The Canadian Government plans to launch a new immigration system that would offer express entry to qualified immigrants for filling open jobs for which there are no available Canadian workers in 2015.
Named Express Entry – formerly referred to as Expression of Interest – this program would provide swifter entry into Canada, wherein the government and employers would select immigrants based on the skills and attributes that Canada needs. Canada’s new immigration system would come into force from January 01, 2015. Under this system, prospective immigrants would apply to express their interest in coming to Canada by answering a series of questions about their professional skills, their education, languages spoken etc.
The system would then match the skills of the prospective immigrants with the labour requirements identified by the provinces, the territories and employers. On finding a suitable match, the immigration authorities would offer Express Entry to a prospective immigrant who has applied via the:
• Federal Skilled Workers Program
• Federal Skilled Trades Program
• Canadian Experience Class Program or,
• Business Class Program
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said that Canadian employers would be able to bring workers into Canada through the Express Entry system, with the long-term objective of making them stay behind in Canada. In a press conference, he said, “You can bring your labour market opinion, your job offer, to the Express Entry system and ensure that the person you need comes to Canada as an immigrant, not as a temporary foreign worker. Not as someone who is here with an uncertain future and likely to go back, but as a full immigrant to Canada”.
Alexander said that prospective immigrants who apply via the Provincial Nominee Program could also benefit under this system as long as the concerned province and territory brought their program under the federal one. Immigration authorities would extend invitations to Express Entry candidates for applying for permanent residence if they have a valid job offer or a provincial or territorial nomination.
Other features of the Express Entry program include the fact that Canada would be able to select the best candidates, who would be able to achieve success in Canada, rather than just the next person in the queue. Immigration authorities would also have access to an improved Job Bank for matching Canadian employers with the most suitable Express Entry Candidates.
The Government plans to invest $14 million over two years and $4.7 million thereafter, to ensure that Express Entry is a success.
Source: CBC News
As wealthy Americans continue to forge ahead of several of their global peers, the American middle class – for long the most affluent in the world – seems to have lost that distinction, according to an analysis conducted by New York Times.
The analysis, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, shows that citizens of other advanced countries have obtained considerably larger raises over the past three decades across the lower-and-middle-income tiers. In addition, Canadian middle class incomes (after tax) are higher than in the United States – this, after falling significantly behind US middle class income standards in 2000. The numbers suggest that high and rising income inequalities are to blame for this decline in American middle class income levels.
Most economic experts cite statistics like the per capita gross domestic product to show that the US has maintained its lead as the world’s richest country. However, these figures do not focus on the distribution of the income, as much as they do on averages. As most recent income gains usually flow to a relatively smaller group of high-earning households, it is clear that most Americans are not at par with their counterparts around the globe.
Three factors could be behind this phenomenon. Firstly, educational attainment has slackened in the US as opposed to other parts of the industrialized world. This has made it harder for the American economy to retain its control over high-skilled, well-paying jobs. While American aged from 55 to 65 years have above average literacy, numeracy and technology skills as compared to 55-to-65-year-olds in the rest of the industrialized world, Americans from 16 to 24 years of age rank closer to the bottom among rich countries.
The second factor contributing to this is that companies in the US distribute a smaller share of their wealth to the middle class and the poor as opposed to companies elsewhere in the industrialized world. Finally, the governments in Canada and Western Europe are aggressively ensuring that they redistribute income to raise the take-home pay of low-and-middle-income households.
Despite this drop in income levels for the American middle class and the poor, the fact remains that the US continues to register stronger economic growth. Americans still earn 20 percent more than their Canadian counterparts do. They also earn about 26 percent more than their British counterparts and 50 percent more than their Dutch counterparts do. However, it appears that only a small percentage of American households is benefiting from this growth of the world’s most prosperous economy.
Source: The New York Times
The Employment Minister Jason Kenney suspended Canada’s Fast food sector from the Temporary Worker Program in the wake of program abuse allegations by several McDonald’s outlets and a pizza restaurant in Saskatchewan. This also means that any pending applications from the food services sector will remain in limbo.
While there has been widespread criticism from all quarters over the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – based on anecdotal evidence, statistical proof and national perception, the latest incidents of program abuse forced the indefatigable minister to step in and take some remedial action.
Kenney has faced a tough few weeks battling revelations about small businesses, which continually displace Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers willing to work regardless of the hours, holidays or the conditions. Ironically, the Conservatives have championed the cause of these small businesses that continue to flout the rules.
While incidents of program abuse have yielded sufficient anecdotal evidence that have shaped public perception about the Program, studies by academic institutes have queered the pitch further by providing statistical evidence that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has raised unemployment levels.
The non-partisan CD Howe Institute established that the Program raised unemployment levels in Alberta and British Columbia – two Conservative strongholds. Similarly, Dominique M Gross of Simon Fraser University analysed the period from 2007 to 2010, when the Conservative Government eased the requirements and expedited the process of hiring temporary workers in two provinces because of a reported labour shortage in western Canada.
