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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Open the door, then help immigrants succeed

Canada to open doors to 255,000
Oct. 31, 2005. 05:09 AM
Canada will open its doors to up to 255,000 immigrants next year, the federal government will announce today. But what the government won't announce is its plan to dramatically boost immigration levels by an additional 100,000 newcomers a year, writes Bruce champion-Smith.
[Full Story]

The above article was published today in the Toronto Star and gives an overview of Minister Volpe's plans to increase the levels of immigration, possibly up to a staggering 320,000 new immigrants a year.

But immigrants face problems coming into Canada, especially skilled workers who are trying to break into jobs that require Canadian certification or that are protected in some way. If the Minister wants to bring in more new Canadians in order to bolster an aging population with low national birthrates, then he has to clear the way for them to both enter the country and to succeed. Here are a few ideas:

Less cash - Lower the amount of money a skilled professional is required to have in the bank - currently, skilled professionals with no family support in Canada need to prove they have $10,000+ CAD in the bank in order to qualify for immigration. How many Canadians have that much in savings?

Revise qualifications requirements - Those with high marks from University and with years of professional practice should score higher than those who don't have those marks or experience, yet, there is no differentiation. What about points for the industry you have proven skills in? If Canada wants to build its pool of high tech professionals, for instance, then award more points for that.

Lower professional barriers - Eliminate restrictive practice requirements or develop equivalency measures. Doctors, engineers, and other professionals who immigrate to Canada should have a rapid, government supported path to validate their skills to Canadian employers. Don't ask them to come to this country only to tell them that they have to pay for new education or certification to prove to others what they already know. If they fail the tests, then absolutely they should get additional training at their own expense, but if Canada wants rapid assimilation, then they need to take down the walls.

Social assistance - Provide social assistance for those working outside their profession. Heresy, right? But if you are inviting people in to build a strong economy and your promises aren't true, shouldn't you take some responsibility for that?

Employer-sponsored immigration - Employers should be able to sponsor individuals and their families. They would assume the risk in this case, just like a regular sponsor. Talk about a direct path. Employers get the talent they desire, and immigrants get the assurances and support that they need.

Do you have some ideas about helping immigrants succeed? Drop a line and share them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Remembering

Tonight I'm thinking about Toronto again, having flashbacks, I guess. I'm flashing back probably because it's closing in on four years since I first set foot there, and it's been so long since I've seen my adopted city, and I know so much has changed, that I feel as if writing about it will keep it alive for me until I can see it again, and see it as a new immigrant, not just a visitor.

There was a winter day at Nathan Phillips Square, sitting watching children and their parents ice skate. One particluar little boy, noticing my love and I noticing him, who would make his long way through traffic under the arches over and over again, to pause and do a hockey stop, or turn to skate backwards, trying not to fall as he looked our way. Did we notice his effort? Of course. I still remember it.

There were Saturday brunches on Queen West at Bar One or Sugar, followed by walks back east to the heart ofthe city, stopping at every interesting shop possible. My favorite always being the vintage guitars at Capsule and the paper store nearby.

Memories that for most are minor, for me still stand out - late night drives from Niagra Falls, into the city on the QEW, the sharp loop of the exit at Younge. The advertisments created from shrub and gravel that line the freeway west out of town. Younge Street waking up in the morning...the brown ceramic tiles of the northbound line subway stations...students rushing to the University...getting lost in the PATH...

I don't know if I relive these memories over and over again. I may even have mentioned them here before. I have so many more personal ones that will stay private.

Tonight I'll remember again that it wont be long until I am home again, and that no matter what has changed (Eaton's hadn't even been bought by Sears when I was there initially), it will still be familliar and still be home.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Less talk, more action

TheStar.com - Before fixing system, find out how it works

You probably notice that the Toronto Star is a big source for me on reports about immigration issues. That's mainly because Allan Thompson actually writes about the subject on a regular basis. Try as you might, you wont find this kind of coverage in the Globe and Mail, and if you did, it would probably be for "subscribers only" premium content. No offense - I know they have to make a buck. I just appreciate that The Star makes this available.

For those of you interested, the article I have linked to above gives a quick overview of the Liberals political use of the immigration carrot when elections are near - as they appear to be now. Martin and Volpe and even Pettigrew are all talking up a storm about opening the borders up to skilled workers. But as Thompson points out - this kind of talk has been a source of warmth for Ottawa winters since 1993. For those of you who don't want to count - that's 13 years.

Let's hope there's some action coming behind this talk. Let's hope there is government suport to put more employees to work for the CIC to start, to both lower the processing times as well as increase the quality of service. Let's also hope that (as was noted in an earlier entry in this blog) those who put their heart, soul and cold hard cash into the effort of making a professional contribution to Canadian society get more than 30-seconds of attention.

The Epatriate Mind inspires change!

TheStar.com - Site users have spoken

It's nice to feel like you are able to make some small change to better a situation for others, and I have to believe speaking up in this blog, as well as dropping a note to
ALLAN THOMPSON of The Toronto Star succeded in doing just that.

If you all remember, back in June, your humble blogger made mention fo how the CIC website made it very difficult for applicants to find the information they needed to get their applications in process; noting that in some cases the links to information - like family class applications, had been disabled.

After an email to Allan, he wrote a politiely critical article about the site in The Star, and the result has been some action...

"In an Aug. 13 column, I suggested that the website should be much easier for use, so people could find simple, clear answers to standard questions about immigration procedures. By coincidence, it would seem, the immigration department put a notice on the website a few days later, on Aug. 18, releasing details of surveys it conducted in the winter with thousands of website users."

Now of course, nothing has been immediately implemented, but at least the CIC has gotten the message - and Allan promises he'll hold their feet to the fire come Winter time.

I'll be sure and drop him another note to remind him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Mind goes on...

Well, I am almost through the shock of initial separation and have been thinking about what it means to me. It obviously means there are profound feelings of sadness at the toll of this process on my relationship with the woman who loved me once. There is sorrow. There is uncertainty. My Family Class application is over. I no longer have a conjugal partner. Sponsorship is withdrawn. The official documents of our love will go into a bin, never to return...

So let's light a fire for them and watch them burn bright. That's what I did in my heart and in my mind - mourning the loss...but then - like a Phoenix from the ashes of dissapointment, something new was born in me. A revalation of love.

For despite losing my love, my angel, I have not lost another love...my love for Canada, that is.

I saw a new flame alight and it was one for myself. Love for my life and my future, despite the troubles and hurdles...The government after all is looking for Skilled Class workers (of which I qualify), and perhaps there is still a chance that I can make a new life in the country I love, in the city I love, even if it is not with the woman I loved. Born now is my goal - I will make a new life in Canada.

So the Mind goes on...I'll keep you all posted as I make my way through the new process, and I'll try and catch up on my commentary and observations of the immigration process, news, CIC and all that.

Thanks for your support! I have a dream again, and it's still a beautiful one!