Canada’s population recorded its lowest level of growth in more than 15-years. Statistics Canada reported that at 35,851,800 our population increased by only 308,100, in the year ending July 1, 2015. The primary reason was due to immigration policy. Approximately 239,800 immigrants were admitted to Canada during the 12-month period, down from 267,900 the previous year.
The shortfall, close to 30,000 immigrants, places Canada’s per capita rate of immigration to .66%, the lowest under the Harper government and far lower than the .8% that was predominant prior to 2006.
The Statistics Canada report also confirms what demographers have long been predicting. Senior citizens now outnumber children for the first time across the country. As of July 1, 2015, people 65 and older made up 16.1 per cent of the Canadian population, slightly surpassing the 16 per cent who were 14 and younger. According to preliminary estimates, out of 35,851,800 Canadians, there are 5,780,900 seniors and 5,749,400 children.
Projections indicate that by July 1, 2024, seniors will account for 20 per cent of the Canadian population, compared with 16.3 per cent who will be children 14 and younger. Statscan estimated there were 8,100 centenarians, with nearly 88 per cent of them being women.
Canada’s net labour market growth is predominantly dependent on immigration. At 60.8%, it is also our primary source of population growth. It appears almost certain that by 2030 Canada will be entirely reliant on immigration for both.
Immigration remains essential in most OECD countries, but especially in Canada, in part to offset demographic developments, including low fertility rates, an aging population, a growing elderly dependency ratio, a shrinking labour force and high out migration rates. While current government policy advocates for Canada’s highest levels of immigration in 5-years, the latest numbers from Statistics Canada do not corroborate this and points to a much different stand than what is being publicly stated.
A large number of Syrians in Canada who arrived as tourists, students, or temporary foreign workers, have been granted refugee status after finding themselves unable to return to Syria due to the ongoing war in the region. Experts say that Syrians who came to Canada to study or work have come to accept that they may not be able to return to Syria for a long time, if at all, and have no other choice but to apply for asylum.
Syrians already in Canada when they apply for refugee status are treated differently from Syrian asylum-seekers who are abroad, with asylum-seekers able to present their cases to the Immigration and Refugee Board. The figures for individuals granted refugee status while living in Canada does not count toward Canada’s official commitment to admit 13,000 Syrian refugees.
The number of Syrians in Canada claiming asylum is expected to fall sharply, however, as it is currently nearly impossible for Syrians outside Canada to obtain student or work visas to enter Canada. Canadian immigration officers are required to only issue visas to applicants who they believe will leave Canada once their visa expires, and as a result they are refusing visas to almost all Syrian nationals.
Canadian immigration officers are obliged to follow the law which prevents them from issuing visas if they believe the person will overstay in Canada once their visa expires.
The Canadian Council for Refugees is calling for a temporary residence permit to be introduced for Syrians who want to come to Canada to study or work as a short term special measure to overcome the limitations of the current system.
Over a thousand Chinese immigrants who were clients of an illegally operating unlicensed immigration consultant in Canada are facing the possibility of having their Canadian nationality or residency revoked.
Wang Xun, 46, pleaded guilty to eight charges relating to fraud after having been charged with creating false documents – including altered passports and fake stamps – for over a thousand Chinese clients between 2006 and 2013.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) alleges that many of Wang’s clients were involved in a significant immigration fraud — creating the fictitious appearance of Canadian residency to maintain permanent-resident status and obtain Canadian citizenship.
Wang is alleged to have systematically altered passports in support of fraudulent applications for both permanent residence card renewal and citizenship, using a variety of techniques. The CBSA claims that in many cases, clients became Canadian citizens based on those false calculations and fake stamp impressions.
Wang faces up to seven and a half years in prison, and will be sentenced next month.
Wang’s clients could now face revocation of their Canadian nationality or permanent residency status.
Under new immigration rules, applicants who make false representations on their applications can be deported.
Wang was also charged with failing to report taxable income, after having charged his clients a total of CAD$10 million for his services.
