The Canadian government is planning to propose several changes to legislation in order to make voting rules stricter for Canadian expatriates who cast their votes from overseas.
According to the Canadian minister for democratic reform, Pierre Poilievre, there will be seven amendments proposed that would “clarify parts of a bill meant to tighten rules for Canadians voting from abroad”.
The proposed changes to the legislation will aim to make it mandatory for voters residing outside Canada to provide proof of citizenship and adequate identification, while making it compulsory for them to vote only in the riding where they lived previously. The changes will also make it easier for expatriates to be able to get someone to vouch for their previous residence.
Under the existing rules, an expatriate is required to find a person from the same polling division, which is a small area within a riding. But with the changes, they can get their residence verified from any person who lives in the same constituency.
“We believe that people should provide identification when they vote,” said Poilievre, addressing the procedure and House affairs committee. He also stressed that the proposed amendments reflected the general beliefs of the Harper government.
However, the opposition says that the bill is an attempt to suppress the vote, following in the lines of the ruling party’s controversial Fair Elections Act. “This is just the ‘unfair elections act,’ part 2,” says David Christopherson of the New Democratic Party.
The new bill will also seek to ensure that an estimated 40,000 people, who are non-citizens but are on the national voters’ registry, are not permitted to cast their votes. It will provide authority to the minister of citizenship and immigration to provide information on names, birth dates, gender and addresses of non-citizens to the chief electoral officer, to make it easier for Elections Canada to remove those non-citizens from the voters’ list.
Canada’s Conservative government claims to be improving the immigration system and improving the processing of economic class immigrants and refugees. But it continues to neglect family class immigration. The processing times for family sponsorship are steadily increasing, leading critics to call the system uncaring, inflexible and inhumane.
It currently takes 27 months to sponsor a husband or wife already residing in Canada through the in Canada stream and almost four years to assess a sponsor’s eligibility to bring in their parents and grandparents – who then must wait several more years to complete the formalities at Canadian visa agencies abroad.
There are numerous anecdotal examples of families facing long delays. For some the view is that the federal government department has adopted an insensitive approach to the process.
Djordje Momcilovic has a dim view of the situation. “I’m a proud Canadian and grateful for the opportunities this country has given me,” says Momcilovic. “But I’m not proud that the Canadian government is promoting family values and reunion but in fact it is keeping and tearing families apart.”
Analysts confirm the work culture at the immigration department has become more rigid and inflexible since the Conservatives started governing in 2006, with the system becoming more centralized and an increasing disconnect between applicants and decision-makers.
NDP’s multiculturalism critic Andrew Cash says MPs are constantly bombarded with requests for assistance in dealing with immigration issues.
“We see all manner of stories that really break your heart and are costly for Canada,” says Cash. “This government has failed to deal with the backlogs, and it is wreaking havoc in people’s lives. Right now, our bureaucracy is in a very tough time. We are seeing it not just at Citizenship and Immigration Canada but in other departments and ministries, where more and more power and control is concentrated at the minister’s office.”
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office has said that in 2015 Canada will grant permanent residency status to around 70,000 people under the family class.
“Anecdotal accounts are not necessarily more broadly representative or, unfortunately, even factual in some cases,” says Kevin Menard, spokesperson for Chris Alexander. “Each case is unique, and each is assessed on its merits based on the information applicants provide to officials. We are working to eliminate backlogs and reduce processing times. Our government is committed to reuniting as many spouses and partners as possible, as quickly as possible, while ensuring permanent resident targets are met for all immigration streams,” says Menard.
The Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA) says that most new immigrants coming to New Brunswick are better educated and more affluent than before, with the majority qualifying under the provincial nominee program.
According to MAGMA communications coordinator Justin Ryan, immigrants coming to New Brunswick in the past would arrive in relatively poor shape.
“Now we’re getting people who are coming here who are much more well educated, much more affluent; however the barriers are more in terms of turning their experience and professional skills into something that is useful for us locally,” said Ryan.
Ryan says most immigrants are from South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East, and that fewer than 10% of MAGMA’s clients are refugees.
“Around 80 per cent of immigrants who come to New Brunswick actually come under the provincial nominee program. So they’re coming here as well-educated professionals. They’re coming here with higher language skills, and they’re coming here as entrepreneurs,” he said.
The Bank of Canada’s governor Stephen Poloz said that he expects Canada’s economy to overcome the setback caused by the plunge in oil prices and return to full capacity by the end of 2016.
According to Poloz, last year saw a large number of job losses in the Canadian oil sector due to the drop in the price of Brent crude oil from $100 to below $50. As a result, manufacturers of equipment for the oil industry were adversely affected, and housing and consumer expenditure experienced slower growth.
