Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Not convinced. Unlikely that among the various factors that influence destinations of immigrants that this will dominate the others. More important, even as a factor, this will be in relation to other countries, most of which have higher degrees of polarization on immigration and diversity issues:

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a reported intensification in racially motivated hate crimes against immigrants from East and Southeast Asia in many Western countries, including Canada. But do such xenophobic crimes affect migration to the countries in which they take place?

To answer this question, we first need to understand that, to many immigrants, the decision to migrate depends on a set of factors; some that push them to leave their home country, while others pull them to the host country.

The fact is that Canada has not always been a welcoming country – rather it has a well-documented history of racial discrimination against immigrants. In fact, most Asian immigrants in Canada are aware of racism, both covert and overt. With the popularization of information and communication technology, it is imaginable that many seeking to move to the country have been prepared by their families and friends already in Canada for discrimination, particularly in the job market, which is notorious for its systemic discrimination against professional credentials, work experience, language, culture and race of ethno-racial minority immigrants.

Of the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants to Canada, seven are in Asia

Yet given these challenges, why do tens of thousands of immigrants from East and Southeast Asian countries still decide to immigrate to Canada every year?

Before 1967, when Canada introduced its points-based immigration system, immigrants to Canada were overwhelmingly from Europe. The point system welcomed young, educated and skilled immigrants, andshifted the major sources of immigrants to Canada from Europe to Asia. According to the 2016 census, among the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants, seven are in Asia, namely the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and South Korea. With a long history of migration to Canada, immigrants from these countries have also established a strong transnational social network that facilitates the migration of fellow friends and families and their settlement and integration in Canada.

A better future

Seeking a better economic future is believed to be a key force behind transnational migration, particularly from the Global South to the Global North. Political instability and oppression are other major factors driving people voluntarily and involuntarily to leave their countries, such as the case of Syria and Iran. Recently, the military suppression of democracy movements in Myanmar, the civil unrest in Thailand, China’s military pressure on Taiwan and the imposition of National Security Law on Hong Kong have caused many people to consider leaving their home countries.

Immigrants to Canada have long cited seeking better futures for their families as the number one reason why they decided to emigrate. Some were even willing to trade off economic loss for political stability. One example is the 380,000 Hong Kong immigrants who travelled to Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, amid the uncertainties surrounding the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

For many immigrants, Canada and other Western countries are attractive not only because of better economic opportunities but because of political stability, safety, lifestyle, education, as well as social and health protection, to name just a few reasons.

Canada has repeatedly claimed to be a global defender of human rights. Recently, the Canadian government apologized and compensated for racially motivated wrongdoings in the past, such as the head tax on Chinese immigrants and the internment of Japanese-Canadians. Hate crimes against Asians and any other ethno-racial groups simply jeopardize Canada’s global reputation and moral credibility.

Related story

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Canada’s immigration planning is increasingly divorced from the real impacts of COVID-19 – and undervalues ‘essential workers’

Meanwhile, as a country that relies on immigrants to replace the shrinking domestic supply of talents to our labour market, Canada is competing for high-skilled talents in demand globally. If it is to become an appealing destination, we must create a welcoming and inclusive environment for immigrants in Canada. Racism will certainly weaken this, and also make it more difficult to retain immigrants, particularly those who are highly skilled, and can choose to leave. In 2006, there were already 2.8 million Canadians living abroad, many of whom had originally been immigrants to Canada, including 300,000 who returned to, and still reside in, Hong Kong.

The intensification of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the pandemic may not reduce the number of immigrants who choose to move to Canada or to other Western democracies. But a socially unwelcoming society will have difficulties competing for and retaining global talents.

To make Canada a welcoming place, where immigrants can secure a better future for their families and contribute to society, all levels of government and the general public need to step up to combat all forms of racism against all minorities.

Source: Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Ibbitson: No one considers Canada’s immigration record to be a big deal, and that’s remarkable

Correct, even if more discussion about the advisability of such an expansionist approach is needed.

But is is striking that the latest Focus Canada survey by the Environics Institute shows remarkable stability in Canadian generally positive attitudes regarding immigration despite a difficult pandemic year:

With a little more than two months to go, Canada is comfortably on track to meet its goal of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents this year, despite closed borders and other pandemic restrictions.

That Canada is on the cusp of achieving such a goal in such times is remarkable. Even more remarkable is that no one seems to consider this a big deal.

“We’re in the home stretch,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told me. “Our goal of landing 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021 is well within sight.”

And the Liberal government remains committed to setting immigration records every year, with 411,000 new arrivals slated for 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. Canada is now taking in well in excess of 1 per cent of its population of 38.5 million annually.

The Immigration department has been meeting these targets by converting temporary workers, graduated international students and asylum claimants already in Canada to permanent residents. Those measures, however, are winding down. Visa offices are open once again around the world and fully vaccinated travellers are allowed to enter Canada.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed hard truths. One is that some of Canada’s most essential workers aren’t in high tech or trades; they’re supermarket workers and truck drivers and others who keep the wheels turning. Immigration policy must recognize their importance.

Another is that immigration will account even more for labour-force growth after the pandemic than it has in the past. Canada’s total fertility rate in 2016 was 1.6, short of the 2.1 children per woman needed to keep a population stable. Today it’s down to 1.4.

Don Kerr, a specialist of demography at King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, shared with me data on fertility rates by census metropolitan area, based on Statistics Canada’s 2020 birth data. Many major cities have fertility rates below the national average.

Vancouver’s fertility is 1.09, comparable to the ultra-low fertility rates of Pacific countries such as Japan and South Korea, while Victoria has fallen to a remarkable low of 0.95. Edmonton (1.41), Calgary (1.33) and Montreal (1.41) are at or close to the national average, but Toronto is only at 1.21, and Halifax is at 1.1.

“Canadian women are delaying their first birth further and further, having fewer children and opting for childlessness to a greater extent than ever before,” Prof. Kerr observed. Thirty-two out of 33 census metropolitan areas saw a decline in fertility over the past decade, even prior to the pandemic.

“Canada’s natural increase is at an unprecedented low,” said Prof. Kerr. “If the smaller cohorts to follow the millennials continue with this very low fertility, we can expect even fewer births.”

If so, then immigration is the only route to filling labour shortages and sustaining the economy. The good news is that new polling data provided to The Globe and Mail by the Environics Institute and Century Initiative show that attitudes toward immigration remain positive and stable.

