A new report suggests that Canadian businesses can and should do more to integrate new immigrants if they wish to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.
The report, compiled and released by workers at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, points out that despite its growing population diversity, Canada still remains heavily dependent on just a few trading partners – particularly, the United States and Europe.
The authors of the report argue that Canada is missing a huge opportunity to build and strengthen economic ties with emerging markets in countries like China, India and Brazil. Furthermore, the conception of immigration is changing, as more and more people are becoming citizens of the world – travelling and maintaining ties with several countries at once.
With its looming labour shortages and an increasingly competitive market for talent, Canada must become more aggressive in not only attracting skilled workers, but also in providing the necessary tools for adaptation and success once the immigrant has arrived.
Integrating newcomers economically benefits employers, which, in turn, benefits all of Canada. Workers with cultural and social ties to their native countries (diaspora networks) – like those from India, which has one of the fastest growing populations in the world – provide an invaluable tool to tap into emerging markets.
The report argues for increased efforts on the part of Canadian businesses to work with professional immigrant networks and immigrant resource groups, for instance. The authors also advocate for increased efforts from the government on several fronts. Student and business visas, for instance, take much too long to process in today’s instant economy. New arrivals need more freedom to travel, which often is limited by permanent residency landing requirements. There needs to be more awareness regarding the unrealistic expectation of Canadian experience.
If Canada is able to recognize the value of tapping into and prioritizing immigrant diaspora networks of culture and communication, then and only then will it be able to maximize its economic potential in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global market.
Source: Toronto Star
The recently re-vamped entrepreneur immigration program is getting another boost, as Ottawa has announced plans to include mentorship in the program.
The new start up visa program, launched earlier this year, will now offer newcomers the chance to partner with Canadian “business incubators,” which will offer guidance throughout the start-up process.
“Connecting immigrant entrepreneurs with Canada’s accredited business incubators will broaden our respective networks and bring us all to the next level,” said David McNamara, president of the Canadian Association of Business Incubators.
The CABI will work with the Department of Immigration to pair up potential immigrant entrepreneurs with appropriate incubator programs, depending on where they wish to go in Canada and which industry they are targeting.
The Department of Immigration has also indicated that they are working on further partnerships to incorporate into the start up visa program as incentive to attract young entrepreneurs in the competitive global market.
“As part of our government’s focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, it is critical for Canada to attract the best entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world,” said Immigration Minister Chris Alexander upon announcing the new partnership.
Source: National Post
Last year the Philippines overcame China and India as Canada’s top source country for new immigrants.
According to the latest data from the government, approximately 32,000 Filipinos immigrated to Canada last year. There are currently an estimated 535,000 Filipino Canadians in the country, though some experts argue that that figure is in fact much higher.
There are many reasons that Canada has become an attractive destination for Filipino citizens seeking opportunities. The labour shortages, combined with the high quality of life are attracting record numbers.
Filipinos bring much to the table for Canadian employers as well. Most citizens are quite adept at speaking English, one of the biggest challenges faced by many newcomers to the country. They are also known for working hard and being adaptable to Canadian life. Many choose to settle in smaller urban and rural centers, as opposed to the majority of newcomers who head to Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.
“[Filipinos] are committed to being citizens, to being volunteers, to being public minded,” says Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. “People like them because they take up challenges beyond just working and finding a place to live.”
Employers in Canada have increasingly been importing temporary workers from the Philippines for years now, and many of those workers are able to apply for permanent residency within two years of arriving in Canada.
Despite recent controversy over temporary foreign workers, Minister Alexander says that his government is committed to helping employers find the labour they so desperately need – particularly in the booming Prairie provinces. The government has been working to improve the temporary program so that worker’s rights are ensured and those who are most needed are able to come and build a life for themselves and their families in Canada.
Employers in Saskatchewan are commending their government’s latest strategies to ease the pressure caused by high worker shortages.
This month the government of Saskatchewan announced that it would raise the number of training and apprenticeship positions in the province, as well as having successfully negotiated a rise in their provincial nominee program quota, up to 4,450.