Poloz says that based on the recent figures that were released on May 29, Canada’s output in the first quarter has been “basically flat”. However, he predicts that following the January interest rate cut and the low value of Canadian dollar, the second quarter of this year would see the economy “rebound partially.”
Poloz also expressed optimism that the economy would be “back on track to reach full capacity around the end of 2016”.
However, Poloz has warned that the effects of oil price shock may take years to fade away. “The implications for income and investment (of low oil prices), and the adjustments they’re causing across sectors and regions, may take years to work themselves out.”
It is not known exactly how many foreign doctors have come to Ontario with dreams of becoming licensed physicians, but HealthForceOntario, which provides service to those doctors, estimates that since 2007 there have been more than 15,000.
Last year, Ontario’s six medical schools chose just 70 of them to become residents. While foreign doctors face long odds of practising medicine in Ontario, the federal government has made it easier for them to immigrate here.
Doctors come to Canada from across the globe with many different specialties: oncology, heart surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, radiology, ophthalmology, pathology, critical care medicine and internal medicine to name a few.
Despite the background of foreign trained doctors, it has always been tough for foreign doctors to pass the medical licensing examinations. Stories of doctors driving cabs are more than urban legend. But in recent years, it’s gone from bad to worse. Foreign doctors are elbowed out of the way by an unlikely group: Canadians who get rejected by medical schools here, go abroad to study in places such as the Caribbean, then apply for residency in Ontario.
In just eight years, the number of Canadians seeking to return has grown to 800 from about 250. In 2014, they took two-thirds of the 200 or so residency positions Ontario funds for international medical grads.
A 2011 Ontario health ministry-funded report found some residency programs nixed the applications of foreign doctors because they graduated from medical school too long ago, and didn’t consider their vast amounts of clinical experience in their own private practices.
Foreign doctors may now indicate on their applications their most recent clinical experience, but it’s unclear how that’s weighed by those who oversee selection of residents at Canada’s 17 medical schools.
Ontario’s health ministry defended the application process, while acknowledging that improvements are being planned.
Stephen Poloz has kept markets on edge ever since an unexpected rate cut to the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate in January, the first adjustment in four-and-a-half years.
The Bank of Canada governor and his policy team are likely to keep their options open, maintaining the trendsetting lending level at 0.75 per cent — down from the one per cent set in September 2010. Poloz has said the “insurance” cut is working for now.
However, a lot has happened since the central bank’s surprise 25-basis-point cut on Jan. 21. The Canadian economy has been sideswiped by the global collapse in oil prices, threatening to pull resources-dependent Alberta into recession, perhaps Saskatchewan along with it. It hasn’t helped that the U.S. economy also got off to a slow start in 2015.
Some of Canada’s top economists share their views on the Bank of Canada’s policy decisions this year — their effectiveness and where the key borrowing level is heading next, and when.
Douglas Porter, BMO Capital Markets chief economist
“I think [the rate cut] was modestly effective. We are talking about a 25-basis-point cut. Ultimately, only 15 basis points of which showed up in prime lending rates. Initially, of course, there was a shock reaction by the Canadian dollar. There was a shock reaction in the bond market and there was a positive reaction in equities. Of the three, I would say, really, the only lasting effect was on the equity market.
For equities, we’re up a little more than six per cent from pre-cut levels, which is substantial.
I do think the bank’s cut did probably play a role in some of the aggressive mortgage rate cuts we’ve seen among banks in recent months.
I think it would be pretty tough to justify a rate increase any time soon — unless oil prices came flaring back and there was a view that this was sustainable. But I suspect though the bank will be very slow to turn around. They’ll be very cautious, wanting to see the full impact of the oil collapse in oil prices over the past year.
We’re forecasting them staying on hold over the next year and start raising rates in the second half of 2016.
Craig Alexander, TD Economics chief economist
“The rate cut in January provided some stimulus to the Canadian economy, but the impact was very slight. Interest rates were already incredibly low, and much of the drop in yields in the early months of the year reflected a rally in global fixed income markets, which has now reversed course.
I don’t think the Bank of Canada needs to cut rates further, or should cut rates further. I worry about household debt, and consumers don’t need more incentive to leverage their finances.
If the Canadian economy fails to rebound from the likely flat reading of economic growth in Q1, I think the bank will start to consider further cuts.
However, I would urge them not to cut again unless it looks like the economy is heading for another downturn. They are already providing massive stimulus, and it is leading to an indebtness problem that will need to be addressed in the future.”
Avery Shenfeld, chief economist, CIBC World Markets
“The rate cut was only of marginal significance through the interest rate channel, but the Canadian dollar is likely weaker than it would have been otherwise, as it underscored to markets that the Bank of Canada will also not be hiking when the Fed does so. A weaker trading range for the Canadian dollar will, with a lot of patience, help the export sector rebuild.
