What the future holds for Canada as boomers age

English: Canadian per capita health care spend...
English: Canadian per capita health care spending by age group in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

Health care discrepancies between provinces

Atlantic premiers argue they should get more health care cash because their populations are older. Meanwhile Alberta is able to afford new health services like expanded home care. Tuesday’s census data shows that the very different realities provinces face will strain Canada’s promise of offering comparable health care from coast to coast.

Ontario is currently trying to get all provinces to join its effort to reduce doctors’ fees, a plan doctors are resisting.

All provinces are under pressure to squeeze their health budgets now - not just because of aging populations, but because Ottawa has set a cap on how much it will spend in the future.

Work force replenished too slowly

The 2011 census drives home a central concern of federal and provincial governments. The large baby boom generation is starting to leave the work force and there aren’t enough taxpayers coming on line to replace them. Persistently low birth rates will mean future taxpayers will have to carry a heavier load. One option would be to increase immigration dramatically. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney recently told The Globe and Mail that moving too sharply in this area risks an anti-immigration backlash. “Only 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians are in favour of raising immigration levels,” he said.

Pensions threatened

Pensions are by no means just a worry for government. Changing demographics are a prime concern for many employers, particularly those who offer defined benefit pensions to their employees. Many employers have recently moved away from traditional pensions that offer a guaranteed payment to retirees, in favour of defined contribution plans in which the employee carries the investment risks. Individuals must also factor in Ottawa’s plans to raise the eligibility age of Old Age Security from 65 to 67, delaying a benefit that currently pays out an average $6,122.52 a year.

Consumer spending to shrink

Older people have higher accumulated savings per head than younger people but are likely to spend less on consumer goods as they enter retirement. This is compounded by the fact that many boomers, unlike previous generations heading into their 50s and 60s, are encouraged by low interest rates and an entrenched culture of spending and are entering retirement carrying debt. A report last year found the 65-plus age group was racking up debt at three times the average pace. That debt, along with a fixed income, will be a big incentive to curtail consumer spending.

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Canada’s demographic ‘golden age’ coming to an end

The Baby Boomers’ 50th birthday 3
The Baby Boomers’ 50th birthday 3 (Photo credit: Christchurch City Libraries)

From Monday's Globe and Mail

Canada is at a demographic peak, but the descent will be swift and steep.

A greater proportion of people are working now than ever before. The largest chunk of the population, the baby boomers, are in their highest earning years and only a tiny sliver of that cohort has slipped into retirement. Their relatively fatter salaries are filling tax coffers and funding social programs. And years of low birth rates have meant significantly fewer dependent children to support than in decades past.

“This is the golden age,” according to McMaster University economist Arthur Sweetman.

But the release of new 2011 census numbers this week will show that the period of “peak people” is about to end. Canada’s demographics are at an inflection point, as the number of people of retirement age begins to grow at a faster rate than any other group in the next few years.

This country is still in much better demographic shape than nearly any other in the G8, with only about 14 per cent of its population over 65, compared with more than 20 per cent in Japan, Germany and Italy. And with nearly 70 per cent in the working ages of 15 to 64, Canada ranks ahead of all of those nations except Russia.

But much of its current advantage is explained by the relatively large size of the baby boom in Canada, according to Western University demographer Rod Beaujot. That advantage is about to erode. As the baby boom retires, the ratio of the employed to the not-employed will fall, possibly for a very long time.

“It’s inconceivable that in the future we will see anything but a decline in employment rates,” said Prof. Beaujot.

For Stephen Harper’s government, that shift has a number of important policy implications, from pensions to health care. The government has already proposed a gradual rise in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security to 67 years from 65. Although an aging population is often cited as a reason to cut spending, governments have known the implications of an aging population for more than 30 years. It is among the least surprising developments a government could face.

“We should have been saving by keeping taxes higher, and not cutting things like the GST, so we would have enough to pay for these social programs,” Prof. Beaujot said.

The prime example is health care. Its funding formula is a pay-as-you-go system, where the taxes collected in one year pay for the services provided. It could have been placed on much firmer footing if governments hadn’t cut taxes when taxpayers were abundant, Prof. Beaujot said. Now the key to sustaining expensive social programs will be getting even more people working, particularly those who have traditionally been excluded from work or underemployed. There are already signs that many people over 65 intend to work longer, some of them out of financial need, others because they feel too young and healthy to stop.

