The federal government will soon be expanding its planned border exit-tracking system to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in social benefits to vacationing Canadians who have long absences from Canada.
In conjunction with United States authorities, the expanded program will enable Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada to save between about $194 million and $319 million over five years.
Savings can be expected through “preventing abuse and eligibility fraud” with respect to the employment insurance, old age security and child tax benefit programs by ensuring Canadian residency requirements are fulfilled.
It estimates savings over five years of the following amounts:
- $48 million by Employment and Social Development Canada for the old age security program;
- $21 million by Employment and Social Development Canada for the employment insurance program;
- $125 million to $250 million by the Canada Revenue Agency for the child tax benefit program.
Under the 2011 perimeter security pact, Canada and the United States agreed to set up co-ordinated monitoring systems to track entry and exit information from travellers. Currently, the tracking system involves exchanging entry information collected from people at the land border — so that data on entry to one country serves as a record of exit from the other.
The first two phases of the program have been limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the United States, but not citizens of either country. Even though no revised dates have been announced, federal officials have said work continues on the final phases.
It has long been known that information from the entry-exit initiative would also be used to track the movement of suspected fugitives, child sex offenders, smugglers and terrorists, as well as identify people who remain in Canada past visa-expiration dates and help determine when those slated for deportation have voluntarily left.
However, the internal documents describe several measures to protect privacy including signs at the border to notify travellers their information may be used for program integrity. People flying into Canada have been warned for many years that information on their customs declaration card may be shared. Legislation to implement the final phases of the entry-exit initiative will reveal exactly how the information may be used and disclosed.
OAS benefits are calculated based on years of residence in Canada. After 40 years of residence after age 18, Canadians over age 65 are entitled to the maximum government pension.
OAS benefits are not reduced merely for spending too long outside Canada. It is common in fact for Canadian authorities to deposit benefit payments directly into the accounts of snowbirds who spend long periods of time outside Canada. The risk is for residents who do not acquire the requisite 40-year minimum after age 18 and do not disclose this on their application.
Health coverage benefits and income tax rules pose a bigger risk for Canadians who spend significant amounts of time outside Canada. Generally, Canadians who spend more than 183 days each year could be affected by Canadian and foreign legislation.
The Conference Board of Canada, in a recent study, raises concerns that an ageing population in Canada could cause a potential shortage of tens of thousands of nurses in the near future. The demographics are compelling.
Recent statistics confirm that seniors over age 65 now outnumber children for the first time ever, leading to a projected shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2022. Policy planners must begin to develop programs calling for the investment in nursing bridging and training programs.
For each dollar invested by Ottawa and provincial governments in helping registered nurses become licensed in Canada, there is a return of $9 in future income tax revenue – a nine-fold return. This excludes direct contributions in investment for the care of the country’s rapidly aging population. Canada stands to benefit immensely by investing in the internationally educated nursing industry. Efforts are also needed in to improve the process of foreign credential recognition in the nursing industry.
More than half of immigrants to Canada with health professional backgrounds incur difficulty in having their foreign credentials recognized in Canada. The figure is just 40 per cent in other regulated professions.
There are 35 career-bridging programs available for foreign-trained nurses, 12 based in Ontario. Researchers, in conducting a cost-benefit analysis based on government funding, found that it costs taxpayers $11,270 to help a foreign-trained nurse become registered in Ontario as an RN or RPN. It typically costs about $13,441 with complex cases costing as high as $30,400.
The investment cost appears high. But the benefits appear to far outweigh these costs, as Canada stands to receive an additional $9,135 in income tax revenue from each Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) who becomes RN registered and $4,522 for each one who becomes RPN registered.
Investing in the future of our health care by helping nurses overcome credential recognition challenges is a logical consideration.
Four years after Punjabi became Canada’s third most common language; it is now also Canadian parliament’s third language after English and French. This observation follows the election of 20 Punjabi-speaking candidates to the House of Commons.
Twenty-three Member of Parliaments of South Asian-origins were elected to the House of Commons, Parliament of Canada on October 19 parliamentary elections. The 430,705 native Punjabi speakers make up about 1.3 per cent of Canada’s population. The 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs represent almost six per cent of the House of Commons.
Of the 20 elected candidates who speak Punjabi, 18 are Liberals and two are Conservatives. Ontario elected 12, British Columbia four, Alberta three and one is from Quebec.
In an interview with recently, Navdeep Bains, a Liberal MP, said although 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs have been elected, these MPs represent all constituents regardless of their party affiliation or ethnic origin.
