With Canada’s 150th birthday looming, immigration groups and policymakers are already looking ahead to how new citizens can best mark such a milestone.
“One of the big things we’ve made an effort to do is deepen civic literacy for all Canadians, but particularly new Canadians in the citizenship process so when they reach Canada’s 150th anniversary, they’ll be able to understand the historical context,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a recent interview.
Such an effort is most clearly illustrated in the recent changes to the citizenship test, which now focuses more attention on understanding Canadian history and values. All new Canadians must pass the exam if they wish to have full citizenship rights – including the right to vote.
While Kenney argues that immigrants are stepping up to the challenge and embracing the process of learning more about Canada’s heritage, independent immigrant groups are looking at how to celebrate the country’s delicate balance of diversity and unity.
“I’m not saying that we should not be tolerant but I’m saying we’re [getting] more politically correct. We are less (about) Canadian values. We look at how do we please everybody. We don’t look at what Canada is as one of the best countries to live in,” says Salma Siddiqui, president of Muslim Canada Conference, noting that today immigrants seem less and less inclined to integrate into the Canadian way of life.
For most of its history, integration in Canada was not a major concern, as the vast majority of immigrants were from European countries – places whose traditions and values were key in shaping the identity of Canada in the first place.
Recently, however, a wider variety of source countries has tipped the balance and by 2017 – the sesquicentennial year – experts predict that one in five Canadians will belong to a visible minority. Celebrations will have to acknowledge not only the history of minority communities in Canada, but also look at how bridges can be built across these communities to provide for a more understanding and more unified Canada moving ahead.
Starting January 1st, new regulations will be implemented to Ontario’s Foreign Nursing credential assessment that will make it more difficult for immigrant nurses to gain their license to practice in Canada.
This month the College of Nurses of Ontario announced that it will tighten regulations so that those wishing to gain licensing in the province will have to demonstrate that they have worked a certain number of hours as a nurse within the past three years. Formerly, the required nursing experience could be from anytime within the past five years.
The changes will apply to everyone who wants to become licensed as a nurse in Ontario, but immigrant advocates say that foreign-trained nurses will be the ones most adversely affected. Many nurses come to Canada as skilled workers because of their nursing experience, but then are unable to work as nurses upon arrival because of licensing obstacles. This new three-year deadline will put additional stress upon these workers whose skills are urgently needed.
Further adding to the stress is the lack of advanced notification of the new regulations. The College of Nurses of Ontario only advised its current applicants, approximately 21,000 of them, of the changes in September. If their application is not complete by December 31st, they will have to satisfy the new regulations.
The College, however, said that the changes were posted on its website in July and they will help to strengthen the re-certification process, ensuring that the highest of health care standards are met.
“Applying the same registration requirements for all applicants at a certain point — whether the applicant is currently in the process or beginning a new application as of that date — helps ensure that everyone is being assessed using the same standards for registration,” said Bill Clarke, a spokesman for the College.
Source: Toronto Star
Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has officially announced the opening of a new stream of immigration specifically for skilled trade workers.
Starting from January of 2013, the government will begin accepting immigration applications from up to 3,000 skilled trades people like electricians and welders, who are in high-demand in Canada’s booming economy today. They will need to have at least two years’ experience and provide either proof of a job offer in the country, or provincial certification in their trade in order to qualify for the program.
Formerly, skilled trade’s workers had to apply for immigration through the skilled worker program, which is not designed to favour the trades, but instead to favour formal education and language skills. New applicants will only need to prove a basic efficiency in one of Canada’s two official languages.
“[W]e are lowering the language benchmark for tradesmen to a basic level, enough so they can safely work in the Canadian environment and have enough English or French to integrate but we do not require high levels of proficiency in this program,” said Kenney upon announcing the new program.
Though Canada has accepted upwards of 60,000 skilled workers each year of late, only approximately 3 percent of those workers enter the skilled trades. Kenney says more needs to be done at the provincial government level as well as at the level of employers, in offering more vocational training and apprenticeships to help newcomers gain their license.
