She’s trilingual, has a PhD and loads of work experience. So why was getting a job in Canada an ordeal?

Ongoing barriers of note:

With a PhD and eight years of project management experience, Hala El Ouarrak didn’t expect finding a job would be that hard in Canada.

Before the Moroccan woman arrived in Toronto in 2019, she took part in all the pre-arrival settlement services and employment counselling that were available to soon-to-be newcomers. She was assured her skills and experience were sought after in the Canadian job market.

“I did everything to the letter to make sure that I’m not missing anything when I get here. The feedback was I wouldn’t have any problem finding a job, and all I would need would be a Canadian phone number for employers to reach me,” said El Ouarrak, whose doctoral degree is in applied math and automatic control engineering.

Instead, the 31-year-old worked as a sales account manager at a shoe store and teaching statistics on a side as a private tutor, while “upgrading” her CV by acquiring four additional Canadian project-management credentials. (Some of El Ouarrak’s struggle came during the pandemic’s disruptions, but she says the number of job postings wasn’t affected.)

“It actually took me two years to get back to my field,” said El Ouarrak, now an IT consultant and part-time lecturer in project management and data analysis at Northeastern University’s Toronto campus.

A new study suggests this sort of problem has been an issue for years — that many highly skilled and educated female immigrants in Canada are facing immense disparities in employment outcomes due to employer biases, gender-based barriers and other factors.

“Immigrant women face distinct challenges in entering and advancing in the Canadian labour market. They encounter downward career mobility and underemployment relative to their education and professional backgrounds,” says the study by Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

“Data also shows that the earnings of immigrant women, especially those who are racialized, lag behind those of immigrant men and Canadian-born women, and their unemployment rate is higher.”

Based on an online survey of 365 immigrant women in Greater Toronto — two-thirds with at least a master’s degree — and subsequent interviews, researchers found that 83.8 per cent of respondents had taken at least one of the following measures to “fit” the culture or expectations of Canadian employers:

  • 57.5 per cent had downgraded their stated educational achievements and/or experience to not appear overqualified for a position;
  • 43 per cent had accepted unpaid work or internships in a role related to their field of expertise to gain “Canadian experience”;
  • 21.9 per cent said they had changed or shortened their name to sound “more Canadian”;
  • 15.3 per cent sought training to help change their accents;
  • 13.7 per cent of respondents changed their appearances to make their looks more acceptable to “Canadian culture.”

“The compromises some immigrant women have to make to start their careers in Canada is in contrast to the high value Canada’s points-based immigration system places on their skills,” said report author Sugi Vasavithasan, TRIEC’s research and evaluation manager.

“Having to downplay their qualifications or change aspects of themselves to enter the Canadian labour market can be demoralizing for immigrant women. It hurts their dignity and self-esteem.”

Immigrant women’s jobless rate, at 12.2 per cent, is much higher than their Canadian-born peers (4.9 per cent) and immigrant men (6.4 per cent), said the report. Among principal applicants admitted in 2009 under various skilled immigration programs, women made $17,400 less than their male counterparts after 10 years.

Maysam Fadel settled in Toronto in 2019 after working for the United Nations Refugee Agency as a community service co-ordinator and for UNICEF as emergency officer in Syria for a decade.

The 36-year-old applied to more than 500 jobs posted in the not-for-profit sector but didn’t receive one single reply. She finally found a survival job working as a sales associate in retail while volunteering at different organizations, including the Canadian Red Cross.

“Employers all ask for Canadian experience and don’t consider any of the experience you had back home,” said Fadel, who has an undergraduate degree in English literature from Damascus University.

“I was very depressed and I lost my hope of ever finding an appropriate job in alignment with my experience.”

The husband of a friend’s friend helped her polish her resumé and she dropped her last name, Allah, on her CV, to avoid any potential biases she might face from prospective employers. Then response started trickling in and she finally was hired as a volunteer co-ordinator at a community service agency.

While she needed to learn about the operations and work culture at the organization, she said she’s simply applying the same skills she acquired from back home to her new job in Canada. 

