Immigration levels shouldn't increase, Canadians tell pollster

Births and immigration in Canada from 1850 to 2000
Births and immigration in Canada from 1850 to 2000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teresa Smith, Postmedia News

Almost three-quarters of Canadians don't want the federal government to increase the number of immigrants it allows into the country every year, a new survey has found.
The Ipsos Reid poll on Canadian values, commissioned for Postmedia News and Global TV for Canada Day, also shows, however, that four in 10 people feel those immigrants are having a positive impact on the country.

Almost three-quarters of Canadians don't want the federal government to increase the number of immigrants it allows into the country every year, a new survey has found
Aaron Lynett

"With immigration comes change, and people want to control the pace of change," said Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker. "There's a tolerance for immigrants once they get here, but Canadians do feel that there are an awful lot of immigrants coming in right now."
Bricker said the numbers also show Canadians continue to support multiculturalism, and have a strong tendency to just "live and let live."
Over the years, Canada has increased the number of immigrants it allows into the country.
In 1986, it accepted just 100,000; currently, it welcomes about 250,000 annually.
Bricker, whose book on the changing face of Canada is due out in early 2013, said Canadians don't seem to realize that there's been a "dramatic transition in immigration policy" since the 1960s.
Fifty years ago, the government was trying to convince Canadians to welcome the "poor and huddled masses and refugees" who made up most of the immigrant population at the time. Now, "we've moved very dramatically away from that," he said. "Now, it's about attracting people who are going to drive our economy."
It's the government's job to explain to Canadians how increasing immigration can help the economy, said Bricker.
Data from the 2011 census, released earlier this year, show a rapid decrease in fertility rates in Canada since the late 1960s and 1970s. Projections suggest that by 2031, immigration will account for more than 80 per cent of Canada's overall population growth.
"Without a sustained level of immigration or a substantial increase in fertility, Canada's population growth could, within 20 years, be close to zero," the census found.
Sweeping policy changes in the past few months have shifted Canada's immigration system in an attempt to attract the kind of people who can hit the ground running, economically speaking.
For example, the points-based selection system for federal skilled workers will soon give priority to young immigrants, those with strong language proficiency, and individuals who have already secured a job in Canada.
Economic immigrants - those chosen for their employment skills - now account for about 62 per cent of newcomers.
Meanwhile, on the refugee side, Bill C-31, the "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act" - which passed into law last week - allows the government to deport so-called bogus refugees more quickly and crack down on human smugglers and illegal arrivals.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is "trying to demonstrate that this is a tightly controlled process that Canada needs for its economic future," said Bricker. But it seems that Canadians are going to need a little more convincing.
In response to the statement "Canada should let in more immigrants than it currently does," 28 per cent of respondents agreed, while 72 per cent said no.
The numbers were steady across income brackets, but differed widely depending on age group. The younger the respondent, the more open he or she was to an increase in immigration: 38 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 thought the country could accept more immigrants, compared with one-quarter of those aged 35 to 54, and only 22 per cent among citizens over 55.
Openness to newcomers also went up with education levels.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent of respondents said immigration has had a negative impact on Canada, while 41 per cent felt the impact of newcomers had been positive.
Bricker said people in British Columbia and Ontario - the provinces with the most immigrants - had the darkest view of newcomers, with 38 per cent responding that immigration's impact on Canada has been negative. Saskatchewan and Manitoba were on the other end of the spectrum with 48 per cent saying immigration's effect had been positive.
The online poll sampled 1,101 Canadians between June 20 and 25. Weighting was employed to balance demographics. The estimated margin of error nationally was plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin or error increases for subsets such as provincial breakdowns.

© Postmedia News 2012

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Who benefits when new immigrants are held to high language standards?

The Globe and Mail

Holding settled immigrants – already employed or otherwise functioning as part of Canadian society – to high language standards isn’t logical, say two Canadian academics who study immigration policy.

While skilled workers obviously need a solid grasp of an official language to work here, that’s not everyone’s role, said Sharry Aiken, associate dean and professor at Queen’s University’s law faculty, who teaches immigration and refugee law. “They’re already living within our society, they’re already participating in Canada in whatever way they are, whether it’s working [or] managing a household and raising children,” she said.

But Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney says an official language is essential for any citizen.

“We decided as Canadians that citizenship has value, it has particular meaning,” Mr. Kenney said. “It means full participation, or the ability at least to fully participate in our political community, which requires the ability at least to fully understand what’s going on in one of our two languages.”

Where Mr. Kenney and his critics disagree is whether it’s fair to deny citizenship because of language ability when individuals have already been allowed to live in the country for years.

“Saying, ‘Well, you’re good enough to live here and pay taxes but not good enough to vote,’ all I think that does is enhance alienation,” Prof. Aiken said, adding it may be easier to become proficient in a language once someone becomes Canadian and is able to fully settle.

She suggests mandatory community service might be a more meaningful method to instill civic values.

Afrooz Lahsaee, who was born in Iraq, passed the test on her first try two years ago, after studying at a Canadian university. "When I got my citizenship, I felt like, ‘Okay, I’m someone now … I’m considered to be a Canadian where I have equal rights like everyone else,’ " she said.

Her mother recently received Canadian citizenship without taking the test because she’s over 54, exempt from that requirement. But Ms. Lahsaee said she’s not sure if her mom, who wasn’t educated in Canada, would have been able to pass.

University of Toronto politics professor Phil Triadafilopoulos, who studies immigration and integration, said he believes language evaluations are “useless” and should be done away with altogether. But with increasing popularity at home and in the United States, Australia and United Kingdom, he said he knows that won’t happen.

Prof. Triadafilopoulos noted that his parents, who emigrated from Greece, and many other Canadian immigrants were able to call themselves “Canadian” before being proficient in an official language. “The question becomes, do you need a certain level of English or French to become a Canadian citizen?”

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Why I Love Canada: An Immigrant's Perspective

Canada Day is a time to celebrate a great Canadian citizenship. For immigrants such as myself, it gives us a rare chance to celebrate great milestones. For instance, Jemy Joseph has only been in Canada just over a decade but she has achieved more than her share. Currently a medical student at the University of Ottawa and an MSc student at the University of Toronto, Joseph is on an ambitious mission for herself and her adopted country. She is passionate about many things including her medical school career as well as the issue of bullying.

You are a young woman of many achievements, enough to even compete for the Rhodes scholarships not long ago. Tell us about your academic journey so far.

It's been such a blessing to be in Canada for the past 11 years! My parents immigrated here in order to provide my brother and me with the best education, and I am very grateful for this privilege. I completed an Honours BSc in life sciences at University of Toronto. Subsequently, I pursued an MA at University of Toronto in transplant immunology, working in collaboration with Toronto General Hospital. In 2011, I began my degree in medicine at the University of Ottawa. Yes, I have been in school for a long time.

You have often said, you envision "a career that will combine medicine, advocacy, research, healthcare, policy development, administration and politics." Explain.

Growing up, I mistakenly thought I could pursue only one field. Logical and analytical skills came to me so naturally that I didn't even consider a career outside of the sciences. My love for the sciences accordingly led me to do research in health-related topics, which I was passionate about.

Though researchers are never fully acknowledged for the work they do, I gained gratification in knowing that my small contributions are part of a greater effort to understand the basic mechanisms of diseases, which may eventually lead to discovering cures. In addition to my lab work, my undergraduate electives in health studies sparked an interest in exploring healthcare from a broader perspective.

However, it was my extra-curricular involvement that surprised me in terms of what my potential might be outside of the scientific world. My peers dragged me to join the student union. I quickly learned that being an advocate, discussing policies and engaging in administrative work were things I absolutely enjoyed. Working in governance opened my eyes to the "politics" behind decision-making and how this was just a microcosm of larger political institutions that govern our country. Institutions like Massey College helped me realize that I could be a part of transforming Canada. In this country, it is okay to have multiple interests and pursue them all.

Why medicine?

I realized that I wanted a career where I could continue to foster my scientific and medical interests, while helping improve the health and well-being of Canadian and global society. Being an advocate, promoting public health, engaging in social issues and making contributions globally are all important to me. After very deep soul-searching, prayers, and consultations with wonderful mentors, medicine emerged as a wonderful "next step" where I can be fully engaged clinically and pursue my varied interests.

