Immigration levels were on the rise last year in several categories, despite some very drastic and controversial regulation changes by the Conservative government.
According to the latest data released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, over the course of 2012 there were record immigration levels in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) category as well as a large jump in family class immigration.
Last year the CEC stream welcomed 9,353 new arrivals which is the highest level seen since the category was launched in 2008. This stream of immigration favors applicants who already have either worked or studied for a significant period within the country and have thus proven their adaptability and skills to the Canadian economy.
Family sponsorship levels were also high last year, with approximately 65,000 relatives or spouses entering Canada. This is up nearly 15 percent from 2011 levels.
Overall, immigration in 2012 increased over the year before, with a total of 257,000 permanent residents admitted to Canada.
Sources: Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Answering to recent concerns over changes to Canada’s student visa program, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney this month asserted his belief that “credible” schools will still be able to recruit and sponsor foreign students.
In recent weeks Serge Buy of the National Association of Career Colleges expressed his uneasiness with the proposed changes, which will allow provinces to work with post-secondary institutions to provide the federal government with a list of “credible” schools for which international students are suited.
Buy says that the new rules run the risk of omitting credible career colleges because if provinces choose not to do the work, the federal government will have to decide on its own which institutions would be credible. The federal government has not been definitive in what criteria will be used.
For his government’s part, Kenney says there is no need to be concerned and that he is confident that “credible” career colleges will be recognized as such.
“[The provinces] know who are the sound institutions and I have every expectation that credible career colleges will be put on the list of certified institutions by provincial governments but there may be some self-styled career colleges that aren’t so credible and we’ll let the provinces make that decision,” said Kenney this month.
The rule changes are intended to streamline the student visa process and help eliminate fraud. Students must be enrolled in credible programs that are longer than six months in length and be regularly attending classes.
While Eastern provinces like Ontario continue to struggle with unemployment, the labour markets in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are growing stronger based upon gains in the oil and gas sectors.
“Salaries in oil and gas this year are rising slightly faster than we projected, and labour markets in Western Canada are tightening,” said the Conference Board of Canada’s Ian Cullwick upon release of the organization’s annual survey on compensation. “We have heard from natural resources firms that virtually all of them are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need.”
The report focuses on salary gains and predicted growth across the country from 2012 into 2013. After surveying over 200 organizations, the findings indicate the highest levels of projected salary growth are in Saskatchewan and Alberta, at 4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia have the lowest projected growth rates, all below the national level of 3 percent.
The report gives evidence to the labour shortage concerns increasingly expressed by professional organizations in the oil and gas sector, particularly as more Canadian baby-boomers retire.
“The growing labour shortage, particularly for skilled tradespeople, is an opportunity well worth considering by current and future job seekers,” said a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “The latest employment forecast from the Petroleum Human Resources Council says the oil and gas industry will need 9,500 new employees in the next two years alone. And the current phenomenon is chronic, not cyclical like past labour shortages. That means the door is open for long-term, secure, well-paying skilled trades such as electricians, welders, pipefitters, technicians and specialists. These are high-quality jobs offering people rewarding career opportunities.”
Companies will increasingly be looking to minority groups to fill these positions, including women, aboriginals and immigrants. Employers are hoping that higher wages will attract more workers to these sectors in the coming years.
Source: Calgary Herald
Experts are warning that the looming skilled trade worker shortage will have far-ranging effects on Canada’s economy in the coming years.
Over the next decade, due to worker retirement and not enough young people entering the trades, Canada is expected to be short upwards of 800,000 skilled trades workers. Though this shortage has been a priority for policy-makers for years now, last week’s event at the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence provided analysts and employers with a new platform to voice their own concerns.
The one-day Ottawa event was attended by over 400 potential employees and employers in the construction sector, who warned that worker shortages will be felt across the board from higher housing prices to slow infrastructure developments.
“It used to take five months from the time of sale until the house was built,” said Cardel Homes’ Ottawa president Greg Graham who spoke at a panel. “Now it’s six or eight months. House prices have gone up, too, because there’s a shortage of trades so they demand higher pay.”
The government has recently introduced a new skilled trades worker stream of immigration in hopes of addressing these issues. However, employers are skeptical that with a quota of only 3,000 new arrivals per year, that this will not be enough of a solution and certain trades, like welding, will have little impact on the residential construction sector.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
British psychiatrist and renowned researcher Dr. Kwame McKenzie says that more needs to be done to address the challenges faced by immigrants to help them succeed both economically and psychologically in Canada.
Speaking publicly this month at a talk hosted by the Literary Review of Canada, Dr. McKenzie said that when he arrived in the country six years ago to work at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), he was disappointed to see how poorly Canada’s multiculturalism policies were serving immigrants. He had expected to find a pluralistic society but instead found it disjointed, with ethnic enclaves leading to isolation, discrimination and depression among certain immigrant groups – a problem that similarly plagues London, as well as other areas of Europe and the United States.
