After ending its investment immigration program in February 2014, Canada is all set to introduce a new program that allows wealthy individuals to obtain residency visas by investing a minimum sum of 1 million Canadian dollars into a venture capital fund that will be setup by the Government.
Before being abolished, the Canadian investment immigration scheme, which offered permanent residency in lieu of minimum investment of C$800,000, was very popular amongst investors, especially wealthy individuals from China. The applicant was required to invest the amount in the form of a five-year zero interest loan to a Canadian province.
Critics of the scheme highlighted the fact that foreign investors were enjoying the benefits of permanent residency in such a developed country without taking any risk whatsoever as the loan, backed by sovereign guarantee, suffered by virtually zero chances of default.
Many other countries are relying on immigration in lieu of investment to attract foreign investment into their troubled economies. Canada is expected to setup a venture capital fund that will utilize the minimum investment, ranging between C$1 million to C$2 million, brought in by the foreign investors and invest the same in start ups in Canada. The Canadian government has established an ambitious target of around C$120 million from this new scheme.
The new scheme is expected to address issues like undervaluation of residency in Canada and acquisition of permanent residency by the investor without actually moving to the country. Canada had indicated that a revamped scheme was in the works when scrapping its previous scheme but had not provided any details of the new investment immigration program.
Under the new scheme, investors may not have any guarantee of earning any return on their investment. Investors may even face losses if the target investment of the VC fund underperforms. The new scheme is expected to act as a shot in the arm for VC funding, which, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, witnessed a 29% decline in the third quarter of 2014 as compared to the third quarter of 2013.
The official spokesperson for the Canadian Immigration Ministry said that the terms and conditions of the new venture capital fund were still being finalized and that an official announcement would be made in due course. There is no official word on the specific features of the new investment immigration fund.
Venture capital funding has always been a preferred option for the Canadian government to encourage creation of skilled jobs and facilitation of long-term economic growth in the country. Ottawa had set aside a sum of C$400 million for existing and new funds to jump start the flow of private money into this new-age investment option in Canada. A typical fund will allocate funds to start-ups or companies still in nascent stage of operations and look to generate significantly high returns on investments. The government is seeking to attract twice its contribution to the fun in the form of private sector investment.
Investment immigration has gained popularity and acceptance in recent years with other developed countries offering residency or even citizenship/passport in lieu of foreign investment. In the UK, an investor pumping in GBP2 million can get a long-term visa without onerous residency conditions. European countries like Portugal, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, and Greece offer residency permits in exchange of real estate investments of just EUR250,000.
Australia enhanced its Significant Investor Program and introduced a Premium Investor Program that allows investors to apply for permanent residency after just 12 months of residence provided the applicant also makes an investment of A$15 million in the country. The former program required minimum investment of A$5 million for a period of four years. The new program requires investors to provide funds for infrastructure projects that involve significantly higher risk as compared to earlier investment options like purchase of sovereign bonds or allocation of money to managed funds.
Like the Canadian scheme that was eventually scrapped, the Australian investment program has witnessed significant demand from Chinese investors with 90.8% of all applicants coming from and 87.7% of all allocations going to China.
The scrapping of the Canadian scheme led to cancellation of tens of thousands of applications, mostly from individuals residing in China. The immigration investment scheme decision had followed Ottawa’s decision to prohibit Chinese government investment into Canada’s oil sands, fueling speculation that Canada was trying to actively discourage Chinese investments into the country. Despite speculation about discouraging investments from China, figures show that Canada has consistently led all other G7 countries in terms of per capita immigration inflow in recent years.
In a new set of immigration reforms announced last week, US president Barack Obama has outlined a plan that will let millions of illegal immigrants avoid deportation, though he also emphasized that this is a temporary measure and has urged Congress to make it permanent.
Under the new reforms, any person who has been living in the US for at least five years or is a parent of a citizen or permanent US resident can now apply for citizenship. People who arrived in the US after January 1, 2010 are not eligible, and all applicants under this plan will have to undergo security and background checks, prove their eligibility, and pay taxes.
“We’re going to offer the following deal. If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law,” Obama said in his 16-minute speech.
Supporters of the immigration reforms were in a jubilant mood, with many gathering outside the White House waving flags and holding up placards in support of the move. With the threat of deportation lifted, they feel the new reforms would make the immigration system more just.