“(The) Construction Sector Council says that we’re going to need some 320,000 new workers by 2020 just to replace those that will be retiring in the intervening period and to keep pace with the high demand our industry currently is seeing,” said the Canadian Construction Association’s Michael Atkinson. “So the measures being announced (Monday), we couldn’t welcome with greater anticipation and greater excitement.”
Source: Vancouver Sun
Analysts are growing increasingly concerned about the expected shortages in Canada’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in the coming years.
ICT is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world right now. A recent study by International Business Machines Corp. found that 15 petabytes of data are generated each day in the world. This has resulted in data analytics, one of the four key areas in ICT, becoming increasingly crucial to the world economy.
However, in Canada, there simply are not enough analytics experts to keep up with demand. This will increasingly impact not only companies directly in the ICT sector, but also all companies who use Information Technology in any way – which essentially describes almost all businesses these days.
Last year Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) predicted that between 2011 and 2016, approximately 106,000 IT workers would be needed. At the same time, statistics show that the portion of IT workers in Canada’s labour market is actually decreasing, from 3.6 percent in 2002 to 3.3 percent in 2011.
Since they are in such demand, IT workers’ wages are increasing. The average salary range for an IT worker – from $48,889 to $72,653 is higher than the national average salary at $45,488.
Experts are now trying to figure out why more young people are not entering the field. Educators are focusing on getting across the message that a career in IT could mean a career in a wide variety of sectors – as almost all businesses today depend upon Information Technology to some extent.
Immigration will also play a key role, assuming that employers can learn how to best locate and utilize the foreign skills they so urgently need to keep up in today’s marketplace. Workers whose skills are increasingly in demand across the globe will have a harder time choosing Canada if this country does not learn how to properly align skills and employment.
Source: Financial Post
Hundreds of Canadians are being notified that their citizenship is being revoked, after an unprecedented “crackdown” on immigration fraud initiated by the federal government this fall.
Since September, at least 530 letters have been sent out to notify immigrants that their citizenship is being revoked and another 3,100 cases are currently under investigation. Those wishing to fight the revocation can take their cases to Federal Court.
However, critics are concerned that many so-called “fraudulent” cases may actually be innocent errors on the part of misinformed or under-informed applicants and that treating all cases equally is unfair.
“I think we’ve got to be careful that when we say ‘citizenship fraud’ that we’re really are talking about people who defraud and not people who made a very honest mistake and didn’t understand the rules,” said NDP Immigration critic Jinny Sims.
Under current regulations, there is no time limitation for revocations of citizenship, and though there are a variety of reasons for which one can have their status revoked, there must be “sufficient evidence” that a fraud has occurred.
“We are strengthening the integrity of Canada’s immigration system to protect the value of Canadian citizenship,” said a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, adding that they have received “overwhelming support” for the changes.
Source: National Post
The recent closure of the Canadian immigration office in Buffalo has resulted in long delays for thousands of highly desirable skilled applicants.
Approximately 10,000 files were transferred to Ottawa from Buffalo last spring, which was formerly the designated processing office for applicants who are in Canada at the time of filing their papers. This means that a large portion of those files were from temporary foreign workers and international students – some of the most desirable newcomers according to the federal government.
The move has resulted in long delays for these applicants, some up to two years while other locations are processing files much more quickly. Most of these applicants-in-wait are unable to work while they wait and this is leading to increased frustration and distrust among the so-called “forgotten ones of Buffalo.”
“I followed all of the rules, I did everything I was told to do,” says Loic Kerbrat, who came to Quebec from France three years ago and is awaiting his permanent residency. “Mostly I was disturbed by the lack of information from the government. I just want this to be over. I don’t understand how this kind of thing could happen in Canada.”
Representatives from Immigration Canada say that new files are now taking less time overall to be processed, down to nine months from fifteen, and that they are still working on clearing the backlog from Buffalo which should be done by summer 2013.
“By centralizing more processing in Canada, particularly for files that are more straightforward and with lower risk, we can be more efficient and create jobs in Canada,” said CIC spokesperson Remi Lariviere.
Source: Calgary Herald