Now that you have lived in Canada for a decade, where would you want to be in another decade?

Most of the next decade will be consumed by medical school followed by residency. Along the way, I have many dreams, which includes doing some international work in medical fields, working with NGOs and health organizations, engaging in health advocacy and promoting and protecting public health in Canada.

You have recently supported the Ontario government's effort to bring in a new anti-bullying legislation -- why is this piece of legislation important?

It is never too late to strengthen the battle against bullying! The scars of bullying on one's mental (and physical) health can be drastic. Therefore it is necessary to work towards prevention, education and adequate punishment and counseling for those who engage in such destructive behavior. In Canadian society, respect for human life is a cornerstone value and our youth must be taught that.

For young immigrants who may be going through the journey you went through in 2000 as a new immigrant to Canada, what advice would you have for them?

If you come from a more traditional or conservative culture, you might have some initial difficulty in understanding the culture and values of this land. Take time to understand the Canadian culture and people. Combine the best of what you learn with the best of what you have gained from your previous country and you will have an enriching life. Don't be afraid to try something new -- like skating or exploring outside the big cities.

Canada is a land of opportunities. In this country, you can be who you want to be. So don't be your own barrier. Open up your mind to a world of possibilities because in Canada, the world is in your backyard!

Why you #LoveCanada

6 things that will change on Canada Day weekend

Posted: Jun 29, 2012 10:55 AM ET 

As the midpoint in the calendar year, and a nationally symbolic one at that, June 30 and July 1 are dates on which new regulations or tax changes often come into effect or current ones expire and quarterly adjustments are made to some government programs.
This year, Canada Day weekend will see some of the country's richest people (at least in Ontario) get a little poorer, the poorest seniors get a tiny bit richer, refugees and would-be immigrants perhaps a little frustrated and MPs come out ahead, as usual.
Here's a look at some of the changes coming into effect this holiday weekend:

1. Seniors get a bit more money

The maximum basic Old Age Security benefit paid to people age 65 or older rises $4.86 a month to $544.98 for people making less than $69,562 a year.
Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for low-income seniors also increase, by $6.60 to $738.96 a month for a single person or the spouse of a non-pensioner, and by $4.37 a month to $489.98 for the spouse of a pensioner. And the monthly allowance for low income seniors between the ages of 60 and 64 rises by about $10 a month.

2. Rich Ontarians' pay cheques shrink

As part of a budget deal between the minority Ontario Liberal government and the NDP, Ontarians face a new marginal tax rate of 13.168 per cent on income over $500,000. The "tax on the rich" means more tax will be withheld from pay cheques for those upper-income earners effective July 1.

3. Refugees lose some health benefits

With cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, announced by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, refugees will no longer receive dental and vision care and will have reduced prescription drug coverage. The government says the cuts will bring refugees' health-care coverage on par with what is paid to other Canadians and will save $20 million a year over the next five years. Critics, including doctors who work in community health, say the changes threaten the health of some of the world's most vulnerable people.

4. MPs' pension fund will be $23M richer

A quarterly interest payment of 10.4 per cent will be paid into the parliamentary pension fund on June 30, adding $23 million to the fund, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Changes are coming that will see MPs paying more for their pensions and waiting longer to collect, but the CTF says Canadians still pay more than $100 million annually into the fund through set quarterly interest payments and annual contributions, while MPs themselves contribute about $4.5 million. The fund now stands at $950 million.

5. New immigrant workers face language tests

Starting July 1, most applicants for semi- and low-skilled professions under the Provincial Nominee Program will have to undergo testing and meet mandatory minimum language standards in English or French. The PNP, which is managed by the provinces in accordance with federal guidelines, is the second-largest economic immigration program in the country and is expected to bring 42,000 people into Canada this year.