However, the president warned that the rules should not be mistaken for what they are not. Elaborating further, Obama said that the new deal does not apply to anyone who has arrived in the US recently or will arrive in the US illegally in the future. Also it does not grant citizenship or permanent residence as that is for the Congress to decide. For now all it does is prevent the deportation of eligible immigrants.
Republicans have criticized the reforms, saying that the president does not have the constitutional authority to choose who to deport. They have also voiced their outrage over illegal immigrants gaining the right to claim the right to live in the US on the basis of their US born children.
“This unlawful, blatant executive action would legalize more than 5 million people here illegally. This president is single-handedly creating a constitutional crisis and hurting the citizens he took an oath to protect and defend,” said Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Under the new reforms, the following groups of people qualify to get an opportunity to remain in the US:
- Parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been in the US since January 1, 2010, and who are not ‘enforcement priorities’
- People who were brought to the US illegally as children before the age of 16
But while the reforms are seen as a step in the right directions by immigrant rights activists, their joy may be short lived. It will be several months before the federal government is ready to accept applications under the new scheme, and by then Republicans will have gained control of Congress and in all likelihood have taken steps to reverse the policy.
The president’s speech however, was aimed squarely at winning over all doubters. Quoting the Old Testament, Obama said, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger…for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”
The main beneficiaries of this policy are expected to be the illegal immigrants who are parents of children born in the US. These children – disparagingly called ‘anchor babies’ in heated debates on the issue – automatically get US citizenship at the moment, but their parents do not. With the new policy the parents of such children can apply to remain in the US.
Critics have pointed out that Obama’s policy will give legal residency rights to more people than the total number of jobs created by the Obama administration in the six years Obama has been in office.
“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. That’s just not how our democracy works,” said Ohio Republican and House Speaker John Boehner.
Boehner was supported by South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan. “What the president has done is unprecedented, unconstitutional, and an affront to the American people,” he said.
Sheriff Scott Jones from Sacramento County, California, added his voice to the debate by issuing a plea to Obama, narrating instances of criminals who murdered people after multiple deportations. “The problem I have is I can’t tell which ones are good and which ones are evil, and neither can you. By their very definition they are undocumented. This is not about racism – it is about an increasingly violent and uncertain world in which we are inadequately protected,” said Jones.
Requesting a permanent solution instead of a temporary fix, Jones added “Mr. President, my request to you today can simply be stated: make immigration reform a priority. I do not care which reform you choose. Pathway to citizenship, guest work program, or any of the other innovative programs that currently exist. But deferred action or amnesty is deferring this crisis. It is not reform, it’s simply giving up. It does nothing to make America or the undocumented population any safer,” he said.
Not everyone shares these concerns, however. Praise for the Obama’s speech came from Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, and chairman of the immigration task force with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “President Obama is using his pen to help the country and we celebrate his courage. I am going to sign up the families that are covered, keep fighting for the families that are not covered, and we are going to make the City of Chicago a model for the rest of the country,” he said.
However he pointed out that there was little hope of Obama’s policy being turned into law. “We all must recognize that no executive action is a substitute for legislation, so the fundamental challenge of getting legislation through the Republican-controlled House remains the same,” Gutierrez said.
The policy was also cheered by Labor unions, a major Democratic constituency. “Obama’s push for immigrants’ rights is about the long struggle of our nation to live up to our ideals of welcoming hard-working newcomers and expanding full rights to all who strive for the American Dream,” said George Gresham, president of a Service Employees International Union local, the largest healthcare union in the US.
The new policy will also protect people who arrived in the US illegally as children. The White House has stated that Obama’s policy will protect those “who arrived in the US before turning 16 years old and before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today.” However the White House has repeatedly emphasized that this move is only a temporary solution and that they have asked for backing and support from Congress to make it permanent.
“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” said the president.
The new policy is based on the belief that there is a link between border security and deportation reprieves. By legalizing millions of US residents, the government will not be obligated to spend valuable resources in tracking, capturing and deporting of such people anymore. This additionally will make resources available to patrol the US-Mexico border, and help in blocking off illegal immigrants at the point most of them enter the US.
Advocates are concerned about the surge in the green card applications and related queries following the announcement of this policy. California-based immigration lawyer Annaluisa Padilla says she has been receiving double the usual number of calls ever since the reforms were announced. “It’s like the golden ticket. Everybody who is calling my office is asking how can I get a work permit under Obama’s program? I am like, there is no Obama program yet,” she said.
