Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

100 reasons to live in Ottawa, ON by Larysa Valachko.

100 reasons to live in Ottawa, ON
The intention of this series is to present easy to “digest” articles about everyday things and activities which make Ottawa a great place for newcomers and their families.
Reason 1: Freedom of choosing a caregiver for a pregnant woman.
As a new mom, I chose this reason to open the 100 reasons series as it is the one that convinced me that my husband and I had made the right choice when selecting Ottawa as a city to settle down in Canada.

Unlike in some other provinces, pregnant women in Ontario have the right to choose between an obstetrician or a midwife to be their primary caregiver during pregnancy, and in spite of the choice made, the services are paid by the OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan).
An obstetrician is a special doctor who takes care of the woman during her pregnancy and helps at birthing. Obstetricians take turns in being available during labor in the hospital, that means that the woman has a big chance to be assisted not by the obstetrician who looked after her pregnancy. These doctors are experts in dealing with different complications during pregnancy, labor, and birth. If a woman chooses an obstetrician to follow her pregnancy, she will deliver the baby in the hospital. An obstetrician and hospital birth is a great choice for those who have to rely on medical assistance or who feel safer by being surrounded by impressive medical equipment and staff.
Although many people will agree that doctors’ uniforms and their clinics unwittingly make the visitors feel less healthy. For a woman who has a normal pregnancy, it might be important to keep the feeling of being healthy and capable to give birth without going through stressful and often unnecessary medical exams and interventions. In this case a midwife is often the best choice to go for.

The Great White tax haven

CanadaImage by alexindigo via FlickrHow Canada has quietly emerged as a go-to destination for the world’s ultra-rich

