francisco, more immigrants are employed in white-collar occupations than in lower-wage work like construction, manufacturing or cleaning.

The data belie a common perception in the nation’s hard-fought debate over immigration — articulated by lawmakers, pundits and advocates on all sides of the issue — that the surge in immigration in the last two decades has overwhelmed the United States with low-wage foreign laborers.

Over all, the analysis showed, the 25 million immigrants who live in the country’s largest metropolitan areas (about two-thirds of all immigrants in the country) are nearly evenly distributed across the job and income spectrum.

“The United States is getting a more varied and economically important flow of immigrants than the public seems to realize,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director for immigration research at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan group in New York that conducted the data analysis for The New York Times.

The findings are significant because Americans’ views of immigration are based largely on the work immigrants do, new research shows.

“Americans, whether they are rich or poor, are much more in favor of high-skilled immigrants,” said Jens Hainmueller, a political scientist at M.I.T. and co-author of a survey of attitudes toward immigration with Michael J. Hiscox, professor of government at Harvard. The survey of 1,600 adults, which examined the reasons for anti-immigration sentiment in the United States, was published in February in American Political Science Review, a peer-reviewed journal.

Americans are inclined to welcome upper-tier immigrants — like Ms. Kollman-Moore — believing they contribute to economic growth without burdening public services, the study found. More than 60 percent of Americans are opposed to allowing more low-skilled foreign laborers, regarding them as more likely to be a drag on the economy.

Those kinds of views, in turn, have informed recent efforts by Congress to remake the immigration system. A measure unveiled last month by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, aims to reshape the legal system to give priority to high-skilled, high-earning immigrants, offering narrower channels for low-wage workers. (A bill in 2007 by the Bush administration tilted even more sharply toward upper-tier immigrants; it failed in Congress.)

Yet while visa bottlenecks persist for high-skilled immigrants, on the whole, the census data show, the current system has brought a range of foreign workers across skill and income levels. The analysis suggests, moreover, that the immigrants played a central role in the cycle of the economic growth of cities over the last two decades.

Cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.

“Economic growth in urban areas has been clearly connected with an increase in immigrants’ share of the local labor force,” Mr. Kallick said.

Surprisingly, the analysis showed, the growing cities were not the ones, like St. Louis, that drew primarily high-earning foreigners. In fact, the St. Louis area had one of the slowest growing economies.

Rather, the fastest economic growth between 1990 and 2008 was in cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix that received large influxes of immigrants with a mix of occupations — including many in lower-paid service and blue-collar jobs.

In metropolitan Denver, where the economy doubled between 1990 and 2008, 63 percent of immigrants worked in jobs on the lower end of the pay scale.

Denver “did a great job of attracting people from other places in the world,” said Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Bell Policy Center, a nonpartisan group in that city that focuses on the impact of economic and fiscal policies in Colorado. “They are coming with a variety of skills,” Mr. Jones said. “They created demand for goods, services and housing that began a dynamic.”

The figures on jobs and earnings of immigrants in American cities are based on an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute of census data for the 25 largest metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2008. The data from 2008 are the most current in-depth census statistics on immigrants’ places of residence and earnings; they also include the first year of the severe recession. The analysis includes legal and illegal immigrants and naturalized citizens.

St. Louis is a good vantage point to observe the census analysis play out on the ground — both in the past and, possibly, the future.

Immigrants wanted: foreign workers will help pay pensions, Conference Board says

By Sunny Freeman (CP) – 4 hours ago

TORONTO — Canada will have to increase the number of immigrants allowed into the country by about 100,000 per year and boost productivity to help pay for pensions, the Conference Board of Canada's chief economist said Tuesday.

The government will have to implement an immigration policy to grow the workforce to increase the number of workers making pension contributions and help offset the retirement of the baby boomers, Glen Hodgson told an audience at the Board's 2010 Summit on the Future of Pensions.

Hodgson predicted slow labour force growth in the coming decades, means there will be fewer workers contributing to pension plans, but more retirees drawing from them.

"As all the boomers get ready to retire, as we look to new entrants, we won't have any where near the same numbers of entrants from the born in Canada population," he said.

"We'll have fewer workers coming in to feed the system... that's going to suck the life out of our economy. Slower labour force growth means slower economic growth."

Governments and the business world are struggling to head off a potential crisis borne of an aging workforce that is not putting aside enough for retirement.

Currently about 250,000 immigrants are currently allowed to enter Canada every year. As an older population and smaller families become the norm, immigrants will be the only source of population growth in Canada at some time around 2030, Hodgson said.

While immigration alone will not reverse Canada's aging trend, it will help keep population growth stable at around one per cent per year. As a result, immigration will be the dominant source of labour force growth in the future, Hodgson said.