Federal lawyers are ready to act on one of Justin Trudeau’s key campaign promises of repealing the controversial Conservative law that gives Ottawa the power to strip convicted terrorists of their Canadian citizenship.
The Justice Department recently requested an indefinite adjournment in five high-profile court challenges targeting the Harper-era revocation law, saying federal lawyers assigned to the cases cannot move forward without direction from the incoming Liberals. All parties to the court actions are scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 9 for a case-management conference in Toronto; by then, the Liberals’ specific intentions should be evident.
Lawyers for all sides consented to the adjournment request, and the order was approved by Justice Russel Zinn 48 hours before Trudeau and his ministers were to be officially sworn in by Governor General David Johnston. The parties are now awaiting word on further direction following the recent election of the Liberals who promised to rescind certain provisions of the controversial legislation known as Bill C-24. The conservatives implemented the law which allows the government to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of serious crimes against national security, including treason, espionage and terrorism—providing that person is a dual national who holds citizenship in a second country.
To date, 10 Canadians have been served with a “Notice of Intent to Revoke” since the law took effect on May 29, and only one—Zakaria Amara, the confessed ringleader of the 2006 “Toronto 18” bomb plot, now serving a life sentence—has actually lost his citizenship. Five of those convicted terrorists have since launched Charter challenges in Federal Court, arguing, inter alia, that Bill C-24 is unconstitutional because it amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” and creates “second-tier citizenship” by singling out dual nationals.
While there is no dispute that these men were terrorists, what is debatable, however, is whether these convicted terrorists—despite their grievous crimes—deserve to be stripped of their Canadian citizenship, a punishment akin to banishment.
Trudeau clearly pledged, “No, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” many times on the campaign trail.
What happens next, though, is not entirely clear. The Trudeau government could decide to withdraw all notices served to date, eliminating the immediate threat of revocation and rendering the court cases moot. But striking down the law itself will require an Act of Parliament, a process that could take many months, if not years.
If nothing else, the Federal Court adjournment gives the Liberals additional time to determine the best course of action on this controversial legislation, from the now terminated conservative era.
During the recent election campaign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that Canada would admit 25,000 government sponsored Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.
However, logistical challenges have started to appear as the task of admitting such numbers will likely require air travel, government personnel, medical doctors, housing, and food and settlement assistance.
Refugee advocates are bracing for an extension of the year-end deadline as well as a reduction in the number of refugees that will be admitted by year end. Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it was « premature » to comment on how this transfer might work, until the appointment of the department’s new immigration minister which took place last week.
Each year Canada admits about 7,500 government assisted refugees, who are met by non-governmental organizations and staff that help with orientation and place them in temporary housing. If this number is to be increased to 25,000 over the next two months, even though these organizations are aware of what needs to be done, their capacity will certainly face challenges that have not been felt in more than 40 years. What is clear is that any operation will be complicated.
Many believe Canada’s response under the previous government to the Syrian refugee crisis has been far been poor. The task ahead will now require a political will and logistical planning from the Trudeau government that will entail participation from multiple ministries, including the Canadian military.
Advocates on behalf of migrant-workers are lobbying the newly elected liberal government offer temporary workers a path to permanent residence upon arrival to Canada. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada representing live-in caregivers, seasonal agricultural labourers and other low-skilled workers is also urging the government allow workers the option to leave the employer who sponsors them.
According to government statistics, by 2012 the number of temporary employees admitted into Canada had more than tripled over the previous decade. Last year, after controversial reports surfaced of companies using the program to displace Canadian worker, the Conservative government downsized its temporary foreign worker program by imposing restrictions and creating lengthy processing delays. The program for low wage jobs, in its current format, is restricted to regions with an unemployment rate higher than 6 per cent.
The conservative government also imposed a controversial four-in-four-out rule limiting temporary workers to a four-year stay in Canada. This restriction has been criticized by businesses. These changes have affected businesses and created difficulties for those who want to retain trained workers for over four years. The long term aim is for temporary workers to receive permanent resident status in Canada.
The coalition urged these reforms to avoid the exploitation of low skilled workers, which it claims will continue as long as their right to remain in the country depends on a continuing relationship with their employer.
The Liberals may be receptive on the basis of past history. In the Alberta meatpacking industry, employers were able to permanently retain 70% of low skilled temporary foreign workers under provincial pilot programs. A further review of these policies may prove worthwhile.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
The controversy regarding the wearing of the niqab during Canada’s citizenship ceremony was one of many immigration issues that shaped the recent federal election campaign won by Justin Trudeau and the liberals.