Until last year, Peter was a successful American fund manager, with roughly 200 employees in New York City and a personal fortune of $100 million. That’s still the case today, save for one detail—Peter is no longer an American. In 2010, the U.S.-born executive took the extreme step of renouncing his American citizenship. “I wanted to remove myself from a society and country that was heading for a financial catastrophe,” Peter said in an email interview through his Toronto-based lawyer, David Lesperance, who specializes in “tax-efficient citizenship, residence and domicile solutions.” In other words, Lesperance moves rich people to places where they’ll pay less tax. So which global tax haven lured Peter (not his real name) away from Uncle Sam? Was it the Cayman Islands? Switzerland? Monaco?
Try Canada. A year and a half ago, Peter moved to Toronto and is well on his way to obtaining his Canadian citizenship. He bought a luxury home in the city, as well as a vacation property. And now he’s in the midst of determining how much of his fund management company to uproot from New York and move across the border. “Five years ago, I would not have considered expatriation as an option, especially to Canada,” he said. “I always thought of Canada as a younger sibling of the U.S.—the same, but less advanced in terms of culture, quality of life, business opportunities and above all, taxation. I now see it as the same, but maybe better in the long term.”
As for those taxes, Peter says he’s fed up with his money going to pay for what he considers needless trillion-dollar wars in the Middle East, and to cover the staggering interest charges America owes on the money it’s borrowed to live beyond its means; by the end of this decade, at least 18 cents out of every $1 of tax revenue America raises will go to interest payments. “I know I get more for my taxes in Canada,” he says. “And the debt levels here are reality-based.”
For decades, Canadians have been told this country is a high-tax, unwelcoming place for business people and the wealthy. It’s a reputation we came by honestly. But a shift has taken place both here and abroad, say experts. While Canada is reforming and lowering its taxes, politicians in other developed countries—those faced with crushing debt loads and economic stagnation—are turning a hungry eye to the bank accounts of their richest citizens. At the same time, instability in the Middle East and Asia means wealthy individuals are looking for a safe place to move their families. Where they might have flocked to the U.S. in the past, many now see Canada as the better option. Tax specialists even use terms like “the Great White tax haven” and “Switzerland of the North” when talking about Canada.
The world’s rich are restless, says Lesperance, whose clients are worth between $30 million and $1 billion. Most work in financial services, but in every sector and every country wealthy individuals are on the move. Lesperance calls these ultra-rich the Golden Geese, arguing that wherever they go, they generate economic benefits—they start companies, buy real estate, keep restaurants busy and spend money on big-ticket items. Along with Ian Angell, a professor at the London School of Economics, he’s writing a book entitled Flight of the Golden Geese, which argues that as countries squeeze wealthy taxpayers, they will pull up stakes and flee. “Canada has an unprecedented, once-in-several-generations opportunity to put up its hand and offer itself as an alternative,” he says.
The migration is well under way. Last year, nearly 12,000 people moved here under the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program, up from 4,950 a decade ago, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. (The figure includes spouses and dependents.) To qualify, immigrants must have a minimum net worth of at least $1.6 million, and are required to “invest” $800,000 with the government, which is returned after five years. (Ottawa says the money is used to fund economic development programs, though critics call it a cash grab.)
Last year, China accounted for half of investor immigrants, while other major source countries included South Korea, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Egypt. Meanwhile, last year 75 wealthy immigrants moved here from the United Kingdom, while 40 came from the U.S. Over the past five years, 225 rich Americans have made Canada home. Experts suggest these figures dramatically understate the true size of the migration, since many other rich immigrants are coming here through provincial programs. A new report by consulting firm Grant Thornton shows that between 2005 and 2010, B.C.’s provincial nominee program lured 203 permanent residents under the program’s various business categories, which require a minimum net worth of between $600,000 and $2 million. They invested $423 million in the province, creating more than 1,100 jobs.
Such rosy claims will do little to quell the ire of many Canadians wondering why the country is throwing its arms open to wealthy individuals fleeing tax obligations elsewhere. There’s already a pervasive belief, reflected in survey after survey, that the rich in Canada don’t pay their fair share at tax time. There are also signs of resentment as the flood of wealthy immigrants reshape neighbourhoods. In Vancouver, local politicians have complained that rich homebuyers from mainland China drive up property values and shut local residents out of the market.
While the debate is sure to intensify, it’s unlikely to stop the flow of rich immigrants. “People still view Canada as a high-tax, chilly weather destination,” says Tom McCullough, CEO of Northwood Family Office, a boutique Toronto firm that advises wealthy families with assets of between $10 million and $500 million. “The reality is things have changed dramatically.”
It wasn’t so long ago that many feared Canada’s higher taxes would drive the wealthy away. In the mid-1980s, the U.S. slashed its top federal tax rate from 50 per cent to just 28 per cent in the span of two years; one Toronto newspaper fretted in 1986 that with top Canadian hockey players decamping to U.S. teams to avoid higher taxes, “the danger of the Stanley Cup leaving Canada forever has increased substantially.” By the 1990s the threat was far more pervasive. Tens of thousands of professionals moved to the States, adding to Canada’s “brain drain.” Yet today, those trends have almost completely reversed.
For one thing, the high tax rates Canadians love to gripe about aren’t really all that high compared to the U.S. The combined federal-provincial top marginal tax rate is 39 per cent in Alberta while in Ontario it’s 46.41 per cent (after factoring in the province’s surtax)* compared to an average federal and state rate of 39 per cent in the U.S. (Quebec is the outlier, with a combined top rate of 53 per cent.) Canada is less appealing when it comes to the income level at which those top rates kick in‹in the U.S., the top rate applies to income above US$373,650, while the top federal rate in Canada kicks in at just $128,800. But that’s an improvement from a decade ago, when income over $60,000 was taxed at the top rate.
And the tax environment for upper income earners and their businesses is getting more attractive. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently said that after Canada’s budget is back in the black, he will flatten the income tax system by reducing the number of tax brackets from the current four. This would allow Canadians to earn more of their income at lower tax rates. Canada is also on track to cut the federal corporate tax rate to 15 per cent next year from 18 per cent. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank found Canada’s corporate tax rates are already among the best in the world.