Governments will need to implement policies that boost productivity, including developing an integrated immigration policy, investing in a more skilled workforce, and increasing the labour force by encouraging older people to work longer, he added.

While the recession took a toll on many people's pensions, a survey conducted by the Conference Board earlier this year found that the economic downturn did not significantly affect the age at which Canadians plan to retire, Hodgson said. Only one person in three said the recession made them think about delaying retirement.

The average retirement age in Canada is exceptionally low, he said, but Canada should aim to avoid measures taken across Europe and Japan to raise the age at which workers can access government-sponsored retirement plans.

Hodgson said he favours a voluntary supplement to the CPP, in which enrolment would be automatic for all people with no corporate pension plans, with a choice to opt out.

But moves toward that approach were shot down by Alberta's finance minister at a pension summit in that province Tuesday.

Ted Morton said Alberta would rather see an "incremental" approach that would allow governments make a few regulatory changes to give financial institutions more leeway to encourage people to save.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Government of Canada Introduces New Program for Business People From Mexico

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 9, 2010) - Canada's visa office in Mexico City has established a special visa application program for Mexican business travellers, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

"Canada welcomes travellers from Mexico and has been looking at ways to provide enhanced services to applicants. The Business Express Program is another example of our commitment to making service improvements where we can," said Minister Kenney.

"Canada and Mexico are among each other's largest trading partners," said Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade. "This program will help Canadian and Mexican companies do business together and continue to fuel our economic recovery."

The new Business Express Program was created to provide qualified businesses and their employees with a number of service advantages, including less paperwork, priority processing of visa applications, and a dedicated service to respond to the needs of those within the program. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is working closely with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and visa application centres in Mexico on this initiative.

The Business Express Program is modeled on a similar successful program introduced in New Delhi, India, in June 2008.

The program in Mexico is targetted at people employed by companies in Mexico who have a proven need for frequent travel to Canada. Participation in the program is by invitation only. Businesses with key connections to Canada are identified by the visa or trade sections of the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City, or Export Development Canada.

Businesses that have good immigration track records, meaning those with employees who were admissible, who previously travelled to Canada and adhered to Canada's immigration laws, and who have a significant number of business visitors destined to Canada are then invited by the Embassy of Canada to register for the program. Only businesses that are registered can submit visa applications through the facilitated process.

So far, the embassy has invited 113 companies to enrol in the program. Twelve businesses have registered.

Qualified applicants from businesses that are enrolled in the program can apply for their visa at one of the three visa application centres in Mexico, located in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Processing by the Canadian visa office will be swift, with a turnaround time of 24 hours.

"Mexico is an important strategic partner. The Government of Canada continues, as a priority, to extend and improve services that will facilitate official, trade and educational travel from Mexico to Canada," said Minister Kenney.

Canada ready to lead the world recovery

Actions have spoken louder than words for the federal government

By Jayson Myers
Source: The National Post

In the run-up to this year’s G20 meetings, which Canada will host, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is warning world leaders that economic recovery is by no means fully assured and is asking each one to continue to take steps to stimulate economic growth. Above all, he is urging governments to work together to avoid protectionism and open markets even further to encourage international trade and investment.

Harper’s advice reflects his government’s priorities, based on the sensible rationale that the private sector economic and job growth needed to sustain economic recovery, depends on access to business and investment opportunities around the world.

From the Canadian point of view, this is self-evident. Exports account for more than half of Canada’s industrial output and imports for 30% of total domestic demand. High value jobs in the country depend on the ability of Canadian businesses to expand and find customers for their more-specialized products, services, and technologies around the world. At the same time, they need to attract investment and draw on the best of goods and services, skills, knowledge and technologies that international markets have to offer.

Actions have spoken louder than words for the federal government. To encourage business investment, it has cut Canada’s federal corporate tax rate. By 2012, the average combined federal and provincial tax rate on business income will fall to 25%. The government has also introduced a two-year depreciation rate for investments in manufacturing equipment and accelerated write-offs for investments in clean energy and information technologies. As a result of federal support, value-added consumption taxes will be in place in all but three smaller Canadian provinces by this summer.

In a bold move, Harper’s government took the initiative to open Canadian markets to international trade and investment. The recent federal budget eliminated tariffs on all imported machinery and equipment and manufacturing inputs. And the government went further in its plan to loosen investment restrictions in Canada’s telecommunications and other regulated services sectors and to improve the tax treatment of foreign venture capital funds invested in Canada.