Sixty-five per cent of those polled disagreed with the statement: “Immigration levels are too high.” Only 29 per cent agreed. Flipped around, 57 per cent agreed that “Canada needs more immigrants to increase its population” (37 per cent disagreed) and 80 per cent agreed/16 per cent disagreed that “the economic impact of immigration is positive.”

(The survey was based on landline and cellphone interviews with 2,000 Canadians from Sept. 7-23, and has a posted margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

In the recent federal election, every major national party supported an open immigration policy. Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party, which would ratchet the numbers down, received 5 per cent of the vote, but even that modest level of support was probably based mainly on the party’s opposition to vaccine mandates.

Far from opposing immigration, provinces such as Ontario are asking Ottawa to increase the numbers they can bring in under the provincial nominee program.

Mr. Mendicino may or may not remain as Immigration Minister after a new cabinet is sworn in Oct. 26. His and other departments struggled to extricate Canadians and those who had served Canada when the Taliban swept to power in Afghanistan in August.

But overall the country’s immigration performance on this minister’s watch has been impressive. And Canadians should congratulate themselves on remaining an open and welcoming society, even as so many others have closed their doors.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-no-one-considers-canadas-immigration-record-to-be-a-big-deal-and-thats/

USA: Criminal Illegal Immigration Rates Fall Along the Border

Of note:

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just announced that they have encountered 1,431,179 people out of 1,960,519 total enforcement actions in FY2021 along the borders of the United States. When it comes to immigration enforcement, the two components of CBP are the Office of Field Operations and the Border Patrol. Relative to the 478,648 individuals encountered by CBP in FY2020, the number of individuals encountered is up by a factor of three in FY2021. Although the number of individuals encounters by CBP rose enormously in FY2021, the rate of criminals among them dropped to new lows.

CBP defines criminal noncitizens (they used to be called criminal aliens) as individuals who are not U.S. citizens and who have been convicted of crimes here or abroad if the conviction is for conduct which is also a crime in the United States. The CBP data also include noncitizens and U.S. citizens who are arrested as a result of being wanted by other law enforcement agencies. So as to not exclude any criminal illegal immigrants through unintentional omission, this blog post counts all apprehensions of criminals by CBP as noncitizen illegal immigrants. This results in an overcount of illegal immigrant criminals, but it’s better to make errors that overcount illegal immigrant criminality rather than errors that undercount it. In 2016, about 6.4 percent of all illegal immigrant individuals encountered by CBP were criminals. In FY2021, only about 1.9 percent of illegal immigrants apprehended by CBP were criminals (Figure 1).

The absolute number of criminal illegal immigrants encountered by CBP also fell from FY2016 to FY2021, but not in every year. In FY2016, CBP encountered 38,758 criminals out of approximately 607,761 individuals encountered. In FY 2021, CBP encountered 28,213 criminals out of 1,431,179 total illegal immigrants encountered. During that time, the number of illegal immigrants encountered by CBP increased by 236 percent and the number of criminals encountered fell by over 27 percent. In some of the intervening years, the absolute number of criminal illegal immigrants rose, but it generally trended downward.

It’s remarkable that such a vast increase in the number of illegal immigrants apprehended in FY2021 included a lower percentage of criminals than earlier years. Perhaps the supply of criminal illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States is relatively inelastic and massive changes in the number of individuals seeking to enter unlawfully or ask for asylum are non‐​criminals. In other words, reforms in U.S. immigrant policy that could attract more illegal immigrants or changes in foreign conditions that prompt mass migration do not seem to much affect the flow of criminals.

Many Americans want to keep the border closed, increase harsh border security methods, or restrict asylum because they fear that those encountered are criminals. Based on data supplied by CBP, the criminal illegal immigrant proportion of all encounters along the border are lower in FY2021 than in previous years despite the large increase in the number of encounters. Illegal immigration is a serious problem that imposes high costs on Americans and migrants, but it does not pose a serious criminal threat.

Source: Criminal Illegal Immigration Rates Fall Along the Border

May: The pandemic upended the federal workplace. What comes next?

Good overview of the issues and challenges:

The pandemic blew up the norms and structure of work behaviour in Canada’s public service and now bureaucrats want new rules and a say in how work fits into their lives as the federal government readies for a return to the office.

Everything about working in the public service is up for grabs.

After nearly two years, the pandemic proved public servants can work in many jobs from anywhere. That’s upended the conventional approach to work, including the 37.5-hour work week, endless in-person meetings, a soulless cubicle culture and how to climb the hierarchy. It’s an opportunity for change reformers have dreamed about for 25 years.

“Look, if I could press an undo button and make sure COVID never happened, I would… but it happened, and the silver lining is we have exponentially adopted telework,” said Dany Richard, a union president and co-chair of the National Joint Council, a joint union and management committee. “That allows us now to reassess how the future of work will be.”

With a global talent shortage and an economy favouring workers, public servants couldn’t be in a better position to make demands on their employer about their future work lives.

There are high hopes for a new telework policy being hashed out behind closed doors with unions and senior management. Advocates promise a new mobile workforce that would break the Ottawa-Gatineau monopoly on headquarter jobs. It would improve workforce diversity and work-life balance and reduce real estate and operational costs along with pollution from commuting.

The pandemic also picked up the pace of digital transformation of the public service by three to five years, said Ryan Androsoff, director of digital leadership at the Institute on Governance.

In a blink, public servants went en masse to work at home. After a mad scramble for enough laptops, bandwidth and network access, public servants learned to work in real time, mastering videoconferencing, text and chat software and editing documents collaboratively.

“It would have taken multiple years before departments would have reached the point where 100 per cent of their workforce could work in a distributed and remote way,” Androsoff said.

Public servants aren’t expected to return to offices until the pandemic is declared over, but everyone is braced for a hybrid workplace, a mix of working in office and at home.

Is government ready? Not quite. The Treasury Board’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer is putting together a short- and long-term plan for the future of work with a “spotlight on telework” that rolls out as COVID restrictions are lifted and public servants can return to in-office work.

Richard argued working remotely during an emergency like the pandemic worked because everyone is in the same boat. The challenge now is how to “optimize” remote work and make the most of it.

“I think the employer will generally be open to telework,” said Richard, who is president of the Association for Canadian Financial Officers. “I don’t think it’ll be 100 per cent of the time. But as long as an employee commits to, I’d guess, two days a week in the office, the employer will say, ‘Okay let’s try three days at home and two days in the office.’”

Not all federal jobs can be done from home. Ship crews, prison guards, border guards and meat inspectors can’t. Call centres, science laboratories and operations like the Canada Security Establishment need people at the workplace.