But Canada’s tax laws also contain gems that appeal particularly to the super-rich. For one thing, high-net-worth immigrants can benefit from a five-year tax holiday under the Immigrant Investor Program if they store their investment assets in a trust held outside Canada. The program dates back to the 1980s, when U.S. companies were setting up branch plants in Canada, and it permitted American executives to move here without facing a double whammy of taxation. Today it allows immigrants to become Canadian citizens without immediately incurring taxes on assets they accumulated before moving here. Any income they earn in Canada is taxable at our rates. Other countries are paying attention. Earlier this year, when theFinancial Times in London reported on efforts by the British government to attract more high-net-worth immigrants, it noted that Britain attracts just a tiny fraction of the number of rich migrants Canada does.
More importantly, Canada does not impose any of the punitive taxes other countries target their rich with. Since the 1970s there has been no inheritance tax, which in the U.S. and U.K. enables the taxman to grab between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of a person’s estate after he or she dies. Unlike those countries, Canada doesn’t tax gifts either. That means wealthy relatives from the old country can send money to the grandkids in Canada without a tax penalty, or parents in Canada could give money or property to their adult children without facing a gift tax. (They might still incur a capital gains tax.) And unlike some countries, such as France, there is no explicit wealth tax on those with high incomes.
Taxes aren’t everything, of course. Canada’s biggest cities now boast the types of amenities and services once the domain of larger centres like New York and London. Millionaires who move to Vancouver or Toronto have their pick of high-end condos. Top-notch restaurants and luxury shopping abound. Meanwhile, Canada’s stable banking sector and straightforward financial regulations set it apart at a time when other global financial centres are piling on red tape.
Put it all together and Canada’s appeal to the world’s wealthy is compelling. “There are jurisdictions with zero income-tax rates, so it’s not like Canada has the very best taxes in the world,” says McCullough. “But the question is, do you want to live on a little tiny island somewhere to pay no tax, or do you want to live within an hour of Manhattan in a place where your kids can go to school and you don’t have to live in a gated community?”
But while rich foreigners have much to gain by moving to Canada, critics have long questioned whether Canada gets enough out of the deal. Last year, the Analysis Group set out to gauge the economic impact of the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program, conducting the first formal survey of investor immigrants. The results suggest rich immigrants are having a profound impact. More than 60 per cent aquired assets in Canada ranging in value from $100,000 to $999,999, while another 28 per cent bought assets worth more than $1 million. Just over half were self-employed, while 33 per cent invested up to $1 million or more in businesses. The study concluded the average immigrant investor injects roughly $800,000 into the economy. With roughly 2,500 families entering Canada under the program each year, the economy gets a boost of roughly $2 billion.
Even so, a common complaint is that wealthy immigrants spend just enough time here to get a coveted Canadian passport, then leave. After obtaining the five-year tax break, thanks to the immigrant trust rules, there’s nothing stopping a newly minted Canadian from moving elsewhere and never paying a dime in income taxes here. How common that may be is up for debate. Lawyers who work with wealthy migrants say many may intend to leave, but their families quickly become accustomed to the lifestyle here—particularly those from the Middle East or Asia. “Canada is extremely sticky,” says Jonathan Garbutt, a Toronto tax lawyer. “Even though the tax plan may have been ‘get in, get passport, get out,’ it often doesn’t work like that. My big fear is that Canada will have a knee-jerk reaction and say we’ve got to make these people pay. The answer is: they’ll just leave because they can go wherever they want.”
As attractive as Canada is now, it may get even more so, particularly when compared to the U.S. In short, America is broke. Decades of overspending, declining tax revenues and the future bill for social programs threaten to leave a US$60-trillion hole in America’s finances. It’s not one that can be plugged by cost cuts alone, as President Barack Obama argued last month. “It would be nice if we could keep every tax break there is, but we’ve got to make some tough choices here if we want to reduce our deficit,” he said. “If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires . . . then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship…that means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden.”
In other words, wealthy Americans can expect to see their tax bill shoot up. How high? According to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Americans earning US$1 million could see the combined federal and state top tax rate climb to 62 per cent. At one point, Senate Democrats proposed a three per cent surtax on rich Americans, while Obama has vowed not to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy if he’s re-elected. Many dispute the actual increase in taxes, but the trend is clear. “The question is, where are you going to go to get those extra taxes?” says McCullough. “You have to go to the wealthy, who already pay 43 per cent of the taxes. It’s going to become very onerous.”
And very hard to escape. Most countries, Canada included, impose taxes based on residence. If one were to move to another country, taxes would no longer be payable here. Not so in America, which applies taxes based on citizenship no matter where a person lives. “There’s a growing number of very wealthy people realizing they’ll have to give up a huge chunk of their fortune to Uncle Sam if they remain American,” says Garbutt.
It’s why high-net-worth types like Peter, the millionaire fund manager, are giving up their citizenship instead. He’s far from alone. American law requires the names of people who give up their citizenship to be published in the U.S. Federal Registry. According to, which tallied the names, 1,485 individuals became ex-Americans last year, up from 731 in 2009 and 226 the year before. And because of flaws with the way renunciation records are kept, the number of people quitting America is likely far higher.
Canada isn’t alone in trying to attract wealthy immigrants. Britain has said it will dramatically cut the time it takes rich foreigners to get permanent residency. Canada also throws up roadblocks to super-rich immigrants, says Lesperance. Since it can take five years for applications to be processed, he’d like to see Immigration Canada charge ultra-high-net-worth immigrants an even bigger fee, then use the money to set up a special unit dedicated to handling their cases. He also says rules that require permanent residents to be physically present in Canada for a minimum amount of time don’t make sense when targeting rich immigrants with international business interests. “The government of Canada needs to acknowledge that it’s not always a bad thing to act in our own country’s best interest,” he says. “These people are wealth creators. They are good for Canada.”
Of course, as rich immigrants like Peter have found, the tax haven of Canada can be good for them—and their bank accounts—too.