“I didn’t get a new skill I didn’t have before. It’s just transferring my skills from one context to another. You need to learn and adapt whenever you change jobs even in Canada. That’s normal,” said Fadel, who last year got a promotion to be a manager at the same agency. 

El Ouarrak, who speaks fluent Arabic, English and French, said immigrant women shouldn’t have to downplay their credentials just to get their foot into the door.

Rather, she said, Canadian employers should adopt blind hiring practices to focus on seeking out candidates with the right skills and block out personal information that could bias a hiring decision. 

“Hiring managers are looking for unique profiles of candidates who qualify but to get to the hiring managers, you have to go through recruiters, the gatekeepers who are checking the boxes. If you don’t check 80 per cent of the boxes, they don’t even look at your profile,” said El Ouarrak. “I think that’s where the disconnect is.”

The study calls for improvement to generic employment support programs to reflect the unique needs of highly skilled immigrant women, as well as further education of hiring managers and recruiters in looking past stereotypes and recognizing the value of foreign credentials brought by female immigrants.

Source: She’s trilingual, has a PhD and loads of work experience. So why was getting a job in Canada an ordeal?

China tightens restrictions and bars scholars from international conferences

Further restrictions of note:

The international conference was supposed to gather some of the most promising and most established Asia studies scholars from across the world in lush Honolulu.

Instead, at least five Chinese scholars based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were prevented from attending virtual events via Zoom, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

They said Chinese security officers and education officials directly intervened, citing education regulations published during a global coronavirus pandemic which require all Chinese scholars to receive university permission to attend any international event in-person or online.

“After years of encouraging and funding PRC scholars to participate internationally, the intensifying controls of recent years are now full-scale, and academic work, at least on China, is to be quarantined from the world,” saidJames Millward, a history professor at Georgetown University who attended the conference. “The doors have slammed shut fast.”

The conference, which ended last weekend, was an annual gathering organized by the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), one of the largest membership-based organizations in the field. For emerging scholars as well as more senior academics, the conference is an opportunity to network and to hear the latest research on Asian countries across a variety of disciplines.

Because of the ongoing COVID pandemic, AAS decided this year to hold a mix of in-person events and online-only panels.

In one case, a group of police officers visited the home of a scholar in China after they had presented their research paper to an online Zoom panel earlier in the week, questioning the scholar for hours, in part because they considered the title of the paper “incorrect.”

“It was deeply frightening,” said one academic who attended the panel but requested anonymity to protect the identity of the scholar involved.

NPR reviewed the paper but is not publishing its title or subject to protect the identity of the writer. The paper did not touch on subjects which Chinese authorities normally consider sensitive, such as human rights, Tibet, Xinjiang or Hong Kong.

Chinese scholars on a separate virtual panel were also told by Chinese university administrators to cancel their presentations. Eventually, they emailed the other attendees to withdraw from the panel due to “medical reasons” but hoped to partake in AAS events again “in less sensitive times,” according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident.

“Topics that have seemingly been considered nonpolitical are now being yanked or deemed not permissible to be exchanging with international colleagues,” said another academic who attended the panel who also did not want to be named so as not to identify the Chinese scholars impacted.

Strict COVID prevention policies had already stymied the volume of intellectual exchanges between the PRC and the rest of the world. Those who study China have found themselves isolated by border closures that have made travel to and from China nearly impossible, rendering archives and field sites in China inaccessible for the last two years and counting.

Since 2016, China’s education ministry has required its academics to seek university approval for all overseas trips and collaborations. In September 2020, universities began applying these rules for online events held by international organizations, as well, though such rules had not been extensively enforced until now.

Academics say these controls will further deplete the already-sparse exchanges between China and the rest of the world while hobbling the careers of young Chinese scholars.

“We have already been anxious, because for those of us in modern China studies, it’s been two years with no end in sight about when we might be able to return to the archives,” said a third academic who went to the AAS conference. “You keep thinking maybe things will get better, so after the [Winter] Olympics, after [October’s Chinese Communist] Party Congress, there will be a loosening of restrictions, but unfortunately it continues to worsen.”

