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This is the current webcam view of Roy Thomson Hall at 60 Simcoe St. in Toronto as seen from the Southwest and looking Northeast. See the location here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CIC - Offering "Express Entry" to Qualified Economic Immigrants

April 8, 2014 — Ottawa — Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced that Canada’s active recruitment model for economic immigration will officially be called “Express Entry.” Set to launch in January 2015, “Express Entry” is a major step forward in the transformation of Canada’s immigration system into one that is fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada’s economic and labour needs.

“Express Entry” will allow for greater flexibility and better responsiveness to deal with regional labour shortages, and help fill open jobs for which there are no available Canadian workers. “Express Entry” candidates who receive a valid job offer or nomination under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) will be quickly invited to apply for permanent residency – a key distinction between “Express Entry” and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which is only used to fill temporary labour and skill shortages.

Formerly referred to as “Expression of Interest”, “Express Entry” will be open to skilled immigrants and allow the government to select the best candidates who are most likely to succeed in Canada, rather than those who happen to be first in line. It will also prevent backlogs and allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to better coordinate application volume with the annual immigration levels plan.

Learn more

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hire a new immigrant - stop discrimination now

Hey Canada, this one's for you:

I would like all employers out there to consider dropping the phrase "Canadian experience" from their vocabularies. This subtle form of discrimination is keeping thousands of immigrants from getting work that they are fully qualified to perform.

By using this phrase, whether in an interview, or in an internal screening process, you are effectively practicing a form of discrimination through exclusion and also a very negative form of nationalism.

Think about this: Canada has one of the highest percentages of permanent residents that become citizens in the world - over 80% at last count. When you exclude a fully qualified immigrant from contributing to your company solely because they haven't worked for a Canadian employers for X-years, you are actually doing a great harm in the long term to your own country.

I've been asked the "Canadian experience" question on a number of interviews, and as soon as it's asked, I know the job isn't mine. I know that the person asking has a built-in bias that somehow all the years of experience I bring to the table mean nothing unless that experience is in Canada.

Think about how crazy that is. Let's say your hiring a Toyota mechanic. You have a choice between someone who has 10-years of experience in Japan, or someone who has two years of Canadian experience. No question of who should get the job, eh? But in Canada, subtle things come into play. Without Canadian experience, will the employee be able to "fit in to the culture"? Do they have the "soft skills" that Canadians possess?

I'm asking all employers out there to expunge the phrase "Canadian experience" from your vocabulary. Think about the long term. Heck - think about the short term too! Simply hire the best person for the job, no matter what.

It's not much to ask. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

CIC - New Canadian citizens in March 2014 almost double compared to one year ago

Here's the latest from the CIC, and the really good news is that this is not an April Fools joke!

April 1, 2014 — Ottawa — Approximately 33,700 people from 199 countries became Canadian citizens at citizenship ceremonies held across Canada in March 2014. This is almost twice as many compared to March 2013 when 17,089 people were granted citizenship across Canada.

Canada’s new citizens were welcomed at 312 citizenship ceremonies held across the country, from college campuses to Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices, to special ceremonies at railway stations and designated heritage sites.

These high numbers demonstrate that changes and improvements in effect over the past year have already made the system more efficient and resulted in a decreased backlog, helping more people realize their dream of becoming Canadian sooner. The government’s proposed changes in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will further reduce wait times by streamlining the decision-making process for citizenship. It is expected that these changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.

Quick facts

  • So far in 2014, Canada has welcomed more than 75,900 new citizens at 759 ceremonies across Canada. Comparatively, in the first three months of 2013, Canada welcomed 35,320 new Canadians.
  • In 2013, 128,936 people were granted Canadian citizenship—an average of 10,745 each month.
  • Since 2006, Canada has enjoyed the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history—an average of 257,000 newcomers each year. Accordingly, the demand for citizenship has increased by 30 percent.
  • Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world—85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become citizens. Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 333,860 citizenship applications in 2013, the highest volume ever.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nova Scotia announces new options for skilled workers

If you want to immigrate to Canada, but don't qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program because of all of the changes and limitations, Nova Scotia may have a solution for you:

The new Regional Labour Market Demand stream is aimed at selecting individuals who meet the labour market needs, are destined to join the labour market with a full-time and permanent position, and wish to live in the Province of Nova Scotia permanently.

Check out the new program at the province's official site:

Regional Labour Market Demand NOVA SCOTIA NOMINEE PROGRAM

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First immigration steps and basic information - CIC

Sometimes I forget that some of you may be on your first steps toward immigrating to Canada. If that's the case, you've found a good jumping off point with this blog. You're going to hear it from the horse's mouth here. My immigration was probably a little tougher than most; but you'll never learn much from those who had an easy time of it.

I was once right where you are - looking into what my options were for possible immigration into Canada.