Analysis: What Canada’s debt crisis in the ’90s can and can’t teach the U.S.

Postcard of the Dominion Bank building on the ...Image via WikipediaBy Randall Palmer and John McCrank
OTTAWA/TORONTO — Canada has some lessons for the United States in terms of slashing deficits and winning top tier ratings back, but there are deep differences between the two countries in terms of what might work.
The Liberal government won broad political support for its efforts to cut the deficit in the decade after its first international ratings downgrade in 1992, but the United States faces deep political divisions about how to respond.
Ottawa’s chosen route back to surplus involved both spending cuts and tax hikes, in a ratio of roughly seven to one. The budget was balanced within six years, and Canada won its prized AAA rating back within a decade.
“You basically have to grasp the nettle,” Paul Martin, the finance minister at the time, told Reuters in an interview. “Fundamentally, you have to have an end game, you have to take immediate action.”
Martin, also a former prime minister, said he was confident the United States could balance its budget, but it would need tax hikes as well as spending cuts.
“The actions have to be primarily on cutting expenditures, but the fact is that you cannot do it unless everybody is willing to come to the party, and if you eliminate tax increases… you’re never going to make it.”
Tough advice also came from Monte Solberg, who was finance critic for the conservative opposition Reform Party during Martin’s deficit-cutting years.
In a display of inter-party co-operation that’s rare outside wartime, Reform backed the Liberals as they cut the deficit, ushering in an era where it became political suicide for a federal Canadian politician even to talk about running a deficit.
“If you don’t make the cuts now in things like some of the big entitlement programs, then those programs themselves will have to be cut much more deeply in the future and the pain will be much deeper,” Solberg, whose now-defunct Reform Party has small-government parallels with the U.S. Tea Party, said of the U.S. budget mess.
“So better do it now — it’s the old saying, you can’t dock the dog’s tail an inch at a time. You should just do the job, get it done, face up to the pain and in the end you’ll be better off.”
Canada’s headaches with international rating agencies started in 1992 as first Standard & Poor’s and then Moody’s (in 1994) lowered its debt ratings, alarmed about rising public debt levels along with concern that a separatist movement in French-speaking Quebec could tear the country apart.
The Wall Street Journal rubbed salt in the wounds, with a January 1995 editorial that called Canada “an honorary member of the Third World.” With Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio heading for a record 72 percent, the moniker stung. The budget cuts were painful — health care was hit especially hard — but the political will never faltered.
“I think it’s interesting that in terms of the Canadian experience, the fiscal rebalancing was done by a Liberal government, so it shows that you don’t need to be on the far right of the political spectrum to get government cuts and fiscal rebalancing,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s second largest.
“Even though it didn’t fit with the government’s ideology it actually embarked on very serious fiscal tightening. They put together a long-term plan as to how they were going to rebalance the finances of the country and then they delivered and executed on that plan, and I think that’s the message for the United States.”
But there are many reasons the Canadian model won’t work for Washington right now, including the political deadlock, the vast burden on U.S. government spending from the hard-to-cut military complex, and the fact that the overall world economy is in far more fragile shape than it was in the 1990s, when the United States also ran a budget surplus.
“We’re recovering from a global credit market meltdown, a Great Recession The U.S. has been at war for more than 10 years, so the economic fundamentals are far different, and so the accumulated deficits that the U.S. has on its balance sheet will be difficult to address by economic growth,” said Queen’s University finance professor Louis Gagnon.
“There doesn’t seem to be any clear line of sight towards a balanced budget. We’re seeing trillion-dollar deficits for almost as far at the eye can see.”
The U.S. budget deficit has soared to $1.4 trillion or 9 percent of GDP. Canada’s deficit never climbed above 6 percent of GDP, a more manageable number.
Moody’s Investor Services, whose 1995 second downgrade of Canada was often seen as the low point in the country’s budgetary problems, said Ottawa’s evangelistic approach to not running up a deficit had been a factor in the agency’s decision to give back the AAA rating in May 2002.
“We were convinced that the debt reduction program was going to continue over the medium term because there was a political consensus on that. We believed that no matter which major party was in power, that they would continue with that,” said Steven Hess, lead analyst for the United States and Canada at Moody’s.
“Just as a peculiarity, among the 16 countries that we have rated triple A, the U.S. is the only one that doesn’t have a parliamentary system. Now whether that’s good or bad is a subject for discussion, I’m not opining one way or the other, just pointing it out.”
© 2011 Thomson Reuters

