Feds putting freeze on skilled worker, immigrant investor programs .

English: Supreme Court of Canada Français : Co...
English: Supreme Court of Canada Français : Cour suprême du Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
BY TOBI COHEN, POSTMEDIA NEWS



OTTAWA — The government is expected to issue a moratorium on new immigration applications under the popular Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program, Postmedia News has learned.
Both programs were set to reopen to new applicants on July 1, but efforts are underway to revamp the programs by the end of the year.
The government doesn't want to process new applications until it's dealt with the existing backlogs and put in place a "just-in-time" economic immigration system, probably by January.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is expected to announce the new directive in Calgary Thursday during a speech to the C.D. Howe Institute.
The decision means Citizenship and Immigration's central intake office in Sydney, N.S. won't be bombarded by applications from wealthy foreigners who last year chartered planes so they could be the first to submit their paperwork for the Immigrant Investor Program after it was capped at 700 applicants.
The cash-for-visa scheme is so attractive that last year's application window closed within 30 minutes.
Kenney has argued the minimum investment of $800,000 — it was just $400,000 in 2010 — remains too low and that it should be a permanent investment in the Canadian economy.
Right now, provinces get the cash to invest in economic development projects but must pay back the principal five years later.
Kenney said in April that legislation was coming to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to give him more power and flexibility to create, change or cancel specialized programs like this one based on market demand and proven effectiveness.
He said he also was launching consultations with stakeholders and provincial and territorial colleagues on how best to reform the investor program.
Earlier this month, officials said consultations were ongoing and that the new powers were contained in the omnibus budget bill set to become law by the end of the week.
The Immigrant Investor Program backlog currently stands at about 25,000 cases involving more than 86,000 people.
Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and longtime critic of the investor program, said the decision makes sense.
"Why not hold off until you're ready to launch a new program with higher eligibility thresholds?" he said.
"There's plenty of inventory to process. We don't need to add inventory."
He's less enthusiastic about the temporary pause on federal skilled workers, however, noting Canada needs people like nurses and pharmacists and that there's value in setting a predictable date on which the intake doors are opened.
He noted many already have couriered their applications and that this will mean more stress and additional costs for applicants.
The budget bill also will eliminate about 280,000 visa applications submitted under the Federal Skilled Worker Program before February 2008 by refunding their application fees to the tune of $130 million. The move effectively will reduce the skilled worker backlog to about 110,000.
Last year the government capped the number of applications it accepts from federal skilled workers without prearranged offers of employment at 10,000.
Kenney has called for a faster, more flexible immigration system that's economically-driven and designed to attract workers with strong language skills, employment credentials that are in demand by the current labour market and Canadian experience.
He's announced a variety of initiatives to that end, including replacing the entrepreneur program with a startup visa and allowing employers and provinces to cherry-pick immigrants based on occupation.
The moratorium is expected to be lifted once the full plan is in place.
tcohen@postmedia.com


Read more: http://www.canada.com/business/Feds+putting+freeze+skilled+worker+immigrant+investor+programs/6850692/story.html#ixzz1z5m160Ay

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Job-hungry Alberta scours globe for workers


Map of the Western provinces. See Image:Canada...
Map of the Western provinces. See Image:Canada provinces blank vide.png for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Claudia Cattaneo


CALGARY – For the past seven years, the mining community of Baia Mare in Romania’s northern interior has eagerly stepped up to alleviate Alberta’s labour shortages. For Joe Giusti, founder and CEO of one of Western Canada’s largest construction companies, it was a long way to travel to search for workers.

It was hard, too, once he found them. His firm, Giusti Group, had to teach recruits basic English so they would understand safety regulations. They had to meet rigid immigration requirements for temporary foreign workers. They had to be moved to an unfamiliar work environment, and sent back home just as they were getting used to their new jobs and way of life.

