Canada plans to roll out a new “express entry” program starting from January 2015 in an effort to improve the process of selecting economic immigrants who want to come to Canada.
The Canadian government has promised several benefits under the new program, however, there is little information on how this new program will actually work.
The express-entry program aims to encourage foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in Canada, under a new scheme that will match their skills with those required by Canadian employers. The interested foreign nationals can make an online application, through which they can promote their qualifications to prospective employers. This process will help recruiters gain access to information from the foreign nationals’ resumes and skills. The recruiter can then select an appropriate candidate and support that candidate’s application for permanent residence in Canada.
Once an applicant is selected, his/her ranking will rise, thus increasing his/her chances of receiving an “invitation to apply” for permanent residence. Upon receiving such an invitation, the applicant has 60 days to apply for permanent residence.
There is a key difference between the express-entry program and the current program. The latter follows more of a first-in-line approach, whereas under the new scheme, foreign nationals will be invited to apply for permanent residency only when they have proved that they have a ranking high enough to have a smooth economic integration into Canada. The process of self-promotion is vital under the new program to enable the applicant to achieve a high ranking. However this program makes many assumptions including that employers would be willing to use this new system as a recruiting tool.
According to the Canadian government, under the new program, applications for Canadian permanent residence will be processed within six months thus allowing for a faster entry of skilled foreign nationals into Canada. But there is a lack of information on how much time the application stage might take.
The program therefore could therefore significantly limit the number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada by increasing the number of permanent residents to Canada through a process that is geared towards targeted recruitment. It therefore can address critical labour shortages by putting the recruiters directly in touch with potential workers abroad.
However, the program presumes two factors – first that employers will embrace this process and invest money and six months’ time to employ someone they don’t know, and secondly that foreign nationals who want to work in Canada also want to become permanent residents of Canada.
While there may be certain employers with long-term needs that justifies waiting for six months to fill a vacancy, however the processing time of six months may not be practical as the job market could change significantly during this period. For instance, the selected foreign national may receive another job offer, or the employer could come up with a new project requiring different skillsets.
Moreover supporting an applicant’s permanent residence to Canada might be something most recruiters would not be comfortable with. Most global companies have to hire fast and do not have six months’ time in hand, and so they might not use this program when they could hire temporary foreign workers with lesser effort.
The benefits of the new express-entry program therefore seem to be limited and could prove meaningless to big employers with changing work requirements.
In addition the new program presumes that all foreign nationals want permanent residency in Canada, which may not be true for everybody. Today, many employees want flexibility in terms of ability to travel and work in new places and would prefer to use a temporary work permit to avoid the expense of permanent residency.
Most recruiters have been using the Internet and recruitment agencies to fill vacancies and have depended on the flexibility offered by the temporary foreign worker program to hire workers in a short span of time. It is therefore difficult to say how successful the express-entry program might be even though it aims to make the process easier for immigration of skilled labour into Canada.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The complexities of Canada’s recruitment industry are far removed from policy makers in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration (CIC). It is evident that civil servants in this department under estimate the dynamics of Canada’s recruitment industry. Yet bureaucrats are being given overly wide latitude to copy existing programs in New Zealand which has a labour market the size of Alberta on a landmass of less than half. It is time that Canada recruits the necessary expertise to devise its own unique programs that are designed for our own needs. Until then our skilled worker policies and programs will continue to under-perform.
Waterloo, Ont., Calgary, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Ont., Vancouver and St. John’s are the most attractive cities to live for newcomers, according to a Conference Board of Canada report. The report compares 43 indicators grouped into seven categories: society, health, economy, environment, education, innovation and housing. Data is based on the 2011 Census and National Household Survey.
The “A” List of Cities
Each of the six cities that earn an overall “A” grade receives high marks in at least two categories and has attributes that draw people to its community, such as a strong economy, a culture of innovation or a high quality of life.
- Waterloo shines as one of the top cities for migrants, thanks to its well-earned reputation for innovation and education. Waterloo ranked first in education, second in innovation, and third in the economy category.
- Calgary is the only city to rank first in two categories: economy and innovation. These two categories lift Calgary to the top tier of cities despite weak results in education, health, and environment.
- Ottawa’s has solid results in four key categories: society, education, innovation and economy. Ottawa’s weakness is the health category, where it earns only a “C” grade due to low numbers of health-care support workers.
- Richmond Hill is boosted by strong results in education, innovation and society. It is the third-most diverse city in Canada and boasts the highest number of graduates in engineering, science and math per capita.