Given that the impact was largely through the exchange rate, the Bank of Canada could be compelled to cut again if we saw the combination of continued slow growth and an appreciating Canadian dollar that threatened to undermine the desired rotation to improved export performance.
Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist, Royal Bank of Canada
The bank’s decision to cut resulted in an easing in financial conditions and in turn an acceleration in business borrowing via increases in longer-term financing, and short-term financing providing the capital needed for firms to increase investment to expand capacity — outside the oil and gas sector.
We expect the bank’s next move will be a rate hike, based on our view that the economy will grow at an above-potential pace in upcoming quarters resulting in the output gap closing in the middle of 2016.
Emanuella Enenajor, senior economist, BofA Merrill Lynch
The main channel of the Bank of Canada rate cut was through mortgage rates. The easing in the overnight rate contributed to a slight decline in Canadian mortgage rates, supporting an increase in house prices and credit demand.
A rate cut would be justified if it is clear that the Canadian economy is set to grow notably below the BoC’s forecast, a sign of a persistently negative output gap and persistent downside inflationary risk.
Derek Holt, vice-president, Scotiabank Economics
“I think the cut had a modestly positive impact, but would place it second to the impact of broader global forces that had lowered bond yields and weakened the currency. Those global forces have now reversed significantly.
We forecast the BoC to be on hold throughout 2015-16. To hike before then would require large unexpected upsides to growth and for the temporary upward influences on core inflation to be more permanent in nature. “
Sherry Cooper, chief economist, Dominion Lending Centres
I think the rate cut was warranted. It did lead to lower mortgage rates, which does spur housing and/or put more money in people’s pockets. It did lower the Canadian dollar, which boosts exports at the margin.
There will be no rate increase until next year and not until we are much closer to full capacity utilization and two-per-cent inflation.
There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about Canada’s skilled labour shortage, and which occupations are the most challenging to fill. According to Manpower Group’s Talent Shortage Survey, 32 per cent of Canadian employers report having difficulties filling some positions.
The working population is declining, forcing employers to select from shrinking talent pools. Technology is evolving faster than ever, changing the skills needed for jobs and shortening the life cycle of those skills.
In Canada, employers have the hardest time finding skilled tradespeople; drivers and business executives are also hard to come by, according to the survey. Skilled trades’ vacancies are the hardest jobs to fill worldwide, the survey found, with engineering and sales rep vacancies rounding out the top three.
Here are the 10 jobs Canadian employers have the hardest time filling, according to Manpower Group:
7. Administrative assistant
5. Sales representatives
1. Skilled Trades
For decades, Canada has been considered an international leader in welcoming and integrating newcomers. New data shows this long-established reputation of openness may no longer hold true.
The new data from the Migrant Integration Policy Index, or MIPEX, which will be officially released at Ryerson University on Wednesday, reveals that Canada’s performance has declined. This is Canada’s first dip since it was added to the index in 2008.
The one-point drop marks a turning point in our trajectory as a leader among countries that welcome immigrants. And it is likely only the start. It comes at the end of a decade of seismic change in Canadian immigration, thanks to the governing Conservatives, the results of which we are only beginning to see.
MIPEX is a benchmark tool compiled in consultation with scholars and institutions from 38 countries measuring laws and policies under 167 policy indicators on migrant integration.
Thomas Huddleston of the Migration Policy Group in Brussels, which compiles the index scores and has been tracking international performance since 2006, says, “Canada’s lower MIPEX score raises serious questions about the intentions and impact of the government’s new turn on immigration policies.”
Over the last year, the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement and the Global Diversity Exchange contributed to the index by collecting information on newcomer integration along a range of social and political dimensions.
It has been found that, especially on the issues of family reunification and access to citizenship, Canada is moving backwards.
Becoming a Canadian is harder now than it was just a few years ago. The MIPEX scores indicate a steady decline in “access to nationality” from 71 points (out of a maximum of 100) in 2010 to 67 points in 2015.
This poor performance reflects recent and successive policy changes under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives since 2006. For example Ottawa has raised the fee for citizenship applications to more than $500 for an adult (a mark-up of 430 per cent since 2013) and made the citizenship test more difficult to pass. If those holding dual citizenship are deemed to have committed certain crimes against the state, Ottawa is now able to revoke Canadian citizenship with minimal formalities.
The government’s choice of revoking citizenship as opposed to using the existing criminal justice system is an indication of its tendency to view immigrants as something less than Canadians. Harper has gone on record to say that Canada has no intention of creating an underclass of immigrants. Actions speak louder than words.
The Conservatives’ restrictive policies have led to fewer immigrants becoming Canadian citizens. Only 26 per cent of immigrants who landed in Canada in 2008 became Canadian citizens in 2014 as opposed to 79 per cent in 2000. This becomes a problem when non-citizens are paying taxes, sending their children to school, and are committed to Canada.