With the upcoming Canadian general election less than a month away, the three main parties contesting the election – the Conservatives, the New Democrats, and the Liberals have been attempting to win over voters with their proposals for Canada’s often contentious refugee and immigration policy.
Though much of the criticism of Canada’s current immigration system has been aimed at the Conservative government, the message from the party to voters is too basically to expect more of the same. If they win the election, the Conservatives intend to continue with the approach they have adopted throughout their years in government, one that favours highly skilled economic migrants over temporary foreign workers and family class.
To that end, the Conservatives say have vowed to persist with the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) program designed to attract high net worth immigrants to Canada, despite the extremely low number of applications received by the program to date. The Conservatives say they will continue to back the controversial changes introduced under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act that allows for the revocation of citizenship from dual national Canadians. It has also committed to double the loans made available to new immigrants who want to get their foreign credentials recognized in Canada.
The Liberal Party has criticized the Conservatives for their hard-line policies on family reunification, and has promised to introduce a series of changes aimed at immigrants looking to bring their families to Canada. The party will nearly double CIC’s budget for family class immigration processing, while also doubling the total number of new parent/grandparent sponsorship applications allowed, which currently stands at 5000 each year.
Express entry applicants who have Canadian siblings will be granted additional points, while the maximum age for dependents of immigrants will be returned to age 22. Foreign spouses of Canadian nationals will also be granted immediate permanent residency upon entering the country, and not be made to wait for the two years as currently required. The Liberal’s have also vowed to repeal the Conservative’s two-tier citizenship law.
Though the New Democratic Party has not yet released their entire immigration platform they have also promised to accelerate procesing times for immigrant families in order to ease the family reunification process. The NDP have also committed to revamp the foreign credential assessment system and have pledged to offer temporary foreign workers a path to citizenship.
On refugee policy and Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the Conservatives have pledged to increase the number of immigration personnel allocated to process refugee applications, while also doing away with the requirement of United Nations refugee confirmation documents.
And while the Conservatives say they will resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by next September, the Liberals say that if elected, they will immediately sponsor 25,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq while investing an additional $200 million in refugee processing over thee coming fiscal year. The NDP have similarly pledged to resettle 10,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees by the end of the current year, and sponsor an additional 9,000 Syrian refugees per year over the next four years.
To summarize, the parties’ general approach to immigration is made clear in their own words:
Conservatives: “While we welcome immigrants to this country who contribute to our economy, we will continue to crack down on foreign nationals who commit serious crimes in Canada.”
New Democrats: “Liberals and Conservatives have made a mess of immigration, from the Temporary Foreign Workers program to family reunification. We believe in fair, humane and compassionate rules. That’s why we fought for a grace period for Haitian refugees earlier this year, and a fair path to citizenship for Temporary Foreign Workers.”
Liberals: “Under Stephen Harper, Canadians are being encouraged to be fearful of one another, and our country has experienced 10 years of decline in three major areas: family reunification, refugees, and citizenship applicants. A Liberal government will end the Conservative decade of failure, and restore fairness to Canada’s immigration system.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to retain the high levels of annual immigration to Canada. Speaking in a pre-election debate with his two main challengers, Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau and New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair, Harper said that immigration was critical to maintaining Canada’s prosperity and growth, especially because of the country’s low levels of natural population growth.
Harper asserted that a large scale immigration program is in Canada’s best interests while confirming annual admissions of more than 250,000 immigrants per year under the government’s immigration programs since 2006.
However, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair each attacked the Prime Minister for making it more difficult for immigrants in Canada to reunite with their families, undermining efforts to build strong communities.
The Prime Minister defended his policies, claiming that Canada’s conservatives have overseen the immigration of more than two and a half million immigrants into Canada during the past decade.
The Conservative Party’s political rivals went on the offensive this morning after Statistics Canada revealed that the country fell into a recession during the first half of 2015.
The NDP was the first party to react after Statistics Canada made their quarterly GDP report public. Andrew Thomson from the NDP said Stephen Harper has presided over a “lost decade, “marked by job losses, less retirement security and higher household debt for average Canadians.