- Vancouver is appealing for its overall high quality of life, demonstrated by strong results on society, education and environment. Vancouver is one of the key destinations for new Canadians.
- St. John’s rank is boosted by strong results in the economy and health categories. It has the second-best ratio of general practitioners and specialists per 100,000 people. As a result, the city is ranked second overall in health and is one of only two cities to get an “A” in this category.
The “B” List of Cities
The 14 cities with an overall “B” grade include Toronto and three of its suburbs — Oakville, Markham and Mississauga. Toronto leads all cities in the society category, but only receives “C” ratings for innovation, health and environment. Rounding out the category are two Vancouver suburbs: Burnaby and Coquitlam; four Prairie cities: Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg; and four government-centres: Victoria, Halifax, Québec City and Kingston.
The “C” List of Cities
A total of 17 cities receive a “C” grade including Montreal and six other cities in Quebec: Gatineau, Lévis, Sherbrooke, Laval, Saguenay and Longueuil. Also in this category are six Ontario cities: Vaughan, Guelph, London, Kitchener, Burlington and Thunder Bay. Richmond, B.C., Surrey, B.C., Kelowna, B.C., and Moncton, N.B., also get “C” grades. Overall, the “C” rated cities have poor outcomes on either economy or society, and in a few instances both.
The Bottom List of Cities
13 cities make up the “D” list, falling in the bottom half of the rankings mostly on economy, innovation, society and education. The cities in this class are struggling to attract newcomers, said the Conference Board, with nine of the 13 cities showing little population growth between 2006 and 2011, and two cities seeing their populations decline. Many of these cities are located in Ontario, including Hamilton, Brampton, Greater Sudbury, Windsor, Barrie, St. Catharines, Brantford, Cambridge and Oshawa.
Source: HR Reporter
Thinking of moving to a new city? Waterloo, Calgary and Ottawa are considered the most attractive places to live and work in Canada, according to a survey by the Conference Board of Canada. They’re among the six cities that earned an overall “A” when ranked on such measures as education, environment, health, housing, innovation and society. The other top performers are Richmond Hill, Vancouver and St. John’s, though Edmonton came in ahead of St. John’s among university-educated workers.
Toronto ranked 13th on the list of 50 cities which puts it smack in the middle of the 14 cities that earned an overall “B” grade. Oshawa ranked last on the list of 50 cities the conference board ranked, just below Cambridge and Brantford. It was among 13 cities that drew an overall “D” grade.
The report, called City Magnets, was to be released Thursday at 8 a.m.
The assumption is cities that fail to attract skilled workers will struggle to stay prosperous and vibrant. Canada’s largest cities generally performed best in a category the board called “society.” The category measures levels of population diversity, use of public transit, access to culture and incidences of poverty and crime.
Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, and Ottawa were the top four on this score followed by Markham, Richmond Hill and Brampton. Each of these “A” cities has its own unique appeal, but they all share a diverse and strong multicultural base, the report found.
Richmond Hill has the most diverse population, with 59.3 per cent of its residents identifying as “foreign born.” Toronto was not far behind at 47.9 per cent.
Immigrants to Toronto have the worst economic success, however, earning just 61 per cent of what their Canadian-born counterparts earn, the study found.
Toronto offered the most options for commuting to work, with 46 per cent taking public transit, walking or cycling to work. That compares to just 13.7 per cent in the car-dependent suburb of Brampton.
But Toronto also had higher crime rates than the suburbs, roughly twice the levels. Montreal had the highest number of people living in poverty, while Toronto ranked 41st on that score
The results of the 2014 study largely reflect those of the 2010 cities report. Cities at the top remained there; cities at the bottom continue to struggle. For the first time, the study looked at whether university-educated workers have different criteria than less-educated workers when choosing a new place to live and work. The answer was no.
Source: The Star
Access to great talent can set a region apart and be the key to success for businesses and the communities they serve. Global electronic manufacturing services provider SMTC is a perfect example of this talent advantage.
Canada needs immigrants to fuel its economy. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, one in three workers will be born overseas. Despite this need, across the country we are not uniformly integrating immigrants into the labour market.
Unemployment rates among recent immigrants (those that have arrived in the last five years) with university degrees sits at 13% compared to just 3% for Canadian-born university degree holders. That is a lot of wasted potential, and it¹s not just detrimental to the immigrant, but to the country as a whole.