One solution, for which Dr. McKenzie praised recent efforts on the part of the Canadian government, is to help bridge the skills gap that so many newcomers face – the “doctors driving cab” trend that policy-makers have been lamenting for years, which Dr. McKenzie says, leads to psychological pain.
However, he also warned of focusing policies too much on the labour market as it is today and not placing enough emphasis on immigrant adaptation skills. What might be in high demand in Canada’s economy today may not be so desirable in the long term.
Adaptability, says Dr. McKenzie, can be measured in two ways: firstly, by examining an individual’s resilience – their ability to bounce back from hardship and, secondly, by their emotional intelligence.
Choosing immigrants, however, is only half the battle. At the same time, policy makers and advocates must be willing to put in the time and effort to help newcomers succeed once they have arrived in the country.
Workers can build an industry, but people build a country,” said Dr. McKenzie, who is now medical director at CAMH. “My question is whether we’re committed to supporting them so they can help us move forward.”
Source: Toronto Star
Employers and government officials from Saskatchewan are ramping up efforts to attract workers by expanding their recruitment tour this year to the United Kingdom.
Last year Ireland was the only destination for a similar recruitment envoy to Europe, where they attended and represented Canada in Dublin’s Working Abroad Expo. They visited several cities, and approximately 10,000 Irish workers attended the events as economic turmoil continues to plague the country.
This year, the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy along with 13 employers who are in dire need of workers, have expanded their tour to include a two-day visit to Manchester in the U.K.
“Based on last year’s success, employers expressed interest in returning to that country hoping to recruit at least 80 high-skilled workers this year, for positions such as heavy-duty mechanics, welders, engineers and machinists, among other occupations,” said the Ministry in a statement, noting that last year’s efforts resulted in nearly 300 new Irish families in the province.
However, some employers are taking their own approach, unhappy with the cattle-call-like atmosphere at these international recruitment fairs. They have arranged to travel to these places on their own in order to narrow their focus and target the workers they need.
Saskatchewan’s recent economic growth has resulted in massive worker shortages – particularly in the skilled trades such as plumbers and electricians.
Source: Regina Leader-Post
The city of Surrey, just on the outskirts of the Vancouver metropolitan area in British Columbia, has been changing its policies to adapt to a wave of immigration in recent years.
Though many areas of public service have had to adapt to growing diversity in the population, it is perhaps in the field of health care where such adaptations are most challenging and most needed. In 2005 the Surrey Memorial Hospital hired its first diversity manager and has since expanded its focus to the entire region to work on and implement initiatives directed toward newcomers.
One such initiative is having interpreters on hand for patients who speak Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. Translation services are also available in 150 other languages if advanced notice is given. Staff members at the hospital are also welcome to take part in conversational Punjabi classes after hours.
Besides language, traditions and beliefs can also become a barrier to effective health care. Newcomers might be more hesitant to sign a do-not-resuscitate form or become too reliant on relatives for assistance when their physician wants them to do things for themselves.
Additionally, health care providers are adapting their spaces to accommodate for larger families as well as learning which populations are more susceptible to which diseases.
“If you look at the research, when you are providing services that are culturally sensitive and the patients are understanding what the doctor is saying to them, what they’re requiring that patient to do, there are shorter stays in the hospital,” says Jas Cheema, Surrey Memorial hospital’s manager of diversity. “And there are not as many repeat visits so it ends up benefiting the health authority and the taxpayer.”
Source: Montreal Gazette
Toronto’s City Council is causing some controversy over its recent efforts to become for immigrants a “sanctuary city.”
This month Toronto City Council members voted to “reaffirm [Toronto’s] role as Canada’s first sanctuary city” and discussed ways to provide services for undocumented newcomers. Such services would include access to public health as well as shelters and food banks.
However, controversy erupted not long after the discussions began, with critics saying that the move sends mixed messages about Canada’s stance toward illegal immigration.
“(Council’s) motion tries to help illegal immigrants to stay in Canada, and we think that’s the wrong message to send,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “If you’re here illegally, please respect our laws and go back to your country.”
There are currently an estimated 20,000 undocumented residents in Toronto, most of which are working low-skilled positions such as janitorial work and food service. Advocates say that most of them likely arrived in Canada with a valid visa, but moved underground once those papers expired.
City Council members, however, recognize that although such workers have no legal status, most do contribute through taxes and rent paid on day-to-day living. They often live in constant fear of being exposed and are thus less likely to seek out public services (including health services, which can put communities at risk) and may be less likely to report crimes against themselves or others.
Source: Toronto Star