Recent scandals involving the temporary foreign workers program has left many Canadians upset. Researchers at Ryerson University, in partnership with the prestigious Migration Policy Group, are updating the Migration Policy Effectiveness Index (MIPEX) for Canada, a tool that compares and rates countries based on their immigration policies. Canada placed among the top three in 2011, but the Ryerson team made some disturbing discoveries about what has been happening since then. In a clear shift from the country’s path-breaking immigration policies, a system has emerged that exists to serve employers, treating immigrants not as future citizens but merely as convenient or cheap labour.
Following the Immigration Act of 1967, Canada began selecting immigrants on the basis of characteristics including education, work experience and proficiency in English or French. To overcome the racism that had dominated the system in previous years, a points based system was devised in order to make the selection process as transparent as possible. This system was highly successful given its mix of practicality and equality, and gained the respect of other countries with several considering it as a model for their own immigration policies.
Now, however, if the current government has its way, the points system will be gone from Canada by 2015 and shall be replaced with “Express Entry,” which is essentially a job bank serving government and industry, matching prospective immigrants with employers seeking workers.
Canada’s 1967 Immigration Act emphasized the importance of family by ensuring that immigrants could sponsor a spouse, dependent children, parents, and grandparents. A drastically different system now requires a 30-per-cent higher minimum income from immigrant families who wish to sponsor people. Whereas immigrants were previously required to support sponsored family members for 10 years, the new requirement is for 20 years. In addition, the number of sponsorships is capped at 5,000 per year.
The Conservative government has not only made it more difficult to enter Canada, but also to remain in the country and become a citizen. Citizenship Bill C-24, currently before Parliament, increases the residency requirement from three to four years, triples the application fee, removes the right to appeal a negative citizenship decision, revokes citizenship from naturalized persons if an official believes that the person never intended to live in Canada, and strips citizenship from dual citizens if convicted of certain crimes, even if those convictions occurred outside Canada..
Such radical changes to immigration policy should require full and transparent national debate. Should economic contribution be the only criterion for selecting immigrants?
Canadians need to ask themselves if they really want pragmatism to take absolute precedence over ethical considerations in immigration policy.
Source: The Star
A recent study released by Statistics Canada has revealed that the wage gap between a college or a university degree graduate and a high school diploma holder is narrowing.
According to the federal data agency, while high school graduates are making wage gains, the wages earned by post-secondary school degree holders are either remaining flat or decreasing (as in the case of male post-secondary school degree holders). This showed that education did not lead to greater increases in wages, for the short-term at least.
Statistics Canada studied the data on the earnings of the two groups for two different time periods – from 2000 to 2002 and then, from 2010 to 2012. Between these two periods, males having a high school diploma as their highest level of education registered an increase in wages of nine percent. Similarly, women belonging to the same educational group showed an increase of 11 percent in their salaries.
In comparison, the data agency found that the average real hourly wages of young male bachelor’s degree holders remained unchanged, even as their female counterparts registered an increase in their average real hourly wages of five percent.
Experts – like public policy professor Ken Coates – felt that this study revealed that people placed undue emphasis on the knowledge economy, which had not resulted in the creation of many knowledge-based jobs. As a result, the country’s natural resource economy, along with the service industry, had been responsible for powering the country’s growth.
The study also revealed that post-secondary degree holders continued to earn more than their lesser-educated peers did, but not by much. Data showed that for every $1 earned by a male degree holder between 2010 and 2012, a high school graduate earned 75 cents – a marginal rise from 68 cents in the previous decade.
Similarly, for every $1 earned by a female college or university degree holder, a female high school graduate earned 78 cents – up from 74 cents a decade ago. Statistics Canada attributes a third of the narrowing of the wage gap for women to the fact that many provinces have increased their minimum wages.
While the data agency declared that individuals with a higher education had a greater likelihood of having jobs, high school graduates were doing comparatively better in terms of salary growth, even though few high school graduates preferred sticking to just a high school diploma, without looking to pursue a higher education.
Source: CBC News
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard selected Dr. Yves Bolduc to head the Education department about a week ago. Dr. Bolduc, a general practitioner from Alma, thus becomes Quebec’s latest Education Minister. Unsurprisingly, he expressed his hope that the government would make education a priority as good health was a by-product of good education.
In a sit-down interview to Global News, the new Education Minister said, “The priority of the government should be education, because if you go to school, you’re going to have a good job and you’re going to be less sick.” In an attempt to kick-start his attempts to make education become a key focal point for the government, Dr. Bolduc met with several education workers, as he detailed his priorities.
