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Thursday, September 25, 2008

All quiet on the campaign front, immigration wise

Not hearing much news on immigration matters lately and I have to believe it's because of the distractions of the current news cycle and focus on the economy and the arts. All I really know is my heart in this election is with Jack Layton and the NDP. It's hard not to like Jack, and he and his wife Olivia Chow are clearly more concerned with the people of Canada than the business of Canada that seems to be the obsession of Harper and his cronies. Olivia even proposed sensible changes to policies and programs directly affecting immigrants.

Harper, if he wins a majority, would create what I can only call "George Bush's Canada" - which would be a horrible place to live. Layton has consistently called Harper to task when his proposals and policies have been out of line with the goals and needs of Canadians. The NDP has been the real opposition in this time of turmoil.

Dion has not led an opposition - in fact, time and again he led his party away from opposing Harper by not taking this flawed government out much earlier. And then Harper took himself out. I might think more of the Liberals if someone else was leading, but for now, it's gotta be Jack.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Canadian immigration blogs

Just got to wondering - are there other Canadian immigration blogs my readers might want to know about? Well, here are a few I've found and enjoyed. I hope you do too:

Canadian Immigration Reform Blog
Blogging to Reform Canada's Dysfunctional Immigration and Refugee System

Raj Sharma's Canadian Immigration Blog
A former immigration officer and lawyer in private practice reviews Canadian immigration developments.

We Move to Canada
American by birth, Canadian by choice...

Canada immigration blog
One of several blogs sponsored by those pesky immigration lawyers

So read on!

Monday, September 08, 2008 | Canada | Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds Canada Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds

Read the story above to get some context on my comments. The story is about measuring the success of government programs aimed at immigrant training and certification - assisting them to break into the job market.

First let's do some math around a couple quotes:

1. $920 million devoted to these Ontario-based programs over five years = $184 million a year
2. "Our most recent results for 2007-2008 show that 25 bridging projects helped 800 newcomers get a licence to work in their field. Another 17 projects helped 1,300 newcomers find jobs in a non-regulated profession," Payen-Dumont said. "Sixty-six per cent of those who took part in training projects found jobs during the year."
- That means that 800 got licensed (but not necessarily jobs - probably because they lack "Canadian Experience"). And saying 60% of those who took part in the programs found jobs doesn't mean anything...did they find jobs in their field? I mean, working the counter at Tim Horton's is a "job" - but not for a trained doctor...
- It's interesting that those who are reporting the results (and even the reporter) don't seek to qualify how many people were served with that $184 million dollars. They only mention 2,100 immigrants. I don't assume that's all that were served, but maybe it is? If so, Ontario, you just spent $87,619 per person to train people for jobs that will pay them what? $40-50K per year tops?

Finally, I love that the Star includes reader comments now in their articles because you really get a feel for the plight of immigrants in the Canadian job market.

There are a couple classic positions here:
a."What about making sure Canadian-educated professionals have work in their field?"
b."Immigrants did fine in the past without these programs, so why do we need them now?"

Finally there is what I'll call the "word on the street" - what educated and qualified immigrants who experience the Canadian job market have to say to other potential immigrants: to summarize, "If you are looking to use your skills and continue your career, don't come to Canada; it's job markets are protectionist, it's policies amount to lip service and the employers are not in step with their government. The government may want you - the employers don't."

This is a real disconnect: pro-immigration government leaders in a culture (and a bureaucracy) of anti-immigration sentiment.

New hotline to target misdeeds by immigrant consultants GTA New hotline to target misdeeds by immigrant consultants

Remember the Star's series on the abusive practices of some Canadian immigration consultants (Lost in Migration)? Well, here's a lovely follow-up. A Toronto community group is opening up a hotline for people who have stories to share. The idea is that with enough documented stories, politicians may push for actual regulation of immigration consultants.

Do you have a story to share? Starting September 22, you can call 416-978-6447 and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 Immigrants pass Toronto to follow money West, study finds Immigrants pass Toronto to follow money West, study finds

Interesting article that came across in my Connect2Canada email newsletter. Seems that immigrants (defined as all foreign born Canadians) are saying "show me the money" and the West is responding. What I found most interesting about this article was the additional information at the end from SHIFTING PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION IN CANADA'S URBAN CENTRES BY JACK JEDWAB.

Here's the trends for immigration growth and decline in the following cities.

Charlottetown: +50.2%
Halifax: +44.8%
Moncton: +74%
Edmonton: +52%
Calgary: +32%
Montreal: +36%

Toronto: -20.8%
Vancouver: -1%

It's also interesting to note that the report states the average immigrant family income in Canada prior to 2001 was in the $90K range. After 2001? Try just $45-60K per family. Have opportunities for immigrants in major Canadian cities really dried up this much?

I'm going to be cautious and take it as simply one data point - not the whole story.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fall Federal Elections

Looks like Harper is going to pull the plug on his minority government this week and that Fall elections will be called for October 14, 2008.

Let's hope Dion and the Liberals can mount enough of an attack on Harper's poor leadership record and questionable mandates (including the new immigration laws administered by Diane Finley) that they can at least establish a minority government.

While I don't believe Dion is much of a leader at all (in fact - he's simply NOT a leader), I'd take that headless chicken over the bully that is Stephen Harper any day of the week.

So get ready Canada - the polls are calling!