Government officials say they plan on capping the number of sponsorship applications processed each year in an attempt to ease the backlog that sees some families waiting eight to ten years for reunification.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke to a Commons committee this week to discuss the issue after it was raised by NDP immigration critic Don Davies. Davies suggested that the Conservative government increase the amount of residencies granted each year in order to address the looming labour shortages.
However, Minister Kenney warned against relying too heavily on immigration to ease coming labour shortages, saying that only approximately 20 percent of immigrants admitted each year are through the economic category. The remaining are mostly family members – many of whom are elderly and not ideal candidates for work.
“To those who think we can solve that problem through immigration alone are profoundly mistaken,” said Kenney to the citizenship and immigration committee. “We have to calibrate those limits [to reunification applications] based on our country’s economic needs, our fiscal capacity. There is no doubt that the people who are coming who are senior citizens, they have much, much lower labour-market participation and much higher level of utilization of the public health system.”
Such a limitation would fall in line with previous policies implemented by this Conservative government, which recently introduced a cap on the number of applications accepted through the skilled worker stream. Kenney says that they are currently looking to other countries to see how they have handled limits on sponsorship immigration.
Source: National Post
The Canadian government is considering changes to the language testing rules for new immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship in order to streamline the process and ensure that newcomers are proficient in one of Canada’s two official languages before they arrive in Canada.
“The ability to communicate effectively in either French of English is key to the success of new citizens in Canada,” said Jason Kenney, current Immigration Minister. “This change will encourage applicants to ensure that they can speak English or French when they apply for citizenship, thereby improving the integrity and effectiveness of the citizenship program.”
The changes would affect approximately 134,000 applicants each year in sponsorship, refugee and economic streams. Currently, applicants only need to provide results of a written multiple-choice exam, which government officials do not believe is an adequate indication of ability. If an officer is not satisfied with the results, they have to conduct an interview, which is inefficient and leads to processing delays, say representatives from the government.
Critics, however, argue that the changes are not necessary, particularly in reunification and refugee cases where admission is based on compassion and humanitarian concerns, rather than simply on a person’s ability to contribute financially. They also say that the citizenship test itself provides an adequate indication of language ability.
Sources: Victoria Times Colonist
Globe and Mail
A recent study has revealed the importance in interviewing techniques when it comes to hiring across cultural boundaries, which could have severe implications on both immigrants and employers looking to replace the retiring baby-boomers in Canada over the coming years.
University of Toronto Professor Julie McCarthy has been studying the effects of interview techniques on hiring practices – particularly examining the employer “similarity attraction paradigm” as it has been dubbed by researchers. The theory is that employers unknowingly tend to hire candidates who are similar to them more than those who are different.
After studying the interviews and hiring of 20,000 applicants for positions at a U.S. government agency, McCarthy and her colleagues determined the similarity paradigm could be avoided by using highly structured interview techniques – that is, direct interview questions on knowledge, skills, and past experience, rather than more informal “get-to-know-each-other” type interviews.
Experts also encourage employers to have more than one interviewer present. It is especially effective if the interviewers represent different demographics themselves.
This can be of critical importance when immigrants are being interviewed, as they will not always be aware of certain cultural expectations in Canada – such as maintaining eye contact, and taking pride in speaking of their past professional accomplishments.
As immigration increases and the country’s labour force diversifies, employers of all sizes are realizing the importance of adapting new interview techniques. Many are even turning to HR consultants to become more aware of other cultures, which will benefit everyone in the long run, says Nick Noorani, an immigrant employment expert and advisor who founded Canadian Immigrant magazine.
“A lot of immigrant HR professionals are being employed in companies. And that’s an important fact – they’ve walked that walk, they’ve gone that route,” said Noorani. “We need to start becoming colour-blind, looking at people as people rather than ethnicities and hyphenated Canadians.”
Source: Globe and Mail
With the rapidly aging demographics facing the country, Canada must now more than ever focus on improving immigrant integration – particularly when it comes to skilled workers, say experts in both the private and public sectors.
According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, by 2031 one in three workers in the country will be foreign-born, up from the 2006 figure of one in five.
Though recent government initiatives have resulted in training and employment placement programs for newcomers across the county, there are still lacking sufficient post-hiring integration programs for both workers and employers.
“While one challenge is to make the right connections between talent and companies, the other is to integrate them into the workplace quickly, and a lot of employers don’t think about how those differences play into the workplace,” said Joan Atlin, who is program director at TRIEC, a non-profit group who works with private and public organizations to help address diversity issues.
TRIEC helps employers to incorporate policies that encourage the hiring and growth of new arrivals, including workshops, mentoring partnerships and training employers on “behavioural-based” interview techniques which help eliminate cultural misunderstandings.
Not only will such policies strengthen a company’s workforce, but it will also allow it to adapt to its clientele, which is increasingly becoming more foreign-born.
