2022 in review and looking ahead: immigration and related issues

2022 was characterized, in many ways, by the failure of governments to anticipate and respond to changed circumstances. Whether it be backlogs in immigration, citizenship and passports, or the overall failure of governments to address pressures on housing, healthcare and infrastructure, virtually every level of government failed to some extent.

What has been encouraging has been greater public commentary on the need for governments to address these pressures (externalities) even if the most governments remain in denial or at least silent, with the current approach, across all governments save Quebec, being the “more the merrier,” both permanent and temporary residents.

As I recently argued, the government’s Annual Report on Immigration needs to include a discussion of these externalities as well as including temporary residents in its planning and targets.

I have continued my monthly updates of immigration-related programs and have been pleased to work with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship in making some of this data more easily accessible. Summary of the recovery across programs below, comparing January-October 2022 with full year 2018, showing already well ahead of 2018 in most programs.

Issues I expect to continue following are foreign interference by governments like China, Iran and Russia, exploitation of international students and ill-guided policies that make this more-and-more a lower-skilled immigration stream, the contrast between Ukrainian refugees and others, the ongoing federal-provincial immigration arguments over relative shares, and, of course, the evolution of public opinion on immigration-related issues.

It will also be interesting to see whether or not the the proposed class action lawsuit by Black public servants is allowed to proceed along with the complaint to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. Whenever I look at the numbers (and will do so again in 2023), Black representation is relatively better than South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino for the EX category, and better than all other groups overall, although there are significant differences among the different occupations. 

The other broader development to watch will be the expected revision of the Employment Equity Act, an act that has, IMO, facilitated and resulted in increased diversity among designated groups.

Citizenship will remain a focus and I am still waiting for the revised citizenship study guide to be released (under the fourth immigration minister!). It will also be interesting to see if the government fulfills its campaign commitment in both the 2019 and 2021 elections to eliminate citizenship fees (that were increased 5 fold by the previous government). Given the current financial pressures, will be interesting to see if the government walks that commitment back, implement it in the forthcoming budget, or do nothing and assume no one will notice (not placing any bets but inaction is the most likely outcome).

I have requested a number of citizenship Census specialized data sets to allow me to update and track change compared to 2016, looking at variety of socioeconomic factors and outcomes.

Lastly, some good news, the complete switch of attitude among political leaders in Hérouxville, the small town that convulsed Quebec with its 2007 xenophobic code of conduct for immigrants, to welcoming immigrants given demographics. Overtime, will likely have broader reverberations and somewhat weaken the differences between Montreal and the regions.

Lastly, on a personal note, we became grandparents for the first time, welcoming a new life into our family.

Best wishes for the holidays and will restart up in January.

Article roundup


Is birth tourism about to return now that travel restrictions have been lifted (Policy Options, 2022), my annual update, showing a further decline compared to pre-pandemic numbers, given the legacy of Canadian travel and Chinese government restrictions.

Disconnect between political priorities and service delivery (The Hill Times, 2022), commentary on a “missing link” between policy and service delivery/implementation.

Passport delays risk undermining our trust in government (The Star, 2022), op-ed on the passport delivery fiasco.


Has immigration become a third rail in Canadian politics? (Policy Options, 2022), my latest, arguing for improvements in the annual levels plan to incorporate temporary workers and include considerations of the externalities of housing, healthcare and infrastructure impacts.

Public opinion on migration could sour amid food insecurity and climate change (Policy Options, 2022), This commentary was developed in the context of a Ditchley conference on food insecurity.

How the government used the pandemic to sharply increase immigration (Policy Options, 2022) My analysis of the government’s actions.

Diversity and Employment Equity

Do MPs represent Canada’s diversity? (Policy Options, 2022) Written jointly with Jerome Black, this analysis confirmed ongoing increases in political representation.

Forthcoming articles early in the new year will look at the political impact of increased diversity at the federal riding level and a comparison of provincial government political representation for the last two provincial elections.

Regg Cohn: Why don’t we recognize Jews as victims of racism?

More on the UofT medical school scandal:

Decades after the University of Toronto’s medical school phased out its racist “Jewish quota,” and atoned for its sins, the faculty is rife with recurring antisemitism. Again.