The AAS said it was aware some PRC-based scholars were prevented from attending and now is trying to ascertain exactly how many scholars were impacted. “The AAS firmly supports the right of scholars worldwide to take part in the free exchange of ideas and research through conferences and other forms of academic cooperation,” the association said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

AAS has previously come under heightened scrutiny within China. In March 2021, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sanctioned a member of one of AAS’ governing councils because of her research examining Chinese state policy in the region of Xinjiang, where authorities had detained hundreds of thousands of mostly ethnic Uyghurs. The academic, Joanne Smith Finley, had organized two panels on Xinjiang for the annual AAS conference just days earlier.

Source: China tightens restrictions and bars scholars from international conferences

U.S. immigration agency moves to cut 9.5 million-case backlog and processing delays

Not only Canada that has backlog problems:

The Biden administration on Tuesday is announcing three measures to reduce a growing multimillion-case backlog of immigration applications that has crippled the U.S. government’s ability to process them in a timely fashion, a senior U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official told CBS News.

The agency plans to expand the number of applicants who can pay extra fees to have their immigration petitions adjudicated more quickly, propose a rule that would provide relief to immigrants waiting for work permit renewals and set processing time goals, the official said, requesting anonymity to detail the measures before a formal announcement.

USCIS adjudicates requests for work permits, asylum, green cards, U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits, including the temporary H-1B program for highly skilled foreign workers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

The agency, which is largely funded by fees, has struggled with application bottlenecks and processing delays for years. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially led to a shutdown of most global travel, a drop in applications and a suspension of in-person interviews and other services, greatly exacerbated those issues.

As of February, USCIS was reviewing more than 9.5 million pending applications, a 66% increase from the end of fiscal year 2019, according to agency data.

The growing case backlog has dramatically extended application processing delays, trapping many immigrants — from asylum-seekers and green card applicants to would-be U.S. citizens — in a months- or years-long legal limbo that can force them to lose their jobs, driver’s licenses and sources of income.

“USCIS remains committed to delivering timely and fair decisions to all we serve,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said Tuesday. “Every application we adjudicate represents the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their critical immediate needs such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”

The new measures

Among USCIS’s new measures is a rule to expand “premium processing,” which allows certain applicants to pay $2,500 in extra fees to have their cases reviewed on an expedited basis. Currently, the service is limited to certain applications, including H-1B petitions and some employment-based green card requests.

The rule, set to take effect in 60 days, will expand premium processing to additional employment-based green card applications, all work permit petitions and temporary immigration status extension requests, allowing applicants to pay $2,500 to have their cases adjudicated within 45 days.

Premium processing will expand gradually, starting with work-based green card petitions for multinational executives or managers and professionals with advanced degrees or “exceptional ability” who are requesting a waiver that allows them to immigrate to the U.S. without having a job offer, which is typically required.

The senior USCIS official said the phased implementation will ensure other applications are not delayed by the premium processing expansion, which was authorized by Congress in 2020, when the agency faced a fiscal crisis that threatened to furlough 13,000 employees.

“We can’t just shift all our resources to premium filers, while everybody else suffers,” the official said.

USCIS is also unveiling another rule to provide temporary relief to immigrants affected by the work authorization delays by extending the period of automatic work permit extensions for those who apply for a renewal, the senior agency official said. The rule was recently submitted to the White House for review.

Currently, most work permit holders who apply for renewals are eligible for an automatic 180-day extension if their authorization to work lapses. However, many immigrants are waiting for their work permit renewals longer than that, often beyond 10 months, USCIS figures show.

“We’re regularly unable to adjudicate these renewals, not just by the expiration date, but by those 180 days past the expiration date,” the USCIS official said.

USCIS’ third measure includes hiring more caseworkers and improving processing technology to meet new timelines for adjudicating applications, which it believes it can achieve by September 2023. USCIS currently has several thousand job vacancies, according to agency data.

The agency will instruct caseworkers to try to adjudicate requests for temporary work programs, such as H-1B and H-2A visas for agricultural workers, within two months. Requests for work permits, travel documents and temporary status extensions or changes should be reviewed within three months.

According to the new processing guidelines, USCIS officers should adjudicate other applications, including those for U.S. citizenship, DACA renewals and green card requests for immigrants sponsored by U.S. family members or employers, within six months.