Most office workers, however, don’t want to return to the old ways. Surveys found most want to work from home full-time or several days a week. As one senior bureaucrat said, the “pinch point” is whether location of work is an employee’s right or preference. Or is it an “operational requirement” that managers should define?

“We just spent a year and half working from home on a mandatory basis. We had to work from home. Employees see the benefits and want the flexibility to choose where they work,” said Stéphane Aubry, vice-president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

As part of that flexibility, Aubry said the union wants jobs classified as remote or telework positions and no longer attached to a city or a building. It argues the government should pick up some of the cost employees bear working at home. It also wants all tasks and activities that have to be done at the office clearly laid out.

“We want a position to be officially classified as a telework job so when there’s a job opening it is put on paper as a telework job,” said Aubry. The government can then look for employees across Canada. It would change the way they do recruitment.”

At the moment, Treasury Board has left it up to departments to decide how their employees will work. The board sets guidelines but deputy ministers are responsible for how their departments run.

Some have already indicated they want workers back in the office some of the time; others are encouraging people to work from home full-time or to decide where they want to be based. Departments like Transport and Public Services and Procurement Canada have been singled out as among the most flexible. Meanwhile, unions are irked the RCMP have ordered some civilian employees back to the office before restrictions have been lifted.

That’s why some are looking for a more consistent policy. One senior bureaucrat said the approach is too “muddied” and sets the stage for expectations and conflicts between departments and unions.

“Instead of having a common approach they’ve left it scattered, which is a problem because deputy ministers are not willing to make a decision that might be precedent-setting and everybody gets stuck,” said the bureaucrat, who we are not identifying because he is not authorized to speak on the subject.

A big challenge with hybrid work is how to treat everyone equitably. The unions are worried about two tiers of employees: those who work in-office and those who don’t. It’s expected those who work in the office, where they are known by management, will have an edge for promotions and special projects.

What if deputy ministers and other senior executives return to the office? Won’t more employees follow suit and come to the office to be seen?

It could create a gender gap for women, who are disproportionately drawn to remote work to better manage parenting or other caregiving needs they juggle.

“I would love to see a situation where if government goes to a hybrid model that they actually say everybody in the organization has to work remotely two or three days a week, so that everybody’s having that same experience,” said Androsoff.

Nearly 42 per cent of public servants work in the National Capital Region. Stories abound of public servants who moved to the countryside or to the east or west coasts to work remotely during lockdown and have no plans to come back. Managers started filling Ottawa jobs with people outside the region and not requiring them to relocate.

There are far more ministers and MPs from outside Ottawa who have long tried to decentralize federal jobs to the regions. The argument for the capital’s disproportionate share of jobs was based on the location of Parliament, ministers and senior management. If the pandemic allowed MPs and Parliament to meet virtually, why wouldn’t they press for more jobs to be done remotely?

Former privy council clerk Michael Wernick says relocating Ottawa jobs is inevitable, adding it could happen in a “very conscious way” or “by stealth.” There are plenty of examples of departments operating outside the capital – Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in Moncton, National Energy Board in Calgary or the pay centre in Miramichi.

“The political pressure for geographic decentralization, plus work moving out to people’s homes, means a much less gravitational pull from Ottawa,” said Wernick.

“Maybe it won’t be the big departments and central agencies in the core public service, but there are 300 federal entities. And I think they may start maybe with some of those. Why does a tribunal, for example, have to hold hearings in Ottawa?”

Remote work would attract a more diverse pool of applicants who better represent Canada, including those who don’t live in urban centres, Indigenous people, visible minorities and people with disabilities.

A national recruitment strategy, however, will quickly collide with the public service’s bilingualism requirements.

“It opens doors for people from across the country to be part of the federal government in a way never possible before, but how to do that with existing bilingual policies is going to have to be explored,” said Androsoff.

A new telework policy assumes managers will shift to results-based management and hold people accountable for what they do and not just showing up for work.

But Wernick said the public service must sharpen its competitive edge to keep and attract employees in a global talent shortage. That shortage could worsen with an exodus of public servants, burned out and ready to leave after two years of going full tilt in the pandemic. Others put off retirement during lockdown and will leave rather than go back to the office.

Many argue departments will offer remote work to attract and retain people. That could also spark an internal war for talent as people flee to departments that offer the most flexibility and remote work.

The government’s technology is still years behind the private sector, but the pandemic brought all public servants to a basic level of digital literacy with new skills they want to use. Some argue home network and internet connections are now much better than what employees had at the office.

Canadians also have much bigger expectations of government. They are living more digitally now, banking and shopping online, and expect the same easy and rapid service from the government.

But Androsoff said there’s still a powerful pull from the traditionalists who would rather return to the old ways: nine to five, back to the office, in-person meetings and assigned desks.

“The federal government, by virtue of its size and history, has institutional inertia. In previous waves of reform, that inertia always pushes to go back to the way it was,” said Androsoff.

“I’m hoping for lasting change, but it remains to be seen whether this push is permanent or the pressure to go back to its institutional comfort zone wins the day.”

Source: http://click.revue.email/ss/c/LCzjJVqW3iU4uG4vv7g712DvWoe4-HnZ6yJuZDLvqqZTWNZA8CLYLQoJ2EVmLXJp-f6BAtGnwYi0Q6Mw3UjQsLzr_UnLo0Fnpd0RcU5oiRvFLh9yghjGFq7Vv2-uOpezpkZY7Qp04k28XTtLF5caIey_vLzyw6XWxvb_cl_CgSP9leyi9fT0NvRuqwg1SidLPh_ASB2mAAFiThIythTBpjCaMmAmtkFELrXsmCrcA48GoNCZQIxnBmAI_OU34jPWa1KBH4rBUZwH-PE9QsUBqv0NOVPBLuYWb7bspcRLb3-yovnR12M8WE2EzQoCd9yV/3ge/iqphGK5cTsG72MpEUAlaYQ/h10/DzzJWvLO7r53KBmOgWCEkBgiOISsXNZvF1iSJtuUysI

Bloc leader’s threat to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal might just backfire

