Canada’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has joined other members of the legal profession to denounce Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s recent comments regarding the judicial system.
Last February Minister Kenney sparked uproar when he criticized Federal Court judges for not “toeing the line of the Harper government’s immigration policies.” He accused judges of stalling cases and not doing enough to help the government remove “unwanted” refugees and immigrants with criminal records.
In a stern public response, the Canadian Bar Association president issued a letter defending judges against the remarks, saying that the legal system is not intended to serve government policy, but to remain an impartial and independent judiciary.
This week, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin brought the issue back to light when speaking to the CBA governing council. She praised CBA president Rod Snow for defending judges who are not able to respond to such public criticisms, and for reminding the minister that the judicial system is not in place to serve political agendas.
“I was certainly — and I think all judges were — very pleased when an issue arose earlier this year when a minister of the Crown seemed to suggest that some judges were insufficiently solicitous to government policy,” said McLachlin. “We were very, very gratified to see your president writing a powerful public letter to the minister in question, reminding the minister of the importance of public confidence in an impartial judiciary, that bases its decisions on the law and not on government policy.”
She added that the criticisms from the CBA need to be taken seriously by legislators such as Kenney now and in the future, in order to preserve the values of this country.
“It’s very important when the Bar speaks out and says this is an important, institutional, democratic value, an independent judiciary, and we need to preserve it. And we’re grateful to the CBA for doing that.”
Source: National Post
A new survey ranking the world’s cities in terms of liveability has ranked Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary among the top ten in the world.
Vancouver, which had been the number one ranked city in the survey for the nearly a decade, moved to number three on the list, which is compiled and released by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU). Toronto and Calgary were fourth and fifth on the list, respectively.
The survey ranks 140 cities of the world based on five categories – living conditions, including infrastructure, stability, healthcare, education and culture and environment.
The top three-ranked cities, Melbourne (Australia), Vienna (Austria) and Vancouver all tied in terms of stability, health care and education. Vancouver topped the other two cities in terms of culture and environment.
However, Vancouver’s lower ranking was the result of a drop in points for the infrastructure transport category, due to problems with highway closures on Vancouver Island. Some observers wondered why this would affect the rating but EIU officials say that “regional” traffic concerns must be taken into account in their methodology.
“The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions,” said the EIU in a statement.
Source: Globe and Mail
The problem of Canada’s aging workforce is being considered a renewed priority within the government, according to documents received this month by the Globe and Mail.
According to internal government documents, Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been holding “closed-door talks” and “policy retreats” to address the considerable financial burden the health care will be facing shortly as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement age.
Officials are concerned that not enough workers are entering the country’s labour market to generate the tax revenues needed to sustain Canada’s public services.
“The oldest baby-boomers start to turn 65 in 2011, meaning the dependency ratio will start to increase significantly in a matter of months,” said a government report last November, which contained a number of “alarming statistics” which predict that intense economic pressures will be felt in the near future, rather than years from now.
A new report released last week by Statistics Canada shows that if current trends continue, within ten years one-quarter of the country’s workers will be over the age of 55. Furthermore, by 2031 there is likely to be less than one worker for every retiree. Thirty years ago in 1981, there were six workers for each retiree in Canada.
The government has already publicly touted several strategies to these issues, such as raising the retirement age and providing initiatives to increase fertility rates. Another popular suggestion is to raise immigration levels – particularly for young workers whose skills are most needed. However, critics remain wary of the effectiveness of these potential “solutions” saying that they may not be enough to counter the pressures on the country’s healthcare system.
Sources: Globe and Mail
The recent economic recession has hit economies hard across the globe, but perhaps nowhere so as in Europe, where countries like Greece and Italy are fighting to remain afloat. The situation in Ireland is not a whole lot better, according to recent statistics, and the general mood of the people reflects this.
Locals express frustration over Irelands numerous “see-throughs” – painful reminders of the short-lived construction boom that occurred just a few years back when the industry exploded, employing one-fifth of the population to build the many homes and offices that now stand empty.