“It’s pretty unprecedented for the director of USCIS to say to the entire agency, to the entire workforce, ‘Our processing times are too long, it’s inhibiting us from delivering on our mission and so here are the goals that the entire agency is going to pursue and is going to achieve,'” the USCIS official said.

“You’re always worried”

Jairo Umana, a political dissident from Nicaragua seeking U.S. asylum, has been waiting for his work permit to be renewed for nearly a year. Because his permit expired, he’s working as a roofer in the Miami area using the 180-day automatic work authorization extension. But that is also set to expire on April 14.

As the sole provider for his two children, Umana said he’s worried about losing his work authorization and driver’s license, which is tied to his work permit.

“It is stressful. You’re always worried,” Umana told CBS News in Spanish. “Being out of work triggers a chain reaction: there’s no income, there’s no money for rent, there’s no food.”

The backlog of applications before USCIS is part of a broader logjam plaguing the immigration system. The Justice Department is currently overseeing 1.7 million unresolved court cases of immigrants facing deportation, while the State Department is handling a backlog of over 400,000 immigrant visa applicants waiting for interviews at U.S. consulates, which limited operations during the pandemic.

The Biden administration has vowed to reduce these backlogs, which it partially attributes to Trump-era policies that cut legal immigration and placed more immigrants in deportation proceedings. USCIS has made bureaucratic changes aimed at speeding up processing, but it still relies on paper records and forms.

As part of a massive spending bill passed by Congress earlier this month, USCIS received more than $400 million to address processing delays and application backlogs. On Monday, President Biden asked Congress to give USCIS another $765 million in fiscal year 2023 to finance the backlog reduction effort.

Conchita Cruz, co-founder of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), an organization that works with more than 280,000 immigrants who requested U.S. asylum, called USCIS’ proposal to prolong automatic work permit extensions a “huge victory.”

“This extension will not only help ASAP members, but will benefit asylum seekers, other immigrant workers, as well as their employers and the communities that rely on their work as doctors, construction workers, truck drivers, software engineers and more,” Cruz said.

Lynden Melmed, the top lawyer at USCIS during the George W. Bush administration, said Tuesday’s announcement shows the agency recognizes the urgency of its case backlog and processing crisis — and its humanitarian impact on applicants and economic consequences on U.S. employers.

“At a time where every company is struggling to find workers, it is rubbing salt to a wound to have to terminate a worker because the government can’t process a four-page application in over a year,” Melmed told CBS News.

Source: U.S. immigration agency moves to cut 9.5 million-case backlog and processing delays

Why US Population Growth Is in the Danger Zone

Always struck by the lack of thinking and analysis regarding options and approaches on living with a declining population. A larger population is not good for the planet from any number of perspectives, and even advantages at the country level are mixed at best.

Just as we have to do with climate change, we need to consider what a mix of curbing growth and mitigating the impacts would look like, how to manage transitions and address externalities:

The U.S. population grew at the slowest pace in history in 2021, according to census data released last week. That news sounds extreme, but it’s on trend. First came 2020, which saw one of the lowest U.S. population-growth rates ever. And now we have 2021 officially setting the all-time record.

U.S. growth didn’t slowly fade away: It slipped, and slipped, and then fell off a cliff. The 2010s were already demographically stagnant; every year from 2011 to 2017, the U.S. grew by only 2 million people. In 2020, the U.S. grew by just 1.1 million. Last year, we added only 393,000 people.

What’s going on?

A country grows or shrinks in three ways: immigration, deaths, and births. America’s declining fertility rate often gets the headline treatment. Journalists are obsessed with the question of why Americans aren’t having more babies. And because I’m a journalist, be assured that we’ll do the baby thing in a moment. But it’s the other two factors—death and immigration—that are overwhelmingly responsible for the collapse in U.S. population growth.

First, we have to talk about COVID. The pandemic has killed nearly 1 million Americans in the past two years, according to the CDC. Tragically and remarkably, a majority of those deaths happened after we announced the authorization of COVID vaccines, which means that they were particularly concentrated in 2021. Last year, deaths exceeded births in a record-high number of U.S. counties. Never before in American history have so many different parts of the country shrunk because of “natural decrease,” which is the difference between deaths and births.