She found that there was little evidence of shortages in several of the fast-tracked low-skilled occupations. In addition, she also found that the influx of foreign workers contributed to an increase of a cumulative 3.9 percentage points to the unemployment rates. This led her to conclude that placing a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers entering the country annually could help buck the trend.
The Program, which had merits on paper, is clearing without adequate safeguards to prevent employers from abusing it. Thus, even as employers fill jobs with foreign workers, they continue to deny Canadians jobs in their region or even the right to migrate to jobs that they want. Similarly, Canadian employers also find themselves undercut by competitors using temporary foreign workers.
This situation would continue to be the norm unless Kenney can revamp the abused Program and provide proper safeguards to protect the rights of all Canadians – employers and workers.
Source: The Toronto Star
Several people pay a lot of attention to the data published in the monthly Labour Force Survey, focusing on the headline numbers for employment and unemployment rates.
The employment and unemployment rates for the past few years shows that the monthly changes in employment are positive – rising by just under 20,000 jobs each month. Unemployment has fallen too – however, at a much slower pace. The average monthly decline in unemployment is about 2,000 per month.
However, bear in mind that these crests and troughs represent net changes in employment and unemployment. The gross changes merge into the figures for employment and out of the employment figures via recruitments and layoffs respectively. These gross changes have a greater magnitude than the net changes that invariably capture the attention of most people.
Over the past three years, the unemployment figures have remained above the one million people mark. However, that does not mean that the people who are jobless today are the same individuals who did not have jobs in 2011 too. For the most part, the unemployed people today are not the same individuals who did not have jobs in 2011 because employment spells seldom last for more than three to four months.
Culling information from the Public Use Microdata Files (PUMF) of the Labour Force Survey, the series of New EI Claims (claims received) and Full-time Private-Sector layoffs seem identical. The vertical axis shows that over 100,000 people lose a full-time, private-sector job each month and nearly 200,000 people submit an initial EI claim during normal times.
Variations in voluntary job separations and hires might not have a considerable impact on the gross labour market flows, but it would indicate the strength of the job market because workers would not quit their jobs unless they were able to find another one easily.
Both categories reverted to pre-recession levels by mid-2012. However, both categories dropped by about 10,000 a month because of a weakening of the labour market. This resulted in no effect on the net changes in employment and unemployment because both categories cancelled each other out in the headline numbers. As workers and firms regained confidence in the second half of 2013, both the categories rebounded once again.
Thus, while the monthly Labour Force Survey releases capture all the attention, they denote only the tip of the iceberg, leaving discerning readers to catch a glimpse of what lies beneath those explicit numbers.
After Employment Minister Jason Kenney declared that the Federal Government would unveil more changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the coming weeks, restaurants are hopeful of avoiding a permanent ban on their use of temporary foreign workers, even as they gear up for more restrictive curbs on their ability to hire these workers.
A couple of weeks ago, Ottawa had placed a moratorium on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the food service industry because of allegations of program abuse by several McDonald’s outlets and a pizza restaurant in Saskatchewan. Experts have long felt that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has several loopholes that employers capitalise on because of insufficient information about local labour markets.
Kenney mentioned that obstructing the flow of higher skilled labour in a global economy might be counterproductive, which was why he was aiming at reforming the controversial program instead of terminating it. In an attempt to curtail the abuse of the Program, Kenney mentioned that the moratorium would remain effective until the Government concluded a probe into all the allegations of program abuse.
He admitted that some of the changes could include restaurants cutting hours of operation or even winding up operations altogether. He also expressed a hope that employers would continue to give Canadians the first shot at jobs, even if it meant paying higher salaries, spending money on trainings or encouraging prospective employees to move to get a job.
His options include utilising unemployment rates on a city-by-city basis that would enable him to prescribe different standards for employers across the country, according to Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Another alternative could be to raise the current administrative fee of $275 per worker, according to Professor Dominique Gross, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. University of Ottawa labour economist David Gray felt that auctioning temporary foreign worker permits would enable employers with the greatest needs to get foreign workers.
Be as it may, the number of temporary foreign workers has become popular in the restaurant and hotel industry, especially in Western Canada, with the number of new foreign entrants increasing from 101,000 in 2002 to 338,000 in 2012. While Kenney did not set a date by when the changes would come into effect, restaurants and hotels are hopeful that the changes would be favourable to them instead of restrictive.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Canada launched its Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 1992, thereby bringing live-in nannies and caregivers into the homes of several Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This accounts for a fifth of all temporary immigration.
The authorities allow these individuals to enter Canada to do jobs that Canadians would avoid for low rates of pay that Canadians would decline outright. These individuals stay away from their homes and families for years. In addition, they can neither settle down in Canada nor marry nor bring their children over nor change jobs or expect a raise in their salaries. As if this were not enough, they also need to live in rooms provided by the employers and stick to the same job unless the authorities drive them out of the country.