Rumours now swirl about the opportunities elsewhere – including Canada. It is the younger generation who are more likely to take heed. Particularly when told of the opportunities in the skilled trades.
The Irish economy is not giving the young people much hope to hold onto for the time being either. Unemployment rates have gone from four percent five years ago, to 14 percent now and the deficit has increased to one-third of the gross domestic product.
The situation has left some experts wondering why Canada is not doing more to attract these young workers – particularly in light of recent signs of our own economic recovery. Not only are most of the Irish skilled, but they also speak English and would be able to integrate well into the Canadian cities with large Irish communities such as Toronto and Montreal.
Some officials say Canada is doing what it can – increasing the number of student visas being issued as well as the length of validity. Immigration applications are also being fast-tracked. However, though more could be done to help, critics are concerned over the focus on temporary migration among Irish youth.
“We’ve doubled the number of student and youth visas to 5,000 from Ireland,” says Canadian ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn. “But, the Irish are like Newfoundlanders. They may work somewhere else, but they always come home.”
Source: Montreal Gazette
Four years after its launch, new data shows that the government’s Canadian Immigration Integration Program (CIIP) appears to be accomplishing its goal to help newcomers succeed.
A new government report states that since the program’s inauguration, 62 percent of participants were able to find employment within six months, compared to the previous average of 44 percent employment.
“The objective of the CIIP is to effectively prepare immigrants for successful integration while still in their country of origin,” said the report. “We are not only improving economic outcomes for newcomers, but we are also ensuring that employers have access to this valuable and much needed labour resource.”
The program is administered by the federal Foreign Credentials Referral Office, and offers orientation sessions in the Philippines, China and India. The sessions usually last two days, and are combined with personal counselling. Participants are educated on Canadian customs, credential recognition processes and the country’s labour market.
The government report also praised other initiatives from the Foreign Credentials Referral Office, such as the one-year time limit on credential assessment. This has helped many foreign registered nurses, pharmacists and occupational therapists, among others, to become certified to work in Canada within a much shorter time frame. By the end of 2012, the one-year limit on assessments will be expanded to six more professions – including dentists, teachers and physicians.
Officials hope to expand the overseas orientation programs to other countries in the near future, with concrete plans to set up in Britain by the end of the year.
Source: Toronto Star
A specialized nursing college in British Columbia is bracing itself for increased demand as Canada’s population ages and the majority of its nurses reach retirement age.
The OMNI College, located in Richmond, B.C., is a unique school that aims to train foreign nurses and prepare them for work in Canada. The program takes one year to complete and involves class work as well as exam preparation and field experience. The school targets foreign nurses who already have working experience in their home country, but are not yet at the level needed to work in Canada. Each year, approximately 30 to 40 new students are accepted based on telephone or face-to-face interviews.
Though OMNI College has been up and running since 1998, officials at the school are now preparing themselves for a jump in demand, as the majority of Canada’s nurse’s approach retirement age.
“We’re anticipating screaming shortages in nursing within the next year,” says OMNI College founder Ron Burke. “When the economy dropped, older nurses stayed in the workforce longer, which caused more nurses over the retiring age to keep working. But now that it’s starting to pick up, all these nurses can retire any moment.”
The latest data from Statistics Canada supports this argument. In the next twenty years, the percentage of the population aged 15 and over who are working is expected to drop from 67 percent to between 59.7 and 62.6 percent.
Not only are large numbers of Canadian nurses retiring along with the other baby-boomers, but more nurses will be needed to care for this aging population. The demand for nurses is reflected in the government’s current list of 29 most in-demand occupations for the skilled worker stream of immigration.
“Nursing defines a person,” says Burke of his recruits. “Often when new students come in, they feel that identity is taken away because they’re in a new place. They lack confidence. But once they leave [the program], they’re ready.”
