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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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

No changes to immigration levels in 2014 - Annual Report to Parliament


Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has presented the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration for 2013, which sets out the government's plans for 2014. The Immigration Minister plans to welcome somewhere between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2014.

One of the more interesting aspects of the report is a short section which describes ministerial powers granted under modifications by the Tories to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, "which authorizes the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to create small economic immigration programs to take advantage of economic opportunities or to test new program concepts without having to formalize them through a lengthy regulatory process. These programs, which are set out in Ministerial Instructions, are limited to a duration of five years, after which time the program must be discontinued or be made permanent through regulations." If you needed an explanation of all of the tinkering that the Tories have been doing, there it is.

Other highlights include:

  • Changes to the Canadian Experience Class - As of January 2, 2013, applicants require 12 months (reduced from 24 months) of full-time Canadian work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, in high-skilled occupations and now have more time, up to 36 months, to accumulate that experience.
  • How the government eliminated the Skilled Worker (FSW) backlog - The report explains that portions of the Federal backlog were pawned off onto the provinces. If the applicants didn't qualify for Provincial Nomination Programs, they were eliminated. Next, they received permission to eliminate 98,000 applications received before 2008 by simply returning the application fees to the applicants. Finally, they simply stopped accepting FSW applications. 
  • Expression of Interest Program - this major modification to the FSW program is expected to be fully implemented by 2015.
  • Parent and Grandparent programs - The Super Visa program will become permanent, and CIC will begin accepting new applications for permanent residence for parents and grandparents in 2014.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Calgary Herald - Federal government launches business incubator immigration visa

OTTAWA — The federal government is expanding its new start-up visa program for immigrant entrepreneurs even though it has yet to issue a single visa since the program launched six months ago.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced Monday a new business incubator immigration stream to complement existing venture capital and angel investor streams.

As part of the program, entrepreneurs seeking permanent residency in Canada must first gain the support of an angel investor group, venture capital fund or new business incubator before they can apply for the start-up visa.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Globe and Mail - Obamacare vs. Canada: Five key differences

Antonia Maioni wrote an informative piece the other day about the primary differences between Canada's health system, and the so-called Obamacare system which has just debuted in full in the United States (as well as triggering both a showdown from the Republicans and a shutdown of the government's non-priority services).

To summarize, here are the five big differences Maioni noted, in my own words:
  •  It's way more complicated - and now even more so. Canada may have two-tiers of health care, but in the US, there are more tiers than an Ed Mirvish high rise project.
  • It's not universal - In Canada, every legal resident is entitled to health care. In the US, not so much. Not everyone gets care under Obamacare: the only thing everyone gets is the right to be able to purchase some level of health care insurance. Woohoo.
  • It isn't a "national" program - In Canada, we can expect a common level of benefit, no matter what province is administering the health care plan. In the US, there is and will continue to be a wild state by state variation on the type and range of coverages available to citizens. 
  • It's not fair - health care in the US is still a "pay to play" system. If you can't afford good care - you simply aren't going to get it. While we've got to wait in Canada, in general, we are all waiting for a high standard of care.
  • It will not contain costs - Obamacare will do nothing in the long run to reign in the cost of health care in the US. As Maioni notes, "Governments in Canada know that health care is a searing financial responsibility, but they have at their disposal cost containment measures – monopoly fee negotiations with providers, global budgets for hospitals – that remain unfathomable in the American context."

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Toronto simmers in anti-development animosity

There is an undercurrent to Toronto these days, and it's not a happy one. The city has been in a development boom over the last ten years that shows no sign of slowing. Looking out my window (as I've shared with you before in this blog), there are no fewer than ten construction cranes, marking the creation of new high-rises for residents and business. And this reflects just one view from just one part of the city. There are over 130 such developments going on city-wide.

The animosity that is developing in the city has to do with what citizens see as unchecked growth. Developers and business seem to get their way here, no matter what the citizens have to say about it. Currently there are a couple high-profile proposals that have the public on edge. One is the expansion of the Billy Bishop (Island) airport. Porter Airlines wants to be able to fly small jets out of the facility, which sits in the Toronto harbour, a short distance from the lake shore. The expansion of the runway to facilitate these jets would impact boaters' ability to navigate, and the noise would impact everyone.

There are thousands of residential condominiums at the lake shore - and all of them would have to deal with the noise that would begin with construction and never end with an increasing number of jet flights in and out of the airport.

The other construction related issue in this neighbourhood is the slow pace at which renovations are being made to a huge stretch of Lakeshore Blvd. This infrastructure project seems to be happening part-time at best, while impacting residents and commuters who use this key city street.

I have only described two of over 100 major development and infrastructure projects going on in the city right now. Residents are upset with unchecked growth, with construction that never ends, and with the city seemingly ignoring the impact of these projects on anything but the tax base.

Whether anything will slow the train of progress is hard to say. Political will at the municipal level seems almost non-existent. But that's life today in Canada's largest city.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The fifth season of the year


In almost every country around the world, people experience four seasons. We all know them well - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. But in Canada, there is another season. It lasts from late September until late May or early June, bridging Fall, Winter and Spring. Just what is this season called? Why, Hockey Season, of course!

And it started last night.

Hockey is Canada's national sport. It eclipses all other professional sports, and is enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women of all ages. Canada has a long and storied history with the sport. During the season, you can find a large percentage of the population in front of their TVs every Saturday night for "Hockey Night In Canada" on the CBC. The play by play announcers, host Ron McLean and not forgetting "Coach's Corner" lead Don Cherry are household names in this country.

If you are planning on becoming a permanent resident of Canada and want to understand something about the culture and values of Canadians, you could do a lot worse than by learning about the sport of hockey, and just as importantly, the "values" of hockey.

Dale Rosenberger, in an article for the United Church of Christ noted 11 life lessons that can be learned from hockey. I find all of these lessons can also be found in the character of Canadians

  • Grace and strength meld beautifully.
  • Team play is the best kind.
  • Brace and protect yourself against a world of trouble before you engage.
  • Diversity doesn’t always look like a UNICEF card.
  • Courage can be learned only in the crucible.
  • If you want to feel a deep glow inside, achieve a goal.
  • Biggest doesn’t mean best.
  • It is unhealthy to hide human wrongdoing and sweep it under the rug.
  • Politeness and passion mix well.
  • Life is uneven; deal with it
  • Be approachable.
Happy Hockey Season!