Immigration is a regular topic of discussion in Canada where one in five people are born outside the country. Immigration policy is as complex as Canada’s diverse population. The source of our immigrant community comprises more than 100 countries.
In Western Canada, the British Columbia Liberal success was evident in all three of Surrey’s largely Indo-Canadian ridings. Few issues were as important as Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise to double the number of parents and grandparents allowed into Canada each year. Family reunification is on the minds of just about on every member of the Indo-community.
Here are other issues:
Responding to the current European migrant crisis, Trudeau committed to admit 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2015. International refugee officials are already raising concerns.
A former Canadian ambassador to Syria and Lebanon, has warned that about half of those picked in refugee camps will be psychologically traumatized, with many unable to work.
The British government has issued an extra reminder to humanitarian taxpayers: Each Syrian refugee will cost about $40,000 CDN in the first year.
Trudeau promised to double the number of parents and grandparents who could come to Canada to 10,000 a year.
A Forum poll has found that Canadians oppose, by a 2.5-to-one margin, boosting such family reunification programs. Despite South Asians being eager to bring parents and grandparents to Canada, a majority of Canadians know that thousands of seniors will cost billions of dollars to Canada’s struggling national health care and pension systems.
Harper was the only leader to boldly respond to the housing affordability crisis in Toronto and especially Vancouver – promising to collect data on foreign ownership, significantly restricting foreign speculation on housing. Some economists believe that foreign ownership and high immigration to Canada’s large cities combine to increase the cost of urban housing.
The Conservative government raised Canada’s projected immigration levels for 2015 to 285,000 a year from 265,000.
The Liberals campaigned towards maintaining Canada’s immigration policies as the world’s most welcoming. This is consistent with policies under previous liberal governments.
Canada’s newly released text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is prompting concerns over foreign skilled workers and provisions of the agreement providing that there will not be limits or testing of foreign workers. The agreement provides extensive narrative on business travel and the flow of skilled temporary foreign workers.
Labour unions are concerned that the text ignores questions about on-the-job safety and the protection of Canadian jobs. Unions are also concerned the agreement could allow foreign companies to bring in an unlimited number of temporary foreign workers in certain broad occupational categories while bypassing usual measures to protect Canadian jobs.
Those who support the deal are downplaying union concerns, arguing that Canada will still be able to ensure foreign workers meet local standards for training.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson Diana Khaddaj said Canada retains the right to regulate professionals and technicians under the deal.
Under the deal, professionals and technicians and their spouses could work in Canada for up to one year, with the potential for extensions. Workers who qualify to work in Canada under international trade deals are exempt from the screening process of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The text also mentions a category called “professionals and technicians », which outlines a large number of specific trades that could come to Canada including electrical and other construction trades.
Recent reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program were aimed towards the abuse of lower-skilled workers. The reforms eased restrictions on the entry of higher-skilled labour through avenues such as trade agreements. Advocates for such exemptions under trade deals argue that they are limited to highly skilled workers such as engineers who are required to fill a specific need.
The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement signed on October 5, 2015, has yet to be ratified by each of the 12 Pacific Rim countries including Canada and the USA. The agreement deals with a variety of matters of economic policy.
The Liberal government is considering using military bases to temporarily house some of the 25,000 Syrian refugees they promised to bring to Canada by the end 2015.
The Syrian refugee crisis, the largest mass displacement of refugees since the Second World War, became a major factor in the recent federal election. The former Conservative government was under intense pressure to bring in more people fleeing the Assad regime and the so-called Islamic State.
The Liberals are considering bringing in as many as 6,000 refugees per week and according to the new Immigration and Refugees Minister John McCallum, there may be the possibility of using Canadian Armed Forces bases to house the refugees.
The Liberals have pledged to increase funding for refugee processing and resettlement by $200 million over 2015 and 2016, as well as an additional $100 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to support relief efforts.
The Quebec government announced today the quota of 3500 for applications submitted by post under the Quebec skilled worker program (QSWP), was reached. The program capped out in only 5 days. This follows the launch of the 2015/16 application session on November 4th, with Quebec planning to receive 6300 applications. The period of reception for applications will operate under two systems.
Beginning November 4th, 2015 – a maximum of 3500 applications submitted by post has been received.
Beginning January 18th, 2016 – a maximum of 2800 applications will be accepted via the internet.
If previous indicators are a valid measure, Quebec’s quota of 6300 applications under the QSWP, will fill quickly. However applicants with a valid job offer, previous work experience in Quebec or having completed a valid period of study in Quebec may also qualify under the Quebec Experience Program and would not be subject to the skilled worker program quota.
To read this article in its entirety please click here.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.