Next door at Queen’s Park, Ontario’s NDP — which purports to lead the charge against racism — had its own reckoning with antisemitic tropes this year. Again.

Why does the history of hatred keep repeating itself in today’s reality? If Canadians pride themselves on diversity, how does the adversity of antisemitism so often pass unremarked on campus and unnoticed in the media?

It is impossible to ignore a painstaking — and painful — analysis published this month on the pervasive antisemitism still deeply rooted in U of T, all these years after it phased out the racist quota against Jews. The author is a doctor and educational consultant who taught at the medical school, only to be schooled in a pervasive antisemitism harboured by the most erudite professors and brilliant students.

If the best and the brightest can be so thoughtless, we may be in for the worst and darkest of times.

What’s so illuminating about this academic paper, peer-reviewed in the Canadian Medical Education Journal, is that Dr. Ayelet Kuper has immersed herself in the anti-racism pedagogy and paradigm that defines so much teaching and preaching on diversity. An internist and education specialist on faculty, she is also at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

After her appointment as senior adviser on antisemitism at the faculty of medicine, she describes how academic colleagues and student learners continued to manifest their antisemitism with her. Which means antagonists often don’t realize who they are talking to, and being degrading to, until, belatedly, they do.

She goes to the heart of the hatefulness paradox that sometimes prevents anti-racism advocates from showing solidarity: Jews are often (though not always) “white-passing in appearance,” as she describes herself, and therefore sometimes seen as fair game for attack and not entitled to empathy.

“Hateful attitudes about Jews have been on the rise at TFOM (Temerty Faculty of Medicine) for at least three years,” she notes. Across campus, the problem dates to “at least 2016,” when a working group was established.

The most bizarre manifestation of anti-Jewish paranoia and conspiracy theories came when people on campus demanded to know why awareness of antisemitism was “being forced on the students by the Jew who bought the faculty.” This was a reference to James Temerty, the donor after whom the school was named (turns out he’s not Jewish).

“Growing support for antisemitism at TFOM has been carefully reframed since the spring of 2021 as political activism against Israel and as scholarly positions held under the protection of academic freedom. The resultant physician advocacy has, however, been rife with dog-whistles (and) traditional antisemitic tropes.”

Jewish students are expected to denounce and renounce Israel and Zionism in the same breath — which is like demanding a Muslim student denounce, say, a bombing carried out (falsely) in the name of Islam somewhere across the world. New Democratic Party MPP Joel Harden belatedly apologized last month after he asked Jewish constituents to account for Israel’s human rights record.

Kuper describes the phenomenon of “Jew-washing,” when people try to inoculate themselves against allegations of antisemitism by recruiting minority Jewish voices to their cause on campus: “The presence of a very small group of self-identified Jews among those committing acts of antisemitism is used to justify inaction on the part of those who are witness to that antisemitism.”

Against that backdrop, the medical school too often seems paralyzed to the point of impotence. The administration and students too often try to make the problem go away by refusing to recognize Jews as victims of racism.

It’s easy to see why — and to be blinded into inaction. She writes about the “inability to accept Jews as victims of discrimination because of an inaccurate but pervasive belief in Jewish whiteness.”

In fact, first-year medical students are taught that race is a “social (not biological) construct,” and that “there’s nothing inherent in skin colour (or any other physical feature)” to explain racial divisions. “It was simply decided to be important by a group of powerful white Europeans (almost all of whom were also male, Christian, cisgender, and heterosexual).”

Jews were “white-passing,” but could hardly be part of the old “white supremacist” power structure, given that so many were enslaved and slaughtered by Nazis for falling short of Aryan ideals of whiteness; more recently, Jews were targeted alongside Blacks by the latest generation of white supremacists in the 2017 Charlottesville “unite the right” rallies. Yet when diversity training or equity surveys are undertaken, Jews are typically given “no options under the category usually labelled ‘race/ethnicity.’”

Antisemitism may be old news — “the world’s oldest form of hate,” she notes — but it keeps coming back. All these years after the medical school stopped the Jewish quota, which limited their enrolment count on campus, Jews are still not counted when the administration measures antisemitism and discrimination.