“We need to employ people longer and get people on the fringes of the labour force, disabled people or aboriginal groups, for example, more involved,” Prof. Beaujot said.

Many of the barriers that prevent disabled people from working to their potential are frustratingly persistent. Melanie Moore lost her sight at birth and went on to earn a degree in social work from Carleton University. Since entering the work force 13 years ago, Ms. Moore has spent roughly one of every two years unemployed. Unable to find an employer willing to hire her near her home in Hamilton, she commutes four and a half hours daily to a job at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto. She’s covering a maternity leave, however, and expects to be unemployed again in September. She will continue to look for a new job, but many people with disabilities do not or cannot. Work-force participation rates are about 25 per cent lower among the 14 per cent of Canadians who identify as having a disability.

“The prospects for work aren’t good. When I think about this contract ending, my stomach turns,” Ms. Moore said.

Many of the jobs she would like require a driver’s licence, which she says is unfair. Those employers won’t even look at her application, she said. It’s just one example of a barrier that disabled people face that could be tackled with a more imaginative approach, she said.

“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “And it’s not unusual. It’s a chronic problem and it’s not well understood.”

An important implication of this impending demographic shift is the possibility of labour shortages. Forecasts have suggested as many as a million jobs could go unfilled over the next decade. Provinces and business leaders have suggested increasing immigration rates to help fill some of the shortage, but the federal government has kept rates fairly steady at about 250,000 newcomers a year.

The new census numbers will also reveal how regional differences could be exacerbated by the aging of the population. Already Atlantic Canada has a significantly higher proportion of people over 65, while Alberta is considerably younger. That could worsen in coming years under proposed changes to the Employment Insurance system that will push working-age people toward jobs in the young and booming West. Today, projections show that nearly one in three people in the Atlantic region will be over 65 within two and a half decades. In Alberta, that number will be closer to one in five.

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Canadian Consulate In Buffalo Closing, Jobs Cut

By WKBW News

May 25, 2012
Updated May 25, 2012 at 4:10 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. ( CBC.ca) The Harper government is closing the Canadian consulate in Buffalo only 18 months after spending more than $1.5 million on renovations and signing a 10-year lease that is almost certain to stick taxpayers with millions in rent for empty offices, CBC News has learned.
Foreign Affairs is expected to announce the closure, which will affect about 75 employees, sometime next week.
One official estimates that abandoning the consulate's two floors in Buffalo's tallest downtown office tower will leave Canadian taxpayers on the hook for about $8 million in rent (that includes the renovation costs) between now and the end of the lease in 2020.
The closure of one of Canada’s largest and oldest diplomatic outposts in the United States is the result of federal budget cuts and a major change to immigration rules.
For decades, foreign students and temporary workers in the Toronto area wanting to extend their stay in Canada have been forced to travel to the Buffalo consulate to apply for the necessary changes to their visas.
But the Harper government is putting an end to what became known in immigration circles as the "Buffalo shuffle" by getting rid of the requirement that foreigners have to leave the country for interviews regarding a requested visa change.
Instead, officials say, foreigners wanting to alter their visas will be able to apply and pay the necessary fees online, and if an interview with Canadian officials is necessary, they will be conducted at immigration offices in Canada.
Government statistics show that at any given time there are approximately 400,000 foreigners in Canada on various kinds of temporary visas.
A senior official says the change in rules, coupled with a move to electronic immigration applications that will be processed in Canada rather than in Buffalo, led the Department of Foreign Affairs to conclude it "simply could not justify keeping open the rest of the mission."
All of the remaining functions of the Buffalo mission will be taken over by the consulate in New York City, the second-largest Canadian diplomatic office in the U.S. next to the main embassy in Washington.
One immigration official says: "Our government is saving taxpayers' money while continuing to provide a high level of service through the use of new technologies.
"This change will be much more convenient for in-Canada applicants."
The changes will similarly impact the Canadian consulate in Detroit, but officials say there are no plans to shut it down.
Foreign Affairs recently announced it was closing five smaller trade offices in the U.S. — Phoenix, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Anchorage, and Princeton — as part of its budget-cutting efforts to trim $170 million in annual spending.
But the Buffalo office is the first full-service consulate being shuttered, eliminating walk-in services for everything from lost passports to visa applications.
Foreign Affairs and immigration officials stress the closure of the Buffalo consulate and five trade missions south of the border is not meant to be a snub of the U.S. in any way.
They point out that even after the six closures, Canada will still have 15 consular and trade offices across the U.S., as well as the embassy in Washington.

