Canadian oil companies are bracing themselves for further labour shortages as the country starts to display strong signs of economic recovery.
New spending commitments from all over the world have been pouring into the oilsands region and experts are bracing themselves for unheard-of levels of labour shortages – even more so than during the 2008 record production times.
“Everybody’s got a bit of a guess at all of this, but the numbers are like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Flint Energy Services Ltd’s Brent Gurthrie. “Whereas Flint was bringing in hundreds in 2008, an expectation of going to 1,000 is not unheard of going forward … The local market gets burned out quite quickly on these major projects, and then everybody’s scrambling.”
The Alberta government is predicting a shortage of 77,000 workers in the coming decade, while some analysts in the oil sector are throwing out even larger numbers, like 130,000, considering the impending baby-boomer retirements in the coming years.
Employers see the potential of foreign workers to help ease these shortages, and are already planning on how to get them to Canada. It can take anywhere from three to six months for a temporary visa to come through, so for many companies the process has already begun.
“We’re looking at the 1,000-person mark [of foreign workers] for a prolonged period, probably peaking in late 2012,” said Gary Truhn of PCL Industrial Contractors Inc, one of the top builders in the oilsands region. “We think there are some major projects that are going to be there for quite a while.”
Already, from January to April of this year, nearly 10,000 applications for foreign workers have been filed by Alberta companies, and that number is sure to rise as the economy grows stronger.
Still, the process of importing foreign workers remains marred in controversy and the Alberta government claims that it is exploring other options, including incentives to workers from other provinces, and more autonomy over provincial powers to nominate certain workers for fast-track immigration.
Source: Globe and Mail
A new pilot program is helping Canada’s immigrants find work in the environmental sector.
The program, which was initiated this February by the Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society (CCIS), provides six weeks of training to new arrivals in the area with a background in ecological fields.
“I think because it’s a growing and relatively new field, [employers] are interested in what other countries are doing, so the environmental professionals I can bring them give [them] an international perspective,” says Erin Donais, a CCIS program coordinator and administrator of the Environmental Immigrant Bridging program, who was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming employers were.
“With the environmental sector, they’re much more open to hiring people who’ve worked in the sector internationally because then they can share their experiences and learn from them.”
The program is especially helpful to new arrivals, because it focuses on soft skills, like language and Canadian business culture, points out Donais. The training helped 12 out of the program’s 15 participants to land permanent employment within two weeks of finishing the program.
“One thing I love about Canada is that you do get that support,” says British immigrant Ruth Ibemisem, who was one of the program’s trial participants and is now employed full time in the environmental industry. “You are able to go around to the various immigrant agencies and then you see the one that can actually meet your needs.”
Officials at the CCIS are hoping to secure more funding in the near future so that the program can continue in bridging eco-professionals with the employers who seek them.
Source: National Post
A controversial new report claims that immigrants cost Canadian taxpayers over $20 billion dollars per year.
The report, Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State, was conducted and issued by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank with offices across the country. The report uses census data collected over nearly 20 years, and claims that immigrants cost approximately $6,000 per person, as immigrants are not paying as much as other Canadians in income tax but are using just as many social services.
However, upon release of the report, critics were quick to point out that there are other factors that were not taken into consideration by its authors.
“I’m sure the data behind the numbers is sound, but I think it only tells half the story,” said writer and analyst Rudyard Griffiths who co-founded the Dominion Institute. “The fact is that we’re doing immigration on the cheap…. We don’t spend enough money on language services, and we don’t do enough skills accreditation and training.”
Yet the authors of the study stand by their findings and say that the government needs to do more to address the issue, such as focusing more on skilled worker migration rather than family unification, and rewarding applicants who have a Canadian job offer in hand.
“It’s in the interest of Canada to examine what causes this and to fix it,” said co-author of the report Herbert Grubel, himself an immigrant from Germany. “We need a better selection process…. We’re not here, as a country, to do charity for the rest of the world.”
Source: National Post
Last year nearly 41 percent of all doctors licensed in the province of Ontario were foreign-born, according to a new study released this month.
The report, compiled and released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, indicates that a “reverse brain drain” is occurring in the province, as more new doctors are arriving from other countries.
“We’ve reversed the brain drain,” said Ontario Minister of Health Deb Matthews. “Long ago we were losing trained doctors to other countries, but recent figures show that 174 more doctors came to Ontario in 2009 than left.”`
Just ten years ago, only 28 percent of newly licensed doctors in the province were foreign born. Experts say that the dramatic increase is due to several factors, including more overseas recruitment of doctors and increased efforts to ease their integration into the Canadian health care system.
Overall, the number of new doctors has been increasing over the past several years, and now nearly all of the Ontario population (94 percent) have access to a physician. The major challenge facing officials now is to bring that access to the rural areas of the province.
“We know there has been a shortage of doctors in Ontario,” said Dr. Lynne Thurling, president of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We have to walk a fine line between getting more of them on the front line without lowering our standards.”
Source: Toronto Star
A local bike program is helping Montreal immigrants to improve their cycling skills while helping them fit into their new surroundings.