6. Foreign skilled workers and entrepreneurs need not apply

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney this week announced an immediate freeze on applications under the Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program to reduce the backlog of applicants seeking to come to Canada under those programs. Kenney had already announced that applications from skilled workers made before 2008 would be cancelled and fees returned. New applications for skilled workers will be accepted again in January, but the investor program freeze is indefinite as the government overhauls a program some see as a way to buy entry to Canada.

Federal government seeks comments on tighter rules for foreign students

OTTAWA - The Immigration Department is looking at tightening the rules covering foreign students, and wants to know what Canadians think.
A notice in the latest Canada Gazette asks for written comments from interested parties on proposals that would ensure students from overseas actually go to school, and would prevent them from staying here legally if they quit their studies.
New rules would also ensure that schools drawing foreign students are legitimate operations.
The proposal says the present rules are loose compared with other countries.
There is no formal requirement that students actually go to school once they get here, nor are there rules about what kinds of schools qualify.
The notice says students can attend any kind of institution, regardless of whether it is accredited, or regulated or overseen by a provincial or territorial government or a recognized standard-setting body.
The new regulations would require international students to actually attend school and to leave the country if they drop out. The proposals would also limit the kinds of institutions eligible to take such students.
The notice says the federal government is consulting provinces and territories on eligibility requirements for such institutions.
Foreign study in Canada is growing. The Immigration Department says 98,378 international students entered the country in 2011, an increase of 34 per cent from 2007.
A 2010 study commissioned by Foreign Affairs said international students contributed more than $6.5 billion to the economy in 2008.
The Immigration Department, though, says the international student program is vulnerable to abuse both by phoney students who just want a job; and by phoney schools that want to rip off foreigners with sub-standard courses.
"The goal is to strengthen the integrity of Canada's immigration system by reducing fraud in the international student movement, while improving Canada's standing as a desirable study destination," the Gazette notice said.
Anyone interested in commenting has 30 days to write to the department.
"The proposed changes to the International Student Program are in line with reforms implemented by Canada's key competitor countries for international students," department spokesman Bill Brown said in an email.
"Strengthening aspects of the program that could be abused by fraudulent schools or non-genuine study permit applicants is vitally important to protect Canada's reputation abroad and to ensure that Canada continues to enjoy the tremendous social and economic benefits that the ISP provides."
Brown added: "International students enrich the life of every campus by bringing new ideas and cultures with them."

Legislation to Protect Canada's Immigration System Receives Royal Assent

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, Jun 29, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today welcomed the final passage and Royal Assent of legislation that will protect and improve Canada's immigration system.
"This legislation will help stop foreign criminals, human smugglers and those with unfounded refugee claims from abusing Canada's generous immigration system and receiving taxpayer funded health and social benefits," said Minister Kenney. "Canada's immigration and refugee system is one of the most fair and generous in the world and will continue to be so under the new and improved system."
The Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act brings further reforms to the asylum system. These changes will provide faster protection to those who genuinely need it by reducing the time it takes to review and decide a refugee claim. There will be faster removal of those who don't require protection and limited access to appeal mechanisms for failed refugee claimants who come from generally non-refugee producing countries.
With the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and today's legislation, the provinces and territories are expected to save in the range of $1.65 billion over five years in social assistance and education costs.
The new measures also address the heinous crime of human smuggling by making it easier to prosecute human smugglers and impose stiffer penalties.
"Human smuggling is one of the most dangerous forms of migration," said Minister Kenney. "Every year people die in human smuggling operations around the world. These new measures send a clear message to human smugglers that Canada's generosity will not be abused, that we will enforce our immigration laws against human smugglers."
Under the new measures, the Minister of Public Safety will be able to designate the arrival of a group of persons into Canada as an irregular arrival, and make those involved subject to the Act's measures such as detention for individuals aged 16 and older.
These individuals may be released from detention by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada when it conducts detention reviews within 14 days and every six months thereafter, or following acceptance of their refugee claim. Individuals may also be released from detention by the Minister if he/she is satisfied that the reasons for detention no longer exist or that there are exceptional circumstances that warrant release.
The changes also prevent people who come to Canada as part of a designated irregular arrival from applying for permanent resident status for a period of five years. This means that they would be unable to sponsor family members during that time.
The new measures also require biometric data to be included as part of a temporary resident visa application, work permit, and study permit. Travellers, students and workers from certain visa-required countries and territories will be required to provide their fingerprints and have their photo taken before they arrive in Canada.
"With these changes, the integrity of Canada's immigration programs and the safety and security of Canadians will be protected," said Minister Kenney.
Some of these new measures come into effect immediately, while others will come into effect later this year at a date that will be determined by the government. The new biometric measures will come into effect in 2013.
See the Summary of Changes backgrounder for more information on timing.
For more information on this legislation, visit the CIC website at .
Refugee Reforms:
        --  Overview of Reforms to Canada's Refugee System
        --  Designated Countries of Origin
        --  Summary of Changes in the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act