Thomson cited the NDP’s proposals to raise the corporate tax rate implement a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage and reduce the age for retirement eligibility from 67 to 65 as some of the ways it would stimulate the economy.
Canada’s previous recession began in the final quarter of 2008 and lasted into the second quarter of 2009.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said that regardless of any “technical definitions” of a recession, Tuesday’s economic news is “old hat” to Canadians who are already struggling.
In a bid to create jobs and foster economic growth, Trudeau is pitching $60 billion in new infrastructure spending over the next decade. The party is also promising a tax shift: Cuts for the middle class paid for in part by a tax increase for the wealthiest. To do that, the Liberal leader plans to run three straight deficits before balancing the budget in 2019.
Data released by Statistics Canada revealed that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, the second consecutive quarter of negative growth.
However, Conservative leader Stephen Harper said that despite a retraction in the first half of the year, the positive growth numbers for June are a sign that the economy is rebounding despite global instability.
The Statistics Canada report showed that GDP rose by 0.5 per cent in June after shrinking for five consecutive months.
“This confirms the renewed growth that most had been predicting,” Harper said.
He also repeated his previous assertions that his government’s economic vision is working, despite global economic instability. He promised new support for Canada’s manufacturing sector, an industry that, according to the most recent Statistics Canada figures, has been in decline.
Harper announced that, if he’s elected, Burlington, Ont., will be the centre for a new, non-profit organization that will help develop new products and technologies for the manufacturing industry beginning in 2016-2017, at a cost of $30 million annually for five years.
A Conservative government would also set up a new trade promotion office within the prime minister’s own bureaucracy to help attract new business into Canada and Canadian exporters, paid for by reallocating other government resources.
Both ideas mirror suggestions made by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association in its policy pitch to federal party leaders on how to support the sector.
A U.S. resident will challenge Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his home riding in the upcoming federal election. Nicolas Duchastel de Montrouge, who also holds Canadian citizenship, was approved by Elections Canada last week to run as an Independent candidate in Calgary Heritage.
Having lived in the U.S. for 15 years, Duchastel de Montrouge has voted in several Canadian federal elections. Along with 1.4 million other Canadian expats, he cannot vote by mail in the Oct. 19 federal election because of a law dating back to 1993 which was recently enforced by the Harper government. It states that Canadians who have lived abroad for over five years cannot cast a ballot in any federal election.
Even though Duchastel de Montrouge, who lives in Seattle, is not allowed to vote in Canada, he can legally run for office. All he had to do was collect 100 signatures from people living in the riding.
Duchastel de Montrouge drummed up support by canvassing several Calgary coffee shops during two separate visits to the city in September. He said his real goal is not to become an MP but to bring awareness to the issue surrounding the expat vote.
Joan Stirling’s application for Canadian citizenship was rejected and now the 99-year-old is going public. Ms Stirling was denied Canadian citizenship and a health card despite having lived in Canada for over 80 years. The case provides a glimpse of the harsh interpretation Canada’s conservatives have adopted in citizenship matters.
The reason for her rejection by Citizenship and Immigration Canada was her inability to produce her birth certificate from almost a century ago.
Her friend, Diana Watson, has been fighting since 2012 to get Stirling recognized as a Canadian citizen, in part, so the senior could access public health care.
Watson provided Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) over 20 documents that tracked Stirling’s birth in the U.K., her arrival in Canada, and her long history here.
The documentation shows Stirling has been living in Toronto since the 1930s, working, paying her taxes and voting in almost every election. But Watson says that Stirling’s birth certificate was hard to track down even though she had contacted authorities in the U.K.
Despite all the other evidence, Watson says CIC refused to provide Stirling with a citizenship certificate. Only after Go Public investigated, was Stirling granted citizenship.
Stirling calls herself Canada’s oldest “non-person,” but her situation isn’t unusual according to critics who say Canadian citizenship laws are overly convoluted and even those who are paid to implement the rules don’t understand them.