Several immigrant support groups are planning information campaigns about the policy, targeting immigrant communities. In Florida, immigrant advocates will start a text messaging system along with a hotline service in Spanish and English to keep their community members informed. The text messaging system will also be implemented by the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center.
Clinics will be opened in New York by not-for-profit organizations and immigration advocates to help screen immigrants who qualify under the program. Whereas in Southern California, advocacy groups plan to hold workshops to educate people about the order.
Many illegal immigrants from Mexico are relying on Obama’s policy to help them gain legal status in the US. However, lawyers have been warning them not to get their hopes up too high as Republican lawmakers are most likely going to impede Obama’s plan. “What I am telling my families to do is be prepared for war. We’re going to see a legislative arm do whatever they can to stop the president,” says Jessica Dominguez, immigration lawyer from South California.
A join study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto has revealed that the most common reason behind immigrant children ending up homeless is the intergenerational conflict with their parents over cultural differences, while another major reason was found to be the family’s disapproval of the youth’s sexual orientation.
The study shows that there are about 65,000 homeless youth in Canada, accounting for a third of the total homeless population in the country. Out of these, one-fourth were born outside Canada.
“The main precipitant of their homelessness is the clashes between the new culture people are coming to, which is freer and easier, and the old, traditional life their parents had. It is more than the adolescent tension between parents wanting kids to live the lives they had and the new generation wanting to push forward. That tension is magnified in newcomer families,” says Dr. Kwame McKenzie of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
The study titled ‘Hidden in Our Midst: Homeless Newcomer Youth in Toronto’ lists age, race, sexual orientation and gender as some of the factors that contribute to a young person becoming homeless, adding “For newcomer youth, however, it is the juncture of these factors, in addition to the presence of language and cultural barriers, lack of status, personal ties and history in Canada that uniquely situate them amongst the most vulnerable of homeless youth.”
According to the study, a homeless person is defined as one who is living outside, or in a shelter or transitional housing, or at a friend’s house or “couch-surfing”. Twenty-seven-year-old Cheyanne Ratnam, a Sri Lankan immigrant youth who began couch surfing when she was twelve, says, “My mother had multiple jobs to support the two of us. I grew up in the Canadian culture and there was a difference between cultures. My mom did not approve of the choices I made. I was well adjusted, and I didn’t understand why mom could not.”
Ratnam later lived at Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and today has a Masters degree in social work.
For the study, 74 homeless immigrant youth in Toronto were interviewed, 45% of which were women and 55% men. One fifth of them identified themselves as homosexual, while17% said they were ‘questioning’ or preferred not to disclose their sexual orientation to researchers.
Among those interviewed, 36% came from the Caribbean, 27% from Africa, 10% from the Middle East and 9% from South America. The average duration of homelessness was 30 months and most of them became homeless when they were 17 years old. More than 50% of those interviewed were permanent residents in Canada, 37% were citizens of Canada, 27% were in the process of seeking asylum and 7% were on student or tourist visas.
One in three of the young people had come to Canada on their own, but about 40% of them had arrived with their parents. About 45% of the youth had experienced physical abuse, and one-third reported having suffered sexual abuse. More than one-fourth also said that they had experienced trauma through political unrest or wars in their native countries.
According to the report, “Family conflict and income insecurity were the main factors for why newcomer youth first entered a situation of homelessness. Family breakdown and instability, such as separation, blended families, and changing cities are significant contributors to youth homelessness.”
The study highlights the mismatch between the requirements of homeless youth and the services accessible to them. A youth-support agency in Toronto called the Youth Link has reached out to 6,049 youth in the region during the past year through a range of programs like women’s residence and co-op housing. According to Janice Hayes of Youth Link, different community sectors like health centres, ethnocultural-specific groups, and places of worship can all contribute by providing support to the homeless youth.
Hardships and lack of a support network resulted in about 45% of the homeless youth studied in the report to identify “religion or God” as their main source of support, though friends (28%) and partners (24%) also provided support to some.
“We deal with so many kids and this (newcomer) group often gets lost. There is always the big trust factor. Building that is huge and expensive,” says Hayes.
The study concludes with several recommendations to counter the problem of homelessness in Toronto. Some of the recommended courses of action include adopting an intensive case-management system to settle homeless youth, expanding strong peer support networks to guide the youth, and taking steps to increase intergenerational family support.
