The B.C. community of Abbotsford has received nearly $900,000 in additional funding to provide resettlement services to newcomers in the region.
The funds are part of a $20.3 million allocation to newcomer assistance under WelcomeBC’s Settlement and Integration Program. British Columbia has in recent years become a top destination for new arrivals, and aims to do what it can to attract and retain skilled talent.
“We are seeing immigration from many diverse cultures, and these services will go a long way in helping new residents settle in and begin their new life,” said one Abbotsford MLA.
Experts in B.C. say that by 2019, the province could be facing a worker deficit of over one million, as the baby-boomer generation retires. Immigrants are expected to help fill these gaps and continue the region’s trend of economic growth.
The resettlement funding for Abbotsford will go toward providing workshops on job-hunting, banking systems, transportation and shelter. Newcomers will have a resource center to help with the daunting task of settling into a new life in a new location.
Abbotsford is located just outside of the major urban centre of Vancouver.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Officials in British Columbia continue to sound the alarm over the looming labour shortage that threatens to deride the region’s economy once the baby-boomer generation retires.
In the latest attempt to address the situation, the provincial government has established an immigration task force to travel throughout B.C. to ascertain the employment needs.
“There’s no doubt B.C. needs more economic immigrants,” said B.C. MLA John Yap who will be leading the task force. “We are losing one million people from the workforce in the near future due to retirement and we only have 650,000 people to fill the need.”
Though the province has been among the top in Canada in attracting newcomers, employers, politicians and citizens seem to be growing increasingly concerned about the labour shortages.
Yap and his task force will travel throughout the province speaking to these concerned groups about the situation and prepare a report for B.C. Premier Christy Clark by March.
“What appears to be happening is businesses that hire new immigrants are seeing a high turnover rate because the immigrants take entry-level jobs when they first arrive and then look around for better work,” said Yap.
He says that the Provincial Nominee Program has been a success in attracting the skilled labour needed, but that current immigration rates are not going to fill the 650,000 positions that will be vacant shortly.
The province of Saskatchewan continues to post impressive economic figures despite the challenges of dealing with a global recession.
Two new reports released this month suggest that the prairie province could soon emerge as Canada’s strongest economic player. Though Alberta still leads the country in most statistical figures, Saskatchewan is among the top in terms of salary and projected growth.
Since August of 2011, Saskatchewan has been above the national average in terms of wages. Last November the province reported the second-highest average, at $904.42 per week.
Furthermore, the latest figures from the Conference Board of Canada show that the city of Regina experienced five percent economic growth in 2011 and is predicted to continue growing into 2012.
“Surging employment is attracting newcomers to the area, fuelling strong population increases. The medium term looks good too, with GDP forecast to rise at least three per cent per year between 2013 and 2015,” said the report.
Officials in Saskatchewan are not surprised at the good news, but admit that the biggest challenge facing the province in the years ahead will be to attract and retain the skilled labour necessary in order to maintain these strong economic performances.
Sources: Regina Leader-Post
A new Chinese-language newspaper published and distributed out of Regina reflects the rapidly diversifying demographic of the Saskatchewan region since recent economic growth has spurred an influx of newcomers.
The newspaper, which has been operating bi-weekly since August, was the brainchild of Editor Cris Zhang and some friends who noticed that there could be demand for such a service in the city. So far, Zhang seems to be right, as all 5,000 copies of the paper usually sell out within one week.
“At the beginning we were thinking we would target more the newcomers, but at the same time we felt the Chinese immigrants who have been here need more information … and now they read it too,” says Zhang.
The paper, called Sa Sheng Bao, contains information not only on local news and events, but also issues of concern to immigrants, such as federal regulations, and provincial nominee programs.
“In the beginning, when they [Chinese immigrants] come here, they focus on getting a job and a house, what government departments they need to go to find things, but once they’ve settled down they need to know the local culture, activities … so our goal is to let them feel like this is home here,” says Zhang.
The paper circulates through Regina and Saskatchewan at major grocery stores and other regions of the province through local libraries.
Source: Regina Leader-Post
The recent economic boom in Saskatchewan and the resulting influx of newcomers into the province in the past few years has meant new challenges being faced by local school systems.
Between 2005 and 2010, approximately 9,000 immigrant children have entered the province’s elementary and secondary schools. Though officials are happy to welcome them, they have had to face many challenges in integrating the group – many of whom do not speak English as a first language.
“The growth is good news for the province,” says provincial assistant minister of education Greg Miller, “but we have to recognize the growth also presents some challenges.”
Officials say that resource allocation is not reflecting the changing demographics, and that budget will need to increase if the school systems hope to be able to hire the staff needed to keep pace with the growth.
Another problem facing the school boards is the lack of information available to schools on who they should expect to enrol each year, which ties back to the concerns on allocating staff. Workers with the English as an Additional Language program (EAL) are coordinating efforts with the government, as well as local universities to try to find the teachers needed to assist the new arrivals. The province is also involved with creating and maintaining an online resource centre for EAL teachers.
Furthermore, the newcomer student centre began operating last August, and is located on-site of the public school board building. The centre provides transition services including school tours for prospective students and their families, as well as registration and assessment services.
“We certainly believe that there is strength in our diversity,” says Saskatoon Catholic school board superintendent Greg Chatlin. “We’re very open and supportive of the students and their family if they chose to settle here and join us.”
Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that the Provincial Nominee Programs, which allow provinces to nominate certain skilled workers for fast-track immigration, is working well so far, but more needs to be done to curtail fraud.
Kenney says that tightening up language restrictions will go a long way in preventing fraud, noting that some provinces have not been adhering to the federal policies regarding language testing and have seen a correspondingly high level of fraudulent cases.