On the trade front, the Harper government has concluded free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Jordan and EFTA, and has launched trade negotiations with the European Union and more than 10 other countries and regional trading blocs. The recent procurement agreement that the Canadian government concluded with the United States will keep provincial and municipal procurement markets in Canada open to U.S. producers in return for exclusions for Canadian manufacturers from Buy American restrictions applied under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It also commits Canada and the United States to enter into negotiations on a more open procurement agreement covering state, provincial and local jurisdictions.

Some economic experts may believe that during this period of fragile markets and dependency on government stimulus, Harper’s call for concerted action to liberalize trade may seem altruistic. In the face of continuing overcapacity and intense international competition in many industrial markets, his commitment to open the Canadian economy even further to international trade and investment may even appear naive.

As host of the G20, Prime Minister Harper surely has an obligation to remind world leaders of their commitment not to erect protectionist barriers, but the reality over the past year has been an increasing array of regulatory and procurement restrictions put in place around the world that favour domestic producers. The result — mounting tensions among governments.

The political stakes in economic recovery are high. As Prime Minister Harper insists, it will take real leadership to overcome the short-term political attractions of protectionism. But, that is what will be required to ensure a sustainable economic recovery.

We know the consequences of a game plan based on restrictive preferences and retaliation. In today’s world of internationally-integrated financial markets, supply chains and business operations, jobs cannot be secured anywhere when economic opportunities are being restricted more and more to domestic markets.

Canada and other economies around the world will suffer if Harper’s advice is ignored. Yet, my bet is that at the end of the day, the economic advantage will go to those countries that follow our lead.

We are the little country that could, and did. It’s time the globe followed our lead as we chart the course to economic renewal and prosperity.

The reasons why Countries allow immigrants.

Posted by: Rukhsana Khan

Sometimes it amazes me that people can look past other people’s differences and see the humanity behind them.

I find it fascinating that as societies, communities, we develop a certain collective consciousness, where, even though we might have some conflicts, we’re a cohesive whole.

Along come some outsiders, ‘others’, and at first they’re viewed with mistrust and suspicion. And yet, there always are some people who are willing to buck convention and be nice to the newcomers.

Speaking for Canada, there was a strong reason that Canada opened its doors to immigration in the early 1900’s. A lot of native Canadians don’t know this, but there’s a strong reason why we’re such a multicultural nation.

Canada is a vast land mass, with a huge, very powerful neighbour to the south, Canada was afraid of being overwhelmed. They needed more people! And so they opened the doors to immigration to settle the west. But they didn’t want just anyone. They wanted people who could blend in, assimilate, basically they wanted white people.

Right after the second world war, even though they’d fought with Germans, German nationals were quickly considered non-threatening and allowed into the country. Even before Jewish refugees from Europe were allowed in, the Germans were allowed in.

At one point the prime minister Mackenzie King even announced that they wanted people who would assimilate. They couldn’t allow people from non-white countries in because they ‘couldn’t take the climate’.

But the immigration wave was slowing down. People don’t emigrate from their country unless there are strong reasons. There are three basic reasons: economics, security and opportunity for their children. Now that Europe was stabilized, there was less immigration from the white countries and so Canada had to open the door to other less desirables.

It wasn’t until 1963 that Canada opened the door to non-white immigrants.

There is a reason for this. The only ones who were allowed into the country were skilled labourers, people who’d work hard. Assimilation was assumed. And in return these labourers would contribute taxes to the national coffers.

Then along came Lester B. Pearson with his ideas of human rights. And following him, in the sixties, came a charismatic leader named Pierre Elliot Trudeau, from Quebec.

I remember Trudeau. He was the first prime minister who said that we, as a country, would be multicultural.

People didn’t have to assimilate. We’d recognize all cultures and they’d all be part of Canada. This was in part a gesture to pacify Quebec, a province that clung to their French roots and long refused to assimilate.

I remember listening to speeches by Trudeau on our old black and white T.V. My father found him fascinating.

As immigrants, we could stand a bit taller, not so humble. And in time, we could appreciate the fact that we were Canadian, just like almost every other Canadian whose family had come to this land somewhere in the distant past.

I think a lot of people don’t realize how much immigrants contribute to the prosperity in the West. There are very good reasons why Western countries continue to allow the influx of people from other countries.

It’s a way of maintaining the status quo.

Before, immigrants provided cheap labour for nation building.

Now, immigrants are often highly-skilled people looking for opportunity. (The exception would be refugees from war-torn countries) When immigrants arrive they have to set up homes, they buy stuff, and they often bring in wealth from their homelands. This stimulates the local economy.

And the taxes they pay, help pay for services.

These immigrants actually represent a ‘brain drain’ from their home countries, because the brightest and most educated are often the first to leave for greener Western pastures.