“Biking is a way to communicate, be with others, and have a sense of participating in the movement of your city,” says Caravane program founder Papa Amadou Touré, who immigrated to Montreal from Senegal seven years ago. “It’s a way for cultures to meet. Quebec defines itself by its passion for bicycling. People who come here should join in. I want to break their isolation.”
Touré got the idea after he started working as a bike courier shortly after his arrival in Montreal. He noticed that immigrant-heavy neighbourhoods seemed to be lacking in cyclists, and that the populated bike paths in other areas of the city were lacking in diversity.
The more he talked to immigrants, the more Touré realized that many of them had, in fact, rode bikes back home when they were younger. But, in many countries as a person matures they feel pressured to give up the bike and obtain a car which carries more status. In Canada, and particularly in Montreal, the attitude is much different and most immigrants feel that.
“When I asked people [here] why they didn’t bike, they said they didn’t know how,” Touré says. “I could see on their faces that they were shy about it. They were almost ashamed.”
He founded Caravane and has since helped over 500 foreign and native-born Quebeckers to learn to ride and fix bikes.
Source: Globe and Mail
As Canadian companies look increasingly to diversify their markets beyond the United States, they are more and more tapping into the potential of their immigrant employees to act as bridges in both communication and culture.
“If you speak the language, it opens doors,” says geophysicist Tesfakiros Haile, who immigrated to Canada from Eritrea, and is now in charge of developing the African market for Toronto-based Phoenix Geophysics Ltd. “People [in the country] give you a chance, they listen. They might not know the equipment we are selling, but it builds trust and helps people feel comfortable with us.”
Haile says it is the small cultural differences that his clients notice, such as not shaking hands with a woman or not using a person’s first name. Business is conducted differently across the world.
The potential for emerging markets is huge for Canadian employers who, particularly after the recent recession, are looking to find more trading partners and reduce reliance upon the U.S. economic conditions.
With nations like China and India experiencing massive economic growth, there will be an increasing need for Canadian employees who have Chinese background (approximately 1.3 million) and Indian backgrounds (approximately one million).
Already these techniques are being adopted in the Canadian business world. A recent study on immigrants in the workplace found that nearly 20 percent of Canadian companies have reported hiring a skilled immigrant for the purposes of market diversification.
Economic statistics support further exploration of the tie between immigrant workers and foreign market potential. A study conducted last October by the Conference Board of Canada showed that for every one percent increase in immigrants to the country, there was a 0.21 percent increase on the value of imports and 0.11 on the value of exports.
“When you want to choose market makers, you need people with the languages,” says Phoenix president Leo Fox. “You need to know how people think in that culture.”
Source: Globe and Mail
The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling in a controversial case that could open the gates to waiving immigration fees.
The case involved two applicants for immigration who claimed that they were financially unable to pay the $550 standard processing fee. Upon refusal of their application, they requested to remain in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. A federal court ruling denied this request but that ruling was overturned this month by the Court of Appeal.
“It [the appeal] is not meant to provide an alternate route for immigration into this country, by any means at all,” said Andrew Dekany, the attorney representing one of the applicants in the case. “It is for rare, exceptional cases that cry out for relief.”
Dekany went on to cite instances where applicants from countries ravaged by natural disaster, such as after the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, were able to come to Canada without having to pay the processing fee.
However, some critics are concerned because this ruling was in cases unaffected by extenuating circumstances. They are worried about the precedent that this ruling will set when it comes to more general instances of poverty-stricken applicants who do not qualify as refugees, but simply cannot afford to pay the processing fee. They also point out that a ruling such as this will likely lead to more appeals in the future for a broader range of cases.
“Anytime you ask bureaucrats to evaluate specific circumstances of a case you are going to have diverging results and people who will litigate the results,” said one immigration lawyer. “And if the claimants are indigent, usually that means replying on legal aid and increased costs to the taxpayer.”
A government spokesperson says that the Immigration Department will adhere to the ruling, but that long-term effects of the decision will likely be negligible.
Source: National Post
Contrary to much public thought on the part of American officials, Canada is not a gateway for illegal immigration into the United States, but rather, the reverse is true. It is actually more common for illegal immigrants arrive in the U.S. before trying to gain status in Canada, according to official documents obtained by Wikileaks.
“There continues to be incidences where applicants try to cover up prior orders of removal or unlawful presence in the U.S.” wrote American consulate official Phillip Chicola in a 2010 message to the White House. “Usually, these applicants have only recently arrived in Canada to seek legal status after residing unlawfully in the U.S. for years.”
The internal communications were released by Wikileaks, a website that has become notorious for its whistle-blowing, particularly with regards to the U.S. government. This latest leak will do little to boost the credibility of American officials’ claims that Canada is a safe-haven for potential terrorist threats.
However, the document also shows that Canada’s own authorities perhaps need to do more to bolster security if the country is granting status to illegal aliens, according to analysts such as Don DeVoretz, a B.C. professor of economics.
“There`s a suggestion here that perhaps Canada is not doing due diligence, ” says DeVortez.”People fail (to live legally) somewhere else and we’re sort of letting them in.”
Some critics suggest that an immigrants’ past movements should be given more consideration by Canadian authorities when assessing their applications for residency status.
Source: Globe and Mail