The problem is not a skills mismatch. Immigrants have many of the skills employers need. Rather, it is a failure to make the connections between employers and immigrants. Employers not only need to be connected, they need to want to be connected, to the available local talent — whether immigrants, youth or other underemployed groups — before they look elsewhere.
Employers have a responsibility to look for talent within Canada first and to integrate immigrants into their workforce. It’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and with the predicted changes in our demographics, it’s the necessary thing to do. As SMTC quickly realized, immigrants bring skills and experience that are extremely valuable to its workplace and are a key factor to its ongoing innovation and success in Markham.
Integrating skilled immigrants does not have to be difficult. There are numerous programs and resources that help employers simplify the process.
For example, learning resources, such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) Campus and hireimmigrants.ca, can help employers create bias-free recruitment practices and build the cultural competency of their teams. Immigrant employment councils in cities across the country can help employers access targeted talent groups by making connections to: employment service providers that can help screen and identify the right talent; professional immigrant networks such as the Latin American MBA Alumni Network and the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada; and, bridge programs that help internationally trained professionals bridge into the Canadian job market.
Whatever their specific needs, there is a strategy and solution to fit every employer. For example, over the past eight years, Deloitte has actively encouraged its employees to mentor skilled immigrants in their professional fields. It is part of a strategy to equip its managers to lead in an increasingly diverse workforce and, in turn, has helped the company connect itself with the immigrant talent pool.
Mentoring also pays off for skilled immigrant participants as well. A recent study from Accenture and ALLIES Canada found that within 12 months of completing a mentoring program, the full-time earnings of participants increased from an average of $36,905 to $59,944.
Governments at all levels need to make sure their policies are responsive to the needs of the labour market and to the workforce that is already here. Every stakeholder — employers, government, community agencies, immigrants and the general public — needs to take responsibility to ensure that it is doing what needs to be done to integrate skilled immigrants into the workforce.
We will not be able to attract the best and the brightest workers to this country if we waste their potential when they get here. Canada stands to prosper by fully engaging the contributions of skilled immigrants.
Source: Financial Post
The federal government is considering lifetime bans and heftier fines for employers found to have violated its new regulations on temporary foreign workers. In a discussion paper posted overnight on the Employment and Social Development website, the government proposes permanent bans in addition to expanding penalties to include one-, five- and 10-year moratoriums that would forbid businesses from applying for temporary foreign workers.
Currently there are only two-year bans imposed on companies that have broken the rules. The names of the banned employers would be made public, the proposals state. There are currently four companies listed on the government’s so-called TFW public blacklist, with no new additions since early June, three weeks before Employment Minister Jason Kenney unveiled his crackdown on the program.
In efforts to deliver on that overhaul, the feds are also now proposing minimum fines of $500 to a maximum of $100,000 for serious violations- in particular those that have resulted in a significant financial benefit to an employer. The length of the ban would depend upon the type of violation, the employer’s history of compliance, the severity of the violation and the size of the business, the paper states.
The government is asking stakeholders for their input into the proposals. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 16. Stakeholders and critics say they’re puzzled by the proposals, wondering why the government hasn’t been taking such measures for years. Western premiers, including Alberta’s newly elected Jim Prentice, have complained that the government’s overhaul has been too onerous. Prentice is a former federal cabinet colleague of Kenney’s.
The western leaders say their provinces are grappling with low unemployment rates and facing genuine shortages of skilled labour, requiring temporary foreign workers to fill the void.
Jinny Sims, the NDP’s employment critic, also questioned why the government hadn’t been imposing such penalties for years. She also raised concerns about enforcing the tougher rules.
The government is also proposing penalizing employers even if their failure to comply was unintentional — for example, an accounting error that results in a temporary foreign worker being underpaid.
The feds say they’ll want to start assessing the circumstances surrounding a company’s non-compliance when determining the amount of the fine or the length of the ban “so there is still an incentive for the employer to take corrective action.”
Source: CTV News
The federal government has quietly tightened the rules for travel on special and diplomatic Canadian passports after Stephen Harper ordered a review amid alleged misuse for travel and personal business.
Additional changes could flow out of an ongoing review of who should be eligible for government-sanctioned travel documents.
Diplomatic passports, easily identified by their distinctive red cover, are issued to high-ranking government officials, diplomats and representatives, and Canadian government delegates to organizations or conferences.
Special passports, which have a green cover, are issued to office-holders like MPs, senators, provincial cabinet members, and non-diplomats employed by the government who are travelling on an official mission abroad.