Stirling was born in London, England, in 1916 and made her way to the U.S., crossing the border into Canada in 1933 when she was 17. She never married, never got a driver’s licence or passport, and never needed a health card, until just a few years ago.
Watson says she wanted to help Stirling for two reasons.
Given her age, she says chances are Stirling will need access to the health-care system. Watson was also worried Stirling’s savings would run out and the senior would no longer be able to pay for her retirement home. Without a health card, she wouldn’t have access to long-term government care.
Watson was able to get Ms Stirling several temporary health cards, first through a program for the homeless (despite Stirling never being homeless), and then through Ontario’s Ministry of Health, but every year it’s been a struggle. The province requires proof of citizenship or status to provide a permanent health card.
However, according to an old law that automatically gave British subjects in Canada citizenship if they were living here prior to 1947, Stirling has been a Canadian citizen all along.
After Go Public took Stirling’s case to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and officials there agreed to look into her case and it was determined that Stirling was already a Canadian citizen based on the latest amendments to the Citizenship Act made in June. Those changes recognize that old law from 1947.
Both Stirling and Watson who were happy to hear that Joan Stirling will get her citizenship certificate with a permanent health card to follow.
Canada’s economy created more jobs than expected in August and the unemployment rate increased as more people searched for work.
Despite an addition of a net 12,000 jobs in August, the unemployment rate rose to 7.0% after holding steady at 6.8% for six consecutive months, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The report indicates “there’s some momentum in the economy,” CIBC World Markets economist Avery Shenfeld said in a note. “Sometimes a rise in the unemployment rate is actually something to cheer about, if it’s the result of more people looking for work rather than outright job losses.”
The jobs report came three days after Statistics Canada confirmed that Canada’s gross domestic product shrank in the first two quarters of 2015. The Canadian economy has been hit hard by sharply lower oil prices, which have driven down business investment and weakened the value of the Canadian dollar. But economists have pointed to resilience in Canada’s jobs data as evidence that weakness in the economy isn’t widespread.
In August, the number of full-time positions rose by 54,400 while the number of people employed part-time fell 42,400. The number of public sector jobs rose by 27,200 while the private sector gained 6,300 jobs in the month, Statistics Canada said.
While employment in the goods-producing sector dropped 5,200 in August, the services sector, accounting for roughly two-thirds of Canadian gross domestic product, added 17,200 workers.
The Bank of Canada’s next interest-rate decision is next Wednesday. The central bank has already lowered the key overnight interest rate twice this year, bringing it to 0.5%.
According to Statistics Canada, on a 12-month basis Canada has added 193,300 jobs with all of the net gains concentrated in full-time work.
Citizen and Immigration Canada continue to deny a four-year-old child entry into Canada to join his permanent resident parents on the grounds that they did not indicate his name in their initial permanent residence application. Critics say the incident highlights the exaggeration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s boast that Canada has “the most generous immigration and refugee system in the world.”
With Indian nationals Bhavna Bajaj and Aman Sood having battled for the past three years to get their son Daksh Sood to join them in Canada, the couple says they will have to give up their permanent residence status and move back to India if their request is denied for much longer. The child currently lives with his paternal grandparents in India, who say they are unable to take care of him for much longer as they are elderly and unable to do so.
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition to grant the child entry into Canada, but thus far CIC is showing no sign of reversing its position.
The parents are now trying to secure permanent resident status for the child on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, the process may mean an additional two year wait to be reunited.
The couple first applied for permanent residence in 2011 with only their names on the application, claiming that their son was not born at the time. This explains why the name was not included on the application. After gaining permanent resident status in 2013, the couple allege that the Canada Border Services Agency found out about their son and threatened them with immediate deportation unless they agreed to forego their right to sponsor their son for permanent residence.
At a time when Canada’s immigration and refugee policy is coming under intense scrutiny and criticism for its harsh policies and restrictive rules, the case, one of many with similar issues, places CIC in an unfavourable light.