Hard to have much sympathy for the “outrage” given the demographic decline reflects in part Quebec’s decision to admit fewer immigrants than elsewhere in Canada (despite or because they manage economic immigration) and the xenophobic Bill 21 and the weakening of bilingualism in Bill 96. Commentaries, starting with Konrad Yakabuski highlighting the consequences of lower immigration levels, and Randy Boswell’s more sympathetic take:
Le premier ministre de l’Ontario, Doug Ford, a suscité un tollé cette semaine lorsqu’il a livré un avertissement à tous ceux qui espèrent immigrer dans sa province, laquelle fait face à un manque criant de travailleurs puisque plus de 290 000 postes demeurent vacants. « Si vous pensez que vous pouvez venir ici pour toucher le B.S. et rester assis à la maison, ça n’arrivera pas », a martelé M. Ford lors d’un point de presse, se faisant immédiatement accuser d’exprimer tout haut ce que de nombreux Ontariens pensent tout bas. Si M. Ford a refusé de s’excuser pour ses propos, il s’est néanmoins empressé de se déclarer « pro-immigration » et de se vanter d’accueillir des immigrants de partout dans le monde au « Ford Fest », le barbecue estival que sa famille organise chaque année dans un quartier très multiculturel à Toronto. En effet, le gouvernement conservateur de M. Ford appuie sans réserve la hausse des seuils d’immigration annoncée l’an dernier par Ottawa, qui vise à accueillir 401 000 résidents permanents au pays en 2021, soit une augmentation de 18 % par rapport à 2019. Si le nombre d’immigrants a chuté en 2020 en raison de la pandémie, tombant à 184 000, le gouvernement fédéral presse le pas pour atteindre ses objectifs en matière d’immigration pour les années 2021, 2022 et 2023. En tout, ce sont plus de 1,2 million de nouveaux résidents permanents que le Canada compte accueillir pendant cette période, dépassant ainsi un ancien record qui date du début du XXe siècle. À lui seul, l’Ontario devrait accueillir plus de 540 000 nouveaux arrivants, ce qui pousserait sa population au-delà du seuil des 15 millions d’habitants. La politique d’immigration du Québec Quoi qu’on pense de la politique d’immigration du Québec, son résultat à long terme mènera vers une baisse du poids démographique de la province dans la fédération canadienne. La province compte accueillir entre 51 500 et 54 500 nouveaux immigrants cette année, si on inclut le « rattrapage » de 7000 nouveaux arrivants que le gouvernement caquiste prévoit d’effectuer après la baisse de 2020 liée à la fermeture des frontières. En 2019, durant la première année du gouvernement de François Legault, le Québec a reçu 40 565 nouveaux résidents permanents, ou seulement 11,89 % du total canadien. L’Alberta, qui compte la moitié moins d’habitants que le Québec, en a reçu 43 691, ou 12,81 % du total. L’Ontario a accueilli 153 395 nouveaux arrivants, ou 45 % des 341 000 nouveaux résidents permanents acceptés en 2019. Le Québec ne recevait déjà pas sa part d’immigrants en fonction de sa population au sein de la fédération canadienne avant l’arrivée de M. Legault au pouvoir. En 2016, quand le Québec comptait pour environ 23 % de la population canadienne, il avait reçu 18 % des immigrants arrivés au pays au cours de cette année-là. Il n’est pas impossible que ce taux atteigne les 10 % dans les prochaines années. En effet, les voix s’élèvent dans le reste du pays pour qu’Ottawa augmente ses seuils annuels d’immigration à 450 000 ou à 500 000 nouveaux arrivants. Un groupe d’influents Canadiens, réunis sous la bannière de l’Initiative du siècle, préconise une politique d’immigration visant à hausser la population canadienne à 100 millions de personnes en l’an 2100 afin de s’assurer de la prospérité nécessaire au maintien des programmes sociaux et d’augmenter l’influence du Canada sur la scène internationale. Le groupe, présidé par l’ancien chef de la direction du fonds d’investissement du Régime de pensions du Canada, Mark Wiseman, compte parmi ses membres le p.-d.g. du Conseil canadien des affaires, Goldy Hyder, et Dominique Barton, l’actuel ambassadeur du Canada en Chine. Il jouit aussi de l’appui de l’ancien premier ministre Brian Mulroney. Or, dans son discours inaugural prononcé cette semaine à l’Assemblée nationale, M. Legault a réaffirmé son refus aux « voix qui réclament un nombre toujours plus élevé d’immigrants ». Le Québec reçoit déjà plus d’immigrants que la plupart des pays développés, a-t-il dit, et il n’est pas question qu’il emboîte le pas au reste du pays. « Le Québec ne peut pas avoir le même modèle d’immigration que celui du Canada anglais. La survie du français exige une approche différente. » Ce choix n’est pas sans conséquences. Le directeur des élections du Canada, Stéphane Perreault, a annoncé la semaine dernière que le Québec doit perdre un siège à la Chambre des communes dès 2024, ce qui porterait le nombre de ses sièges à 77, selon une nouvelle répartition des sièges basée sur la formule de représentation prévue dans la Constitution. Les réactions à cette annonce n’ont pas tardé, le chef du Bloc québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, et la ministre caquiste des Relations canadiennes, Sonia LeBel, s’étant tous deux insurgés contre toute tentative de diminuer le poids du Québec au Parlement fédéral. Vendredi, M. Legault a lui-même sommé M. Trudeau de « préserver le poids de la nation québécoise à la Chambre des communes ». Toutefois, sans modification constitutionnelle, il semble inévitable que le Québec voie sa proportion de sièges à la Chambre des communes diminuer de façon importante au cours des prochaines décennies. Cette proportion est déjà tombée de 36 % des sièges en 1867 à 23 % en 2011. Selon la proposition de M. Perrault, elle glisserait encore à 22,5 %. Qu’en sera-t-il dans dix ans, alors que le reste du Canada s’apprête à accueillir de plus en plus d’immigrants pendant que le Québec referme davantage ses portes ?
Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/642273/chronique-la-marginalisation?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-23&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne
A proposed rejigging of Canada’s electoral map could see Quebec lose one of its seats in the House of Commons by 2024 while Alberta gains three and Ontario and B.C. each gain one.
The changes would increase the total number of federal ridings to 342 from 338. There are reasonable arguments for and against implementing the exact changes recommended by Elections Canada. But Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet’s opening salvo in the debate — that the BQ would “unleash the fires of hell” if his province’s seat count is dropped to 77 from 78 — is the wrong way to begin what needs to be a calm, cool conversation about updating the country’s political geography. How are we supposed to respond to Blanchet’s Trumpian explosion of outrage? Can thoughtful discussion follow a toddler’s tantrum?
Injecting apocalyptic rhetoric into a decision-making process that must be driven by the fundamental democratic principle of representation by population — and basic math — is precisely how to inflame prejudices, fuel interprovincial pettiness and polarize the nation. Blanchet, of course, knows this. Driving wedges wherever possible between Quebec and the rest of Canada is crucial, by definition, to the political project of any diehard separatist.
So we shouldn’t be too surprised that Blanchet has zeroed in histrionically on the planned removal of a single Quebec seat from the Commons as if it were a sign of the End Times. Although Elections Canada proposed the change for the benign reason that Quebec’s population is not growing at the same pace as the populations in Alberta, Ontario or B.C. — and because Quebec is (relative to those other big provinces) already more fairly represented in the current parliamentary seat count — Blanchet is invoking biblical imagery of the final battle between Good and Evil.
Sonia LeBel, Quebec’s minister responsible for relations with the rest of Canada, has employed more moderate language — and advanced a more compelling rationale — in urging special considerations for the province in the latest redistribution of federal ridings. “We are part of the founding peoples of Canada,” she said this week. “We have three seats guaranteed at the Supreme Court for judges. We have seats guaranteed in the Senate, a weight that is important and represents much more than just a simple calculation of population.” All of this is why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders interested in preserving the peace in our mostly peaceable kingdom need to rise above Blanchet’s blatant bullying while finding a sensible solution to the seat-count conundrum — one that delicately balances numerical fairness with other considerations endemic in a land of complexity and compromise. Remember: there’s no purely mathematical justification for granting a federal seat to each of Canada’s three territories — none of which has a population above 50,000 — when the average number of Canadians represented by each MP is more than 110,000. There’s no logical reason, either, for Prince Edward Island — with a mere 0.43 per cent of the national population of about 38 million — to have four seats representing 1.19 per cent of the elected positions in Parliament.
So there may well be legitimate reasons to avoid reducing Quebec’s seat count at this time. In 2011, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper implemented legislation that increased the number of seats to 338 from 308 to reflect population changes. At the time, the Harper government — with much prodding from Quebec, the BQ and other opposition parties — chose to inflate the overall size of the House of the Commons so that the number of Quebec seats would increase (by three, to 78) instead of remaining static at 75 — as an earlier, hotly rejected, purely mathematical proposal had called for. The government’s thinking at the time was that tweaking the formula for allocating seats in a way that would better recognize Quebec’s special status as a nation within the nation was politically prudent.
It also happened to keep the province’s seat total roughly proportional to its percentage of Canada’s population, even as those two numbers remained unfairly out of whack for faster-growing provinces.
The Quebec-friendly adjustment wasn’t immediately embraced by Harper’s own caucus. The additional Quebec seats, according to a Globe and Mail report at the time, “caused consternation among Conservative backbenchers, who were concerned that Canada’s French-speaking province was benefiting from a bill meant to address under-representation in the three large and fast-growing anglophone provinces” — Alberta, Ontario and B.C. Sound familiar? The Conservative caucus was ultimately convinced by Harper to accept the plan for the sake of national unity. But despite the Quebec-friendly compromise, the pre-Blanchet Bloc Québécois still slammed the 2011 reconfiguration of the House as falling short of true recognition of the province’s “unique status with regard to its political weight.” You can’t please everyone. As then-B.C. premier Christy Clark, who supported the 2011 changes, said at the time: “Perfection in these things is impossible because it’s a big and complicated country.” A decade later, the scenario confronting Elections Canada, the federal government and the provinces is much the same. And maybe a little massaging of the numbers to mollify Quebec is warranted yet again. Would it be so bad if Quebec kept its 78 seats and we had 343 federal ridings instead of 342? That would represent about 22.7 per cent of the seats in the House for a province with about 22.6 per cent of Canada’s population. (Meanwhile, Ontario’s proposed 122 seats would then account for 35.6 per cent of 343 seats for a province with almost 39 per cent of the country’s population.)
But Blanchet’s bluster about unleashing the “fires of hell” risks torching the good will required for the rest of Canada to grant Quebec some latitude in its allotment of seats in the national legislature. It’s the kind of talk that’s more likely to unleash cynicism and stinginess. And eventually, if population trends continue in the current direction, maintaining Quebec’s present share of federal seats as its population drifts towards one-fifth of Canada’s total will become untenable from a democratic point of view — Blanchet’s fires of hell notwithstanding. Randy Boswell is a Carleton University journalism professor and former Postmedia News national writer.
Source: Bloc leader’s threat to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal might just backfire