A special or diplomatic passport confirms one’s identity and role as an official of the government of Canada. However, only those actually accredited to a foreign country have diplomatic immunity. Four years ago, a flurry of reports cited examples of supposed improper use of such passports. There were also several cases of parliamentarians being denied entry to holiday destinations, unaware that they needed a visa despite holding a special passport.
In early 2011, Foreign Affairs issued instructions stating “holders of official passports cannot use those passports for travelling on personal business.” A process was also put in place to help ensure MPs and senators manage safekeeping of their official passports by agreeing in writing to abide by the rules of use. In addition, a simplified process was introduced for a holder of an official passport to apply for a regular one. Responsibility for the passport office has since been transferred to Citizenship and Immigration.
More than 7,400 special passports and almost 2,500 diplomatic passports were issued last year. Over the last few years, ongoing reviews of the official travel program have resulted in a number of measures to make sure official passports are used properly, said Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Sonia Lesage.
Other steps that have been taken included strengthening procedures for the return of official travel documents once travel is complete, and providing more accessible, clear website information regarding the use of diplomatic and special passports.
Officials are still reviewing the eligibility criteria for official passports as well as the documentation required to support applications.
Source: The Star
They’re the new “it kids” of higher education — international students who pay big bucks and bring a global feel to campus — and now, a year ahead of schedule, Ontario has topped its goal of attracting 50 per cent more to its colleges and universities.
Since Queen’s Park vowed in 2010 to boost the ranks of foreign students to 57,000 within five years, their numbers have grown to 66,417 and counting, said MPP Reza Moridi, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities. There are now 43,159 at university and 23,258 at community college.
The province plans to keep chasing these global whiz kids to boost the economy and enrich the ivory tower, he said, even as some warn they’re being exploited with inflated fees and little support.
However, the drive for these lucrative visitors — who pay up to three or four times more tuition than their Ontario peers with little chance of financial aid or affordable health coverage — has sparked warnings. Student groups say Ontario should limit their tuition hikes just as it does for home-grown students, and let international students use OHIP instead of making them pay $800 for a private insurance plan that is not accepted at all hospitals.
A Statistics Canada report Thursday showed international undergraduate fees in Ontario rose by 10 per cent last year.
The Canadian Federation of Students in Ontario was to meet Friday with officials from Ontario’s health ministry to discuss the possibility of letting international students use the province’s health plan, as is permitted in Manitoba and Nova Scotia.
Some 4.5 million students around the world are getting their post-secondary education abroad — twice as many as roughly a decade ago — and more than half of them come from Asia. The United States draws the largest share at 17 per cent, the United Kingdom 16 per cent, Australia 6 per cent and Canada 5 per cent, according to fresh figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The University of Toronto ramped up its international recruitment in 2008 and now has 12,600 foreign students, roughly 15 per cent of enrolment — twice the share as 12 years ago, said Jill Matus, vice-provost of students.
“They enrich the fabric and diversity of the university — even the National Survey of Student Engagement (used at universities across North America) asks students how often they discuss ideas with someone from a different country,” said Matus. “This is built into what the U of T is. It’s part of our tradition.”
The University of Toronto streamlined its recruitment to other countries and focused more on spots such as Turkey and parts of India and the United States, she said.
However, the university also helps foreign students adjust once they’re here. It pilot-tested a new pre-Orientation week this year called Step Up for 120 international students who stayed together for five days in a downtown residence and learned about the Ontario academic system, met professors and Canadian students and got over their jet lag before having to tackle regular Frosh Week, said Miranda Cheng, director of the Centre for International Experience.
The University of Toronto also has hired a “learning strategist” to help international students with issues from taking notes to what Ontario universities consider cheating. Some students are not used to Canada’s definition of plagiarism, said Bangladeshi-born Arif Abu, co-ordinator of international student services for Ryerson University’s 1,800 foreign students.
“In some cultures, knowledge is public property and you often don’t have to do proper citation — and in a friendship, you share your homework, so a lot of international students struggle with this at first,” said Abu, who came to Ryerson 11 years ago to earn a bachelor and master’s degree — and stayed.
“Class participation can also be different. If you came from a culture where you learn from your seniors, it’s hard to find yourself in a place where you’re expected to question everything, open your mind and speak up in class.”
York University has worked to raise the number of international students to about 6,000, about 10 per cent of total enrolment — with hopes to raise it to 15 per cent, said Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic.
“International students contribute to the vibrancy of the university, but I think it’s imperative that if you open your doors, you provide students with the kind of supports they need.”
