Canada’s economy surges ahead

 Nov 30, 2011 – 7:06 PM ET
Chris Wattie/Reuters
Chris Wattie/Reuters
The Canadian economy was not as bad as first feared in the third quarter. In fact, it was much better than almost anyone had hoped.
Fuelled by record monthly output from the oil-and-gas and mining sectors and overall export strength as temporary headwinds drifted away, third-quarter economic growth shot past expectations.
Statistics Canada said Wednesday that gross domestic product for the period rose by an annualized 3.5%, beating economists’ more moderate average prediction of 3.0% growth and the Bank of Canada’s forecast of 2.0%. In September alone, the economy grew 0.2% from August, falling just short of a 0.3% increase economists predicted.
The growth during the quarter comes as a welcome change after a revised 0.5% contraction in the second quarter.
Net exports staged a decided recovery as external pressures like the fallout from the Japanese natural disasters in March were no longer a factor.
But the devil is in the details as flagging domestic demand and weak business investment lurked beneath the report’s strong headline growth. A close look at the data has economists forecasting only modest growth — in the range of about 2% — in the coming quarters and predicting the Bank of Canada will remain on hold with interest rate hikes.
Here’s what stood out from Wednesday’s report:
The driving force behind the uptick in GDP for the quarter, exports grew at an annualized rate of 14.4%, up from a pullback of 6.4% in the previous quarter.
Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada, said that factors that weighed on Canadian exports in the second quarter — including the Japanese supply-chain disruptions as well as wildfires in Northern Alberta that led to shutdowns of oil sand production facilities — were resolved in Q3 and contributed to the increase.
But, he cautioned, “The boost to third-quarter growth provided by the reversal of these factors is not expected to continue to the same extent into the fourth quarter.”
As the global economy stalls and prospects for a quick turnaround look increasingly grim, economists predict it will could spoil the Canadian export party.
Canada’s unstoppable real estate market was another bright spot during the quarter. Residential construction shot up 10.9% annualized, following on comparatively modest increases of 1.6% in Q2 and 6.7% in Q1.
“After quarters of booming housing starts data, the residential construction bonanza finally translated into the GDP numbers,” said Emanuella Enenajor, economist at CIBC Economics.
The expansion in this sector came from all three major components including fees and transfer costs related to resale transactions, new housing construction and renovation activity.
“Continued strength in new-home sales has elicited more and more new housing construction, particularly in the high-rise condo market,” said David Madani, Canada economist for Capital Economics.
He noted that a reported increase in housing starts bodes well for further strong growth in this category next quarter.
Canadians slowed their spending on goods and services during the quarter, raising red flags for economists concerned about sluggish domestic demand.
Personal expenditures grew at an annualized rate of 1.2%, down from an expansion of 2.1% in the previous quarter.
“A slowing pace of income growth owing to tepid hiring and weaker wage dynamics will likely continue to put downward pressure on consumption activity,” Ms. Enenajor said.
Business investment actually contracted during the quarter with a decrease of 3.6% annualized, down from last quarter’s 14.6% increase.
“Weak business investment is a worry, as it has been an important source of growth since early 2010 and replaced personal spending as the main source of domestic growth,” said Charles St. Arnaud, an analyst with Nomura Global Economics.
He noted that this, coupled with the fact that personal spending is likely to remain weak, “Could mean that domestic demand stays weak over the next few quarters, as global uncertainty remains high.”
The combined slowdown in consumer spending and business investment was a drag on final domestic demand, which rose only 0.9% in the third quarter, down from a 3.1% gain in Q2. The other component, government expenditures, was flat in the quarter as government stimulus spending continues to slow to a trickle.
“Note that the pace of final domestic demand has been consistently slowing since 2010, weakening from around 6% to its current sub-1% pace,” Ms. Enenajor said.
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Understanding the Phases of the Federal Skilled Worker Application Process


Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applications pass through three phases of evaluation, each with their own requirements.
This phased approach was introduced with amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in 2008, with the primary aim of reducing backlogs and wait times.
A FSW application must first be considered eligible for processing. This is the primary way the government has reduced the number of applications it has to process.
Applications that are judged to be ineligible will not be processed.
Eligibility requirements were introduced as a set of instructions by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, beginning in February 2008. They can be changed by the Minister at any time, and have changed several times since.
Currently, to be eligible for processing, an applicant must:
  • Have worked for the equivalent of one continuous year in one of 29 specific qualifying occupations during the last 10 years. There is an overall cap of 10,000 applications per year that will be processed under these criteria, with a maximum of 500 per occupation. To see how much space is still open, see Applications Received; or
  • Have an Arranged Employment offer. Job offers have their own set of criteria that are required, and must be approved by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). For more information, see Arranged Employment. There is no cap for applicants with Arranged Employment; or
  • Have either completed two years of study towards a PhD at a provincially recognized program, or have completed a PhD in Canada within the last year. PhD applicants are subject to their own cap of 1,000 per year.
If an application does not fit into one of these categories, it is returned, and the government processing fees the applicant paid are returned as well.
Once an application is deemed eligible for processing, it enters the selection phase.
The selection phase evaluates for all of the following:
  • Whether the applicant has the equivalent of one year of continuous paid work experience in a skilled occupation in the last 10 years. Applicants qualifying under one of the 29 occupations at the eligibility phase would have already passed this requirement at that point. For more information, see Skilled Occupations.
  • Whether the applicant meets sufficient points. Points are awarded for education, work experience, age, language and adaptability. At the present time, the applicant must score at least 67 points. For more information, see Selection Factors.
  • Whether the applicant can establish himself/herself economically once in Canada. This can be satisfied in one of two ways: the applicant has sufficient settlement funds according to government thresholds (for more information, see Settlement Funds), or has an Arranged Employment offer.
The applicant must satisfy all of these criteria for a positive selection decision to be made.
If all of these selection factors are not met, the application is refused, and the associated government processing fees the candidate paid are not returned.
One exception worth noting is that in some rare cases, a visa officer can override the points result. They might do this, for example, if they think, from all the other evaluated criteria, that a candidate is likely to be successful in Canada, even if they are missing the required points.
If a positive selection decision is made the application proceeds to the final phase of the process.
The final phase of the FSW application process determines whether the applicant is admissible to Canada. This phase has two parts, a medical check, and a security check.
  • An applicant can be medically inadmissible if they somehow endanger the health or safety of the Canadian population, or might cause excessive demand on government health or social services. For more information, see Medical Inadmissibility.
  • An applicant can be criminally inadmissible if they have committed certain types of crimes, have been involved in organized crime, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or are deemed somehow to be a threat to Canadian security. For more information, see Criminal Inadmissibility.
If an applicant is inadmissible to Canada, similarly to the selection phase, their application is refused, and the government processing fees the candidate paid are not returned.
Passing these two final checks completes the FSW application process, with the applicant able to then proceed to immigrate to Canada.