And right now, with the advent of the birth control pill, the local populations of Western countries are not having enough children. Without immigration, the aging population and the social security entitlements that go with them, would have no tax base to support them, so immigration is necessary to keep the tax machine oiled smoothly.

Too often people in the West see this as a one-way relationship. That immigrants should be darn well grateful to be here when it is really a mutually beneficient relationship.

One of the few times that the social situation gets rough is when there is a recession and then local people start grumbling that the immigrants are taking away all the jobs.

What people don’t realize is that immigrants will often work harder and for less money than any of the locals.

There are many a taxi driver that has a Phd., in fact multiple Phd’s. I met one in Vancouver who told me his life story, how he’d hopped around from country to country and finally settled in Vancouver. He liked the climate there, but still wished he could use his education.

I’m not sure why I blogged about this. I guess I just wanted to talk about things that are not often understood over here.

Will a new bill save the refugee mess?

Nicholas Keung Immigration Reporter
Source: The start

Jaime Carrasco Varela came to Toronto from Nicaragua on a refugee claim in 1991. It took 19 years for the asylum seeker, once allegedly part of a death squad, to exhaust legal avenues for staying in Canada.

While Varela's case is a complex rarity, it illustrates what some say are the real problems plaguing Canada's refugee system: It is too slow for legitimate claimants and doesn't weed out ineligible ones quickly enough.

This week, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney introduced Bill C-11 to overhaul the system. Among its most controversial provisions: borrowing from the British model, it would have bureaucrats pre-screen candidates based on whether their country of origin is deemed to be safe (the "White List") or unsafe.The government plans to expedite the hearing process for applicants from safe, democratic countries deemed to have human rights, since it expects almost all of them would fail.

Those rejected claimants would not have the right to a full appeal before the new appeal division that's to be created. They could still, however, go to the federal court to have negative decisions reviewed over arguments of law (rather than the merits of the case for their refugee status).

That is currently the only appeal process available to failed applicants. The best outcome from a federal court review, however, is a reassessment.

C-11 has had mixed reviews from refugee advocates and lawyers.

Many experts welcome the creation of an appeals process to reassess the merits of a case and with the power to reverse decisions and grant status, but some are strongly opposed to preventing refugee claimants from appealing a negative decision if they're from countries deemed safe. They also detest the idea of allowing civil servants – as opposed to members of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an independent tribunal – to decide on initial claims.

Canada's refugee system is often seen as too generous and ultimately dysfunctional because close to half of all claims are rejected, withdrawn or abandoned – and thus deemed fraudulent. Kenney has said this about claimants from Mexico and the Czech Republic.

"We will take the political risk," Kenney told the Star Wednesday during a whirlwind day in Toronto packed with 16 meetings and interviews with editorial boards and broadcast outlets.

The proposed changes would speed the process, but some parties ask if they also would compromise the fairness of a system that's won Canada international acclaim.

Under the new legislation, decisions would be made on new claims within 60 days. Currently, the Immigration and Refugee Board takes an average of 19 months to determine claims. Outstanding cases have tripled from fewer than 20,000 in 2006 to 63,000 last year, largely because the Conservative government left board vacancies unfilled for two years.

But critics of the new legislation do not believe the new safe/unsafe country system is an acceptable solution. They fear that politics will affect which nations the government deems to be democratic, and that a legitimate applicant from a supposedly "safe" country might not get a fair hearing.

Critics also argue that Canada needs to deal seriously with the backlog of cases sitting in the system long after a negative decision from the refugee board. They say there haven't been enough resources to process pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) applications, humanitarian/compassionate applications and federal court reviews.

According to Peter Showler, who teaches refugee law at the University of Ottawa, it can take a long time for the Canada Border Services Agency to deport failed claimants after they exhaust their legal options in federal court.

"During that dead space of two to three years, nobody takes responsibility for that file," says Showler, who chaired the refugee board from 1999 to 2002. "The longest period of delays is at the back end of the system. From a refusal decision by the federal court to the actual removal of the person, it can be a matter of years."

When they're interviewed in preparation for deportation, failed claimants can apply for PRRA, which determines whether it's safe for them to return home. That job falls to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. A government report this year found the average time between a removal order and the day the person actually leaves the country has jumped to 611 days. Before 2002, it was 437 days.

Kenney's solution is to not allow failed refugee claimants to apply for pre-removal risk assessment or humanitarian/compassionate relief until a year after their claim is rejected – by which time they may have been deported. The minister also said he would offer a $2,000 removal incentive to failed refugees.

Gulsum Koca's life has been in limbo since August 2002, when she says she fled persecution in Turkey. Koca, 37, is a member of the Alevi Muslim minority. The refugee board rejected her claim in April 2004, and the federal court refused to review her case; the federal court process allows reviews only on errors made in the administration of justice, not the actual evidence for her asylum claim.