Amid concerns of steadily increasing prices of housing in Vancouver, prominent economist Robin Wiebe says that this trend is directly linked to the purchases made by wealthy foreign – mostly Chinese – investors.
Last week the Conference Board of Canada announced that the property prices in Vancouver will not be seeing any downward trend anytime soon, adding to the frustration of people who want to purchase a house but cannot afford to do so on their current incomes. According to Wiebe’s explanation, it is because “individuals are buying houses from wealth, as opposed to earnings.”
Wiebe has highlighted the direct link between the price escalation in Vancouver to growth patterns in China. Having studied Vancouver’s real estate market between 1991 and 1013, Wiebe’s findings show that “periods of faster growth in China coincide with growth in Vancouver’s house prices.” His research also shows that there is a strong connection between the volume of house sales and GDP growth in China.
The work of David Ley, professor of geography at University of B.C., backs up Wiebe’s research. Ley’s book Millionaire Migrants (2010) shows the link between Vancouver’s real estate prices and the rates of international immigration into the city in the period 1972 to 2002.
According to Wiebe, Vancouver’s rising property prices can be stalled or reversed only when China’s economic growth slows down or if the Chinese government places stricter restrictions on transfer of money outside of China. It is estimated that in 2015 China’s economic growth rate will slow down from 7.4% to 7.1%. “If China’s economy slows, that has the potential to cool Vancouver’s housing demand, stall sales and price growth,” says Wiebe.
Wiebe believes that demand for housing in Vancouver will continue to grow. Up until now 70% of new houses in Vancouver have been designed as multi-family units, but this is going to increase to 80% due to geographical and economic constraints. And since Vancouver’s population is also growing at a healthy pace, Wiebe feels that it will help meet the increasing supply of housing. “The Vancouver market is in good shape now, the market is balanced and housing starts are steady,” says Wiebe.
Single-family units’ prices have been following a different price trend compared to other types of housing units since 2010, according to Wiebe. Since 2012, the trend has also been seen in semi-detached units, prices of which are now increasing at a higher rate. On the other hand, prices of condos have recorded relatively moderate increases.
The Canadian Government will launch its new Express Entry Immigration System on January 1, 2015. Immigration Lawyer Colin Singer, Managing Partner of Immigration.ca and Global Recruiters of Montreal (www.grnmontreal.com), shares insight into what potential immigrants and Canadian employers can expect.
How do you anticipate Express Entry will operate?
The Federal Skilled Worker Program, FSWP the largest component of Canada’s Economic Class previously functioned under a first in/first out, point based system that attempted to measure the potential “human capital” contribution of an immigrant to Canada.
Under the new Express Entry system, Canada’s Immigration Minister will promote an Employer Driven selection model by taking on a matching, facilitator approach to recruitment. Canada’s immigration department will become an online electronic interface between foreign national applicants and potential hiring employers in Canada.
Under Express Entry, qualified applicants across many occupations will be invited to submit their profile to an Express Entry Pool and to the Canada Job Bank.
Employers will be encouraged to review candidates with the highest ranking and provide a job offer to the candidate of their choice.
Applicants with an approved job offer or those selected by a province or with “Provincial Nomination” will be considered a “match” and will be invited to formally apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The profiles of the remaining applicants will be ranked for consideration without a “sponsor” or hiring employer. Using a point system according to a number of selection factors such as Age, Education, Language, Experience and other factors, the highest ranked candidates will be considered for their potential “human capital” contribution to Canada.
Immigration authorities will then decide which of the highest ranked applicants will be invited to apply for permanent residence. This will take place across applicable economic class programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Skilled Trades Program the Canada Experience Class and other programs.
The 10 provinces and territories will retain autonomy to continue selecting immigrants under their immigration programs.
How long will this process take?
Applicants who are invited to apply for permanent residence will have 60-days to submit a full application. The government promises a selection decision in 6-months or less in most cases.
Applicants who receive a selection decision will then undergo medical and security formalities which could take another 6 months to conclude after a positive decision. Overall processing time will likely range 6-12 months for the majority of applicants.
Under Express Entry, will applicants be dependent on a job offer from a “sponsor” Canadian employer?
