Thousands of would-be immigrants are still waiting to have their applications processed after last year’s closing of the visa office in Buffalo.
The government stands by the move to close that visa office, saying that the remaining 3,568 applications will be processed by the end of the summer season.
Such claims, however, are of little comfort to those that have been waiting since May of 2012 for a decision. The move from Buffalo to Ottawa for processing was for the files of those who were or are already in Canada at the time of application, such as foreign workers and international students.
Since the change, however, applicants are becoming increasingly upset with longer waiting times – some upwards of two years – and watching others’ applications go through.
Under increasing pressure to do something, the government promised to have all pending applications processed by the end of summer 2013. With that deadline fast approaching many critics are skeptical. Only about 4,982 files have gone through at this point.
A spokesperson for the government says that not only will the files be processed, but that new applications are going through much quicker in Ottawa than they did in Buffalo.
A new study shows that the birth rate among immigrant women is nearly twice that of their Canadian-born counterparts.
The study was conducted by two noted economists who wanted to examine how birth rates affect newcomers’ ability to integrate. The study found that although immigrant women were more likely to give birth, the birthrate does vary by country of origin. Women from African and Southeast Asian countries tended to have higher birthrates.
The information from the study – which was conducted based upon two decades’ worth of data culled from Statistics Canada – will be useful to Canada’s government which is currently adjusting to large demographic shifts and an aging workforce.
The findings support earlier studies which have found that immigrant birthrates tend to correlate to religion and that Muslim, Hindu and Sikh women were more likely to give birth. Ethnicity and birth rate studies in the past also support the recent findings with Chinese, European and Caucasian women having the lowest birth rates in Canada.
Education was found to impact birthrates, but not significantly, as overall the birthrates were higher for both educated and uneducated immigrant women.
The findings are important, say the authors of the study, because they allow the government to anticipate priorities in the coming years.
“The ability to forecast population growth, demand for public services or even labour supply increasingly requires considering immigrant fertility,” the report says.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
A controversial new report suggests that newcomers are costing taxpayers more than necessary and calls for significant immigration reform.
The report, conducted and released by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, asserts that in all, immigrants are costing the government upwards of $20 billion annually and provides some provocative suggestions on how to reduce those costs, including limiting sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents – many of whom are often unable to work once they enter the country.
The report states that although many positive reforms have been made recently, more needs to be done to attract economic migrants. The Fraser Institute is known for its conservative views and one of the key authors on the study is Herb Grubel, a former Reform party colleague of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Grubel’s report analyzed the average income data for newcomers (including refugees) and Canadians over nearly two decades from 1986 to 2004. He concluded that there is a discrepancy between what immigrants are earning, on average, and what they are paying in taxes as well as what types of social benefits they are receiving.
Grubel’s work, as well as that of the Fraser Institute, has in the past come under fire, including his calculations on costs and earnings of new arrivals. For instance, in 2011 two economists with Simon Fraser University conducted their own analysis and found Grubel’s numbers to be “wildly exaggerated.”
However, Grubel stands by his analysis and praises the recent reform efforts made by the Canadian government under former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, including stronger financial commitments from those sponsoring parents and grandparents. He also says that more public debate would be beneficial to determine how to move forward on these issues.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
The province of Quebec has come under fire from the new Immigration Minister for its “fraudulent” investor program.
Chris Alexander, Canada’s new Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, was shown to share the sentiments of his predecessor when he recently slammed Quebec for accepting hundreds of immigrant investors who often settle elsewhere.
This trend allows Quebec to benefit financially not only from investors applying through the province, but also from federal transfer payments, which do not account for the emigrating investors.
“While we respect provincial jurisdiction, as a matter of fairness we cannot send federal transfer payments to one province for someone living in another,” said Minister Alexander. “That saddles the other provinces with unfair resettlement costs, such as health care and education.”
However, officials with the Quebec government say that it is unfair to require immigrants to reside indefinitely in the province in which they first settled. Statistics show that nearly 90 percent of immigrant investors to Quebec move away from the province – most of which end up in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Critics say that more could be done on the part of the Quebec government to track who, exactly, leaves the province and why.
This spring former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney testified to parliament that he believed the program to be fraudulent – which is particularly observable when Quebec investors head strait to other provinces upon arrival in Canada.
Ottawa runs a similar investor program, which took in approximately 2,615 applicants in 2012. Quebec, in comparison, expects to accept between five and seven thousand investors this year.
Sources: National Post
Canada’s new Minister of Employment says that the best bet to solving the labour challenges faced by employers today is skilled trade worker immigration.
Minister Jason Kenney, who was recently transferred over from his post as Minister of Immigration, spoke in Calgary recently about the potential of the new skilled trade worker immigration, particularly in assisting employers in the booming Western provinces who are having trouble finding the labour they need.