Such is the paradox of “white-passing” in our diversity paradigm.

Source: Why don’t we recognize Jews as victims of racism?

Iranian accused of sanction-dodging seeks expedited Canadian citizenship 

Methink he does protest too much:

A Toronto man accused by Canada’s intelligence service of helping Iran dodge international sanctions has filed a court case against the government for not granting him citizenship.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has alleged Alireza Onghaei took part in “foreign influenced activities … that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive.”

But Onghaei, 46, an Iranian citizen who owns a house in Vaughan, Ont., claimed in an application to the Federal Court that his quest to become a Canadian citizen had faced “unreasonable” delays.

In the case, filed in Montreal on Nov. 16, Onghaei asked the court to order the government “to render a decision with regards to his citizenship application.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada would not comment.

Onghaei’s lawyer also declined to comment. But reached by phone, Onghaei called the allegations against him “f—king bulls—t.”

He denied admitting to CSIS he had moved millions into Canada for the Iranian regime, and accused the Canadian government of fabricating a case against him to show it was cracking down against Iran.

The government did so to “try to get like more votes from the immigrants,” he said. He said the fact he had initiated the case against the government showed he was innocent.

“It’s logic,” he said.

This is the fifth court case Onghaei has filed against Canada since he arrived in the country as an investor immigrant in 2008 and opened a series of currency exchange businesses in Ontario and B.C.

Already a citizen of both Iran and the Caribbean island nation Saint Kitts and Nevis, he was refused Canadian citizenship in 2018 but appealed.

The CSIS security screening branch interviewed Onghaei in 2019 and wrote in its report that he had admitted to “assisting the government of Iran in the clandestine wiring of monies into Canada.”

According to the report, Onghaei “admitted to having owned a private exchange company that would transfer funds from Bank Saderat and other Iranian financial actors into Canada.”

Bank Saderat is an Iranian state bank sanctioned by Canada and used to “channel funds to terrorist organizations,” CSIS wrote in the report, which was filed in court.

CSIS estimated he had moved “in the millions.”

“For additional clarity, Mr. Onghaei stated that he knows the process of circumventing economic sanctions is clearly illegal. Yet, Mr. Onghaei admitted to having conducted such activities for at least three years,” CSIS wrote.

“On a separate note, Mr. Onghaei stated that if he were to profit from such a relationship, he would ‘gladly’ work for a foreign intelligence service, notably one from Iran,” according to the report.

Onghaei has not been charged over the allegations.

“They have nothing, man,” he said.

He said CSIS would not allow him to record his two-day security screening interview “because they knew they want to lie to the public, they knew they want to report by the bulls—t.”

“Never I did admit, never I did work with the Iranian f—king government.”

He said the government had delayed his citizenship application for nine years. “I have a right to file a court case against them again, that’s all.”

An international organization that has been attempting to identify members and associates of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Canada and the United States said more than half of those uncovered to date had already acquired citizenship.

“The current legal regime in Canada does not address these sorts of cases at all, focusing on a limited number of sanctions and targeted individuals without status in Canada (preventing them from entry or preventing their citizenship),” said Ram Joubin.

“It does not address the security risk that such individuals pose either, due to their past association with the dictatorship in Iran and its various sub-branches,” said Joubin, a B.C. lawyer involved in the group Stop IRGC.

Source: Iranian accused of sanction-dodging seeks expedited Canadian …

Luciuk: Ottawa’s National Holocaust Monument must include Ukrainians

The challenge with all monuments and memorials is to respond to the groups that made the demand for a memorial with other groups that were less central to the atrocities and genocide.

In somewhat crass political terms, Ukrainian Canadians deservedly obtained recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide and funding to commemorate WW1 internment of Ukrainian Canadians and some other groups, just as Jewish and other ethnic groups have received recognition of past historical injustices. And it is churlish to criticize other groups and their memorials:

I’m offended.

My mother was a teenager when the Nazis kidnapped her, one of millions of Ukrainians enslaved by Hitler’s legions. Even so, she was lucky. She survived. Millions did not. Another victim, whom I befriended later in life, was Stefan Petelycky. A Ukrainian nationalist, he was interned in the most notorious Nazi concentration camps. He never forgot what the Germans did to him. He couldn’t. His forearm was branded with Auschwitz tattoo #154922.