Federal immigration department employees reporting racist workplace behaviour, says survey

Looked at the IRCC 2020 Public Service Employee Survey results to help understand the context.

  • Q55 Harassment: With respect to having been a victim of harassment, IRCC is marginally better than PS average: 9 vs 11 percent, down from 11 vs 15 percent in 2018. With respect to types of harassment, IRCC generally tracks either close to the government-wide numbers or lower levels. In terms of resolution of harassment issues, IRCC also tracks government-wide numbers.
  • Q62 Discrimination: With respect to having been a victim of discrimination, IRCC numbers are the same as government-wide numbers: 7 percent, no change from 2018 IRCC numbers while the government-wide number was 8 percent. However, IRCC had a significantly higher percentage of race-based discrimination, 40 to 28 percent, a significant increase from 2018 27 percent, which may have prompted the focus group study. IRCC also had higher numbers with respect to discrimination based on national/ethnic origin, colour, but not with respect to religion. In terms of resolution of discrimination issues, IRCC also tracks government-wide numbers.
  • Q69 Victim satisfaction with resolution of discrimination complaints: No major difference but overall satisfaction (very strong, strong) is low at 8 percent.

IRCC, of course, will have this data disaggregated by visible minority group, likely highlighting some of the issues mentioned in the focus groups, which is informing its policies and practices. Expect to have my analysis of the overall government harassment and discrimination responses in a few weeks once survey demographic data up on open data:

A report examining workplace racism at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) describes repeated instances of employees and supervisors using offensive terms with their racialized colleagues.

The 20-page document, compiled by the public opinion research company Pollara Strategic Insights, was presented to IRCC in June and recently posted online.

The report is based on ten two-hour focus groups with 54 IRCC employees Pollara conducted for the department in March.

Multiple employees told Pollara they’d heard racist language used in the workplace. The report describes what it calls multiple reports of racist “microagressions” in the IRCC workplace, including:

  • Staff members describing a department section known for having a lot of racialized employees as “the ghetto.”
  • Staff members asking to touch a racialized employee’s hair, or mocking the hairstyles of racialized employees.
  • A manager calling Indigenous people lazy, or calling colonialism “good.”
  • “Widespread” references in the workplace to certain African nations as “the dirty 30.”