Pilot Project to Attract More Working Families to B.C.

"Zooming across frozen Green Lake near Wh...Image via Wikipedia
ICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Aug. 12, 2011) - Family members of most temporary foreign workers in British Columbia will be able to work for any employer in the province, thanks to a pilot project launched today.
The announcement was made by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and British Columbia Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell.
"Since I became Minister, I have heard from workers, employers, labour advocates and others who have asked me to make Canada more welcoming for working families coming to Canada as temporary residents," said Minister Kenney. "With this pilot project, we will examine the benefits of allowing family members of temporary foreign workers to work while they are here with a principal applicant who has been hired because of his or her skills."
In general, temporary foreign workers come to Canada to meet the needs of a specific employer who has been unable to find citizens or permanent residents for the available jobs. An open work permit, however, allows the holder to accept any job with any employer.
Previously, only spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers employed in a managerial, professional or skilled trades job have been eligible to obtain an open work permit in British Columbia. Starting August 15, spouses, common-law partners and working-age dependants of most temporary foreign workers will be eligible, including many workers in occupations that require lower levels of formal training.
"More than a million jobs will open up in B.C. by 2020, and we will need foreign workers to help meet the skills shortages our businesses are already beginning to face," said Minister Bell. "Giving more spouses and working-aged children of temporary foreign workers the chance to take jobs will support local businesses, while contributing to local, regional and provincial economic growth."
Up to 1,800 open work permits will be available under the pilot project, which will end on February 15, 2013.
"Nearly 32,000 temporary foreign workers made the transition to permanent status in 2010, and of those, almost 2,300 chose to immigrate permanently to BC," Minister Kenney noted. "We understand the important role that foreign workers have in every region of the country and we will continue to look at ways to attract workers who have the skills we need now and into the future."
British Columbia's shared role in immigration was cemented in April 2010 with the signing of the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement.
Connect with the Province of B.C. at

Long- term Multiple-Entry visas to Canada.