Yet Mr. Giusti was so encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by hundreds of young people who answered his calls for carpenters, cement finishers and general labourers, and by their performance in Alberta, he led recruitment missions there several times. Meanwhile, he was pleased to notice how the local community’s economy flourished from a steady influx of Alberta oil cash, as people dressed better, bought new furniture and renovated houses.

‘I invested 40 years of my life to build up a business and I have no people’
“When I went to Romania the first time, it brought me back to the 1960s in Italy,” said the builder, who since moving to Western Canada four decades ago from Treviso, near Venice, completed more than 50,000 multi-family units and took on some of the West’s biggest industrial projects, even as he fine-tuned a passion for oil painting using Titian’s colour techniques.

“I looked at them and I said: These are my people, like the ones from my village. I can see it in their hands. They are hard working people.  They can do anything.”

Employers in Western Canada, and particularly in the ever-expanding oil industry, have been looking for workers farther and farther afield to fill jobs in resource development. The early favourites decades ago were farm kids from Saskatchewan. Then it was women and First Nations. Then it was Newfoundland. Then they brought in planeloads of workers from northern Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia in elaborate fly-in and fly-out schemes.

Today, with those sources tapped out and more and more projects on the horizon, the new fix is foreign labour.

While the practice is not new, what’s new is how many employers, who seem to be sticking with their growth strategies regardless of the state of the global economy, are looking to struggling countries to replenish their workforces – including advanced economies such as the United States and the U.K.

Mr. Giusti is continuing to tap Romania’s workforce and is looking in other foreign markets such as the U.S. for pump operators and mechanics, who must be fluent in English.

And yet he is watching with anxiety Western Canada’s rising economy. With a staff of 500 and 200 job openings he is struggling to fill, he no longer accepts construction work in Calgary, while his family-owned company doubles down on work already under way, including a 1,500-worker camp and a processing plant for Husky Energy Inc.’s Sunrise oil sands project northeast of Fort McMurray.

“We are creating a mess,” Mr. Giusti laments. “There is a boom, and there are few qualified people. Most of the jobs are done with unqualified people and improper workmanship. I would say lousy workmanship — and for a huge amount of money.”

The push for foreign labour is in part a response to immigration reforms announced two months ago by Jason Kenney, the federal immigration minister, that opened up access to skilled tradesmen and make it possible for them to come to Canada as permanent residents, rather as temporary foreign workers.

Workforce pressures have been mounting for a long time. Western Canadian employers are concerned about Baby Boomer retirements and leakage to other sectors. They are worried that workers laid off in the 2008/2009 financial downturn may have left the industry. They complain that Canada’s youth are snubbing trades because they don’t consider them as prestigious, the work is hard and drug and alcohol use isn’t allowed because of safety concerns.

Increasing foreign investment is also playing a role. International companies, from Europe to China, are clamoring to bring in their own staff to work on their projects.

While the growing list of mega-projects in the Alberta oil sands, Saskatchewan’s potash industry, new pipelines, new liquefied natural gas projects in British Columbia is good news for Canada’s economy, it also raises questions about who will do the work. The labour markets of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where most of the projects are based, are already the tightest in the country, each with an unemployment rate of 4.5% in May.
Projections show a staggering number of jobs will open up in coming years.

In a recent study, the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada predicted the oil and gas industry alone will need to fill 15,000 direct jobs between now and 2015, on an industry base of about 187,000, just to replace retiring employees or those moving to other sectors, and not including employees moving from company to company.

Growth projects beyond 2015 — when many major energy projects are scheduled to begin construction — aren’t even taken into account. Even an economic pullback related to a softening global economy won’t matter.

“Right now, [oil and gas] exploration and production companies are actually hiring more and retaining more than they need to given their current activity because they are preparing for growth and for the loss of experienced people,” said Cheryl Knight, the council’s executive director and CEO. “No downturn is going to eliminate that. It’s more a structural issue. I believe these [economic] cycles are going to have less of an impact on hiring than they have in the past.”