The provincial nominee program allows provincial governments to fast-track immigration applications for workers whose skills are most needed. Businesses across the country have long been praising the program, particularly those who have been facing labour shortages in provinces like Saskatchewan.
“The number one issue facing every business owner in this province is the skills shortage,” said the Canadian Federation of Independent Business representative Marilyn Braun-Pollon. “Half of our members are turning away business because they can’t find labour. This is a critical issue for small business owners.”
However, Braun-Pollon cautions that these measures may not be enough and hopes the government will eventually be able to negotiate 6,000 provincial nominee applications each year.
Other local stakeholders noted that more should to be done to attract workers to Saskatchewan over other provinces like Alberta, which has a lower tax rate. Lower taxes mean more affordable living, which is a concern to anyone who is looking to migrate for work.
Still, however, Saskatchewan is one of the fastest growing provinces in Canada, recently reporting record population growths. The new initiatives should help ease some of the pressures being faced by employers who are trying to keep up with demand.
Source: Regina Leader-Post
The Canadian government has announced plans to share information with the U.S. concerning immigrant applicants and refugee claimants.
The initiative is part of a broader information-sharing strategy between the two governments. It is intended to help bolster border security but is coming under fire from privacy rights groups.
Privacy advocates are concerned, in particular, with the exchange of information surrounding birth dates, fingerprints and travel document identification numbers.
“We will be watching very closely over the privacy concerns and risks it poses to people who face persecution and torture back home,” said Canadian Council for Refugees representative Janet Dench.
Officials with Canadian Citizenship and Immigration, however, say that the information exchange will only truly affect fraudulent or criminal applicants and will save millions of dollars in detention and removal costs.
“Case-by-case immigration information-sharing has been effective in that it has uncovered instances of foreign nationals using false identities, inadmissible criminals attempting to enter Canada, fraudulent refugee claims and individuals providing information on the immigration application that was not credible,” said CIC director Chris Gregory.
The information will be shared via an online database which would limit information so that neither government had full access to the other’s files. Additionally, information would be deleted after use.
For now the information sharing would only apply to immigrant and refugee applicants and not to American or Canadian citizens.
Source: Toronto Star
This month the Department of Citizenship and Immigration announced that in 2013 it accepted more parent and grandparent (PGP) sponsorship applications than it has in two decades. This, officials say, is just part of a larger immigration strategy intended to prioritize family reunification.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says that his department has massively reduced the sponsorship application backlog and intends to continue the “aggressive” processing of this stream in 2014.
Before the backlog issue was addressed some families had to wait up to eight years for their applications to be processed. The government says that wait times are now down to about three years.
Starting in January of 2014, the government will begin accepting parent and grandparent reunification applications again, until they reach their quota amount of 5,000. The cap will allow CIC to continue to address the backlog of old applications and reduce waiting times even further.
In preparation for that date the government will be releasing new application forms in accordance with the new regulations, which include more financial responsibilities placed upon those relatives in Canada who are acting as sponsors.
“Our Government is keeping our promise to overcome the massive backlogs we inherited and reunite families faster,” said Alexander. “The modernized PGP program will mean faster processing times and shorter waits.”
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Despite recent reports to the contrary, Quebec still is facing an extreme nursing shortage, according to nurses in Quebec.
A recent study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information claims that the nursing population in the province has grown so much it has outpaced overall population and labour market growth.
However, nurses are raising concern that the report has been affected by an increasing number of workers in administrative fields and not in hospitals where nurses are most needed. In fact, numerous hospitals across Quebec are delaying surgeries and other complex procedures precisely because there are not enough working nurses.
The Quebec Order of Nurses has been issuing more nursing licenses than it has in decades, at over 3,000 per year over the last two years.
Yet that rise in numbers is having little effect on the day-to-day operations of hospitals, argues Nathan Friedland, a nurse in a busy MUHC surgical ward. Friedland says that many nurses today are able to build entire careers outside of hospitals, ICUs and surgical wards – which are oftentimes the most challenging working environments for nurses.