More than two years later, Koca was contacted for a pre-removal risk assessment. Last April, immigration officials decided it was safe for her to return to Turkey and rejected her application to stay on humanitarian grounds. Another judicial review followed.

Raoul Boulakia, former president of the Refugee Lawyers' Association of Ontario, said a practice of designating countries such as Turkey to be "safe and democratic" would allow room for diplomatic pressure and political manoeuvring in the system. It could also exclude from consideration people who have a legitimate fear of persecution by states or by a third menacing party, such as drug lords.

The latest figures show that, in Britain, with its safe/unsafe country system, the average refugee processing time was just 127 days. Only 19 per cent of the 19,400 claims were accepted at the initial stage. But 34 per cent of appeals of rejected refugee claims were granted. In Canada, the refugee acceptance rate hovers around 50 per cent.

"The implication is that there is often poor decision-making at the initial stage and that there is a systemic culture of disbelief (of the claimants) by bureaucrats," says Colin Harvey, head of the school of law at Queen's University Belfast. "This does not recommend itself as a model to follow. There is also the risk that decision-making itself can become broadly politicized."

‘O Canada!’

By Ramon J. Farolan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:54:00 04/04/2010

A lot of people would normally associate a “loonie” with some crazed fanatic. But in Canada
, loonie refers to the Canadian dollar, which today is almost at par with the US dollar. The loonie is a copper coin with Queen Elizabeth’s portrait on one side and the depiction of a loon—a water bird found in Northern Canada—on the other. Canada’s two-dollar coin, which has a polar bear on its face instead of a loon, is called a “toonie.” It is similar to our 10-peso coin with a copper center surrounded by a silver border. In terms of paper money, the smallest denomination is a five-dollar bill with a picture of youth playing ice hockey, Canada’s national sport.

Another interesting fact about Canada is that in terms of official independence, it is probably one of the youngest in the community of nations. It was only in 1982, upon the signing of a new Constitution Act by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth that Canada officially became an independent country. The Philippines will be marking its 112th independence anniversary on June 12. “O Canada” was an old French marching song dating back to 1880. It became Canada’s national anthem 100 years later in 1980.

Canada is the largest country in North America with roughly 10 million square kilometers in land and water area, but with a population of merely 34 million. This is one reason Canada is one of the few countries that conduct seminars in various parts of the world in a bid to attract more immigrants. The waiting time for qualified applicants is anywhere from 16 to 87 months. In the case of my daughter, who has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she made it in 18 months, a reflection of an immigration point system geared towards people with high educational and professional qualifications. She now resides in British Columbia, where she teaches Academic English and Business Communication to college students mostly from Asia and the Middle East.

Canada is an example of a federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The country has 10 provinces each with its own parliament and premier, along with three territories—Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The national government in Ottawa is headed by Prime Minister (head of government) Stephen Harper of the ruling Conservative Party. The governor general, representing the Head of State Queen Elizabeth, is appointed by the Queen on advice of the prime minister. Michaëlle Jean, an immigrant born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is the current governor general. For Charter change enthusiasts, the Canadian model should be studied closely.

Filipinos in Canada

Statistics Canada or StatCan, the federal agency that comes up with statistics used in the formulation of national policies, reported that there are approximately half a million Filipinos in Canada. Among the more prominent members of the Filipino community is Aprodicio Laquian, former chief of staff of Joseph Estrada and an emeritus professor of human settlement at the University of British Columbia. Laquian recently co-authored a book “Seeking a Better Life Abroad: A Study of Filipinos in Canada 1957-2007.” He believes that a united Filipino community can be a strong political force in Canada. As of today, 15 Filipinos have been elected to public office, including two in the province of British Columbia.

How is Canada faring in the current recession?

All reports indicate that Canada is moving from recovery to expansion. The Globe and Mail, a national broadsheet, reports: “the economy is in overdrive, growing faster than anyone expected. Spending, housing starts, and job creation are surging. House building, hiring and even car buying has surpassed the most optimistic expectations. A year ago, General Motors was facing bankruptcy. Lately, the automaker announced plans to hire more workers and boost production because of a growing demand for certain models.”

The National Post, another daily, highlighted a GDP growth of 0.6 percent for the month of January, the strongest gain in more than three years. Manufacturing made gains for the fifth consecutive month.

Two sectors have been driving the turnaround—the labor market and housing. Unlike their US counterparts, Canadian companies have been hiring; unemployment is down to 8.2 percent in February. Roughly 60,000 full-time jobs were created last month alone. While some of the hiring could be attributed to the Vancouver Olympics, economists credit the private sector for playing a significant role in the upturn.