Although Canada has traditionally scored high on family reunification, its scores are declining there too. Of particular concern, the score measuring eligibility for sponsoring family members dropped from 79 in 2010 to 64 in 2015.
It is now more difficult for immigrants to sponsor family. In 2013, Canada admitted almost 80,000 newcomers or 27 per cent of all immigrants to Canada, under the family stream. These immigrants are crucial to a successful settlement and integration experience because they provide social supports ranging from supplementary income to daycares and emotional assistance.
Recently, Ottawa has made numerous changes to family reunification policies including raising the sponsorship commitment from 10 to 20 years, increasing the income requirement for sponsoring parents and grandparents by 30 per cent, and instituting a longer period during which a sponsor must meet this requirement.
The younger generation too will find joining their families in Canada more difficult. The federal government reduced the age of dependants from 22 to 19, and exceptions for full-time students or financially dependent children are no longer available.
Canada’s story of exceptionalism is widely regarded by others as a model in how it manages immigration and succeeds in integrating immigrants. However, the evidence now portrays another story, one that is somewhat more tarnished than we know.
The new data signals a shift and encourages us to reflect on the most alarming trends and redirect where necessary. But there is some good mixed in with the bad. Canada still leads in labour market integration, anti-discrimination and creating a sense of belonging for newcomers.
Canadians have until the Fall to reflect whether the current policy direction under the governing Conservatives is the preferred choice. A federal election will take place on October 19, 2015.
As part of his coverage of the TNW European Conference last month, The Next Web’s Andrii Degeler sat down with 500px co-founder Oleg Gutsol.
Gutsol, along with Evgeny Tchebotarev, was a co-founder of the Toronto-based photography start up. In the article Gutsol shares his story of being ousted from 500px by his successor and board.
The Next Web’s article focuses on the lessons learned by Gutsol which includes over overcoming obstacles like a lack of funding from Canadian investors as well as never quite finding the right cultural fit with employees.
Tchebotarev echoed this last point with a guest article on Techvibes in 2013 titled The Biggest Challenge of a Startup Founder.
The funding issue was eventually solved after two funding rounds of more than $9 million from VCs including Andreessen Horowitz.
The most interesting comment Gutsol makes is around the entrepreneurial drive of Canadians. “The most driven and energetic founders I’ve met in Canada are actually immigrants,” Gutsol says. “My approach is also very different from typical Canadian. They’re all very friendly, very nice, very relaxed, so when I started to tighten the screws, many people were shocked.”
Gutsol’s opinion goes a long way to support the importance of the fledgling Canadian Startup Visa.
But it is hard to take his comments seriously when he trashes Canadian entrepreneurs, employees, and investors while completely overlooking that he was responsible for hiring and culture as CEO.
And they is plenty of irony in the fact that he was ultimately fired by US-born successor and US venture capital investors.
The Government of New Brunswick promotes its own Express Entry stream. It enables the province to nominate qualified candidates for admission to Canada under the federal Express Entry immigration system, without a sponsoring employer. The province nominates qualified applicants from the federal Express Entry pool.
The New Brunswick Express Entry Labour Market Stream (EELMS) is aimed at selecting applicants who have the education, experience, language proficiency and adaptability to successfully establish in New Brunswick and contribute to the province’s development. Nomination is based on a points system, where applicants receive consideration under the following factors:
- Education and Training;
- Work Experience;
- Language Ability;
- Connections to New Brunswick, including a family member, job offer, work or study experience in the province.
Applicants must score a minimum of 67 out of a possible 100 points under the above mentioned selection factors to be considered for nomination. Applicants must also meet the following mandatory criteria:
- Be between 22 and 55 years old.
- Have a minimum of one year of work experience in the past five years in an occupation classified as Skill level “0” , “A” or “B” of the National Occupational Classification (NOC);
- Demonstrate a minimum language proficiency of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7, or higher if required by employers or regulatory bodies;
- Demonstrate sufficient settlement funds if applying without an approved job offer.
Applicants interested in applying through the New Brunswick Express Entry Labour Market Stream will need to have a profile in the federal Express Entry immigration system. From there, it will be possible to submit an Expression of Interest to the NBPNP from the 1st to the 15th of each month. Applicants deemed suitable by the province will receive an invitation to apply to the EELMS from the first of the following submission month.
July 2015 update:
Given the large number of EOI received so far, New Brunswick will only accept applications from professionals with experience in the following occupations:
- Information technology: programmers, analysts, technical customer support, sales
- Business analysts
- Retail trade managers
- Hospitality managers, chefs with formal professional education
- Manufacturing managers
- Industrial mechanics
- Industrial electricians
- Translators (English-French)
- Financials analysts and accountants (certified in Canada)
Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with your evaluation results within 1-2 business days.