“”We see some of the most acute labour shortages in the construction trades in the Athabasca oilsands region because we’re talking about multibillion dollar mega construction projects there,” said Kenney. “We simply do not have enough qualified trades people in Canada to fill those labour needs.”
Kenney pointed to the relatively low enrolment in training programs for the skilled trades, saying that Canadians alone will not be able to make up the necessary workforce in the coming years, particularly as the baby-boomer generation retires.
“We need to make sure we have an immigration system that instead of bringing medical doctors here to drive cabs brings electricians to work as electricians,” Kenney said.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
The province of Quebec has introduced stricter language laws in an attempt to draw a higher proportion of French-speaking immigrants.
The new regulations, which went into effect this month, require applicants to demonstrate stronger skills in French, such as the skilled worker category which formerly required applicants to demonstrate only a beginner level. Now skilled immigrants wishing to apply through Quebec will have to demonstrate that they are at the advanced intermediate level.
Furthermore, the points system has been recalibrated to place more emphasis on an applicant’s ability to speak French.
“We have re-thought our approach in order to select, around the world, immigrants able to respond adequately to Quebec’s needs and to contribute to its prosperity,” said Quebec Immigration and Cultural Communities Minister Diane De Courcy. “We want people who choose Quebec to be able not only to live and work in French, but also to find a job more easily.”
Until now most Quebec immigrants arriving under the skilled worker category could speak French, but others coming through different immigration programs were less likely to speak the language, such as those applying through the investor program whose French-speaking rate was less than 10 percent.
However, some critics, such as immigrant advocate Stephan Reichhold, say that the new regulations go too far and that they will limit the diversity of newcomers entering Quebec. He argues that the government should be focusing its efforts on integration assistance rather than language which, he says, is not the problem.
Other critics say that in placing so much emphasis on French, the government is neglecting the fact that a large number of newcomers to the province settle in Montreal – a city where speaking English is almost as important as speaking French.
The government, however, stands by its new regulations arguing that they will also help reduce application processing times in that those without the required language skills will automatically be omitted from consideration.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Critics are expressing concern over public consultations being held by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to gauge Canadians’ attitudes toward policy.
The concern centers over the emphasis being placed upon economic streams of migration, at the expense, some argue, of refugees and family class immigrants.
The consultations, which are being held all summer long, center on a questionnaire posted on CIC’s website, which is currently available for members of the public to complete in order for the government to measure Canadians’ views on immigration. However, immigrant advocates such as Debbie Douglas and Avvy Yao-Yao Go, argue that the questions on the survey as well as the backgrounder information provided at the site both exhibit a clear bias on the part of the government.
For example, one point in the literature equates successful integration of immigrants with economic success – a clear bias against those who did not come to Canada (nor were selected based upon their ability) to work. It also frames refugees and sponsored relatives as being more likely to rely upon government support.
Douglas and Go assert that although economic-class immigrants are important to Canada’s continued economic growth, other classes of migration can be just as fruitful in helping to build Canada in other important ways. In particular, the government’s framing of economic issues and immigrants as being more important influences how Canadians perceive newcomer’s who may not be “pulling their economic weight.”
Furthermore, Canada’s international reputation as a welcoming place for people fleeing persecution hangs in the balance. It is important to consider the importance that most Canadians have traditionally placed on humanitarian concerns. Additionally, reuniting separated families strengthens Canada’s position in attracting skilled workers in the competitive global marketplace.
Advocates argue that it is time for the government to shift its own attitude and realize that we can not only rely upon employers to choose and integrate newcomers successfully. It is the responsibility of all parties involved – government included – to ensure that immigrants feel welcome and successful in their new home.
Source: Toronto Star
This month Canada officially welcomed its first immigrants through the new Federal Skilled Trades Program.
The new immigration stream, which opened to applications in January of this year, was introduced in hopes of streamlining the process for those whose skills are most desperately needed in Canada – skilled trade workers such as plumbers, electricians and welders.
Formerly, those workers had to apply either through the Canadian Experience Class or the provincial nominee programs, both of which entail requirements that many skilled trade workers may not fulfill, such as having experience working in Canada.
Workers wanting to apply under the new Skilled Trades Program do still have to meet minimum requirements such as having at least two years experience and basic language skills in either English or French. The new program will start off accepting 3,000 applicants per year, though that number may increase if the program is deemed a success.
“Canada is a great country and the people here have been exceptionally warm and welcoming,” said Eric Byrne, a plumber from Ireland who was one of the first successful applicants through the program. “I am very pleased that I qualified for the Federal Skilled Trades Program as it recognizes the value of my skill set and has allowed me to stay in Canada and integrate seamlessly into my new status as a permanent resident.”
Canadian employers are anticipating a shortage of hundreds of thousands of skilled trade workers in the coming years, particularly in the Alberta oil sands regions.