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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.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The NDP has a plan - 7 cheers for Olivia Chow

First off, I'm not particularly a fan of any of the four primary Canadian political parties. I am a fan of those who take a chance and propose action. So currently, I'm a fan of the NDP, who last week made a solid proposal to address some of the issues faced by skilled workers who come to Canada, only to find they are unable to work intheir chosen profession - the profession that Canada told them was so valuable in the first place. Here is the introduction to the paper published by Olivia Chow (Ontario NDP Minister for Trinity-Spadina), followed by my summary of each of the seven points. I tried copying the whole PDF here, but it had technical issues...

Creating Fair Opportunities
A proposal for the recognition of foreign credentials

Olivia Chow, MP Trinity-Spadina NDP
Deputy Immigration Critic

Canada’s failure to recognize the credentials of qualified, skilled and professional foreign-trained immigrants in the workforce is harming the economy and immigrants alike – exacerbating labour shortages, limiting the contribution and earning potential of immigrants, contributing to unacceptable levels of child poverty and putting a strain on social services.

The 2006 federal Budget allocated $18 million to consult on the creation of a Foreign Credentials Recognition Agency. Instead of more talk and empty election promises, it is time for concrete action. It is grossly unfair for skilled immigrants to continue to waste their talents. The NDP proposes to allocate the earmarked consultation funds towards the creation of the agency immediately. We have consulted extensively with immigrant serving agencies and service providers over the years. This proposal for the creation of an agency for the recognition of foreign credentials is based on sound input and best practices.

1. Create a clear, accessible Internet and toll-free phone portal for information on: assessment criterea and processes; educational institutions where those who need to upgrade their skills can apply; licensing bodies and how to get a license to practice in a regualted profession; how to get "Canadian experience" through mentorship, bridge programs and training.
2. Publicize detailed information on the process surrounding recognition of foreign credentials and offer seminars on a regular basis at offshore visa offices in order to make "early recognition" part of the application review process. In essence, pre-approving new immigrants to work in their field BEFORE they arrive in Canada.
3. Establish permanent training, mentorship and bridging programs.
4. Establish a database from which organizations can verify information from the Federal Government.
5. Coordinate with CIC to facilitate timely and fair accreditation.
6. Create a uniform assessment and recognition process.
7. Create special programs for those sectors that face heightened labour shortages.

In general, this is a pretty good start. The only problem I have with these proposals is that the NDP is clearly working "inside the box". Instead of actually proposing legislation that would make a difference, they are proposing "programs" for the use of Federal funds. Typically, this simply creates new bureaucracies.

Still and all, seven cheers for Olivia and Jack. At least skilled workers have an advocate in Canada.

Download the PDF here

Monday, February 19, 2007

US policy on multinationism exposed

"The US State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) currently discriminates against Canadian citizens and residents employed in the domestic aerospace industry. ITAR requires that Canadian private companies that receive US defense contracts comply with measures which deny employment to their own workers if those employees are Canadian citizens with dual nationalities of certain countries." (from an NDP press release)

So when is a Canadian NOT a Canadian? I guess when you try and work on a US government contract.

If this is how NAFTA was supposed to work, you sure could've fooled me. Since when does US security policy dictate Canadian employment or citizenship policy?

I guess an option is to simply not compete for these contracts, but we all know that isn't going to happen.

Come on Canada, stand up for your immigrant citizens. Don't they have a hard enough time?

(read the NDP statement here)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Almost Famous - I'm in the new BnL video

It's all connected somehow. As further proof that I belong home in Canada, I am featured in the new Barenaked Ladies music video, "The Sound of Your Voice". The band was on tour recently in Everett, Washington (just north of Seattle) and they shot a segment for the video there. I just happened to be there, in the center of the action, abhet, in the shadows. None the less - I AM in a BnL video! You can say you knew me when...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A simple proposal - modify the Employment Equity Act

For those of you who don't know, the federal Employment Equity Act is legislation first passed in 1986 and later modified in 1995 that prohibits employment discrimination on four primary groups: women, members of visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities.

When I think about the troubles that immigrants have in obtaining work in their chosen field in Canada (even if they are more than qualified) - this act seems like a place that the government could start to right a systemic wrong.

Let's challenge the government to add "immigrants" to their list of those against whom employment discrimination is illegal. Think about it: with the addition of a single word to legislation that is already widely embraced, many of the issues involved in keeping immigrants underemployed would dissappear.

According to the Media Awareness Network: "Employers designated under the Equity Act are required to submit an annual statistical report to the federal government, detailing the representation of these four groups among their employees. (Employers who fail to file a report are subject to a fine under the Act.) These employment equity reports are made available to the public."

Now, while not all employers are designated under the act (businesses impacted are those that employ 100 or more individuals, or who do work for the federal government), certainly this would be a great start.

Read the backgrounder here and Contact your Member of Parliment if you believe adding this protection to one more disadvantaged group of Canadians.

(Full text of the EEA)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Personal update - why I hate America

Well, the east coast opportunity that I thought would revamp the bank account and thus get me back in line fell through unexpectedly and so right now, it's more of the same old, same old. I am keeping my head (barely) above financial water, but at least it's above it.

America, if you didn't know, is what I've always referred to as a land of "economic Darwinism" - survival of the richest, so to speak. It's also a land of "me" and not a land of "we." Especially since the baby boomers came into power.

It always blows me away to think about the "peace and love" generation - the generation of the commune - becoming the most greedy and selfish generation in history. The love generation, showing their love by putting more of their brothers and sisters in jail than any other generation in history.

And now, in the ultimate realization of their turn from the ideals of their youth - the civil rights generation, responsible for the stripping of more individual rights and freedoms than any other time in American history.

These are the reasons I hate this America - what it has become. The only thing I still appreciate about it is that I am still free to write these words.

Do you wonder why I hunger for a new life in Canada?

I'm not giving up the dream. I am patient, I have faith, I know one day that God will honor my patience and faithfulness. One day, I will be a Canadian.

Thank you for your prayers. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Service is much better once you join the club

It seems with the new US requirements for foreign citizens to carry passports that a number of Canadians are finding out that, technically, they are no longer citizens. Under Section 8 of the Citizenship Act, if an individual doesn't contact the government to claim their status as a Canadian citizen by age 28, they are considered to have forfeited the privilege.

But no worries - the CIC, once aware of the fact that tax paying citizens and voters were being told they were no longer Canadian quickly set up an option to regain citizenship and get a passport at the same time. They had the system set up in less than two weeks and it's working wonderfully.

Maybe if those of us applying for residency were tax payers and voters, they would do something just as quickly and efficiently to clear out the 700,000 person backlog?

Read the whole article on the CBC website.