“You just feel like, now that I’m speaking out, am I also going to be looked like as one of those angry Black women for speaking up?” the report quotes one employee as saying.

Racialized employees also told Pollara they’ve been passed over for international assignments and “professional development opportunities.” The report says one manager claimed that their evaluation of a racialized employee was overridden “by someone above them to promote a non-racialized employee instead.”

Racialized IRCC staffers told Pollara that they’re marginalized in the workplace — kept in “precarious temporary contract positions disproportionately and for a long time” which prevent them from “advocating for their own rights” to promotion or from speaking out against racist incidents.

Pollara also said participants in the focus groups warned that racism in the workplace “can and probably must impact case processing.” They cited “discriminatory rules for processing immigration applications for some countries or regions,” including additional financial document requirements for applicants from Nigeria.

Source: Federal immigration department employees reporting racist workplace behaviour, says survey

PSES 2020 IRCC Link

Turkey’s citizenship-for-homes sales hit roadblock

Local inhabitants rarely benefit from these schemes apart from developers and realtors:

Record sales of homes to foreigners in Turkey, driven by a sharply falling currency and the promise of citizenship, are starting to slow after a new government rule aimed at tackling inflated prices, property experts say.

Property sellers and real estate professionals told Reuters that before the rule change some cheaper homes were being marked up and sold to foreigners for at least $250,000 – the minimum price for Turkey to grant foreigners a passport.

Some sellers were working with selected appraisal companies to inflate prices and secure citizenship for buyers, they said, with the difference between the market value and the price paid in some cases later returned to buyers.

But under a regulation adopted last month, the land-registry authority now automatically assigns appraisers to properties, thwarting collaboration that could lead to abuse.

GIGDER, an industry body that promotes Turkish home makers abroad, said that since Sept. 20 when the regulation was adopted, prices of some homes sold to foreigners have dropped by 30-45%, prompting some prospective buyers to walk away.

“This difference between construction companies’ sales prices and new valuations has led to distrust among foreigners,” said the head of GIGDER, Omer Faruk Akbal.

“We have since seen sales offices emptying out and presale contracts getting cancelled,” he said.

A construction boom has helped drive economic growth through much of President Tayyip Erdogan’s nearly two decades in power and, under the citizenship scheme, cash from abroad helped offset Turkey’s usually heavy trade imbalance.

Some 7,000 foreigners received Turkish citizenships via home purchases between 2017 and 2020, the government said last year.

The General Directorate overseeing land registries said it adopted the regulation in September to address “certain observed irregularities in the appraisal reports”.

Foreign home sales – mainly to Iranians, Iraqis, Russians and Afghans – reached an all-time high of 6,630 last month, official data shows, as a sharp falls in the lira made Turkish property more attractive to foreign buyers.

Last year net foreign investment in real estate was $5.7 billion, central bank data shows.

GIGDER’s Akbal expects construction companies to sell a record 50,000 homes to foreigners by year-end, though the new regulation might reduce that.

The sales have contributed to a broader rise in living costs for Turks that has weighed on Erdogan’s opinion polls: housing-related inflation was more than 20% last month, reflecting soaring rents, valuations and mortgage rates.

INFLATING PRICES

Ankara adopted the citizenship-for-homes scheme in 2017. A year later it cut the minimum price to $250,000, from $1 million, to attract foreign buyers and help alleviate the currency the crisis.

One property industry representative who requested anonymity said that before the regulation, properties worth only $150,000 could be reported to the land registry authority with a $250,000 price tag in order to secure citizenship for the buyer.

After the sale, the construction company would transfer $100,000 back to the buyer, the person said.

Ibrahim Babacan, chairman of Babacan Holding which works mostly with foreign buyers, said the new regulation was likely to lead to the cancellation of six of his 10 recent sales to foreigners.

“The customer buys the property with the aim of citizenship but when the appraiser reports a lower valuation, he cancels the contract,” he said, adding appraisers and builders often use different measurements in valuations.

While Babacan says the new rules will cool sales in October, the lira depreciation will keep foreigners interested. “You can buy a property in Turkey at a fifth the price in Dubai,” he said.

Source: Turkey’s citizenship-for-homes sales hit roadblock

Daphne Bramham: Right-wing Justice Centre forges a new path with old leader

Interesting twist:

Apparently, it’s not such a terrible thing that a lawyer and head of a conservative-rights organization hired a private detective to spy on a provincial chief justice who was hearing a case that he was involved in.

A little mea culpa, seven weeks off and then it’s back to work at an organization that claims to be committed to defending citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

At least that’s the way it is working for John Carpay, founder and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Carpay railed against Alberta Health Services’ mandatory vaccination policy for employees in a news release last week. He declared it “morally repugnant” and “an insult to every individual’s inherent human dignity.”

That is strong language for someone being actively investigated by Winnipeg police for invasion of privacy, intimidation and obstruction of justice, as well as by the law societies of both Manitoba and Alberta for breaching their codes of conduct.

The JCCF itself is also under scrutiny. Canada Revenue Agency has received a complaint regarding its status, since hiring a private investigator doesn’t seem a fit expenditure for a registered charity. CRA doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations.

To recap, Carpay admitted in July to hiring a detective to follow Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench while Joyal was hearing the JCCF’s constitutional challenge to provincial COVID restrictions.

In court, Joyal raised concerns about being followed, about his privacy, safety and security, and that of his family. But he also questioned whether it was being done to intimidate him or obstruct justice.

In court, Carpay apologized and went on “indefinite leave.”

Manitoba’s Justice Minister Cameron Friesen was outraged and said, “It is difficult to believe that these actions were not intended to influence the outcome of the court case.”

Friesen sparked Manitoba Law Society’s investigation of Carpay and all of JCCF’s 10 lawyers. Meanwhile, Ottawa human-rights lawyer Richard Warman filed a complaint with the Alberta Law Society against Carpay and JCCF litigation director Jay Cameron.

In his complaint, Warman noted the potential for criminal charges and suggested both lawyers had breached the Code of Professional Conduct rules relating to “integrity, competency, honesty, candour, conflict of interest, encouraging respect for the administration of justice and harassment.”

An Alberta law society spokesperson said its Manitoba counterpart is leading the investigation. No date has been set for the hearing.

Before starting his “indefinite leave,” Carpay insisted that he acted without the JCCF directors’ knowledge, prompting the board to review the centre’s operations and decision-making.

Seven weeks later, Carpay was back, and the board was down to four members from nine.

Board member Bruce Pardy, whose opinion piece in the National Post described Carpay’s actions as “an affront to the integrity of the judicial process,” was not one of them. He does, however, remain on its 10-member advisory council.