Annual levels for 2015 have been raised to between 260,000 – 285,000 which will represent Canada’s highest immigration levels in 5 years. From this level approximately 170,000 will comprise Economic Class immigrants and their dependants. A qualified job offer from an employer in Canada is a significant benefit but is not a requirement. The numbers of applicants who are expected to succeed in securing an approved job offer under Express Entry will likely be modest.
Will the Federal Skilled Worker Program continue under Express Entry?
The FSWP will continue to comprise the largest number of admissions to Canada.
Will Express Entry succeed?
As immigration lawyers and professionally licensed recruiters on behalf of Canadian employers, we believe that most small and mid-sized employers will be reluctant to take on the task of direct recruitment. Many employers will continue to rely on the services of skilled recruiters.
Employers with pressing hiring needs will unlikely wait a period of 6 months or longer for a candidate to begin employment.
The Canada Job Bank under the new Express Entry system may become a marginal or secondary source of potential candidates for recruiters. At best, this could account for a modest number of applicants selected by employers under the new system.
However for the remaining candidates without a job offer from a Canadian employer, immigration authorities will invite the highest ranked candidates to apply for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Program and other federal programs.
The Federal Skilled Worker Program will continue to represent the largest number of Economic Class immigrants to Canada with most being selected under the human capital contribution assessment approach.
Express Entry will succeed to the extent that the inventory of potential candidates and the processing of applications for permanent residence by the Canadian government will be easier to manage than previously.
How is immigration.ca positioned for Canada’s new Express Entry Immigration System?
We strongly believe that employment recruitment and individualized search consulting assistance is an important consideration for all immigrant applicants to Canada. In 2007, we acquired Global Recruiters of Montreal (www.grnmontreal.com) an independently owned franchise of Chicago based Global Recruiters Network. GRN Montreal provides search consulting expertise that applicants and employers require. For the past 7 years we have provided all our immigration clients with invaluable, search consulting services from our in-house trained recruiters. We believe our clients have the best chances to succeed in their immigration projects under the new Express Entry Immigration to Canada.
Ahead of launching the express entry immigration program on January 1st 2015, the federal government has been consulting with a nine-member group that represents some of Canada’s biggest employers. Two of these members have expressed concerns over the new system and say that they will ‘wait and watch’ how it will unfold.
According to the Canada Gazette, the nine-member group was formed in 2013 to provide the government with information and feedback on the development of the new express entry system. The nine member group consists of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, the Canadian Construction Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Information and Communication Technology Council, Canadian Restaurants and Food Services Association, The Immigrant Employment Council of B.C., Irving Shipbuilding, Oil Sands producer Syncrude Canada, and Hylife Ltd.
The new express entry system allows skilled immigrants to apply online for jobs in 50 occupations after which they will be matched based on “scores that reflect their human capital and ability to succeed in the Canadian economy”. The best-matched candidates with the highest rankings will then be allowed to apply for permanent residency in Canada. The entire application process will be strictly online, though paper applications will be accepted from people with disabilities. All applications will be processed within six months.
It has been estimated that in 2015 about 260,000 to 285,000 new permanent residents will arrive in Canada under this system, and that the online application system will cost the government $6.7 million over a period of ten years.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce showed its support for the new system, saying that it helps filling up vacancies for which there are no Canadian applicants.
However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) does not seem too happy with the changes. Their main concern is over tightening of rules for the temporary foreign workers. “That is our criticism of the express entry system, that it still prohibits lower-skilled workers from coming to Canada and taking the jobs that are going begging in our economy. Decades ago, when many of our ancestors came to Canada, they didn’t come to Canada to take jobs in a lab. They came to work on a farm,” said Dan Kelly, CEO of CFIB.
The CFIB, which represents 109,000 small businesses, is also unsure about how the system will work. While employers have been briefed about the new online system by the government, it still remains to be seen how efficient the matching of skilled workers with vacancies is going to be. “The reality is, until we actually have employers experiencing the process, we don’t really know — and neither does the government — how well it will work,” says Anson-Cartwright of CFIB.
The apprehension stems from the fact that employers are not allowed the same “privileged access” to the online system that the local governments have. The employers have to simply rely on the government to provide them with suitable matches as they cannot themselves search the express entry pool. “You’d rather see more detail and have a chance to make your own assessment, rather than waiting on individuals to pop up through virtue of how they’ve designed the job system,” says Anson-Cartwright.