As you're getting started, be sure and look through the materials at the government of Canada's Customs and Immigration (CIC) web site. You'll find it here:

Immigrate to Canada - Customs and Immigration Canada

Also please check out my two ebooks on Canadian immigration. They have already assisted many in working their way through the sometimes daunting immigration process and paperwork. See the "How To Immigrate Books" link on the top of this page for more information.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What the CIC says it's doing to reduce citizenship processing times

Why is it that when I read an official CIC document, it always feels like a Harper campaign press release? This is true of the CIC backgroudner, "Backgrounder — What is CIC doing to reduce citizenship processing times?" Just look at the info-graphic below:

See the use of "Economic Action Plan" - that's Harper campaign-speak. Now, the Tories have been in power since 2006. That's 8 years as either leading a minority or having a majority government in place. And now - now that an election cycle approaches - now they are going to do something about citizenship wait times (which the same infographic explains are currently almost three-years).

So what are they finally doing?
  1. Throwing money at it - $44 million in 2013
  2. Streamlining processing - now a Citizenship Officer will be the sole handler of an application. Judges will only come into play if there are complications or disputes on a file.
  3. Increasing fees - the old, "make it more expensive and less people will use it" school of government service. Harper is great at this. Fees for application will increase from $100 to $300.
  4. Actually defining a "complete application" - believe it or not, what has constituted a complete application has been a little fuzzy over the years. This is a positive change.
  5. Giving judges discretionary grant power - this power to grant citizenship in exceptional circumstances was previously held at the officer level. Now, judges will control this aspect of citizenship.
  6. Dealing with abandonment - there are lots of dead files out there; applicants who aren't responsive to requests for information or interviews. This change would allow those non-responsive applicants to be flushed from the backlog. Another positive step. 
So all in all, not a bad pass at improving citizenship wait times. Now we'll wait to see how they follow through. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

One more juxtaposition - the press and politics

I noticed a difference again between the U.S. and Canada related to the press in dealing with politics: See if you agree.

A couple months back, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau brought up in a speech that he thought it was time to consider decriminalizing marijuana in Canada. Of course, the law and order agenda of the ruling Tories were outraged. So much so, that they immediately began an advertising blitz in multiple languages painting Trudeau as a pusher - ready to sell drugs to your children.

In the U.S., this would have been fodder enough for the 24/7 new stations to haul out the pundits to explore the pressing questions of (let me think of a few): Did Trudeau really want to sell drugs to Canadian children? How much would marijuana cost under a Trudeau administration? Would Trudeau's position bring out the youth vote? Was Trudeau a moral man? If the position helped in the polls, would Harper go pro-pot?

But in Canada, the attack ad blitz by the Tories went almost entirely without comment. In Canada, it was understood that Harper would jump at any chance to attack his opponents, and Trudeau had given him one. Beyond that? Meh.

How refreshing that the press in Canada doesn't jump at every bit of propaganda bait thrown their way. How sad U.S. political discourse is so full of such nonsense.     

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Globe and Mail - If Canadian citizenship becomes more ‘exclusive’ it must be more meaningful

Nicholas Rouleau writes in today's Globe:

...Mr. Alexander (the new Minister of Citizenship) rightly observes that “Canadian citizenship is uniquely valuable in the world, a weighty privilege that involves both duty and rights, opportunity and responsibility.” If the duties of Canadians increase, so should their rights. A more exclusive citizenship should also mean a more meaningful one.

Read the entire article here

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February explanation: February observation

It's been a quiet February here at The Mind, and I feel like I owe you all an explanation. I had to return to the States for family business on very short notice, and it has left me little time to address anything else. While there is immigration news to share, my focus this month has been elsewhere. Hopefully March will be back to normal for everyone involved.

And now another observation about the U.S. from my Canadian vantage point. I have come to have so little patience for the political discourse in this country on either side of the aisle. As I see America now, it is a country full of me-firsters of both conservative and liberal persuasion. It is a country where there is only one correct point of view: and that belongs to whoever is speaking. It's is an immature country of people who have no tolerance for each other, or of each other's viewpoints or needs. It is a short-sighted, impatient, greedy country with a fast-food mentality, fully engaged in a Darwinist race to the bottom, where only one person wins, everyone else loses, and it's all the loser's fault.

Obamacare? Just more money for insurance companies as far as I'm concerned. The right to purchase an insurance policy doesn't mean anything if you can't afford it in the first place. But in America, if you are living in the margins, it's your own fault. If you need social assistance, you must be sitting on your ass and gaming the system. Your children should be taken from you, and you deserve whatever suffering comes your way. I hear this nonsense time and time again.

America lacks compassion. America lacks political courage. America does not take care of its own. Land of the free? Hardly. Home of the brave? Possibly. But do I miss it now that I have lived in Canada?

Not at all.