Consulate in Buffalo to be shuttered after visa rules changed

OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Update

Canada’s big consulate in Buffalo will be shut down as the Harper government has decided it can be sacrificed to cost cuts now that it’s no longer a hotspot for processing visas.

For decades, foreigners living in Canada have trooped to the upstate New York consulate to renew visas – because of rules that they had to apply from outside Canada. But now that those rules have been scrapped, the consulate is going, too.

Ottawa has already announced that it will close four other consulates, in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh, and Anchorage, because of budget cuts. Now Buffalo, a large diplomatic mission with about 75 employees, will be the fifth.

Most of those employees, about 45, work in processing visas, often renewals, and many of those are U.S. citizens hired locally. They are set to be laid off after the closure is officially announced Tuesday.

An official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that now that immigration applications can be made electronically, there’s no longer a need for a big staff in Buffalo processing them, and because of the new rules, immigration interviews can be done in Canada. Once the immigration department made its decision, the Foreign Affairs Department decided it didn’t need to keep the rest of the mission. “Our consulate in New York City will cover all of NY state,” said a government source.

The government insists the closures of consulates in the U.S. are not a statement on bilateral relations, but just efforts to use money efficiently. Junior foreign minister Diane Ablonczy noted that Canada has more than 20 missions in the U.S., and argued the closures are only “modest” reductions.

Maytree and Metcalf Foundation Report on Immigrant Entrepreneurship

Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE
Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)

Toronto - Two recent reports by the Maytree Foundation in conjunction with the Metcalf Foundation and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation highlight the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and immigrant entrepreneurship in the Canadian economy. This insight will paint a picture of current trends and issues by combining the findings of Sarah Wayland’s report on immigrant self-employment and entrepreneurship in the GTA and ALLIES’s report on global talent for SMEs. Full reports are available online: Immigrant Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship in the GTA and Global Talent for SMEs: Building Bridges and Making Connections. The Martin Prosperity Institute is releasing this Insight to facilitate the continual discussion regarding small business and immigrants, and as a summary of papers released by the Maytree and Metcalf Foundation.

Structural changes in the global and local economy have brought about the growth of smaller business and entrepreneurship in the Canadian business environment. In the past ten years, 98.5 percent of jobs in the nation were created by firms with under 200 employees, 60% of which had fewer than 5 employees. Collectively, SMEs generate 54 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product and employ 64 percent of its private sector workers. Although they are vital drivers of the economy, SMEs face disadvantages in finding talent and clients alongside larger corporations.
Exhibit 1: Self-employment rates & industry, immigrants, Toronto CMA, (%)

250,000 newcomers arrive in Canada every year, the majority of which have high levels of education and international work experience that are under-utilized in the Canadian labour market. These phenomena present a mismatch that, if addressed, could propel both individuals and the larger economy forward.
SME and Immigrant Entrepreneurial Trends

Immigrants are found to be more likely to seek self-employment than non-immigrants, especially during economic downturns, possibly due to less job security in the positions available to them. They are mostly self-employed by choice, also at a higher rate than the Canadian-born self-employed population. Among immigrants, recent immigrants are more likely to prefer paid employment, as are younger immigrants. Only 3.2 percent of immigrants aged 15-24 are self-employed, while 14.9 percent of immigrants aged 45-54 are self-employed. Men are more likely than women to be self-employed, and in more concentrated industries. Almost half of self-employed male immigrants work in 3 sectors: construction; professional, scientific and technical services; and transportation and warehousing. Immigrants who are self-employed are morel likely to be married and/or have at least one child at home, adding to the time pressure and responsibilities of owning a business.