Source: cbc.ca News
The US President Barack Obama announced historic immigration reforms last week, which allow millions of illegal immigrants in the country (about 4.7 million) to avoid deportation and take steps to obtain citizenship.
As per the new reforms, any person who has been living in the US for five years or is a parent of a citizen or permanent US resident can now apply for citizenship and avoid getting deported.
While the reforms have generated criticism from the Republicans, immigration activists feel these changes are not enough. The issue of illegal immigration is a matter of concern in Canada as well, although it is debatable whether reforms similar to those announced by the US would be beneficial here.
Colin Singer, a Canada immigration lawyer from Montreal, views the US reforms as a positive step and says that the Harper government should follow Obama’s example by implementing similar reforms. According to Singer, there are 200,000 undocumented immigrants in Canada, with the majority of them resident in Greater Toronto. “I believe that an amnesty program could be introduced under a joint agreement between Ottawa and each of the provinces as they all have immigration agreements with Ottawa,” says Singer.
According to the 2009 House of Commons Immigration Committee Report, there are significant differences between the Canadian and American illegal immigrant populations. While most of the undocumented immigrants in the US have illegally entered through its southern border, most of the immigrants in Canada entered the country legally, whether as a tourist or on a temporary worker’s visa.
The report states, “Different people react differently to being without status in the country. Some seek to take advantage of Canada’s refugee and social system by filing false refugee claims or fraudulently seeking social benefits. Periodically the media reports stories of people here illegally who repeatedly commit crimes and yet avoid deportation. Less often do we hear the stories of the untold thousands who find jobs under the table and quietly toil for years, often at jobs Canadians refuse, while they raise their children and integrate into Canadian society.”
The report highlights that these invisible immigrants and their families are subject to more abuse than temporary foreign workers and they quietly tolerate substandard working conditions for fear of being deported.
Singer believes that illegal immigrants who are currently employed in Canada could be given temporary work permits by the Canadian government. Those who remain in good standing could apply for permanent residence after a period of 12 to 24 months.
Almost a quarter of Canada’s illegal immigrants could make use of such a scheme and bring in significant tax revenue, Singer adds. “This could represent some $150 million in direct annual taxes and ER contributions in the first year alone. Plus, these individuals would eventually be able to sponsor their immediate family members and this would further increase income taxes, ER payroll taxes and HST consumption tax expenditures far beyond the income tax revenues.”
Canada has offered amnesty to illegal immigrants before but there has never been anything significantly successful. Such programs have often met with criticism that they encourage foreigners to evade rules and hence encourages illegal immigration.
Singer however does not agree with this argument. “The last amnesty in Canada I believe was in the 1980s. So a ‘clean up’ once every 30 years or so will in my opinion, not serve to increase illegal immigration. We have enough safeguards and visa restrictions under the current government that will ensure the status quo for quite some time,” he argues.
According to a report by the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS), McMaster University and the Globalization and Autonomy Project, Canada launched eight ‘regularization’ programs between 1964 and 2004. The report states, “However, nothing was implemented and non‐status people in Canada currently have almost no opportunity to regularize their immigration status. Today, the only official option for non‐status immigrants to get status is through a Humanitarian & Compassionate application. With an estimated 5 per cent success rate, however, this process is obviously far from adequate.”
Source: Yahoo News
Faced with the growing demand for highly skilled professionals and an increasing shortage of people with specialized skills, Canadian manufacturers are teaming up to hire youth workers with little or no prior work experience and then investing in training them afterwards.
The scheme has been initiated by the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium, which is made up of four industry associations in the tooling and machining, aerospace, manufacturing, and nuclear sectors. The consortium is working with a training institute with additional funding provided by the provincial government under their Youth Skills Connections Program. The initiative seeks to recruit unemployed or disadvantaged young people in their twenties.
The hired youth are paid from their first day at work and undergo six months of classroom and on-the-job training, with an opportunity of getting permanent full-time employment with the same employer upon successful completion of the training.
In Toronto, the first batch of 16 young adults are being trained as machinists, with manufacturers set to announce plans to extend the scheme by training a total of 80 youth workers by the end of next year. The consortium also plans to start similar initiatives in other parts of Ontario and in other occupations.
All this comes as good news for young people, who over the past few years have been struggling to find their first jobs in Canada’s competitive job market. The country’s youth employment rate has not shown much improvement in recent years, with only half of the youth being gainfully employed. The percentage of youth who are employed in part-time jobs but want full-time work has been increasing since the recession, with the percentage of young people working in full-time jobs falling to a record low just last month.