Canadian visa for single entryImage via Wikipedia
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently confirmed that the issuance of long-term (up to 10 years) multiple-entry visas is now the norm for temporary resident visas (TRVs).
The new policy aims to ease travel for “low-risk” frequent visitors to Canada (such as business travellers) who are citizens of visa-required countries and to make better use of government resources by reducing the use of visa offices.
Until recently, multiple-entry TRVs were issued for a maximum of five years at a time.  The new policy reflects the reality that countries are increasingly issuing passports which are valid for 10 years.
While the ultimate duration of a TRV depends on the circumstances of each case and remains at the discretion of the visa officer, according to operational instructions recently released by CIC, as long-term multiple-entry visas are now to be considered the “norm”, officers who issue a single-entry visa, or a multiple-entry visa for less than the full validity period of the passport (up to 10 years), must provide written reasons for doing so in their case notes.
The new policy will be welcomed by employers in visa-required countries who frequently send employees to Canada for meetings or other business-related activities.

Saskatchewan preparing for doctor shortage

Saskatchewan Province within Canada.Image via WikipediaThe province of Saskatchewan, like most of Canada, is already experiencing a shortage of doctors and with the aging population, more shortages are expected. In response to the shortage, Saskatchewan employment recruiters are looking outside of Canada for the cure.
Recruiters are travelling to the United States and the United Kingdom. Ed Mantler, CEO of the Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan, recently made the following statement to Leader Post, “We've focused our efforts much more strongly on the United Kingdom - England in particular and also Ireland to some extent," Mantler said. "That's based on what we've been hearing from our colleagues in other provinces who have also been recruiting worldwide - that there's an increasing interest in coming to Canada from the United Kingdom."
Agency representatives were sent to London, Leeds and Manchester earlier this year to recruit physicians. "At those events, we did get considerable interest from physicians in learning more about practice in Saskatchewan and some are moving ahead with the process in pursuing what it will take to get licensure and to get a work permit," Mantler added. "One of the nice things for us about recruiting from the United Kingdom is that the licensure and immigration processes are fairly rapid for immigrants from those countries."
Specialist physiciansgeneral practitioners, and family physicians are considered to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program if they have at least one year of paid work experience in their field. Many of Canada’s provinces also offer permanent residency for health care providers through their Provincial Nominee Programs.

Harper in Colombia on free-trade deal ‘victory lap’

Stephen Harper, Canadian politicianImage via Wikipedia
Bogota— Globe and Mail Update

Stephen Harper pays a brief visit to Colombia Wednesday to celebrate the coming-into-force of a free trade agreement with Canada.
His visit – part of a four-country Latin American trip – comes amid reminders of the insecurity faced by Canadian companies in Colombia.
On Monday, a Canadian company’s oil operations were attacked by what Colombian military officials says were FARC militants.
The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) have been fighting the Colombia government for decades.
Colombian military officials told local media that 30 FARC rebels set fire to an oil reservoir owned by Canada’s Alange Energy Corp. The TSE-listed firm has recently announced a change of name to PetroMagdalena Energy Corp.
Mr. Harper visits President Manuel Santos in the Colombia capital of Bogota, a city of 8.5 million nestled in a high plateau in the Andes mountains.
He will also hold a roundtable with Canadian businesspeople in Bogota to discuss business opportunities here.
The Canada-Colombia free trade deal comes into effect August 15.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Colombia on this trip has been described as a “victory lap” for Mr. Harper.
Canada has succeeded in beating the Americans to the punch in securing preferential market access to Colombia. A U.S.-Colombia deal has been stalled by lawmakers in Washington over what proponents call protectionist concerns.
Ottawa took flak from human-rights advocates over a trade deal with Colombia, but Canadian Foundation for the Americas executive director Carlo Dade said recently that Mr. Harper’s drive to clinch the agreement was a gamble that’s been vindicated.
He said evidence in Colombia suggests the country is evolving in the right direction. For instance, former president Alvaro Uribe in 2010 accepted a Colombian court’s decision to reject a referendum that could have allowed him to skirt term limits for his office. Mr. Uribe said he respected the court’s decision.
“When was the last time you heard a Latin American leader say that?” Mr. Dade said.
“It could have turned out completely differently had Uribe said, ‘No, the country needs me too much – it is too difficult not to have me.’ Harper would have had egg on his face.”
Mr. Harper heads to Costa Rica Wedneday night and then Honduras Friday.