A city full of opportunity

Surrey is a city of immigrants, as a special section in last week's Surrey-North Delta Leader pointed out.
This may have come as a surprise to some residents, but it shouldn't. Surrey has always been a city that welcomes immigrants, going back to its very beginning as an organized municipality.
The earliest settlers here were all immigrants. While some came from eastern Canada, at the time the earliest ones came, B.C. wasn't even part of Canada. Many came from Europe or the United States.
They came because Surrey offered rich opportunity, and things haven't changed. That remains the case today.
One of the best early examples is Eric Anderson, whose hand-hewn log cabin is on display on the Surrey Museum grounds in Cloverdale. Originally from Sweden, he jumped ship in what is now Vancouver harbour in 1872 and came to Surrey to make a new and very different life for himself.
His fascinating story is contained in a book, The Valley of the Fraser, by Surrey historians John and Lorne Pearson. It is instructive on the challenges and opportunities which present themselves to newcomers.
He was one of many early settlers who came to what was mostly untamed wilderness and made it into a home. They came from all parts of the world, and immigrants from Asia were among the earliest to arrive, taking part in the Fraser River gold rush and staying on to farm and fish.
The early Chinese and Japanese immigrants were tolerated by many, but certainly not welcomed by everyone. Some residents were able to get past the prejudice and discovered that their neighbours may have had skin of a different colour, but were valuable members of the community.
Many Japanese farmers settled in the Strawberry Hill area, until they were forcibly removed by federal government order after the war in the Pacific began in 1941. While this move was ostensibly to prevent espionage by sympathizers of the Japanese regime, it was mainly a strike against hard-working people, led by narrow-minded politicians who played the race card for all it was worth. Had China been on the other side in the Second World War, people of Chinese descent would also have been targeted.
This sad chapter in Surrey history has yet to be fully told or acknowledged.
Immigration continued after the war, with many displaced Europeans coming here. In the 1960s, people from all parts of the world began to arrive in earnest as immigration laws were liberalized.
Among them were some of the early arrivals from India, who were the vanguard of a wave of immigrants that has continued to this day. India is the biggest single home country of Surrey immigrants, and the presence of so many people of Indian descent has added a new and vibrant dimension to the city.
As Charan Gill, who arrived here in 1972, stated in the section, there were many challenges for the early immigrants. There was a not-so-subtle wave of racism and prejudice, and Gill and others did their best to combat it and provide services for the new arrivals. He was instrumental in founding Progressive Intercultural Community Services in 1987 to help deal with the many needs.
In the 2006 census, 46 per cent of Surrey residents were considered "visible minority." When the 2011 results are published, it is almost certain that Surrey will be more than 50 per cent non-Caucasian. Immigrants are coming from all over the world, including the Phillipines, China, Korea, many countries in Africa, Mexico, Latin America and other areas.
They still face challenges when they arrive, and the community has to work hard to provide needed community services.
But they also bring an enthusiasm to reach higher do better in Surrey, which they consider a city of opportunity. This is a tremendous advantage for this city going forward, and will be one of the greatest strengths Surrey has as it eventually becomes the largest city in B.C.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Tim

Total complete applications received since July 1, 2011

On July 1, 2011, the eligibility criteria for Federal Skilled Worker applicants changed.
Between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, a maximum of 10,000 complete Federal Skilled Worker applications will be considered for processing. Within the 10,000 cap, a maximum of 500 Federal Skilled Worker applications per eligible occupation will be considered for processing within this same time frame.
Starting November 5, 2011, CIC will accept a total of 1,000 applications from international students who have completed at least two years of study towards a PhD and or who graduated from a Canadian PhD program in the 12 months before the date their application is received byCIC. Find out more about eligibility for this category or see the number of applications received to date on this site.
These limits do not apply to applications with an offer of arranged employment (job offer).
Applications received toward the overall cap: 4,459 of 10,000 as of November 29, 2011

Applications received per eligible occupation:

Eligible Occupation
(by National Occupational Classification [NOC] code)
Number of Complete Applications Received*
0631 – Restaurant and Food Service Managers458
0811 – Primary Production Managers (Except Agriculture)45
1122 – Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management500 (Cap reached)**
1233 – Insurance Adjusters and Claims Examiners113
2121 – Biologists and Related Scientists332
2151 – Architects175
3111 – Specialist Physicians252
3112 – General Practitioners and Family Physicians295
3113 – Dentists302
3131 – Pharmacists500 (Cap reached)**
3142 – Physiotherapists62
3152 – Registered Nurses500 (Cap reached)**
3215 – Medical Radiation Technologists23
3222 – Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists15
3233 – Licensed Practical Nurses139
4151 – Psychologists44
4152 – Social Workers178
6241 – Chefs41
6242 – Cooks84
7215 – Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades55
7216 – Contractors and Supervisors, Mechanic Trades109
7241 – Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System)59
7242 – Industrial Electricians62
7251 – Plumbers8
7265 – Welders and Related Machine Operators24
7312 – Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics21
7371 – Crane Operators4
7372 – Drillers and Blasters – Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction5
8222 – Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service54
*The number of complete Federal Skilled Worker applications received as of November 29, 2011 is approximate.
**Once the cap has been reached, we can only accept applications for this occupation from people with an existing offer of arranged employment.
Note: Due to the high volume of applications we receive, the CIO cannot review each application for completeness on the same day it arrives at the office. The numbers on this page are updated at least once a week, but these figures are meant as a guide only. There is no guarantee that an application sent in now will fall within the cap by the time it reaches the CIO. We are looking into ways to minimize the effect of this on website updates.

Applications received from PhDapplicants:

Applications received toward the overall cap: 23 of 1,000as of November 29, 2011

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