The federal government has moved to issue 10,000 open work permits to caregivers which will allow them to seek employment elsewhere in Canada after their sponsoring employment contract obligations are filled.
“Too many live-in caregivers have completed their work obligations but must continue living in the home of their employer, waiting for their application for permanent residence to be reviewed,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “[W]e have started issuing open work permits to live-in caregivers as soon as they have completed their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence.”
Prior to the change, caregivers had to wait until their application for permanent residency was approved before leaving their sponsoring employer, which could take up to two years. Sadly, this regulation led to many cases of exploitation and abuse.
The changes come in light of several recent cases of abuse which sparked outrage across the county and spurred Minister Kenney’s department to review the program. Advocates praise the move, saying that the new open permits will “free” foreign caregivers and provide them with hope for a better future.
“Finally they are released from bondage, the bondage of poverty, slavery and neglect,” said Toronto Caregiver Resource Centre worker Terry Olayta. “If we truly want to eliminate poverty, if we really want to eliminate neglect, exploitation and slavery, that is the thing to do — expedite their open work permits.”
Though this move has been heavily praised, others say there is still much more to be done to help foreign workers and ensure that they are not being exploited, such as improving their access to health services.
Source: Toronto Star
Canada’s strong energy sector is pressing Ottawa to reform immigration regulations so that labour issues can be more easily addressed in the coming years.
The Alberta oil sector, propelled by billions of dollars worth of developments in the oilsands, could see a 77,000 worker deficit over the next decade according to predictions in a new report from Ernst & Young.
The federal government has already shown efforts to address the situation. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been meeting with employers and unions to discuss the situation and how to best utilize the temporary foreign worker program. One strategy that will be implemented is to raise temporary visa targets by 10,000 for 2012. Another tactic being weighed is to recruit more heavily from the pool of skilled trades workers in the United States.
“There is an enormous pool of people [in the U.S.] who have essentially the same skills that we’ve got,” said Bob Blakely, who works with the Building and Construction unit of the AFL-CIO. “They’ve worked for the same oil companies; they have basically taken the same training, and their cultural mores are largely the same.”
Experts say that the shortage in skilled trades is not just limited to the oilsands or the energy sector. All resource-based industries are predicted to see a spike in production in the near future while the available labour force shrinks. Workers from both the U.S. and abroad could help Canadian companies to keep up and meet the economic demands.
Source: Globe and Mail
A new survey has found that immigrants consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than Canadian-born citizens when it comes to the country’s history.
The survey, conducted and released by the Association for Canadian Studies, was aimed at studying Canadian perspectives on history.
Of the approximately 2,300 respondents, 82 percent of the foreign-born Canadians claimed to have a “somewhat strong” or “very strong” knowledge of the country’s past. Only about 70 percent of Canadian born respondents claimed the same level of knowledge.
The ACS director Jack Jedwab says the results are most likely due to the fact that immigrants are tested on their knowledge of Canadian history in order to obtain citizenship. He also says that higher education levels in immigrants (when compared to Canadian-born respondents) could be another factor.
Jedwab acknowledges that many immigrants take pride in knowing Canada’s history, and feel that they are a part of the multicultural heritage.
Last year the government revised and updated the citizenship guide used to help immigrants learn about Canada and its history in order to prepare for the test.
Source: Vancouver Sun
Recruiters across Canada are noticing a sharp spike in applications from foreigners seeking better opportunities in these tough economic times.
“We started noticing it in 2010 [and] what was really noticeable was the number of people coming from Ireland,” said Sandra Miles, president of Miles Employment Group in Vancouver. “I have never seen so many people from other parts of the world – from all over.”
Miles and her staff have noticed a dramatic increase in applicants from other traditionally “well off” countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Recent changes in Canada’s holiday visa regulations have made it easier for citizens of the commonwealth to come to the country.
The appeal of Canada, however, extends beyond the commonwealth, and even citizens of the United States have been increasingly applying for work north of the border. Visa applications from Americans have doubled in the past year.
The relatively stable economy is drawing workers who are facing bleak employment prospects in their own countries, many of which have been harder hit by the global recession.
“I saw a number of other countries offering immigration, but Canada is one of the safest countries in the world,” said Shahid Ahmad, who immigrated from Pakistan to Calgary in 2008 and now works in the energy sector. “I know Calgary is one of the most booming cities in the world due to this oil exploration and the immense resources Alberta has.”
Source: Financial Post
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is currently experiencing a vast shortage of skilled labourers needed to keep up with its booming energy and resource sectors.
“We’ve got employers […] regularly saying to us that they’re concerned about the labour pool and they need labour,” says the province’s Premier Kathy Dunderdale. “We know it’s a problem.”