The slimmed-down board has only one lawyer and a new director, who is a bit of a mystery. His name is Gareth Hudson, but the centre’s website has neither his photograph nor a biography. The chair is Jonathan Allen, a retired Toronto asset manager who has been on the board since 2020.

The fourth director is Troy Lanigan, a Victoria-based consultant, president of the Manning Centre, founder of SecondStreet.org, and former head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, where Carpay also cut his political teeth.

The Manning Centre is “dedicated to strengthening Canada’s conservative movement through networking,” while SecondStreet “examines public policy through the lens of stories and experiences shared by individuals, families and entrepreneurs impacted by government policy.”

JCCF did not respond to written requests for information about Hudson, Allen’s contact information, or to questions forwarded to Allen and other directors through communications director Marnie Cathcart.

In September, the board said it is “taking steps to strengthen governance, and to provide increased independence between the litigation and educational activities of the organization” and “seeking to streamline and refresh its membership to better respond to demands on the organization.”

Since then, JCCF has been acting a bit more like an American political action committee than as a legal rights’ defender.

Recently, JCCF news releases have been illustrated with unflattering images of Prime Minister Justice Trudeau, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and former Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

Excluded from attack is Maxime Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada leader, who harnessed the anger of anti-vaxxers during the election campaign with his cry: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.”

Bernier is one of the people JCCF is defending following his June arrest in Manitoba for failing to self-isolate on his arrival in the province and for attending an outdoor anti-lockdown rally banned under COVID restrictions. That case has yet to be heard.

Throughout the election campaign, Bernier and his supporters flouted COVID restrictions, including on election night in Saskatoon. Charges are also pending there.

Without comment from the JCCF, it is hard to know where the organization is headed.

Had the JCCF chairman responded to my questions about Carpay’s reinstatement, he might have said that the presumption of innocence is a keystone of the Canadian court system. Of course, Carpay admitted to his seriously flawed judgment in court.

Very few organizations would be as forgiving. They protect their brands.

But maybe this isn’t about protecting a brand. Maybe this is a rebranding, with the centre moving away from defending the law to something far different.

Source: Daphne Bramham: Right-wing Justice Centre forges a new path with old leader

Doug Ford is completely wrong in his suggestion that immigrants are aiming to laze around

Good analysis of the labour market and recent immigrants (traditionally who have lagged earlier periods of immigration):

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is not just wrong in suggesting that prospective immigrants to his province are aiming to laze around on the dole.

He’s exactly wrong. The Premier’s statements are completely at odds with an unprecedented shift in the labour market, in which the most recently arrived workers with landed-immigrant status have seen the biggest gains in employment rates, now nearly 10 percentage points higher than prepandemic levels. And that trend is more pronounced in Ontario than for Canada as a whole.

Speaking at an infrastructure-funding press conference in Windsor on Monday, Mr. Ford expressed his concern about a shortage of workers, adding that he would press the federal government to boost immigration levels.

But he went on to add a caveat. “You come here like every other new Canadian has come here, you work your tail off. If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around, not gonna happen,” he said. “Go somewhere else. You want to work, come here.”

Mr. Ford’s concerns are misplaced. Immigrants must have permanent residency status before becoming eligible for payments under Ontario’s social assistance program.

Among workers aged 15 or older, the employment rate for those who have had landed-immigrant status for five years or fewer rebounded to prepandemic levels last October, far faster than any other category of citizenship status. As of September, 2021, the seasonally unadjusted employment rate for this group had risen to 71.8 per cent.

That represents a remarkable surge of nearly 10 percentage points. University of Waterloo economics professor Mikal Skuterud said employment rates usually do not change so rapidly; a long-term change of a single percentage point would normally be significant. ”This is massive,” he said.

What’s more, the gains by the most recent landed immigrants have resulted in that group leap-frogging Canadian-born workers. Before the pandemic, the employment rate for Canadian-born workers aged 15 and older, at 62.5 per cent, ran just ahead of that of workers with five years or less of landed-immigrant status, at 62.2 per cent.

That 0.3 percentage point gap has now reversed, and grown, with the employment rate for workers with five years or less of landed-immigrant status more than 10 percentage points higher than that of Canadian-born workers.

The same trend is evident among workers aged 15 or older who have held landed-immigrant status between five and 10 years. The employment rate for that group rebounded past prepandemic levels last month. Participation rates rose as well, and the absolute number of unemployed workers in this group has fallen markedly since the pandemic began.

Across Canada, the same pattern holds true, although the effect is not quite as pronounced.

Mr. Ford’s comments fly in the face of those data. The Premier’s office did not directly answer a question on what the basis is for Mr. Ford’s concern that new immigrants might choose not to work. Instead, spokesperson Ivana Yelich wrote in an e-mail that “… our province is open to anyone and everyone who wants to work hard, support their family and contribute to their community.”

Ottawa’s policy choices on immigration have played a role as well. Prof. Skuterud says that immigration reforms in the early 2000s introduced a points system that placed much greater emphasis on employability. The result was that immigrants in the past 20 years have been better placed to compete in the job market relative to earlier cohorts.

Prof. Skuterud said the trends that have emerged during the pandemic are the reverse of the experience in previous recessions, when immigrant workers had the first and worst job losses, and the slowest recovery.

He points out that Ottawa dramatically curtailed immigration last year as part of the overall effort to limit border crossings. The number of new permanent residents fell by nearly half in 2020 compared with 2019. That decline has somewhat reversed this year, with the number of new permanent residents admitted between January and August equal to four-fifths of the total admitted during the same nine-month period in 2019.

Prof. Skuterud says the rebound in immigration threatens to stall the gains in employment rates that newer permanent residents have been making, and perhaps even reverse them. Beyond the sheer increase in immigration numbers, the federal government has also sharply reduced the minimum amount of points needed to qualify for landed-immigrant status as Ottawa seeks to boost the inflow of immigrants.

Together, those two factors threaten to create a new generation of immigrants that are less able to find employment easily. Even a tight labour market, Prof. Skuterud said, won’t be enough to keep some landed immigrants from floundering.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-doug-ford-is-completely-wrong-in-his-suggestion-that-immigrants-are/

Refugee, undocumented health-care workers demand access to permanent resident program

Of note given unsubscribed slots in the permanent resident pathway program for the healthcare stream:

Refugees and undocumented health-care workers are demanding they be allowed to apply for a government program that would grant them permanent status in Canada.