York has reached out in a number of ways, from setting up online “webinars” and Skype sessions before they leave home to airport welcome receptions and a free shuttle bus ride to campus when they land.
York also runs special sessions for international students during orientation week, said Lenton, and offers seminars on everything from Canadian banking and transit to academic culture. It also offers winter holiday activities for foreign students who can’t go home for the holidays.
“The last few years we’ve really tried to hone our supports for international students,” said Lenton.
“It’s not just about recruiting them; it’s about retaining them.”
Source: The Star
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Current immigration policies are aimed at attracting foreign students and offering them access to permanent residence programs. Studies show this increases the chances for higher retention rates.
A Conservative MP’s private member bill is quietly making its way through the legislature and, if passed, could exclude refugees from accessing any social assistance.
Bill C-585, which is before Parliament for second reading later this month, would allow provinces to individually impose residency requirements for eligibility for social assistance benefits and restrict access to those benefits by refugees.
Currently, the act stipulates that a province may not impose a minimum period of residency to restrict eligibility for social assistance — or it will risk losing some or all of its social transfer payments. The condition is meant to ensure that a national standard is in place to support those in need of help.
Embedding such a major change in a private member’s bill has irked antipoverty and refugee advocates because such bills, as opposed to government bills, are less transparent and undergo less scrutiny; they’re usually put forward to address issues of regional significance.
Critics say the proposed law appears consistent with other changes the Conservative government has made to the refugee system, including cuts to health coverage for refugees.
While the bill says no minimum residency requirement would be allowed for Canadian citizens, permanent residents or victims of trafficking on a temporary resident permit, advocates are alarmed by the groups that are omitted and could suffer the effects of the bill.
They include refugee claimants still awaiting a decision; people whose bid for asylum failed; people who may be deported but are waiting for pre-removal risk assessments; people who have been allowed to stay in Canada on “humanitarian and compassionate” grounds, and sponsored spouses already in Canada.
The Immigration and Refugee Board said it has no data on the number or percentage of refugees who receive government assistance. Neither would it comment on government policy or pending legislation.
However, as a result of recent changes Ottawa made to restrict and expedite refugee processing, the number of claims received has plummeted to less than 10,000 in 2013, from a peak of 40,000 a year. As of June 2014, only 5,872 claims had been made this year.
Michele Biss, of ‘Canada Without Poverty’ said advocacy groups have tried unsuccessfully to understand the rationale behind this proposal. “We do need a national standard to protect the most marginalized people, including refugees, who are disproportionately affected by poverty. They come with absolutely nothing, fleeing unimaginable persecution. How are they supposed to feed and house themselves?” said Biss.
Source: The Star
Employment Minister Jason Kenney says there’s been a significant decrease in applications for temporary foreign workers since the government announced an overhaul of the troubled program earlier this year.
His department says that the number of applications received in July and August was 74% lower than during the same time period in 2012, before the crackdown.
New rules introduced in June aim to make it more difficult for employers to hire temporary foreign workers, requiring them to meet strict criteria to ensure Canadians are first in line for jobs.
Some employers say the new rules are too onerous and produce problems in areas of the country with low unemployment.
Source: National Post
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The new changes announced by Minister Kenney, the former immigration minister, are being implemented to function as an industrial lockout of foreign workers in many industries across Canada.
Is Canada a tax haven? You could be forgiven for asking the question after hearing that Burger King, founded in Miami in 1954, plans to move its headquarters north of the border as part of its purchase of Tim Horton’s, the Ontario-based coffee and doughnut chain. Burger King insists its deal isn’t tax-motivated.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, formerly of California, became Canadian in a 2010 deal; a second drug company, Auxilium, is in the middle of doing so now, a process known as an inversion. Tim Horton’s, a Canadian icon, did its own inversion in 2009: It repatriated to Canada after the end of its decade-long marriage with Wendy’s, which had left it with a U.S. corporate address.
Canada is hardly a low-tax nation. Its overall tax burden is about 30 percent of gross domestic product, higher than the U.S.’s 24 percent rate. But that figure includes personal income taxes and other levies that don’t apply to corporations.
Over the past two decades, many developed countries have either lowered corporate income taxes, stopped taxing foreign profits, or both. The U.S., whose 35 percent rate is now the highest in the developed world, is an increasingly lonely holdout. That’s why, from Miami, the whole world is starting to look like a tax haven.
Source: Business Week
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Canada has experienced a reduction in corporate taxation rates and in theory this should attract foreign investment. However, the Tory government’s immigration policies towards business investors have become very restrictive.