In the case of housing, home sales jumped 44 percent over last year’s numbers with the average price of homes rising to $335,000, up by 18 percent from a year ago.

In British Columbia alone, Premier Gordon Campbell confirmed that the province would be getting a $450-million hotel casino addition to current gambling facilities. The new project is expected to generate 3,200 direct jobs, 1,300 indirect jobs during the construction period, and is expected to be completed by 2013. It is interesting to note that early in his political career, Mr. Campbell opposed the expansion of gaming operations. He now says that “the whole concept of gaming has changed dramatically,” citing entertainment and cultural opportunities.

Prove your love

Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)
The Canadian government is on the lookout for fake marriages designed to acquire status
Ryan Rosenberg

I could open this article by quoting from one of the thousands of love songs purporting to ask or answer a question about genuine love. Instead, since this is a column about immigration law, I’ll try to put it in simplified legalese. A person intending to immigrate to Canada as sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse will not qualify for immigration if the underlying relationship is not genuine and was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring status in Canada. Simpler yet, fake marriages don’t cut it and Citizenship and Immigration Canada is on the lookout.

Sponsorship rules
Under Canadian immigration laws, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their husband or wife, common-law partner or conjugal partner. A successful and thorough sponsorship application will land your better half in Canada relatively quickly, as compared to other types of immigration applications. At the same time, a flawed, incomplete application can keep genuine spouses apart for an indefinite amount of time.

Aside from the many forms, police record checks and medical testing that an applicant must endure, CIC has made it a priority to keep fake marriages out of Canada. These regulations have been strengthened over the years to combat the high number of fraudulent cases, also known as marriages of convenience. As a consequence of these regulations, many applications based on genuine relationships are refused, forcing the applicant and the sponsor to appeal the decision, adding up to an additional year to the application processing times, plus the stress and cost of an appeal.

Prove it’s genuine
So when you complete an application to sponsor your spouse, make extra effort in gathering and submitting evidence to prove that your relationship is in fact “genuine.” I typically categorize evidence into two groups, “sentimental evidence” and “hard evidence.”

The primary type of sentimental evidence used is photographs. Submit a selection of photographs that capture the essence of your relationship. Photos of spouses together on vacation, with each other’s close family and at major life events (birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.) are usually well received by the government. Do not make the mistake of only submitting photos from a single day or only photos where you are wearing the same outfit. Your photos should represent different milestones in your relationship and not just the wedding.

Other sentimental evidence to submit includes copies of birthday/holiday cards, email printouts, Facebook printouts, love letters, wedding invitations and reference letters from close friends or family that confirm the nature of your relationship. I had a client once who wanted to submit a racy video that he said confirmed beyond doubt that his relationship was real. I told him he was taking it too far.

More evidence
I classify all legal and third party documents as “hard evidence.” Hard evidence that you should plan to submit include copies of a power of attorney, copies of wills or life insurance policies, naming each spouse as the other’s beneficiary, copies of leases or land title certificates, showing both spouses as tenants or owners and copies of bank statements, showing both spouses as joint account holders.

It is also worthwhile to submit copies of boarding passes, hotel reservations, receipts for gifts and dinner, and passport stamps to prove that visits between spouses actually took place. Phone bills are an excellent way to confirm communication between spouses while separated.

Explain well
My final tip is to be thorough in explaining your evidence. Explain what each piece of evidence is and why you are submitting it. Handing a visa officer a pile of evidence without any explanation makes their job difficult. In submitting your application, your goal should be to make the visa officer’s job as easy as possible to approve your application as quickly as possible.

A thorough and complete application, leaving no questions to be answered, may even get you out of an interview and thereby speeding up your application processing. Visa officers are empowered with the discretion to waive interviews for applications where it is clear that the relationship is genuine. As such, the extra time that you put into gathering and explaining evidence will save you much hardship and hassle down the road.

While we all know that finding and maintaining true love is a lot of work, there is no need for an immigration application to follow suit. As when searching for that special someone, when completing a sponsorship application, be honest, open, convincing and thorough.

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Canada seeks foreign workers

By: Patrick Thibodeau On: 10 Jul 2007 For: Computerworld (US online) Creator
For Colin Hansen, minister of economic development in British Columbia, Microsoft's decision last week to open a software development center in Vancouver was proof that Canada's strategy to grow its economy is working.

O Canada, indeed. No H-1B visa cap. An immigration system that favors tech workers. An exchange rate that puts the Canadian dollar almost at parity with its U.S. counterpart. And now an endorsement from Microsoft Corp. as a place to develop software.