Excess deaths accounted for 50 percent of the difference in population growth from 2019 to 2021. That’s a clear sign of the devastating effect of the pandemic. But this statistic also tells us that even if we could had brought excess COVID deaths down to zero, U.S. population growth would still have crashed to something near an all-time low. To understand why, we have to talk about the second variable in the population equation: immigration.

As recently as 2016, net immigration to the United States exceeded 1 million people. But immigration has since collapsed by about 75 percent, falling below 250,000 last year. Immigration fell by more than half in almost all of the hot spots for foreign-born migrants, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco

Some of this reduction is a result of economic factors; immigration from Latin America has slowed as those economies have grown. Some of it is epidemiological; immigration declined around the world because of COVID lockdowns. But much of this is an American policy choice. The Trump administration worked to constrain not only illegal immigration but also legal immigration. And the Biden administration has not prioritized the revitalization of pro-immigration policy, perhaps due to fears of a xenophobic backlash from the center and right.

America’s bias against immigration is self-defeating in almost every dimension. “Immigration is a geopolitical cheat code for the U.S.,” says Caleb Watney, a co-founder of the Institute for Progress, a new think tank in Washington, D.C. “Want to supercharge science? Immigrants bring breakthroughs, patents, and Nobel Prizes in droves. Want to stay ahead of China? Immigrants drive progress in semiconductors, AI, and quantum computing. Want to make America more dynamic? Immigrants launch nearly 50 percent of U.S. billion-dollar start-ups. The rest of the world is begging international talent to come to their shores while we are slamming the door in their face.”

Finally, yes, Americans are having fewer babies—like basically every other rich country in the world. Since 2011, annual births have declined by 400,000. Two years ago, I wrote that “the future of the city is childless,” and the pandemic seems to have accelerated that future. Just look at Los Angeles: L.A. County recorded 153,000 live births in 2001 but fewer than 100,000 in 2021. At this rate, sometime around 2030, L.A. births will have declined by 50 percent in the 21st century.

Declining births get a lot of media coverage, with mandatory references to Children of Men, followed by mandatory references to Matrix-style birthing pods, followed by inevitable fights over whether it’s creepy for dudes like me to talk academically about raising a nation’s collective fertility. My personal opinion is that wanting and having children is a personal matter for families, even as the spillover effects of declining fertility make it a very public issue for the overall economy.

The fact that declining fertility is a global trend suggests that it’s not something we can easily reversed by mimicking another country’s politics or culture. Around the world, rising women’s education and employment seem to correlate with swiftly declining birth rates. In just about every possible way you could imagine, this is a good thing: It strongly suggests that economic and social progress give women more power over their bodies and their lives.

But I should stress that declining fertility isn’t always a sign of female empowerment, as indicated by the large and growing gap between the number of children Americans say they want and the number of children they have. There are many potential explanations for this gap, but one is that the U.S. has made caring for multiple children too expensive and cumbersome for even wealthy parents, due to a shortage of housing, the rising cost of child care, and the paucity of long-term federal support for children.

The implications of permanently slumped population growth are wide-ranging. Shrinking populations produce stagnant economies. Stagnant economies create wonky cultural knock-on effects, like a zero-sum mentality that ironically makes it harder to pursue pro-growth policies. (For example, people in slow-growth regions might be fearful of immigrants because they seem to represent a threat to scarce business opportunities, even though immigration represents these places’ best chance to grow their population and economy.) The sector-by-sector implications of declining population would also get very wonky very fast. Higher education is already fighting for its life in the age of remote school and rising tuition costs. Imagine what happens if, following the historically large Millennial cohort, every subsequent U.S. generation gets smaller and smaller until the end of time, slowly starving many colleges of the revenue they’ve come to expect.

Even if you’re of the dubious opinion that the U.S. would be better off with a smaller population, American demographic policy is bad for Americans who are alive right now. We are a nation where families have fewer kids than they want; where Americans die of violence, drugs, accidents, and illness at higher rates than similarly rich countries; and where geniuses who want to found new job-creating companies are forced to do so in other countries, which get all the benefits of higher productivity, higher tax revenue, and better jobs.