Human Smuggling
        --  Overview: Ending the Abuse of Canada's Immigration System by Human
        --  Protecting Our Streets and Communities from Criminal and National
            Security Threats
        --  Tougher Penalties for Ship Owners and Operators Who Fail to Comply with
            Canada's Marine Security Legislation
        --  Deterring Abuse of the Refugee System
        --  Designating Human Smuggling Events
        --  Cracking Down on Human Smugglers Who Abuse Canada's Immigration System
        --  Better Tools to Successfully Prosecute and Impose Mandatory Prison
            Sentences on Human Smugglers

        --  Biometrics in Canada's Temporary Resident Program
        --  Five reasons why we need biometrics

Follow us on Twitter at
Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today at: .
Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada's economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

Reciprocal work permit agreements for Canadian and international youth travelers

Canada's International Youth Program encourages young Canadians to travel and work abroad; to acquire the skills, training, and cultural experiences that are so valuable in Canada and in the global marketplace. Canada has coordinated reciprocal work permit arrangements with close to 40 countries in which qualifying Canadians and international youth can visit each others' countries to experience a new culture and different work environment. 

Just this month, Poland became the most recent country to sign a youth mobility agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The agreement will allow young Canadians and Poles (between 18 and 35) to travel and work in each other's country for a one-year period. 

"The Agreement will serve to actively engage our youth to learn about our respective countries, develop skills for global careers and build networks to ensure an even stronger relationship between Canada and Poland for the future," stated Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs David Emerson.

More than 22,000 young Canadians travel abroad every year through Canada's various youth mobility agreements, and about 36,000 international youth choose to travel and work in Canada. Beyond its reciprocal work permit arrangements, Canada has formal agreements for youths with close to 20 countries, through which four specialized programs are available for Canadians.

The first is the Working Holiday program, which is geared towards non-students visiting participating countries. The program allows them to work in order to finance their travel expenses. Then there is the Young Workers' Exchangeprogram which allows Canadians to acquire professional work experience and training in a foreign culture. The SWAP Working Holiday program (short for Student Work Abroad Program) is geared toward students. Canadian youth traveling to participating countries can receive assistance with finding accommodation and work from SWAP's partner organizations abroad. Finally there is the Co-op Education program which aims to provide students with valuable foreign work experience related to their current academic field of study.

Participating countries may partake in all or some of these programs. The full breakdown is available on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website

To apply for one of these programs, Canadian youth must have a valid Canadian passport, a reasonable amount of money, and a pre-purchased round-trip airline ticket. 

By promoting world travel to young Canadians, the government is encouraging international network-building and cultural discovery. Those who participate can gain the skills and work experience to succeed in an increasingly globalized world.

International Experience Canada (IEC) manages Canada’s youth mobility arrangements and agreements with different countries around the world. These arrangements and agreements make it easier for you to obtain a work permit to travel and work in Canada for up to one year.
Work permits under IEC are available to young people aged 18-35* who are from one of the countries that have a bilateral reciprocal youth mobility arrangement or agreement with Canada. Consult the list below for participating countries to see if your country of origin has a bilateral reciprocal youth mobility arrangement or agreement with Canada. Click on the name of your country to be redirected to the corresponding Embassy of Canada website for specific application details.
Can’t find your country in the list? Connect with one of these recognized organizations for other travel and work opportunities in Canada.
Over the age of 35?* Contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada for information on other work permit options.
Costa RicaYesYesYes
Czech RepublicYesYesYes
Hong KongYesNoNo
Korea, Rep.YesNoNo
New ZealandYesNoNo
United KingdomYesNoNo
Are you a Canadian citizen looking to travel and work abroad for up to one year? Find out more about international travel and work abroad options for Canadian citizens.
In some countries the age limit is 18-29, or 30