For Colin Hansen, minister of economic development in British Columbia, Microsoft's decision last week to open a software development center in Vancouver was proof that Canada's strategy to grow its economy is working. And it's a strategy that is very dependent on foreign workers. Hansen said the economy in British Columbia is growing by as much as 4.5 percent a year, with technology being the fastest-growing sector. The province's total workforce is now at about 2.3 million people, and Hansen predicts that over the next 12 years, there will be approximately 1 million job vacancies in British Columbia -- half the result of retirements, and the other half due to the creation of new jobs.

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

The Canadian government has specific programs for quickly bringing high-tech workers with certain skills into the country, a process that can take two to eight weeks, said Evan Green, an immigration attorney and partner at Toronto-based law firm Green and Spiegel.

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

Microsoft, which is been a vocal critic of the H-1B program's restrictions, announced July 5 that it plans to open the development center in Vancouver -- a mere 150 miles from the company's Seattle-area headquarters. The software vendor said it decided to set up the Vancouver facility, which is due to open in the fall, partly to help it "recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S."

It was a stick-in-the-eye announcement to opponents of legislative proposals to increase the H-1B cap, and it came as Congress prepares for the next round of that debate following the recent failure in the Senate of a broad immigration reform bill that would have raised the visa cap.

John O'Grady, an economic and statistical analysis consultant in Toronto, said he thinks Canada is becoming attractive to companies like Microsoft for more reasons than its immigration policies alone. "The pendulum is just beginning to swing in our favor," he said.

One thing that's helping Canada retain jobs and create new ones is the fact that the Canadian dollar now is trading at about 1.03 to the U.S. dollar -- much higher than in years past.

The Canadian Federal Immigrant Investor Program

All countries these days will be looking to their respective governments to inject money into crucial business sectors. Canada is no different in attempting to stimulate its economy via government spending; naturally the government will be looking for low-cost capital to fund things like infrastructure projects. This is where Canadian immigration can provide a source of investment capital. Individuals and managerial or entrepreneurial experience can qualify for a Canadian Permanent Resident Visa by investing with the Canadian government at zero interest for five years, under what is called the “Federal Immigrant Investor Program” (FIIP). It is one of three different categories of Canadian Business Class Immigration. They are Investor, Entrepreneur and Self-Employed Persons. Immigrants with a high net worth (in excess of 800,000 CAD) can expedite entry into Canada by investing 400,000 at zero interest with the Federal Immigrant Investment Program (FIIP) in return for a Permanent Resident Visa. The FIIP was developed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to promote economic development by allowing well qualified business people to fast track their applications, reducing the processing time to around 16 – 18 months. Canada gets to use the Immigrant Investor’s money for five years with no interest. There is no risk to the immigrant investors; after five years they receive the full investment back. Less than 1% of potential immigrants to Canada apply for this program, possibly because they have to be invited to participate. They have to qualify so those who have revealed their net worth in the required amounts would be approached. There are normally about 7,000 Immigrant Investor applicants in queue in the FIIP awaiting assessment at any one time, all of whom are ready and eager to make their required 0,000 investment. They are simply waiting for their immigration processing to be completed. This translates to 2.8 billion in available capital that can be put to use in the funding of infrastructure projects.

Besides speeding up immigrant visa applications, there are other benefits to entering under the FIIP. Unlike the entrepreneur program where your business is monitored and reviewed by the Federal government, you are free to settle anywhere in Canada, take any job, go to school, or just enjoy life if your money supply allows it. None of the investor categories have language, education or business experience requirements. The Immigrant Investor and immediate family members gain Canadian Permanent Residency and in return Canada develops access to an inexpensive pool of capital to help fund its stimulus spending.

Canada has the world’s soundest banking system according to a survey by the respected World Economic Forum. Thanks to an economic system with institutions that most American politicians might brand as “socialist”, Canada will do much better than other Western nations to restore economic order. In fact many economists predict that Canada will be the first advanced country to come out of this worldwide economic crisis. Canada has a diversified economy with a low debt burden, flexible labor markets and proper fiscal management going back for more many years. Canadian banks have not needed the government bailouts that have become a necessity in the US and many European countries.

As far as immigration is concerned, Canada is a favored destination and consistently ranks as one of the top countries in the world for overall quality of life. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current global economic environment, many successful entrepreneurs and managers around the world are considering Canada as their destination of choice to begin a new life for themselves and their families.


Canada's most wanted: Semi-skilled workers

David Fuller discovers it is not only skilled workers that Canada is so desperate for

A recent article in Canada's Financial Post newspaper stated that the "shortage of skilled labour in Canada is reaching the point of a national crisis."