Simply put, the U.S. has too few births, too many deaths, and not enough immigrants. Whether by accident, design, or a total misunderstanding of basic economics, America has steered itself into the demographic danger zone

Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the Work in Progress newsletter. He is also the author of Hit Makers and the host of the podcast Plain English.

Source: Why US Population Growth Is in the Danger Zone

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 30 March Update

Numbers from China continue to climb. New omicron variant showing up in increased infections in G7 countries and in some provinces (uneven testing hides some of the change).

Vaccinations: Some minor shifts but convergence among provinces and countries but minimal increases to overall vaccination rates. Canadians fully vaccinated 82.9 percent, compared to Japan 79.7 percent, UK 73.9 percent and USA 66.3 percent.

Immigration source countries: China fully vaccinated 88.8 percent, India 60.6 percent, Nigeria 4.8 percent, Pakistan 47 percent, Philippines 609 percent.

Trendline Charts:

Infections: Increased number of infections due to omicron variant in G7 countries with most Canadian provinces having lower rates of increase save for Atlantic Canada.

Deaths: No relative changes.

Vaccinations: China ahead (again) of Atlantic Canada, Japan ahead of Prairies.


Infections: Germany ahead of California.

Deaths: No relative change.

The invasion of Ukraine is making life difficult for right-wing populists

Reality dawns, hopefully marking a permanent shift:

It was the sort of crowd you might expect on Amsterdam’s Leidseplein, around the corner from the Bulldog Palace marijuana café. Several dozen demonstrators—awkward young men, middle-aged couples and ageing hippies—turned out on March 13th to support Forum for Democracy (fvd), a far-right populist party that thinks covid is a hoax and blames Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the West. A DJ played electronic dance music atop a trailer festooned with posters of Thierry Baudet, the fvd’s leader, a dandyish Eurosceptic with a phd in legal philosophy. The party has five seats in the Netherlands’ 150-seat parliament.

Soon Mr Baudet’s ally, Willem Engel, a dreadlocked salsa-dance instructor and covid-sceptic internet influencer, took the stage. “We cannot let ourselves get dragged into a war,” said Mr Engel, denouncing Dutch shipments of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine’s defenders. The media, he said, was whipping up hatred towards Russians just as the Nazis had towards Jews. (“Ach, the media”, tutted a woman in the crowd.)

Source: The invasion of Ukraine is making life difficult for right-wing populists

Canadian Real Estate Fuelled or Cooled by Immigration Policy? 

From the recent report by Re/Max Canada, the Conference Board and CIBC, largely cheerleading the government’s increased immigration levels but emphasizing the need for more trades in the mix of immigrants to help address labour shortages in construction:

SCENARIO: Canada fulfils its commitment to welcome more than 400,000 immigrants per year to the country with a continued emphasis on integrating Economic Immigrants who generally have higher education, English and French skills, and prior Canadian work or study experience.

“Immigration produces significant benefits for the Canadian economy as a whole and helps meet the labour market needs of particular communities and sectors. Canada’s system excels at selecting immigrants who have a high likelihood of long-term economic success. However, the system could improve by selecting more immigrants to fit specific, chronic labour market needs. In particular, a focus on immigrants with skills in the trades and construction could help address severe labour shortages that limit housing supply,” says Iain Reeve, Associate Director, Immigration Research, Conference Board of Canada.

Canadian real estate and immigration_Immigrants welcomed to CanadaResearch by the Conference Board of Canada has shown that higher immigration levels can benefit the Canadian economy with greater GDP and public revenues [Note: Overall GDP not per capita GDP]. CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada agree that the Canadian economy needs a minimum of 400,000-plus new immigrants annually to sustain our economic vibrancy.

In fact, despite the pandemic, Canada accepted approximately 405,000 new Canadians in 2021. According to Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC Capital Markets, what is not often reported is that 70 per cent of the 2021 cohort were already established in Canada and approximately 50 per cent of the 2022 immigrants will be in-country. The key insight here is that we are not looking at 400,000-plus net new individuals settling anew in Canada with housing needs, but approximately half that number. They have been students and non-permanent residents with employment, promising prospects for employment and all with housing. 