One of those priorities is to focus on improving the standards of English teaching in schools. During his interview, Dr. Bolduc declared that he backed the concept of military families retaining their access to English schools. He also mentioned that he had shelved the PQ’s plans of re-writing the history curriculum and filling it with more nationalist content. In addition, he expressed his willingness to meet Quebec’s Anglophone community to discuss the feasibility of English schools teaching more French.
Dr. Bolduc said, “I always thought it’s very important for our children to learn English, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want them to be good in French. We want people to be good in French and we want them to have a second language, even a third language.”
Dr. Bolduc’s plans and priorities have triggered warning signals at the Quebec School Board Federation. President Josée Bouchard realises that budget cuts are imminent and that they would have repercussions on student services.
Similarly, Dr. Bolduc’s plan to continue to index tuition fees, as part of his responsibility for Higher Education, has also earned the ire of students from I’ASSE. ASSE spokesperson Benjamin Gingras said, “Indexation is a tuition fee increase and we will fight it, doesn’t matter who’s in charge of education.”
Dr. Bolduc believes that the system is sick, but he is also aware that overnight changes seldom yield results. With four and a half years before him, he knows that he would need to make the system better for students and teachers alike. Only then, would they be able to lead healthier and more fulfilled lives, thereby contributing to the country’s success and prosperity.
Source: Global News
NACC to Receive Funding Worth $800,000 for Helping Skilled Newcomers Obtain Jobs in their Chosen Fields
Ottawa is set to commit $800,000 to the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) to help skilled newcomers to Canada, find work in their chosen fields. The NACC represents an array of schools across Canada that offer training in sectors facing a shortage of skilled workers.
The Employment Minister Jason Kenney said that the funding aims to support about 5,000 internationally trained and educated workers, who are unable to find work in their fields, to obtain jobs closely related to their core expertise or to explore other career opportunities.
The NACC’s new Alternative Pathways for Newcomers project aims to get skilled workers from overseas move out of the menial jobs they currently hold, and get involved in professions closely related to their chosen vocations.
NACC head Serge Buy stated that several workers visited Canada based on promises made while promoting immigration to Canada from overseas. However, once these people landed in Canada, they ended up working in taxicabs or fast-food kitchens instead of practising in the fields of their choice.
The NACC program would publish information materials on alternative careers and develop a website, where skilled newcomers could access this information easily. The association would also establish regional information centres for enabling newcomers and community organisations to access and share information.
Thus, after doing the appropriate course, a lawyer from another country could work as a paralegal or an immigration consultant. Similarly, a nurse could find employment as a personal support worker or a pharmacy assistant.
Expectedly, the Liberals criticised the latest move. They said that career colleges had the highest average student loan sizes and default rates in the country. Therefore, by funding institutions that carry high costs and high default rates, the government was making profligate use of its funds.
Two years ago, the government launched the so-called Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project. It resulted in the disbursement of over 1,000 loans to skilled newcomers for helping them cover the costs of having their credentials recognised in Canada. This latest move is yet another step to help this community contribute to the development of the country.
Source: City News Toronto
Educational experts in British Columbia argue that more focus should be placed on the potential of international students in enriching the social and economic development of the province in the coming years.
In a recent piece for the Vancouver Sun, executive director of the British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE) Randall Martin advocates for a “better understanding” of the important role played by international students in today’s global economy.
Martin argues that international education is a growing market, with an estimated four million students currently studying abroad. By 2020 that figure is expected to hit seven million. Such numbers naturally signify a large economic sector (estimated at $2.2 trillion) and international students bring in about $1.2 billion per year into B.C.’s GDP.
Beyond their direct contribution to the economy, international students also represent potential future skilled labour, if Canada can find a way to retain them in today’s global market.
“These are young, healthy and B.C.-trained professionals who can populate the vacuum left by B.C.’s aging demographic and declining birthrates,” argues Martin. “They have taken no one’s spot in the classroom and they will take no one’s job. To suggest as much is anecdotal mischief.”
While some in Canada lament the rapid growth of student exchange, other nations such as Australia continue strong recruitment efforts – efforts which are reflected in recent figures showing a 41 percent increase in international students between 2003 and 2007. During that same period Canada reported a six percent increase.
It is crucial now, more than ever, says Martin, for British Columbia and the rest of Canada to communicate the benefits of international students, not only in its recruitment efforts abroad, but also here at home to ensure that Canadians understand the potential of this resource.
Source: Vancouver Sun