Source: MuchmorCanada.
As more than a million people wait in the immigration queue, Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said that applicants with experience in key occupations and those with job offers from Canadian employers will go to the front of the line.
Currently, about 30% of Canadian immigrants are economic migrants selected on the basis of their necessary skills or an arranged employment offer. Kenney recently confirmed that while immigration levels won’t jump drastically, immigration had a role to play in off-setting the country’s ageing population and skills shortages. Today, about 70% of Canada’s 34.1 million population is of working age – a figure expected drop to 60% within 25 years.

Kenney said federal government would continue to recognise the importance of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to help provinces and territories obtain the skilled migrants they need to fill labour shortages. Under the scheme, provinces can choose to sponsor migrants whose skills, education and work experience will have an immediate economic impact.
The top three provincial nominees are the booming oil and gas provinces of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Last year, Canada accepted 38,428 provincial/territory nominees, including more than 8,600 temporary foreign workers who later became permanent residents.
Canada will accept a record of 40,000 provincial nominee immigrants in 2011 – five times more than Canada’s PNP intake for 2005. The Citizenship and Immigration Department is currently conducting a series of nation-wide consulations about immigration levels and the type of migrants it should accept into the country.

Making immigration work well

Manitoba Legislature, meeting place of the Leg...Image via Wikipedia
A global poll by Ipsos shows Canadians are way ahead of their international counterparts when asked about their views on immigration, with almost twice the respondents agreeing it has had a good impact on their country. But even at that, only 40 per cent said immigration was good. And 56 per cent said they believe immigration is too much of a burden on social services. Canadians should get to know their neighbours a little better.
Chances are immigrants are living not far from most of us. At 20 per cent, the immigrant population is at a 75-year high in the country.
It is a fallacy, a misperception perhaps drawn from sensational crime headlines in cities and cultural tension in other western nations, that immigrants are a burden. Good research has underscored repeatedly the success story of immigration for Canada. University of Toronto immigration expert Jeffrey Reitz notes that, statistically, newcomers use fewer social services than other Canadians.
With a declining birth rate over the decades, Canada's population would have slipped without immigration and the economy would have suffered. Since the mid-1990s, immigration has become the primary driver of population growth. Since 1998, Manitoba's homegrown provincial nominee program has staunched a worrisome net out-migration. More than 10,000 immigrants funnel into the province each year now.
While much of Canada sees immigrants leaving for Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, Manitoba's program retains 80 per cent and more of its nominees, who are selected for their ability to adjust to local labour-market demands, connections to the community and employability. A 2008 survey of 100 of the program's immigrants revealed that 85 per cent find work almost as soon as they hit the ground, rising to 88 per cent after three to five years.
Manitoba immigrants "make it" here, integrating in the community, improving their family incomes. While the average income of about $50,000 was $10,000 lower than the Manitoba average, fewer immigrants lived on less than $30,000. In fact, the picture of the survey conducted for the Manitoba government showed that the lower average income did not hold the nominee immigrants back from getting ahead and putting down roots in the community: Some 76 per cent owned their own homes and 73 per cent said they had no difficulties meeting monthly expenses.
Immigrants tend to earn less than native-born Canadians with similar education levels, but that difference disappears with successive generations. This reflects the age-old immigrant story in this country. Manitoba's particular success -- immigrants here are employed at higher rates than in Canada generally -- is derived from a keen understanding of what the economy needs and the tailoring of settlement programs to ensure that language and skill training supports the determination of newcomers.
The fact that those selected to land in Manitoba are not heading to Canada's mega-metropolises shows this province has made the wise decision to pursue higher immigration levels, which has been very good to Manitoba. Investing in people pays off.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2011 A10