Furthermore, Kenney argues that more needs to be done to ensure that the provinces are selecting and importing the skilled labour that is most suited to their regions. The Atlantic region in particular appears to be struggling to find and retain the skilled labour they need.
Last year the Provincial Nominee Programs combined to bring in 42,000 workers to Canada. Most of them came in through Western provinces, which have higher retention rates than Eastern provinces such as Prince Edward Island.
Kenney says that he and his department are continually working to address the labour needs of the provinces and improve the Provincial Nominee Program.
Source: Globe and Mail
Recent efforts by the Canadian government to “crack down” on refused refugee claimants and hasten the processing times could result in more asylum-seekers heading to the United States, according to some analysts.
New regulations are set to take effect this summer, when the Conservative government will implement changes to the current refugee system. Such changes include a 90-day limit for a first hearing, 120-day periods for appeals and stricter enforcement of removal orders.
The impact is expected to be felt not only in the Canadian system, but also in the U.S., as many experts predict that those new swift denials will then turn toward the southern border, seeking status elsewhere.
Traditionally the U.S. has been seen as being less sympathetic to asylum-seekers than Canada, resulting in a 2004 law being implemented across the border which prevented new arrivals from seeking status in both countries at once. U.S. officials say they will allow those whose case has already been decided in Canada to enter their own system.
“Anybody seeking asylum or claiming a credible fear of persecution gets to articulate their case to an asylum officer,” says Mike Milne, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “We would take them into detention and they would have the same right as anyone seeking asylum to a hearing.”
Canadian government officials are expressing doubt that the changes will have much impact on the U.S. system. However, analysts say that any changes would surely be felt in a system in which over 100,000 decided cases would rapidly need enforced removal. Other critics say that the new regulations will not allow ample time for gathering evidence in more complex cases.
There are currently over 40,000 pending refugee cases in Canada.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Policy experts have long been championing the idea of looking to Europe to ease Canada’s labour concerns in the coming years as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement age while not enough Canadians are entering the workforce to replace them.
However, in light of the recent economic crises being felt globally, experts are increasingly calling on the Canadian government to focus its efforts to international recruitment – particularly in places such as Europe where the hard economic times are very much a tangible part of life.
The economic conditions in certain European countries are very bleak. In many nations, such as Spain and Greece the unemployment rate is more than double that in Canada. The rates are even worse when looking only at unemployed youth – those under the age of 25. Youth unemployment in Spain and Greece is at 49.6 and 45.6, respectively. Canada’s youth unemployment rate is 15 percent.
However, recent immigration figures show that Canada has been increasingly accepting applicants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In 2010 the government welcomed approximately 135,000 Asian newcomers compared to just 41,000 Europeans.
These figures illustrate the overall trend in Canadian immigration since the 1960s, when the government switched focus from European-centred policies to other sources of immigrants.
Now some experts are calling on the government to shift focus once again. Europe is rife with educated and skilled youth who are eager to build themselves a better quality of life – even if that life is abroad. At the same time, many Canadian employers are already feeling the labour crunch that is surely only to intensify in the coming years.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Experts are warning that high immigration numbers could hinder Canadian growth by driving up the cost of living and, subsequently, lowering domestic birth rates.
The latest census data shows that in 2011, two-thirds of Canada’s population growth came from immigration and only one-third was due to natural (birth) patterns.
Canadian birth rates have steadily been declining since the 1960s, when the average was 3.9 children for each woman. That rate has now fallen to 1.7, which is below the natural replacement rate of 2.1. Experts believe that the higher costs of raising a child today could be a contributing factor to this trend.
No matter the cause, the forecast seems clear – continued growth will require steady immigration in the coming years. Last year also marked the highest amount of immigrants to Canada on record, with a total of 280,000 new arrivals entering the country.
The result has kept Canada competitive with other members of the G8 nations in regards to population growth. However, some are concerned that the increased focus on immigration in Canada could be a contributing factor in the continued drop of birth rates.
Most of the new arrivals to Canada choose to settle in metropolitan areas such as Vancouver, where seven out of ten immigrants settle in the city. This has caused massive amounts of growth in large cities – an urbanization trend that is making housing a competitive and more expensive market.
Policy experts say that governments at all levels need to examine closely how these trends are having not only a direct effect on local and national economics, but also on the demographics which, in turn, will be eventually have their own repercussions on the economy.
Source: Vancouver Sun
The latest census data shows that both Eastern and Western provinces continue to grow rapidly in terms of population, at what seems to be the expense of Canada’s central region.
New data released this month from Statistics Canada shows that all four provinces from Manitoba to B.C. are gaining in population. Alberta continues to lead the pack, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also reported impressive numbers for 2011.
Gains are also being reported in the Eastern provinces, with a reported 2.7 percent of new immigrants choosing to settle in the region last year. Just a few years back the Maritimes attracted less than one percent of new arrivals. Prince Edward Island has seen the most significant jump – a sixfold increase since 2006.
However, the news is not as good for Canada’s most populous province. For the first time in 25 years, population growth in Ontario was below the national average. The province not only is losing its share of immigrants, but is also seeing migration out of the province to such places as Alberta.
The shifts in population are reflecting other changes to Canadian society – particularly the decline in manufacturing as the natural resource-based economies of the West continue to boom, creating thousands of new jobs. On the other hand, immigrants are flocking to the East due to the aging population (on average, the oldest in Canada) whose retirement is leaving many vacancies in the labour market.
These shifts in population also mean that Ontario is losing political power as more and more voters move away.
Ontario is not the only once-powerful province watching its influence decline. Quebec has also experienced a steady decline in percentage of the population. Now only approximately 23.6 percent of the population resides in the once extremely powerful province.
Source: Globe and Mail