Lower immigrant entrepreneurial rates were found in Toronto in comparison to the rest of Ontario and Canada. This may be due to greater paid employment opportunities in the city and also due to the city’s relatively younger population. Personal factors also play a role in shaping self-employment trends, with more than 7 in 10 self-employed immigrants citing entrepreneurial values such as independence, challenge, control, creativity, etc., as the reason for self-employment.
Barriers of SMEs and Immigrant Businesses

SMEs and immigrant businesses face many of the same challenges as larger, Canadian competitors, but have less resources and upstream support in addressing them. One main disadvantage is in the search for skilled employees. Small businesses are less able to find skilled employees, and have fewer resources for hiring and training employees. They are willing to hire skilled immigrants, but do not know where to find qualified candidates or how to access the programs and services that facilitate this employment. Another shared barrier is financing. The general two-year Canadian credit history required to obtain financing make bank loans inaccessible to new immigrants, most of whom turn to government backed lending programs. SME’s, on the other hand, expressed a need for incentives such as wage subsidies and tax credits to encourage hiring immigrants.

Immigrant businesses face additional obstacles in starting and maintaining a business. Linguistic barriers such as technical and legal vocabulary lead to difficulty in expanding business activity beyond their ethnic enclaves, or manifest in larger time costs beyond their enclaves. Combined with different business cultures and a lack of connections from the past, immigrant business are often confined to a more homogenous social and professional network, limiting their ability to hire Canadian-born employees and access Canadian-born clients.

Current support programs in the GTA are lop-sided both geographically (none are available in the East end of the city) and structurally, catering to specific populations such as women, Francophones, and youth. Responses from immigrant entrepreneurs described government programs
to be insufficient in size and scope, and not flexible enough to meet their needs.
Better Support for SMEs and Immigrant Entrepreneurs

To sustain the growth of SMEs and immigrant businesses, programs need to provide stable, multi-year funding rather than project-based support. Entrepreneurs are more encouraged to invest—whether it be hiring immigrants or expanding beyond their networks—knowing their actions are accompanied by longer term, secure funding. Programs also need a have a more nuanced understanding which types of support are most widely used by businesses, and the various reasons for self-employment and varying degrees of entrepreneurship among immigrants. The settlement sector has a critical role to play, although its funding and structure have not traditionally fostered a business focus.

The value added of support programs can be increased by providing aid that is directed at SMEs’ and immigrant businesses’ steeper learning curves and lack of stable financing. Designing incentives for private lenders to engage small businesses, promoting micro loans and orientation and wage subsidies for hiring can all contribute in this regard. Programs can also compliment existing innovative social media hiring practices by building accessible and diverse platforms of networking, such as an online database of screened candidates or business-to-business mentoring programs.

Small scale enterprises, although a key driver of the Canadian economy, face shortages of labour market linkages and resources. SMEs and immigrant businesses have unique needs and niches that, when addressed by government policy and programs, can bring growth and prosperity to both individual entrepreneurs and the regional and national economy.

Source: http://www.exchangemagazine.com/morningpost/2012/week21/Thursday/12052511.htm
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Immigration fraud charges laid against 3 Halifax men

Canada Border Services Agency
Canada Border Services Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada Border Services Agency believes suspects have left the country

Posted: May 18, 2012 1:50 PM AT 

Last Updated: May 18, 2012 1:48 PM AT

Three men who ran an immigration consulting firm in Halifax have been charged with running a fraud scheme to get people into Canada, it was announced today.
The Canada Border Services Agency said it doesn't believe the three are currently in Canada.
It's alleged the men used their business, Canada 2000 Immigration and Business Services Inc., to help families maintain fake homes in Canada so they would keep their permanent resident status.
People under the permanent resident category must live in the country for 730 days over a five-year period.
In May 2011, the border agency raided the business at its Brenton Street location in Halifax. They also searched three other locations in the city.
Two people were arrested at the time but later released without charges. A border agency spokesperson said one of those men is now being charged.
Ziad El Shurafa and Mohammed Elhajabed each face eight counts of counselling misrepresentation. Awni Sakalla faces two counts of the same charge.
The CBSA has issued warrants for El Shurafa and Elhajabed, although it's believed they're no longer in the country.
The CBSA said their investigation isn't finished. It's still trying to figure out how many people may have fraudulently maintained their status in the country through the company.