Tougher rules around Canada’s temporary foreign worker program along with increasing business growth are believed to be the reasons why companies are motivated into hiring local youth and training them in-house. Cyclone Manufacturing Inc., an aerospace parts making company, used to work with 20 temporary foreign workers up to a few years ago. But things have changed now. “It’s almost impossible to get (government approval) for a machinist … so we need to train people internally,” says Robert Sochaj, executive vice-president of Cyclone.
Even though the OECD has asked Canada’s employers to increase their efforts in skills training, many employers are reluctant to make this kind of long-term investment. According to estimates by the Conference Board of Canada, over the last two decades, employers have reduced investment on workplace training by about 40%.
In what is welcome news for Canada’s young job seekers, the consortium of manufacturers has decided to invest between $15,000 and $20,000 per new hire to train them in their new jobs. Employers say that they have an immediate requirement for 270 “computer-numerical control (CNC) machinists”, a number that will increase to over 700 over the next two years.
Trainees are paid between $12 and $15 per hour, with pay increasing as their skills improve over time. CNC machinists can eventually go on to earn up to $25 to $35 an hour.
“It’s a great opportunity to be paid to learn,” says 25-year-old Gregory Wood, one of the new hires under the program. Wood plans to pursue his career at Cyclone where he received his training.
Under the initiative, the applicants are first tested for both aptitude and attitude to establish their motivation and capability for mathematical and spacial thinking. So far about 40% of applicants have been accepted, and with just two dropouts, the participation rate of 90% is considered to be exceedingly good.
Though such initiatives are still not common in Canada, they have long been practiced in other countries like Germany where employers have stronger and closer ties with educational institutions. Kevin Lynch, vice-chairman of Bank of Montreal, believes that Canada should follow this model more aggressively. “Having a highly-skilled work force will be one of the competitive differentiators of countries in the future. Our biggest resource in the future is the kids that we’re graduating today. How we educate them, how we train them and give them their first work experiences is everybody’s gain, not just theirs, frankly – it’s a societal gain, it’s an economy gain,” he says.
The course offered by the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium extends over 26 weeks, out of which the trainees need to spend three weeks in a classroom, where they learn how to read blueprints and use various tools. The rest of the 23 weeks are spent at work where they receive hands-on training while working on the same machines they will have to operate when they complete their training. At the end of the course, the trainees are formally interviewed by the employers, and permanent jobs are offered to those considered most suitable.
Such training schemes are typically not possible in schools as specialized manufacturing equipment can be quite expensive, with each machine costing millions of dollars. “We shouldn’t be expecting schools to buy expensive equipment like this on which students can learn. Why couldn’t we find a way to have them learn in the workplace, on the equipment they’re actually going to be seeing? From an overall societal consideration, avoiding the cost of putting expensive equipment into learning organizations seems to make sense,” says Rod Jones, director of the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium.
Source: Globe and Mail
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is appealing a Federal Court decision that rejects the manner in which the Canadian government’s new Refugee Appeal Division evaluates refugee claims.
In August, a judge ruled that the division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has been using too narrow a scope to conduct its work.
In a case involving three failed refugee claimants from Kosovo, Judge Michael Phelan ruled the appeal division has been checking only the reasonableness of decisions by the board to declare whether individuals are refugees — the equivalent of a judicial review. Phelan said the division instead should exercise its full powers as an appeal body to reconsider the facts of a case and substitute a new decision if it disagrees with the appeal division.
Now the federal government is opposing that broadening of the appeal division’s role. The Federal Court certified the government’s appeal last month. A spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in an email Friday the government’s appeal is intended to seek clarification on the court ruling, “specifically on the scope of the appeal function of the Refugee Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.”
Critics say the government’s reaction to the ruling is predictable. It’s the second time the government has launched an appeal on a refugee matter in recent weeks. In October, the government also appealed a ruling by Federal Court Judge Anne Mactavish, who found cuts to refugee health care were “cruel and unusual” treatment, and unconstitutional.
Refugee scholar Sharry Aiken of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said she expects the government to try to take the question of the scope of the refugee appeal process to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The refugee appeal division was promised but never created and when it finally was created in 2012, the government placed several restrictions on who can launch an appeal.
Source: CBC News