Source: Richmond News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared an official end to Canada’s “brain drain” trend, which had been of large concern to policymakers since the 1990s.
The P.M.’s announcement came in response to a recent article in the Washington-based journal Chronicle of Higher Education which stated that Canada is no longer losing its highly trained professionals to higher paying positions in the United States. In fact, there now appears to be a “brain gain” as more skilled and trained people enter the country.
“Today, amid intensifying global competition for the best and brightest, Canada is on a roll, importing research stars and nurturing young Canadian and foreign scholars and postdoctoral students,” said the article.
Harper echoed these sentiments this month while announcing new government scholarship funds aimed at attracting graduate students to Canadian universities.
“By attracting and retaining the world’s best doctoral students, we are building a culture of innovation and high achievement right here in Canada,” said Harper. “This in turn will strengthen our economy and our society, creating jobs and prosperity across the country for years to come. And it will add momentum to our country’s increasing strength and ambition.”
Harper also stressed the positive impact foreign scholars have on the country.
“Research leads to discoveries and inventions that leads to patents that build Canadian businesses and create Canadian jobs and that makes for greater prosperity for Canadian families and workers.”
Source: National Post
The Canadian economy continued to add more jobs last month with a gain of 7,100 positions, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
Unemployment rates fell to 7.2 percent, which is the lowest number since December of 2008.
Though the numbers do display continued economic recovery in Canada, experts are slightly disappointed that forecasted levels of growth were not reached.
“Not exactly what the doctor ordered, but not bad,” said BMO economist Doug Porter. “The Canadian jobs report sets a reasonably good table. The headline jobs tally was a touch light, but the details of the report are unambiguously healthier – the strong gain in full-time jobs, the pop in private sector employment, and the fact that the overall number was skewed lower by yet another July drop in education employment.”
The job increases were mostly in the transport, construction and retail and wholesale industries. Job losses were seen in healthcare, social aid and public administration.
Economists are predicting more volatility in the near future as markets respond to and recover from the U.S. debt-management crisis.
Controversy is erupting in Quebec over whether or not the government should be increasing or decreasing the number of immigrants admitted over the next several years.
Quebec, like the rest of Canada, is facing a dramatic shortage of workers in the coming years as the majority of its working-age population (the baby-boomer generation) reaches retirement age. One of the solutions being looked at is to increase immigration levels and bring in those needed skills from other countries.
However, Quebec has its own jurisdiction over immigration, reflecting a complex relationship between the province and newcomers. While skilled labour is needed to help keep the economy growing, the only French-majority province in Canada has had to deal with increasing pressure toward protecting its unique language and culture from outside influences.
As a result, Quebec has been attracting a less-than-proportionate amount of immigrants when compared to the rest of Canada. In 2010, Quebec attracted 19 percent of the country’s total immigrants, despite accounting for 23 percent of the country’s total population.
This week, the Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec came out publicly in support of the province lowering immigration targets. The coalition argues that immigrants in the province are twice as likely to be unemployed, and are therefore not being integrated into society effectively. They recommend reducing the number of immigrants from last year’s 54,000 to 45,000 for at least the next two years.
“If new immigrants don’t (learn) the French language and integrate (into) the workplace, that will jeopardize in the long term the survival of the French language,” said coalition member Charles Sirois.
On the other hand, business groups are arguing that a policy of limited immigration will in the end, do more harm than good. Business groups such as the Conseil du patronat argue that Quebec should be doing more to attract immigrants to the province, including improving the foreign credential recognition process and increasing awareness among business groups.
Other private groups agree, pointing to the government’s own statistics which show that an increase in immigration until at least 2023 will be necessary to offset the baby-boomer retirement.
The problem with the Quebec immigration policy, say critics, seems not to be the number of applicants coming in, but rather which applicants are being selected. A recent report from the province’s auditor general found that between 2006 and 2009 only nine percent of immigrants had a skill-set which met employer demand.
Source: Montreal Gazette