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Newcomers over age 50 costly: memo

Matti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Older immigrants cost governments about $3 billion a year in health care, while none of those immigrants over age 50 has reported earning more than $15,000 a year, figures obtained by Postmedia News suggest.
The figures are in a memo written three months before the government froze the parent and grandparent immigration stream and introduced a 10-year, multiple-entry super-visa that requires visiting relatives to show proof of a year's worth of health insurance.
The memo was obtained through an access to information request.
The freeze was billed as a stopgap measure while Ottawa deals with a huge backlog in applications. But the memo suggests the government - which favours economic immigrants - wasn't just trying to be fair as it got rid of the backlog, but that it also has grave concerns about the cost of accepting elderly immigrants given their low earning potential.
The memo was prepared for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in "response to a request for information regarding the cost of health care to senior immigrants and the contribution that parents and grandparents make to house-hold income."
It suggests Canada might be moving toward a two-tier health care system for newcomers.
The memo says that, in 2010, some 5,655 parents and grand-parents over the age of 65 arrived in Canada, and cost about $10,742 each a year on average for health care.
Based on data collected between 1980 and 2010, Citizenship and Immigration estimates there were about 275,000 immigrant parents and grand-parents over 65 living in Canada in 2010 at a cost of nearly $3 billion a year for health care.
The total cost for a newcomer senior who lives to age 85 was cited at about $160,000.
According to data collected by Citizenship and Immigration between 1980 and 2000, none of the parents and grand-parents who arrived in Canada aged 50 or older have reported annual employment earnings that exceed $15,000.
A Commons committee has called already for the controversial supervisa to be made permanent. Last month, the government announced it was cutting certain health benefits to refugees, which touched off a wave of protest among physicians.
In an interview Thursday, Kenney rejected the notion that Canada was moving toward a two-tiered health care system for immigrants, but indicated a premium aimed at defraying health care costs is something the government is considering as it consults with immigrant groups in a bid to reform the parent and grandparent stream, which is on hold for two years.
"One idea has been to require families to put down some kind of a health care bond for sponsoring parents or grandparents. They would pay up front for a portion of the health care costs that their parents would use in Canada," he said.
"Family sponsorship is a privilege, not a right. We are com-mitted to family reunification within our system, but it has to be linked to our scarce public resources. It's not fair for us to raise taxes on Canadians to pay for future health care costs for folks who've never lived in the country or paid taxes in it."
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he thinks $150,000 up front would be reasonable and that many immigrants he's spoken with are more than willing to pay a premium.
He envisions a "hybrid" sys-tem that includes a "money" stream for those willing to pay and a "freebie" stream in which provinces - which are responsible for the delivery of health care - tell the federal government how many parents and grandparents they're willing to absorb on the public dime.
Critics see it all as the erosion of family reunification, a key tenet of Canada's immigration system, which they say is increasingly favouring the rich.
"The level of coverage we are requiring people to buy for their family member who visits and the fact that it all has to be paid for in advance to qualify for the supervisa means effectively there's a huge swath of people in Canada who will no longer be able to even have their parents at their child's bar mitzvah or wed-ding," Queen's University law professor Sharry Aiken said.
"I'm very concerned about this shift because what it's saying is family reunification is for those who can afford to pay."
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims added her office gets daily calls from people who have been denied a supervisa, many of them from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
She said she believes any move toward a two-tiered health care system for immigrants would be "so un-Canadian" and that parent and grandparent reunification has spinoff benefits the government must not overlook. Parents and grandparents, she said, often assist with child care, which allows both parents to work. For newcomers from one-child policy countries such as China who come through the economic streams favoured by the Conservatives, she said, the freedom to bring parents and grandparents over is a key reason they chose Canada."
Postmedia News has obtained updated figures on the parent and grandparent supervisa that show an approval rate of about 83 per cent.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Newcomers+over+costly+memo/6642971/story.html#ixzz1vKVdKYpC

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For many Indians, the land of opportunity is the land they’re going back to

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYY...
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYYZ), Mississauga, Greater Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW DELHI— From Monday's Globe and Mail

After 11 years in Canada, Praveen Rao had it pretty good. He owned a house in Mississauga, a snazzy car and a motorbike that he took on weekend road trips. He liked his job as an investment manager for a big bank and he liked the work-hard (but not too hard), play-hard culture that prevailed in his wide circle of friends. It was just the life his parents had envisioned when they sent him from India to university in Canada, with the hope he would get a job offer and be able to immigrate afterward.