New immigrants are not the only factor to consider in determining housing demand. The formula is complicated and often does not look at things such as immigrants already living in Canada and Canadian students in temporary housing. To get an accurate measure of housing demand, further refinement is needed to housing data collection methods, according to both CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada.  

As Tal explains, the profile of new Canadians is quite distinct from historical immigrant cohorts. Many have higher educational credentials and Canadian work experience. For example, just 10,000 new immigrants in 2015 held a post-graduate work permit, versus more than 88,000 in 2021, according to data compiled by the Conference Board.

Canadian real estate and immigration_Immigrants who are homeownersIt takes 10 years for immigrants to have earnings that are commensurate with their skills, education, and experience when compared to similar Canadian-born workers. According to Tal, that time has decreased by approximately half. In part, this is a result of Ottawa’s emphasis on economic immigrants and better immigrant support systems. This means that new immigrants can land on their feet faster and participate in the Canadian economy in various ways, such as entering into Canadian real estate ownership. In 2021, 38 per cent of homeowners in Canada were immigrants.

However, as both CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada state, Canada’s immigration levels alone are not an issue. There is a missed opportunity by not selecting more immigrants who are trained in the trades, where all regions across Canada are experiencing a deep labour shortage. 

In reference to the construction sector alone, BuildForce Canada reported that 90,000 workers will be leaving the workforce in the next five to 10 years due to retirement. Yet, Canada has not accepted enough skilled trade immigrants in 2021 to fill these labour market gaps, according to the Conference Board of Canada. This will impact Canada’s ability to fulfill the new housing and affordable housing starts as predicted by the federal government.

“Currently, Canada’s federal immigration policy does not link with the country’s labour market needs and that will be a mounting problem in our capacity to build enough homes to meet the high demand over the next five years,” says Tal. “It’s all fine to table policy to improve our national housing affordability crisis by promising to build more homes and affordable housing — it’s critical — but it’s superfluous when you don’t have the skilled workers
to build it.”

“For several years now, RE/MAX Canada has been advocating for a coherent and achievable national housing strategy to calm red-hot price increases and more importantly, to improve affordability for a greater diversity of buyers and renters,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Canada. “Yet, as the experts at CIBC and The Conference Board show, our current immigration policy is lacking sufficient linkages with labour demands and as such is not set-up as successfully as it could be. Immigration policy should help support our labour demands.” 

Source: Canadian Real Estate Fuelled or Cooled by Immigration Policy?

Canada to offer language training, employment assistance to Ukrainians fleeing war

Significant change, one that continues to blur the previous lines between temporary residents, previously not able to access settlement services, and Permanent Residents who were, as well as highlighting the preferential treatment of Ukrainian nationals compared to others fleeing from their country.

Reality, both policy (the distinction between temporary and permanent has become increasingly arbitrary given that most new Permanent Residents are not former temporary residents) and political (the size and influence of Ukrainian Canadians), results in a major change.

The government will help Ukrainians arriving in Canada find a job and learn to speak English or French, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Monday.

Applications opened March 17 for a program to allow an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing war in their home country to come to Canada for up to three years while they decide whether they want to apply for permanent residency.

Those who are approved can work or study in Canada during their stay.

The Immigration Department says nearly 60,000 Ukrainians and their family members have applied for the program so far.

“We’re expanding the federal settlement program to offer key services such as language training, orientation, employment assistance and other supports for Ukrainians as they settle into their new communities,” Fraser said as part of a series of Tweets Monday.

More details are expected Tuesday.

The department estimated it would take about two weeks to process each application, so Ukrainians could begin to arrive under the new program as early as this weekend.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked a mass exodus of mainly women and children who fled the violence that erupted one month ago.

The UN refugee agency estimates 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24.

The temporary program for people who have left Ukraine is unlike the regular process for refugees, which includes help to find housing and community orientation.

Fraser’s department is working on more ways to help settle the potentially thousands of Ukrainians who could come to Canada over the next several weeks.

“We’ll continue to support Ukrainians, before and after they arrive in Canada,” the minister tweeted.