According to the newspaper, Canada's construction sector will need approximately 260,000 new workers over the next eight years, while it is estimated the mining industry will need around 10,000 people per year for the next ten years in order to stave off shortages.

It is not uncommon to read statistics such as this in the Canadian media, nor has it been for a good few years now. Indeed, it is because of the persisting skills shortages that Canada's immigration programme is currently so geared towards attracting skilled workers.

What doesn't tend to be so widely reported, though, is that industries deemed to be 'semi' or 'low' skilled such as trucking, food services, and tourism, are also in desperate need of workers.

As those of you familiar with the workings of Canada's federal Skilled Worker system will already be aware, in order to be eligible for emigration to Canada you need to have had work experience in occupations classed as Skill Level A (professional occupations) or B (occupations and skilled trades), or Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) on the National Occupations Classifications list to be eligible for a visa.

This means people who only have experience in the aforementioned 'lesser' skilled occupations do not stand a chance of being awarded a federal skilled visa.

However, there are still opportunities available for workers deemed to be semi-skilled.

A number of Canada's provincial governments are realising that semi-skilled industry shortages could be as costly to their economies as those in skilled sectors, and have either introduced a semi-skilled stream (Alberta and BC) or a scheme designed to specifically target particular semi-skilled workers (for example, truck drivers in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick) through their Provincial Nominee Programmes (PNPs).

"Demand for semi-skilled workers certainly appears to be increasing," confirms Craig MacBride, the Public Affairs Officer at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development for British Columbia. "In 2006, BC employed 953,000 lesser-skilled workers, accounting for 45.5 per cent of the total workforce in the province, while in 2001, there were roughly only 806,000 lesser-skilled workers employed in BC – or 42.8 per cent of BC's total labour force. Therefore, during the period of the last two censuses, the number of lesser-skilled workers increased by 147,000 people," he adds.

What's more it is unlikely that there will be a decrease in the number of semi-skilled shortages in the foreseeable future.

"According to the 'Canadian Occupational Projection System – BC Unique Scenario', of the 1.1 million new job openings projected until 2015, 74 per cent will require a university degree or some form of post-secondary education," continues MacBride. "Twelve per cent of the new job openings will require some high school experience and 14 per cent will require high school

graduation. In absolute terms, there will still be close to 300,000 'low- and semi-skilled' jobs becoming available in BC during this period."

Upon announcing its 'Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled' PNP earlier this year, the BC government stated that current industry growth patterns reveal that the province's tourism/hospitality sector would require an additional 84,000 workers over the next ten years – or, to put it another way, one new job every hour over the coming decade. Little surprise, then, that this sector is particularly catered for through the scheme (see box, left).

In order to qualify for nomination, applicants must have been employed in an eligible occupation by a sponsoring company on a temporary work permit for at least nine months prior to the date of application to the PNP and must be legally employed by the sponsoring company at the time of application.


Canada/Mexico labour mobility pilot project now accepting applications

(Sep. 25/08) Mexico, Canada and four participating provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec are developing a pilot project for the recruitment of Temporary Foreign Workers from Mexico to Canada within two industry sectors: construction and tourism/hospitality.

The pilot is expected to be launched late fall with the first workers arriving early in the new year. The unique feature of this particular pilot project is that Mexico’s national employment service will play a role in identifying the eligible candidates for employers, who would then make the final decision regarding potential workers.

In the first year, the objective is for 2,000 workers to be identified through this initiative and split evenly among the four provinces. Each province can expect to receive approximately 500 workers divided between the two sectors. Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba have confirmed the following occupations for Mexico’s recruitment: within the hotel and lodging industry: front desk clerks and housekeeping attendants; within the food and restaurant industry: cooks, kitchen helpers, food counter attendants and food and beverage servers (Manitoba only).

The pilot project will allow for workers to receive up to a two-year work permit, consistent with the Labour Market Opinion. Employers will still be required to seek a positive Labour Market Opinion from HRSDC/Service Canada, and workers will still need to apply to CIC for a work permit. Employers in Alberta and British Columbia will be asked to absorb the costs of English testing, medical assessments and work permits in exchange for their participation in the pilot.

Alberta and Manitoba officials would like to limit participation to a few employers with foreign worker recruitment experience who are willing to apply for groups of employees in the designated occupations in order to help ensure the pilot is successful.

Provincial Tourism Sector Council organizations – go2 in British Columbia and MTEC in Manitoba – have agreed to coordinate the pilot project on behalf of the Tourism and Hospitality industries in British Columbia and Manitoba. They are currently developing application processes for employers.

Alberta government officials want to move quickly and are hoping to meet with CRFA and small group of interested employers in the coming weeks to discuss next steps in the process. Manitoba officials will be setting up a similar meeting shortly.

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