Employers are trying desperately to fill the positions with Canadian workers, but, surprisingly many qualified people are actually leaving the province seeking work elsewhere. Add to this an aging population and it seems to show a sharp disconnect between employer needs and labour market realities.
“We are working hard to find the people we’ll need,” says Rinaldo Stefan, a construction project manager who is currently seeking 1,500 skilled trades workers for a $3-billion project. “For the moment, we are looking in Canada, but the contingency plan will be to go offshore to find people.”
Another big challenge facing employers in the region is the competition from the Alberta oilsands, who employ the same kinds of workers but can usually offer much more attractive salaries and benefits.
Both regions are increasingly looking abroad to seek the labour needed to maintain production levels. The remote location of their resource and oil processing plants does little to attract Canadian workers, but the benefits usually outweigh this drawback, particularly for foreign workers who may not have strong ties to the major urban centres. Yet there is still a stigma placed on employers who hire foreign workers during times of recession when many Canadians are looking for work.
“I’m only really comfortable with temporary workers from outside if I’m convinced that the people who live right here in Newfoundland and Labrador have had every opportunity to fill those positions,” says Joan Burke the provincial Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.
Source: Globe and Mail
Large numbers of immigrants are pushing Alberta and Saskatchewan to the top of the country in terms of growth, according to the latest data.
A new report from Statistics Canada shows that the two prairie provinces are attracting more newcomers than other traditional “hot spot” destinations for immigrants such as Ontario. In fact, Alberta has actually been attracting not only new immigrants, but also large numbers of former Ontarians and is leading the country in interprovincial immigration.
Meanwhile, in the third quarter of 2011, Saskatchewan saw its highest immigration numbers since 1971.
“Settlement patterns in contemporary Canada are changing. Western Canada is increasingly vibrant economically and Saskatchewan, we think, is helping to drive that kind of shift,” said the province’s Immigration Minister Rob Norris. “It’s allowing us to fuel our economic growth. … We’re seeing community renewal under way and we’re also seeing economic benefits.”
Experts say that the shift in settlement patterns is reflective of the changing immigration policies implemented by the government, which has seen less emphasis being placed on traditional “skills” such as those in medical professions, toward more trade workers whose employers nominate them through provincial programs.
The changes have also caused the federal government to redistribute settlement funding away from Ontario toward the Western provinces.
Source: Globe and Mail
The province of Quebec has passed the 8-million mark in population, and most of that growth has been spurred by immigration, according to the latest data from the provincial statistics bureau.
Quebec gained 76,000 residents in 2010, of which 54,000 were immigrants. The top sources of new arrivals to the province were from francophone countries such as France, Algeria, Morocco and Haiti.
This is a drastic change from the 7-million population milestone reached 20 years ago when natural birth (and death) rates were still propelling the growth of Canada’s second most populous province. The increase in immigration is necessary to keep the economy steady at current levels, as the baby-boomer generation is set to retire in the coming years.
However, increasing immigration and the resulting increase in diversity has presented many challenges to a province which considers preservation of Quebec language and culture a top priority.
Experts are calling on the provincial government to set an example in healthy integration. Currently, only six percent of civil servants are of minority background (including ethnic minorities, aboriginals and Anglophones) while these groups account for about 20 percent of the population.
There has been much controversy in the province recently over ideas of multiculturalism, but Quebec may find itself falling far behind if officials do not soon find better solutions on how to find, retain and integrate the skilled immigrants flocking to the province each year.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Controversy is brewing over the government’s recent announcement that all new immigrants will be required to show their faces while taking their oaths at citizenship ceremonies.
The legislation, which goes into effect immediately, is directed specifically at Muslim women wearing niqabs, burkas and other types of veils. The government says that such a move was deemed necessary after officials at ceremonies complained of difficulty in determining if all participants were reciting the oath.
“Requiring that all candidates show their faces while reciting the oath allows judges, and everyone present to share in the ceremony, to ensure all citizenship candidates are taking the oath as required by law,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality.”
Across the country people are speaking out strongly both in favour of and against the regulation. NDP Immigration critic Don Davies says that the government should have held more consultations with other political parties as well as experts in Muslim policy.
The B.C. Muslim Association, however, says that the move is understandable at the practical level if officials cannot tell when someone is reciting the oath. At the same time, they do caution against possible negative interpretations of the move.
“[…] Muslim women should not be given the message that it is only by removing their veils that they will be deemed as “full members of the community” or that wearing the veil in general is not culturally acceptable in Canada, nor should anyone practising their religious beliefs be made to feel marginalized,” the organization said in a statement.
Source: Vancouver Sun