The temporary resident to permanent resident pathway program was announced in April as a way to keep skilled essential workers in the country, with a focus on retaining 20,000 hospital and long-term care workers.

While the government has already received the maximum number of applications for recent university graduates and other essential workers, there have been few applicants accepted to the health-care stream.

The program is set to close on Nov. 5 and has so far accepted only 5,421 applications.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change says that’s because refugees and undocumented people are barred from applying and many health-care occupations are excluded.

“I felt humiliated when the eligibility requirement excluded me,” said Fasanya Kolade, a Nigerian refugee and developmental support worker in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Kolade works primarily with seniors and adults with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and said he pulled 65-hour weeks throughout the pandemic to care for his patients.

Despite meeting most of the criteria, he could not apply.

“The only criteria that excluded me was just that I am a refugee claimant,” he said in an online press conference Wednesday.

The program is only open to workers with temporary status in Canada, so even undocumented people with work permits cannot apply.

The program also requires applicants to meet language requirements, and have recent experience in an approved health-care occupation.

Those requirements can also limit eligibility for people who don’t have time to take the proper language tests, the Migrant Workers Alliance said.

The federal government launched a similar pathway program specifically for health-care workers with pending or failed refugee claims late last year, which closed to applications on Aug. 31.

Now with nearly 15,000 spots for temporary residents set to expire in just two weeks, the alliance is calling for the criteria to be expanded.

“Changing these rules, ensuring access for migrants, refugee claimants, undocumented people without economic, occupational restrictions and language restrictions is a no-brainer,” said Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

“Otherwise these spots will just evaporate.”

Several people have applied, hoping the criteria would be amended, but have been denied.

“When I first heard of the health worker pathway I knew God had finally heard, not only my cries, but also other people in my situation,” said Jane, a Ugandan refugee and personal support worker in Hamilton, Ont. Her full name has been protected because of her lack of immigration status.

She fled her country after leaving an abusive and homophobic relationship and was disowned by her family when they learned she was a lesbian.

She applied for the pathway program with the help of a lawyer and waited, hoping the criteria would be expanded to include people with failed refugee claims, but she was denied.

There are many people with similar stories said Florence, a Ugandan asylum seeker who works in a Toronto residential home for young adults with complex developmental and physical disabilities. Her full name has also been protected.

She was denied because she had filed an asylum claim in the United States.

“Our hands are tied up. I cannot get a steady permit to pursue my dreams,” Florence said Wednesday. “I know there are very many of us like me who need papers.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Refugee, undocumented health-care workers demand access to permanent resident program

These ‘first of their kind’ Ontario changes could get more skilled immigrants working in their actual fields of expertise

Good initiative that may break some of the logjam. Will see over time the impact. More significant that Premier Ford’s unfortunate remarks on immigrants and the political and activist pile-on:

The Ontario government is unveiling a new plan to help get immigrants working in the fields where they have expertise.

Legislative changes to be introduced Thursday would force some professional regulators to drop Canadian work-experience requirements from their licensing criteria — and to speed up processing times.

If passed, the changes would address what newcomers often cite as two key barriers to acquiring their professional designations in Ontario.

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, whose ministry also oversees training, skills development and immigration, called the changes “unprecedented and the first of their kind in Canada.”

“They’re just long overdue,” McNaughton said. “My goal is to ensure that we’re creating a clear path for new Canadians to fully apply their skills and remove barriers so immigrants can find meaningful work.”

The proposed amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act would cover 37 non-health-related professions and trades.

The affected fields would range from architecture to teaching, social work, plumbing, electricians’ work, auto-body repair and hairstyling.

The changes, if passed, would give the minister and the fairness commissioner the powers to order financial penalties for regulators found to have breached the law. 

At present, licensing time in some professions takes as long as 18 months, and both the ministry and the fairness commissioner’s office will gather baseline data to inform and establish reasonable timelines in consultation with oversight ministries, regulators and communities.

For decades, many immigrants who were selected for their education achievements and work experience have complained about being unemployed or underemployed because their foreign credentials are devalued in Canada.

Those who have training and background in a regulated profession also complain they lack the coveted Canadian experience to meet licensing requirements and that the process is too lengthy and costly.

When asked about the timing of this announcement, following another earlier this week to regulate temporary worker agencies and recruiters, McNaughton denied it was part of a Conservative strategy to galvanize immigrant votes in next year’s provincial election.

“The pro-worker reforms we’re unveiling … it’s all about rebalancing the scales. Coming out of this pandemic, the scales were tilted toward a lot of big corporations that make billions of dollars run by billionaires,” he said.

“We are on the side of workers and just ensuring that they’re getting better paychecks and better protections.”

Premier Doug Ford has been at the centre of controversy since Monday, when he said Ontario is desperate for people to move here — as long as they want to work.

“You come here like every other new Canadian has come here, you work your tail off,” he said. “If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around? Not going to happen, go somewhere else.”

The comments have drawn fire from many who say the premier was playing to racist stereotypes about new Canadians.

According to McNaughton, currently only 25 per cent of all immigrants are actually employed in their field of study, while 293,000 jobs are waiting to be filled in the province, which could see its GDP increase by $20 billion, if the skill gap is addressed.

“That’s unacceptable,” he told the Star in an interview Wednesday. “It’s important that we ensure that everyone’s talent is being used and we unleash their talent to its full capacity.”

The proposed changes to eliminate the Canadian experience licensing requirement do have exemption provisions if regulators can demonstrate that it is necessary for public health and safety. The expectation, however, would be that they find alternative methods to minimize barriers. The Ontario fairness commissioner’s office would review exemption requests and make recommendations to the minister, who would have the final say.

The government also plans to align and streamline language-testing requirements for immigration and licensing purposes, for instance, by asking regulators to accept the same tests as proof of language proficiency or embed it as part of their respective technical exams.

“We’re eliminating the unfair Canadian work experience requirements, reducing burdens including duplicative language training and ensuring that licensing applications are processed faster,” McNaughton said.

“Last year alone, about 17,500 internationally trained individuals applied to receive their licence to practise from our regulator. We want to increase that number in a big, big way.”

The expectation is for the Canadian work experience requirement to be struck down within two years.

The changes could potentially extend to the regulated health sector in the future, which is far more complex due to health and safety concerns.

“We continue to work with health (authorities). That is a priority for me,” McNaughton noted. “But this is going to apply across the board apart from health, at least at this point.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/10/21/these-first-of-their-kind-ontario-changes-could-get-more-skilled-immigrants-working-in-their-actual-fields-of-expertise.html