“You could totally say I was living the dream,” Mr. Rao says with a rueful laugh.
Then late last year, he went rather dramatically off the script for the immigrant dream: He sold the bike, sold the car, rented out the house and moved back to India.
Canada has traditionally competed for India’s skilled migrants with Australia, Britain and the United States. But now there’s a new country in the mix, a destination with increasing appeal for young, educated and ambitious Indians: India.
“People are definitely coming back,” says Sujata Sudarshan, CEO of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, which tries to pave the way home. “Younger people are coming for the opportunities, and older ones for security.” About 100,000 are said to have come back last year, and the number is growing – as is a similar reversal that is beginning to take hold among Chinese expatriates.
That said, there is no risk of the flow of Indians to Canada drying up any time soon: 30,252 emigrated in 2010, making India the number two source country, and in the estimation of Sidney Frank, director for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in South Asia, they’re “good” immigrants. “They’re educated, with English language skills – we do well here.”
Canada does no active recruiting or advertising, Mr. Frank says, because there are more applicants than his department – Canada’s largest visa office anywhere – can hope to process. They are drawn to Canada for security; for clean, quiet cities; for jobs and for easy access to good education for their children, compared with India’s ferocious competition for college and even elementary school seats.
But they don’t all stay. Ms. Sudarshan says that educated émigrés have a growing sense that India can offer them “the best of both worlds” – there is ever-growing access to high-quality housing, education and medical facilities here, in increasingly cosmopolitan cities with booming economies, where people can be close to friends, family and their cultural roots.
Last year, her organization made its pitch at a busy fair for the diaspora in Toronto – telling Indo-Canadians that today there are possibilities back home that they couldn’t have imagined when they left.
Mr. Rao came back because he wanted to start his own business, and take advantage of the dynamism at the top end of the Indian economy that allows young people with good ideas and some resources to take risks – and reap bigger rewards – that would be much harder in Canada.
That sense of opportunity is luring many young and skilled people to make the U-turn. “I wouldn’t have thought about doing this even seven or eight years ago,” says Shailesh Lakhani. Born in Bhopal, he moved as a toddler to Toronto, with parents who were seeking a better life for their children. But when he found it, that life was back in Mumbai, where he works in venture capital in the Indian branch of a large United States firm.
“I did look for work in Toronto when I graduated from business school and there were interesting jobs – but you didn’t see the wind at your back that a big GDP growth gives you,” Mr. Lakhani says.
“Canada and India are roughly about the same size economies today, but in 10 years things will be pretty different. And being in India now is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a society really change.”
His parents, he adds, think he’s crazy.
There are push factors from Canada, too. Some emigrants, asked why they’d returned, describe repeated experiences with racism and a dominant culture they found chilly and hard to penetrate – they never felt quite welcome.
For others, the process of getting to Canada proved so difficult they found it impossible to stay.
Shreya Pandya, 39, and her husband Harish, 42, applied to go to Canada while in their late 20s, at the start of their careers. But it took more than five years for their visas to come through. By then, she says, they had senior jobs in Mumbai.
Nevertheless, they packed up and went to Toronto. They found the city welcoming, and she soon found a job in her field, designing educational materials. But Mr. Pandya, a corporate lawyer, waited interminably for the Ontario government to validate his legal qualifications – and, Ms. Pandya says, grew discouraged and depressed. “He couldn’t even get work at Staples, because they said he was overqualified.” Meanwhile their savings were fast depleting; life in Toronto cost a third more than they thought it would.
Two years ago, they packed up again and came home, quickly resuming their old jobs. Months later, the Ontario government sent a note to let Mr. Pandya know he could finally be a lawyer in Canada.
Mr. Rao wanted to be active in charity and politics, and felt India needed him much more for both than Canada ever would.
For Neeta Sharma, it was the aging parents and family she’d left behind. Today she is on the management faculty at a university in the rapidly expanding metropolis of Pune, southeast of Mumbai, but for years taught French to civil servants at Algonquin College in Ottawa. She says Canadian society could be lonely but the community of Indian immigrants was so large that it soothed the homesickness and she adapted well.
Nevertheless, she’s back in India, drawn by aging parents and the family she missed. She loved her 13 years in Canada, but not enough to stay – and, she says, many of the Indians she knew there have come back as well, a decision that surprises them because Canadian citizenship was for so long their greatest goal.
The Facilitation Centre is a partnership of the private sector and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, but ministry officials said there is no official government policy of “brain gain,” as there is in China, which makes a concerted effort to lure expats – the Facilitation Centre is sponsored by the private sector.
Emigration peaked in 2008, when 849,000 people left India. That year the global economy crashed – but India’s kept expanding quickly, and the annual exodus dropped to 640,000 last year.
Neeraj Saroj went to Canada in 2005. He left a senior job in marketing for a major car company in Delhi, and found himself working nights at Canadian Tire in Toronto. Eventually he landed a position selling farm equipment, his first love, in Regina. (“It was pretty funny being the brown guy at the farm show,” he says.)
He has since requalified as an engineer in Canada, and he and his wife have both built new careers they enjoy; they’ve adapted to the weather and there is much they love about Canada. But now and again, Mr. Saroj, 44, has pangs. “Sometimes I regret it, when I look at my other friends in India. My university roommate is now the head of Honda cars in India and another colleague is the head of Toyota. This is really a boom time.”
These days Mr. Rao is learning the ropes of Indian business in a large real-estate firm before striking out on his own, and is giving himself two years to attain the same standard of living in Delhi that he had in Toronto. He’s earning as much here, but the hours are longer, he says, and lower-level employees aren’t treated with as much respect.
“People say India is booming, that this is a land of opportunity today – but what do you have to give up for that? Here it’s more competitive; work-life balance does not exist. In Toronto, my friends are taking Japanese drum lessons or salsa …”
At this point, he stops, and reminds himself that he’s in the capital of the new India. “Actually, I guess you can do most of that in Delhi now.”