Financial crisis causes Greeks to move to Canada

March 25 - Greece Independence Day
March 25 - Greece Independence Day (Photo credit: Aster-oid)

June 28 2012 by Paul Jones

With Greece’s economy and its political life in turmoil, more Greek nationals are considering living and working in Canada.

Peter Kletas, President of the Hellenic Community of Vancouver, says after Greece imposed drastic austerity measures, he has received many inquiries about immigration to Canada.
He told Canadian radio station News 1130, "In the past month with the strictest austerity measures, we're getting a lot of telephone calls and emails from people in Greece and they're asking about how they  can immigrate to Canada and what the job prospects are like.
Inquiries are coming from people with different backgrounds, he explains.
"We're seeing people with university degrees that are looking to move their family for a better future here in Canada; from labourers to university professors."
Mr Kletas is not the only Greek community leader who has received inquiries from nationals wanting to obtain work visas in Canada. Other Hellenic organizations have also been inundated.
John Yannitos, President of the Hellenic Society of Calgary, told the Metro News newspaper, “A while ago, it was in the dozens [of calls]. Now we’re approaching a hundred-plus inquiries, and that’s just in Calgary.”
This year, Canada plans to admit 250,000 immigrants and to target those who have a good grasp of English or French and have studied at higher education levels.
This is good news for those Greeks who have received a good education subsidised by the state. With more than 1 in 4 Greeks unemployed, rising to 2 in 4 young Greeks, it is no wonder that many are looking to Canada, where the economy has remained relatively strong.
In fact, the financial news service Bloomberg says 53% of university age Greeks plan to emigrate and 17% are already taking active steps to do so. At the same time, the National Technical University of Athens says 4 out of 10 of the current graduating civil engineers are aiming to emigrate.
Former Greek restaurateur George Varvarigos has begun a new career in car sales in Toronto after immigrating from Greece 7 months ago.
He told the Vancouver Sun newspaper, "Everybody works hard for every daily expense... and the bills they have to pay. Nobody is lazy... So they're fighters.
"[Canada] is a better environment with better chances for people who would like to do something in their life, to have a family, to have their job and to get paid for that and to look straight to the future.”
According to John Yannitsos, a few dozen Greek residents are arriving in Calgary every week. The majority are Greek citizens with Canadian relatives, along with some Canadian citizens who had been living in Greece and are now starting to return.
"You can sense the desperation in their voices and in the inquiries. [They say] “can you help us with opportunities? How can we get there? We'll take our chances when we get there.”


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Canada offers peace, cultural diversity to new comers

By Graham Lanktree

More immigrants are landing on Canadian shores than ever before. In 2010, 280,636 new permanent residents, the highest increase of new Canadians in 50 years, joined the country.
Since Canada Day is a time to celebrate all things Canadian, Metro invited a recent new comer to share his first impressions of the country.
“I think this is the most peaceful land,” said Abbas Mokabbery who came to Canada from Iran with his wife and two children in 2008. “Based on my knowledge, Canada was the best place to live and work.”
Settling in Toronto first, it wasn’t long before he and his family left for Ottawa. “I love Ottawa,” he said. “Canada has a very lovely cultural diversity. We go to all the different restaurants whether Indian, Chinese or Arabian.”
“For me, Canada Day creates national pride. People should believe in this land and believe in their flag,” he said. “This is a country with lots of opportunities and bringing immigrants here shares them.”
If Abbas had to offer up one criticism, he said, it would be that immigrants could be better prepared before arriving.
“Learning English is a big barrier for some. There are people who spend nine years in a queue to get here,” he said. “It would be good if they were given training and had to pass some sort of English test.”