Ms. Knight said the oil and gas industry tends to hire new entrants right out of school, but there are not enough of them to replace the skills shortage that is looming because of retirements. That’s one reason for the focus on foreign-trained workers.

The construction industry, which in Western Canada is heavily focused on projects related to the oil industry and other resource sectors, has even bigger job requirements. Mr. Kenney spoke of tens if not hundreds of thousands of job shortages in the skilled trades in the next decade when he announced the immigration reforms.

The Alberta government estimates there will be 114,000 more jobs of all kinds than people in the province in the next 10 years.

Mark Salkeld, president and CEO, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, said his members have thousands of job openings and are aggressively pursuing foreign workers.

Among the occupations in most demand are heavy-duty mechanics, truck drivers, welders, electricians, rig labourers, field supervisors, petroleum technologists.

“This sector has grown with respect to international exposure,” Mr. Salkeld said. “We are getting experience in other countries. And we are seeing what’s out there for talent, whether it’s Russia, or South America, or Australia. There is a lot of talent that would work well in our industry and we are going after that.

“Just like Australia is coming here, we are going there,” he said, referring to a recent job fair in Calgary by some of Australia’s top energy employers who are looking to recruit 100,000 people to man their booming energy industry.

Some companies, meanwhile, are feeling the pinch of labour shortages.

One of them is Concord Well Servicing, a unit of Calgary’s Tervita Corp. that brought in 16 Mexicans to man drilling rigs last winter. With a staff of 4,700, Tervita plans to hire 2,000 people every year for the next five years and sees foreign workers a part of the solution.

“We find ourselves in a position — as do a lot of our competitors — where we’re completely sold out,” CEO Deborah Close said recently in the Calgary Herald. “It’s not because we’re sold out of equipment; we are sold out of crews. It is the people shortage that is our constraint for growth.”

Calgary Economic Development is planning recruitment missions in coming months to the U.S. and the U.K.

In August, the agency is leading Calgary employers to Riverside County, Calif., where the unemployment rate is 12.8%, and to Clark County, Nev., where the unemployment rate is 12.1%. The two communities have 25,000 unemployed construction workers who haven’t had a paycheque for 90 weeks or more and don’t expect one in the next three to four years because of the poor U.S. economy.

“If there is a way to move the economy forward, and provide opportunities so certain projects aren’t shut down, we all prosper,” said Jeannette Sutherland, manager of workforce and productivity with Calgary Economic Development.

“To know there is a motivated supply of workers [in the U.S.] with similar skill sets, on top of the supply that we have in Alberta, and employers are very interested in looking at options.”

As part of the program, Calgary is working with business organizations in the two U.S. communities to facilitate the temporary workforce transfer.

More recruitment missions will be held in October in Ireland, where the unemployment rate is at a 20-year-high of 14.4%, and in Scotland, where the unemployment rate is 10.4%. In both countries, many skilled workers are looking to leave, Ms. Sutherland said.

Mr. Giusti says Western Canada must increase its labour pool, or the consequences for many businesses and projects will be severe, including high costs and poorly built projects.

“Companies like us will close up,” he said. “Our group cannot stay in business. I invested 40 years of my life to build up a business and I have no people.”

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Manitoba population grows by 16,000

English: Manitoba Province within Canada. Espa...
English: Manitoba Province within Canada. Español: Provincia de Manitoba en Canadá. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Province exceeds national birth rate for third consecutive year
CBC News Posted: Jun 21, 2012 12:51 PM CT Last Updated: Jun 21, 2012 12:50 PM CT Read 13
Manitoba's population increased by slightly more than 16,000 between April 2011 and April 2012.

The province is now home to 1,261,500 people, according to Statistics Canada figures released Thursday.

The main driver of the growth was a record arrival of 16,074 immigrants from around the world. As well, during the last 12 months there were 16,483 babies born in Manitoba —the highest number of births in the last 17 years.

While some people also left the province, the net gain was 16,045.