Beginning Friday, help will be available at certain airports to welcome Ukrainians, with assistance and arrival information in their language.

The Ukrainian Congress has called on the government to provide the new arrivals with financial support for food and shelter during a three-month transitional period.

On Monday the government announced a special grant program for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers affected by the invasion.

“We are establishing this measure as another way of demonstrating our support for Ukraine, to help Ukrainian researchers and students working in Canada to continue their important work,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.

“It will also help protect the future growth of the Ukrainian scientific community.”

The program will provide grants of up to $45,000 for Ukrainians who wish to continue their studies and research in Canada, as well as Ukrainians in Canada who can’t return home because of the war.

Source: Canada to offer language training, employment assistance to Ukrainians fleeing war

Some passports are better than others. Here’s a list of the most powerful ones

Like so many of these passport or citizenship indexes, this is largely a promotion to attract new clients to a firm, in this case, Nomad Capitalist, whose tagline is “We offer holistic strategies to help successful entrepreneurs and investors legally reduce their tax bill, create a Plan B, and grow their wealth globally.”

Unfortunately, the detailed methodology and full report was not on their website at time of posting. However, one factor that impacted Canada along with Australia and other countries was the degree to which they had relatively stricter COVID travel restrictions:

A new index ranks Luxembourg as the top passport in the world for aspiring global citizens.

The small European country ranked No. 1 out of 199 places in the “Nomad Passport Index 2022” published by the tax and immigration consultancy Nomad Capitalist.

While many passport rankings focus solely on visa-free travel, this index adds taxation, global perception, ability to obtain dual citizenship and personal freedoms into its scoring.

“I don’t think visa-free travel is all that matters,” said CEO Andrew Henderson.

For example, U.S. and Canadian passports are similar in terms of travel strength, he said. However, “if you’re an American, you’re subject to taxes … no matter where you live, and so those two passports should not be ranked next to each other.”

Five factors

Here is the index’s methodology:

Regarding tax policies, 10 points were assigned to places with worldwide taxation (United States) and 50 points for those with no tax (United Arab Emirates). Those that placed other tax restrictions on passport holders scored somewhere in between.

The list

Here’s the top 50 list:

The top 10 rankings remained unchanged from last year, with the half-point difference between No. 1 Luxembourg and No. 2 Sweden coming down to “one extra country visa,” said Henderson.

Taxes are high in both countries, “but if you want to leave, it’s relatively flexible,” he said. Both countries are perceived well globally and rank highly for personal freedom, said Henderson, noting Sweden demonstrated the latter with its hands-off approach to the pandemic.

The complete list can be viewed at Nomad Capitalist’s website.

What changed in the past year?

Nearly 85% of the places in the top 30 list are in Europe.

What’s notable, said Henderson, is that countries like Malta, Iceland and Slovakia — places “that people don’t often talk about” in terms of passport strength — hold their own against powerhouses such as Italy and Germany. They also score above countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and United States.

Vanuatu slipped from tied for 69th place in 2021 to 85th this year, after the Council of the European Union partially suspended its visa waiver agreement with the island nation earlier this month. The decision was prompted by concerns that Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes — which allow people to obtain citizenship in exchange for $130,000 investments in the islands — posed a security threat to the EU, according to the Council’s website.

Citizenship was granted to people on the Interpol database and rejection rates were “extremely low,” according to the website.

A ‘passport portfolio’

It’s not necessarily the case that the higher a country’s passport ranking, the more suitable it is for someone looking to obtain a second or third citizenship there, said Henderson.

People generally build a “passport portfolio” for one of two reasons: to reduce their taxes or to have a back-up residency plan. A Luxembourg citizenship likely won’t serve either of these groups, he said.

But citizenship in Portugal, the Caribbean or Malta may — especially for people in the second group.

The index also demonstrates that some countries’ passports are stronger than people realize.

“There are passports that people don’t realize are actually pretty good,” he said. “Malaysia barely beats out the United States, which is very interesting … Everyone I’ve ever met from Central America doesn’t like their passport … [but] Central American passports are actually pretty good quality.”

Source: Some passports are better than others. Here’s a list of the most powerful ones

Employment Equity Act Review: My submission