“Open your doors to internationally trained professionals,” Aileen Raquel advises employers, after she herself spent several years in Canada looking for work in her trained area of expertise. “We know your client’s culture and speak their language. That’s our advantage.”
Source: Globe and Mail
A unique new program that allows immigrants free access to Canadian culture is dramatically increasing in popularity across the country.
The CAP program – so dubbed because it provides a “cultural access pass” to members, is managed by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and has been enjoyed by approximately 33,200 newcomers since its inception three years ago.
The CAP program has over 600 participant museums, galleries, parks and discovery centres across five provinces and one territory. New arrivals are informed of the program during each annual citizenship ceremony held across the country. Passes are given out for free.
“We hear from new citizens they may be Canadians on paper, but they don’t necessarily feel like they belong,” said Gillian Hewett Smith, executive director of the institute. “The more new citizens sign up, the more new citizens feel these institutions belong to them and there’s more of an audience that we’re bringing to Canada’s cultural institutions.”
Officials from the cultural attractions involved in the program say that it is not just a one-directional transference of Canadian culture to immigrants.
“One of the things that I think is really important is that the new cultures will bring their stories to this fabric of Canada,” said Calgary Art Gallery chief curator Anne Ewen.
The participants in the program bring their own cultures and unique perspectives with them, which allows for a place where cultural exchanges can be fostered and encouraged.
Source: Globe and Mail
A new book in Sweden is sparking debate both at home and abroad over its recommendation that the country look to Canada as a model of successful immigration.
“We looked at Canada, and we saw that it worked – even though Canadians don’t always say this, from a Swedish perspective we felt that Canada is a model that should be followed,” said Martin Adahl, one of the editors of the book “Kanadamodellen” which translated as “the Canada Model.”
The book recommends Canada for its high immigration numbers, its points system and the established ethnic communities in major urban centres – all of which are seen by the analysts as having a positive effect on immigrant employment and integration. Furthermore, Canada allows immigrants to flow freely into the labour market and provides immediate access to housing and business ownership.
Sweden could use improvements in employing and integrating newcomers, say the authors. Swedish immigration is comprised mostly of refugees, which has led to underemployment, poverty and a significant amount of political tension over the issue.
The editors say that Canadian immigration analysts are not aware of how good a system it seems to outsiders looking in.
“It was hard to convince Canadian academics to write about their own country as a positive example,” said Adahl on the difficulties faced in collecting data for the book. “They’re used to writing critically of it, and thinking of its failings, but I had to persuade them to write about Canada as a positive example – it wasn’t easy.”
Source: Globe and Mail
The province of Alberta continues to push Canada’s economic recovery by posting its fifth straight month of employment gains in September.
According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, Alberta gained 8,600 jobs from August to September, and lost 0.2 percent unemployment. The jobs gained were a result of new full-time positions – the province lost 12,800 part-time jobs but gained 21,400 full-time ones to amply make up for the loss.
“Job growth in Alberta continues to outpace other provinces, with employment up for five straight months and 4.8 per cent in the past year,” said a new report by BMO Financial Group. “Private-sector job growth in the province was up 8.8 per cent year-over-year in September, the strongest growth since 1981 and even outpacing growth seen at the height of the energy boom in 2007.”
Alberta continues to fuel the country’s recovery, along with the province of Saskatchewan which has itself undergone strong growth resulting in the country’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent.
Industries leading the recovery out West include primary resourcing (such as forestry, farming, oil and gas), as well as transportation and technical sectors.
Overall Canada surpassed job expectations for September. There was a growth in employment of 60,900 and the unemployment rate fell from 7.3 to 7.1 percent. However, economic analysts warn against too much optimism, saying that the numbers for the month likely reflect the back-to-school trend more than an actual economic recovery.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Policy experts are calling on governments to catch up to world trends and adapt concepts of citizenship to the new “global village” in which business is increasingly being conducted.
“Citizenship law is struggling to catch up with the new realities of global work,” says National University of Ireland Professor Mark Boyle. “It is still based on the notion of a sedentary population, rather than the nomadic population that many of us have become.”
Boyle and other experts in migration have noted that many individuals no longer situate themselves in one place, nor align themselves with one geographical country. Many immigrants keep at least two separate residences and travel back and forth. If they are unable to physically travel, new technologies are helping them to do so virtually.
These changes are directly tied to issues of labour migration patterns and the concept of permanent immigration. No longer do immigrants re-locate to a new country and lose ties with their homelands. India is one country that has seen a particular strong connection building among its expats, which is fuelling growth at home.
“India is increasingly looking to its Diaspora as an asset,” argues Boyle. “Many people argue that India’s technology development would not have happened without the overseas population, particularly in Silicon Valley. So the government has had to rethink its attitudes to its citizens. India has set up a whole government ministry solely to look after the expat Indians.”
Experts see the trend continuing in the future, and some are even predicting a day when physical location will no longer determine citizenship. Governments will have to adjust to these shifting paradigms in the coming years, or risk falling behind the rest of the global village.
Source: Globe and Mail