Many people would feel that Temporary Foreign Workers belong to restaurants and other mining occupations, without sparing a thought for the live-in caregivers who reside with them. The Live-In Caregiver Program currently employs about 25,000 women, who have helped Canadian women enter the workforce and looked after the children and the elderly as well.
Yet, the Caregiver Program and other temporary programs have created a massive socio-economic problem. These caregivers, who contribute much to the lives of Canadians, have to live in Canada on a full-time basis, which invariably results in the deepening of their ties to the country. At the same time though, they cannot aspire to have any legal connection to the country’s society or economy. Since 2010, live-in caregivers can apply for permanent residence after completing 24 months of work over a four-year period. This makes them better off than the over 300,000 skilled, unskilled and agricultural workers currently in the country on a temporary basis.
Permanent immigrants are a net gain and they contribute to the welfare of the country and the economy. However, temporary immigrants merely live in the country, without forming a family or developing any educational or economic ties with the country. In doing so, they harm themselves and the country too.
On an average, it takes from 6 – 8 years for these temporary workers to become permanent immigrants. Canada needs immigrant workers to meet its shortage of skilled and unskilled labour. Because Canada is an underpopulated country with an ageing population, it makes sense to transform temporary immigrants into permanent ones, thereby helping them rebuild their lives even as they contribute to help the national economy prosper.
Source: The Globe and Mail
The success of Apple and Google in attracting a market cap of $509 billion and $356 billion respectively – captured the attention of several business thinkers at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. These individuals felt that the rapid proliferation of “disruptive technologies” made it virtually impossible to predict the future course of global commerce as these technologies posed a challenge to the sustainability of several traditional business models.
However, instead of viewing these technologies as being disruptive, one needs to view them as being transformative because in an interconnected knowledge-based global economy, future growth would only take place in areas where the highest innovation and technological advances are taking place. This naturally means places where workers have the greatest skills and not places having the lowest cost labour.
The transformative power of the knowledge economy would enable all businesses across all industries and sectors to reap the benefits of technological advances, productivity gains, economic growth and gain access to a highly skilled workforce. To capitalise on this, Canada would need to initiate the process of developing its emerging knowledge economy.
In the knowledge economy, Canada has immense potential. Its Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sectors are worth $155 billion in annual revenues and accounts for 35 percent of the spending on research and development spending, according to data published by Industry Canada in March 2013. In addition, the ICT sector outgrew the overall economy in 2011, increasing by 3.2 percent as opposed to a 2.6 percent increase registered by the total Canadian economy.
However, even as the Canadian industry has produced aggressive drivers of ICT technology, it has always underinvested in the knowledge economy, which hinders the global competitiveness of Canadian businesses.
Therefore, the authorities need to create market conditions that result in innovations and help the knowledge economy flourish. This would only come about through public and private investment, a supportive educational framework, immigration policies and a proactive economic agenda from the government.
Producing graduates with the right skills and expertise would help feed the knowledge and ICT sectors, which would have the greatest potential for growth. While there are no guarantees, graduates with the right skills could have a great chance a career in their chosen fields. By committing itself to developing the knowledge sector, Canada would be able to sustain its standards of living as well as remain a player on the global stage.
Source: The Globe and Mail
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
The fresh emergence of abuse allegations over the Canadian Government’s troubled Temporary Foreign Worker Program has led to widespread criticism from all quarters over the manner in which Employment Minister Jason Kenney has handled the issue.
The criticism does not just come from Kenney’s peers in the House of Commons, but also from business groups, labour unions and the common citizens, who believe that the Conservative Government had made it easier for foreign workers to swipe their jobs.
Critics highlight the findings of the CD Howe Institute that showed that the influx of temporary foreign workers during the past decade – from 110,000 to 338,000 currently – had raised unemployment rates in British Columbia and Alberta.
According to NDP leader Tom Mulcair, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has publicly maligned companies who import workers with “the intention of never having them be permanent and moving the whole workforce back to another country at the end of a job. The Prime Minister has had this figured out for some time, but why, in the six years that the minister [Kenney] has been taking care of the program, has he never figured it out?”
In his defence, Kenney said that the government acted promptly when it came across any abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, citing the recent example of the temporary ban placed on restaurants from accessing the program. He stressed that the government was taking any abuse of the program seriously and was even planning for another phase of reforms.
These reforms would ensure that Canadians would get the first shot at available jobs always and everywhere. In addition, he mentioned, the reforms would ensure that employers only used the program as a limited and last resort. Some of the measures Kenney suggested included the implementation of a limited fast track for workers in high-demand professions in regions of the country that had low unemployment.
However, this clearly does not placate his critics. Last year, after the crackdown on the Royal Bank of Canada, Kenney had pledged another round of reforms. Those reforms had resulted in procedural red tape and lengthy delays, which led to complaints from trade associations and employers.
With a federal election looming, many believe that Kenney would need to do more to curb abuse of the TFW program. With little scope for easing restrictions and a focus on implementing tougher rules, Kenney clearly has more to salvage than merely his reputation.
Source: Ottawa Citizen