Brazil: Canada’s new preferred partner

President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ...Image by World Economic Forum via FlickrCanadians’ knowledge of Brazil may be as scant as the country’s famed micro-thong swimwear. But somehow the South American economic giant has edged out traditional favourites such as Mexico and Argentina as Canada’s new preferred partner in the hemisphere. What accounts for Brazil’s ascendancy?

Does the country’s sensual exuberance and globe-strutting confidence act as a release valve for all that northern restraint? Is Brazil Canada’s alter ego?
“There is a good vibe about Brazil, but what exactly appeals to Canadians – we cannot put our finger on,” says Carlo Dade, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL).
FOCAL just released a study that found more than 61 per cent of Canadians have a favourable opinion of Brazil, compared to 39 per cent for Mexico, 41 per cent for Panama and 57 per cent for Argentina. Only the U.S. is seen in a more positive light, according to the 2011 poll, conducted with the Association for Canadian Studies. The survey shows Brazil scores even higher among Canadian men than women. Brazil’s overall favourable rating increased 20 per cent in the last four years, while Mexico’s favourable rating fell.
Of course, it helps to have one of the most popular politicians in the world, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the charismatic, bearded former president, as your global ambassador. It also helps that Rio de Janeiro is 8,249 km from Ottawa. Canada actually has fewer immigration, trade and tourism links with the country than with many others in the hemisphere. And this ignorance works in Brazil’s favour. The country’s brand is unsullied by images of migrants trying to flee to el norte, or cartel kingpins dumping headless corpses.
Few Cariocas, as residents of Rio are known, claim asylum in Canada on the grounds of persecution due to sexual orientation. There are no jihadis from Salvador or Sao Paulo. And while Rio’s favelas (slums) undoubtedly produce plenty of scary thugs (Brazil’s homicide rate is higher than Mexico’s), the crime problem doesn’t have the same resonance in Canada as Mexico’s drug wars. Nor does the media publish as many negative stories about Brazil, the study found.
That helps to keeps the image clean. When Canadians stop to consider Brazil, it’s all pristine white sand beaches, Carnival, soccer legend Ronaldinho, supermodels like Gisele Bundchen, and music: Joao Gilberto; Caetano Veloso; Milton Nascimento; Xuxa; and indie rock sensation Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS).
Of course, for those who dig deeper, there is more to admire than just beaches and gorgeous, buff men and women.
In the past decade, the country has made strides in reducing poverty, racial discrimination and inequality, with 30 million people joining the middle class in the past five to six years. Brazil is a manufacturing giant, a BRIC country that will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. “This is the new Brazil. They’re socially innovative and creative, and they’re feeling confident these days,” notes Ted Hewitt, a University of Western Ontario professor, and leading Canadian authority on Brazil. “Canadians don’t realize it, but Brazil is everywhere: they own Labatt’s, make our planes, produce the nickel for our coins and the cement for our driveways.”
Even Brazil’s gritty side seems, somehow, hopeful: favela tours as a model of sustainable tourism; police pacification units “taking back” slums and re-establishing order.
Of course, the country still faces many challenges. It has one of the highest homicide rates in the Americas, and high inflation. It needs to invest more in education, and root out corruption in public institutions. President Dilma Rousseff must manage the country’s explosive growth in a sustainable and equitable way. But this, like everything else about Brazil, is a good problem to have.

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