“When one finally becomes a nurse, no one tells you where you have to work,” says Friedland in a recent letter to the Montreal Gazette, adding that less nurses are working in hospitals today. “Because of burnout, fatigue and good old stress, many nurses must call in sick from time to time, forcing managers to try and find someone to replace them. Most of the time, they are unsuccessful, and if it is that hospital’s policy not to use agency nurses to replace the sick call, the only alternative is to give more patients to each nurse.”
The Quebec Health Department estimates a shortage of approximately 4,000 nurses per year over the next three years. Extra labour pressures will be felt as Quebec continues to build and expand health care facilities. There are currently two mega-hospital construction projects underway in the city of Montreal alone.
Source: Montreal Gazette
This month the Department of Citizenship and Immigration will launch a new website and accompanying mobile app designed to promote citizenship among Canada’s new arrivals.
Government statistics show that despite a growing number of citizenship applications between 2008 and 2012 – from 242,000 to 317,440 – there are less applications being granted.
The new site and app should help address that problem by providing study materials and advice on the citizenship application process. Furthermore, immigrant advocates say it should clarify some of the common misconceptions held by landed permanent residents regarding Canadian citizenship.
One of the common misconceptions is the belief that one has to forfeit their native citizenship upon gaining their Canadian citizenship.
The website, www.citizenshipcounts.ca, will also provide information on recent regulation changes that have tightened the rules surrounding citizenship for people charged with a crime. Though the government still retains the right to strip citizenship from those charged with a serious crime, they have narrowed the minimum sentence barring appeal rights, down to six months from two year sentences.
The website is targeted toward young immigrants and refugees who may not fully be aware of the benefits of gaining citizenship status. Officials say that many newcomers from places like Africa, Greece, Ireland and the Caribbean do not apply for citizenship for a range of reasons.
Source: Toronto Star
Immigration experts are saying that China’s new immigration policies are a sign that recent Canadian policies are effective in attracting skilled workers.
This month, news broke in China that the country would be implementing a new immigration policy similar to those recently undertaken in Canada, including developing a list of the skills most needed by employers in the country.
The Chinese government, much like the Canadian government, is reportedly also consulting employers to help them determine what skills should be on the list. Experts say the list is likely to include workers in the technology sector as well as management and science.
Though China is not expected to bring in nearly the number of immigrants per year that Canada currently does, the policy change does point to an increasingly competitive labour market where countries must strategically recruit the workers they most desperately seek.
It also points to the growing importance of Southeast Asia in supplying workers to the global marketplace. Though North America – Canada and the United States, in particular – still draw a large amount of workers and students from the region, the increase in Chinese and Japanese recruitment efforts could have an effect.
As the baby-boomer generation retires, officials anticipate large worker shortages across Canada, particularly in the skilled trades professions. Canadian policy-makers should be aware of these trends if they wish to stay competitive in the coming years.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
The Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists is voicing concern over what they view as an extreme mismatch of skills that is hurting employers in the technology sector.
Speaking at the organization’s conference this month in Winnipeg, CCTT Chief Executive Isidore LeBlond said that worker shortages are being felt across 14 technology sectors with little relief in sight.
“The skills mismatch means we’re constantly being questioned by employers looking for the next worker – the worker with the right skill set,” said LeBlond, speaking to an audience of employers, educators and government representatives. “We want to make sure we’re teaching the right (skills).”
A recent report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce echoes these concerns, but says that recent immigration policy changes by the government are a sign that Canada is looking at effective strategies. In the past decade alone, Canada has imported approximately 5 percent of its own workforce in an attempt to address the issue.
However, as LeBlond and other experts have stated, immigration is not the only solution to the problem. Canadian stakeholders must do more to raise awareness about what skills are most needed domestically, and attract more young people, aboriginals, and women into those trades.
The trades that are anticipated to have the highest shortages in the coming years include petroleum and mining workers, as well as Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) workers.
Source: Ottawa Citizen