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Bridge programs helping skilled immigrants find jobs in their profession

English: Government Conference Centre (formely...
English: Government Conference Centre (formely Ottawa Union Station), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Graham Lanktree

Immigrants with skilled professions who came to Canada used to make due finding a job in their field on their own, but Ontario is making it easier with a new $57 million investment in programs to help them out.
“I had my own company back in Iran,” said Abbas Mokabbery, an IT professional who came to Canada in 2008. “You grow your roots little by little, but coming to Canada was like moving that tree from one garden to a different land.”
One thing that struck him on arriving, he said, was how different the work environment is. “People are very serious about their work. Some people are not so serious about their work in Iran.”
To help himself adjust, Mokabbery enrolled in an Ontario bridge program with the Information and Communications Technology Council where he could get work experience in his field of geomatics gathering and analyzing geographic information.
Announced earlier this week, in 2012 Ottawa will see $2.67 million go to similar bridge programs in the city.
The bridge program, he said, taught him the ins and outs of doing business in Canada. “They taught us about the laws of the office place, how to deal with personnel and understanding if they are satisfied with your work,” he said.
With renewed confidence on leaving the program, Mokabbery set out to start his own business GeoInfoCom.
“Bridge programs are an excellent way of helping new comers integrate in our economy,” said Ottawa Centre MPP, Yasir Naqvi. “It is a real challenge when it comes to professionals where they have to get more Canadian experience, licensing and examinations.”
Coming from Pakistan, both of Naqvi’s parents were trained as lawyers, he said, and without some kind of assistance to help them through, both switched professions and opened their own hotel.
“The least we can do,” he said, “is help new comers do is bridge into their profession and benefit our economy at the same time.”

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News Release — Minister Kenney Hits the Reset Button: Sets the Foundation for New, Faster, More Flexible Immigration System

Canada Gazette (January 26, 1901)
Canada Gazette (January 26, 1901) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Calgary, June 28, 2012 — Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today announced the latest step in re-designing Canada’s economic immigration system.
Effective July 1st, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will place a temporary pause on new applications to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP).
“We have been making lots of changes to our economic immigration system,” said Minister Kenney. “We will take the next six months to do a lot of the heavy lifting to get us closer to a fast and flexible immigration system.”
The pause will allow CIC to make important changes to its economic immigration programs before accepting more applications. This is an important step in moving towards a faster, more flexible immigration system, while immigration levels are at a historic high.
Since the launch of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, Minister Kenney has announced a series of changes to CIC’s economic immigration programs. They include:
  • eliminating the backlog of old FSWP applications;
  • improving the selection of FSWs;
  • creating a new Federal Skilled Trades Program;
  • modifying the Canadian Experience Class to help transition successful skilled temporary workers to permanent residence;
  • changing business immigration programs to target more active investment in Canadian growth companies and more innovative entrepreneurs; and
  • moving towards a new application management system, to develop a pool of skilled workers who arrive in Canada ready to begin employment.
“This temporary pause on new Federal Skilled Worker applications will allow us to set the program on a new course as we intend to launch revised selection criteria soon,” said Minister Kenney. “The pause has no impact on the number of workers Canada admits into the country, as CIC continues to process applications already received. Current immigration remains at historically high levels.”
Application intake is expected to resume in January 2013, when the proposed FSWPregulatory changes – which will be published in the Canada Gazette in the coming months – are expected to come into force.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows the Minister to issue special instructions to immigration officers to enable the Government of Canada to best attain its immigration goals. Since the 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration, four sets of “Ministerial Instructions” have been issued relating to Economic Class applications.
Under this fifth set of Ministerial Instructions, CIC will also introduce a pause on new federal IIP applications. This pause will remain in place until further notice, allowing the Department to make progress on processing its existing inventory.
As Minister Kenney announced earlier in April, CIC will be consulting with provinces, territories and stakeholders on ways to reform the current IIP in order to maximize the economic benefit to Canada. The Department is also consulting on whether to create a new investor program on a short-term basis, to promote growth in the Canadian economy.
The temporary pause on FSWP applications does not apply to candidates with offers of arranged employment or those applying under the PhD eligibility stream. The full set of Ministerial Instructions will be available online in the Canada Gazette tomorrow.

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