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Government considering new health care premium for elderly immigrants

Canadian per capita health care spending by ag...
Canadian per capita health care spending by age group in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Andy Radia

Last week, citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney tackled the thorny issue of medical services for refugees.
This week,  it's the turn of Canada's elderly immigrants.
In an interview Thursday, Kenney said the government is considering charging a health premium to families who want to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada permanently.
"One idea has been to require families to put down some kind of a health care bond for sponsoring parents or grandparents. They would pay up front for a portion of the health care costs that their parents would use in Canada," he told PostMedia News.
"Family sponsorship is a privilege, not a right. We are committed to family reunification within our system but it has to be linked to our scarce public resources. It's not fair for us to raise taxes on Canadians to pay for future health care costs for folks who've never lived in the country or paid taxes in it."
Some have suggested a bond of $150,000.
Toronto based immigration lawyer Michael Niren thinks Canadian families wishing to bring their elderly relatives to Canada would be open to such a fee.
"Most of these families are desperate  to be united with their parents and grandparents," he toldYahoo! Canada News.
"The government by cutting off sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents, have upped the anxiety level of these families and I have no doubt that they would be willing to fork over some cash if that would secure visas for their overseas relatives. I don't think there will be an outcry. People are now beyond the "shock and awe" of  Kenny's proposals. Families just want to be united."
Recent statistics obtained by PostMedia explain the Harper government's motivation behind these changes.
Based on data collected between 1980 and 2010, Citizenship and Immigration estimates there were about 275,000 immigrant parents and grandparents over 65 living in Canada in 2010, at a cost of nearly $3 billion a year for health care.
The total cost for a newcomer senior who lives to age 85 years was cited at about $160,000.
And, shockingly, between 1980 and 2000, none of the parents and grandparents who arrived in Canada aged 50 or older have reported annual employment earnings that exceed $15,000.
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