The growth of 1.3 per cent is the highest level since modern-day record keeping began in 1971, provincial trade minister Peter Bjornson stated in a news release.

"With this population gain, Manitoba has now exceeded the national growth rate for the third consecutive year," he said, adding, "our growth was the third highest among the provinces."

Manitoba's population has increased by nearly 107,000 over the last 10 years, driven by a net inflow to the province of some 53,300 people, Bjornson said.

In the previous 10-year period, the population grew by 43,800 with a net loss of 15,500 people to other provinces and countries.
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CanadaFAQ.ca New Infographic Shows Why Canadian Immigration Policies Should Be Taken Seriously

English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration ...
English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration Canada at Toronto Lester B. Pearson Airport. Category:Passport stamps of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new infographic challenges Canadians to learn more about the country's immigration policies.

Toronto (PRWEB) June 26, 2012

CanadaFAQ.ca announced today publication of a new inforgraphic, designed to present some important facts about immigrants settling in Canada, facts that every Canadian should know.

The future of Canadian immigration policies has re-entered the public debate and aroused controversy. Thus the new infographic, which uses data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, aims to present a profile of immigrant populations and help Canadians learn about them.

Peter Todorov (president of Art Branch, Inc., the parent company of CanadaFAQ.ca) enlisted the help of Tsveta Mirtcheva, the lead web designer at Art Branch Inc.) to design the immigration infographic.

“Canada has always been a country with strong immigration traditions, and it’s a well-known fact that immigrants are the lifeblood of our nation. People from all around the world come to Canada to start a new, better life, sharing their diverse backgrounds and making our country stronger and more competitive,” said Peter Todorov, President of Art Branch Inc.

The infographic makes use of Canadian immigration statistics for 2011, presenting some important facts about immigrants, the continents and countries they come from, the top immigration destinations, and the major immigration categories.

Immigration is a key factor for the country’s socio-economic development, and the infographic provides important immigration information, offered in an easily digestible form. Given the vast territory and relatively small population of Canada, immigration is essential for its economic growth. It makes Canadian businesses more productive and the economy larger. Immigrants are not only workers – they are consumers who buy food, clothing, cars, and housing. The higher level of consumption results in more job openings to produce more goods. Canada is also a country built by immigrants coming from over 200 countries. This has promoted the growth of a multicultural society, based on intercultural dialogue, communication culture, and cultural tolerance. Canada’s multicultural reality shapes the social and cultural life of the country, and immigrants contribute to and enhance the cultural heritage of the country. Canadians should be more concerned about and involved in crafting and implementing immigration policies. This is important for Canada’s future socio-economic development.

About CanadaFAQ.ca: CanadaFAQ.ca is an informational resource developed by parent company, Art Branch Inc. and designed to offer unbiased information on anything Canadian.

About Art Branch: Art Branch Inc., located in Toronto, Ontario, is the parent company of CanadaFAQ.ca and has developed several consumer websites targeting both the Canadian and international audience. The goal of Art Branch is to provide visitors to company sites with free and useful guides, helping consumers make educated decisions about their lifestyles.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/6/prweb9641111.htm

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Oh, for crying out loud: Canada's birth rate down 1.5%, study says


The Canadian Press · Jun. 22, 2012 | Last Updated: Jun. 22, 2012 4:03 AM ET

A new report suggests fewer babies are being born in Canada than in the past. The report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows about 5,600 infants were born in hospitals in 2010-2011 - about 1.5% fewer than the year before. The report says this is the first time since 2002-2003 that hospitals have recorded a drop in births. The rate of babies born prematurely before 37 weeks has remained relatively stable at 1 in 12 births, although rates varied among provinces and territories. Alberta and Ontario had the highest rates of preterm births at more than 8%, while Quebec was the only province significantly below the national rate of 7.9%. Caesarean-section rates have remained stable over the years, but women age 35 and older had significantly higher C-section rates than their younger counterparts. The report also shows that hospital admission rates have dropped 31% since 1995.

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