Certainly, Ukrainians weren’t the Holocaust’s only victims. Millions of Jews died. Millions of Polish Catholics were murdered. And I acknowledge the Russians who ran afoul of Nazi racism, even if I despise the fascism infecting Russia today. Indeed all Slavic peoples were considered untermenschen (subhumans). The Nazis planned to exterminate or deport most of them, leaving only a few to serve as helots, bond servants of the Third Reich’s settler-colonial imperialism. Thankfully, the Nazis were defeated. Millions of Ukrainians died making sure of that.

Does the federal government know this? I doubt it. Within hours of the official unveiling of the National Holocaust Monument on Sept. 17, 2017, featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly, a controversy erupted over the dedication plaque. Originally, it stated: “The National Holocaust Monument commemorates the millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and honours the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history. This monument recognizes the contributions these survivors have made to Canada and serves as a reminder that we must be vigilant in standing guard against hate, intolerance and discrimination.”

This saccharine inscription was denounced. Now it reads: “The National Holocaust Monument commemorates the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.”

Underscoring Nazi Germany’s responsibility for a genocide is essential. Emphasizing the six million Jewish dead is required. But why, despite almost two dozen other plaques, was the suffering of millions of non-Jewish victims largely ignored?

This becomes even less comprehensible as you discover who is remembered. For example, several hundred Afro-Germans are — yet few, if any, ever ended up here. The same is true of other victim groups, such as Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses. At a time when the federal government goes on and on about being inclusive, why were Ukrainian, Russian and Polish victims excluded, seemingly by design? Did someone decide they were the “collaborators” seemingly targeted by the revised text? That would be grossly unfair: far more of them fell fighting fascism as compared to the few who collaborated.

This could be fixed by adding another plaque. There’s room and a precedent for revising; I’ll even pay for it. So why hasn’t it been done? I have asked more than one minister, more than once, over several years. They don’t answer. Federal promises about how all  the victims would be hallowed were nothing but ballyhoo.

As it stands today, the National Holocaust Monument intentionally ignores the suffering of millions of people. It neglects the contributions many Holocaust survivors made to Canada — among them Stefan Petelycky and Maria Luciuk. At a time when Ukrainians are again defending themselves against a genocidal agenda, this deliberate slight is particularly galling. Why is Pablo Rodriguez, the minister responsible, refusing to address this monument’s discriminatory messaging? Why hasn’t he ordered a revision that would transform this site into a truly inclusive place of memory?

There are too many hungry people out there for me to toss tomato soup at this monument; I’ll donate the can to a food bank instead. Likewise, I won’t indulge in criminal vandalism, like those hooligans who spray-paint statues at night. Armed with the courage of my convictions, I protest in daylight, sans balaclava. As for those stoked-up packs tearing up about tearing down statues — doing so neither erases their purportedly unhappy pasts nor does it compensate for present-day failings.

Frankly, we should all be more grateful for the good country we live in. But, should you come across a publicly funded monument perpetuating a prejudice, let’s talk about it. Meanwhile, redoing the National Holocaust Monument shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, it has been done before.

Lubomyr Luciuk is a Fellow of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto and a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Source: Luciuk: Ottawa’s National Holocaust Monument must include Ukrainians

Francis: Justin Trudeau’s foolhardy immigration targets

Classic example when valid critiques of current immigration policy are limited by ideological blinkers and perspective.
Yes, the Trudeau government is wrong in its approach to immigration as I have argued repeatedly.
But all provinces save Quebec support the increased levels, as does the business community, both larger and smaller companies, along with the “immigration industry” of lawyers, consultants, settlement organizations and many if not most academics in the immigration space.
So rather than directing ire solely at the federal Liberal government, spread it around to more accurately reflect reality:
The Trudeau government aims to let in 465,000 immigrants next year, despite serious shortages in housing and health care. As a percentage of the population, this is higher than most other developed nations and comes at a time when the country faces mounting debt and is likely headed into a recession.
This demographic push began at a weekend gathering in 2011 in Muskoka, Ont., led by Dominic Barton, who served as global managing director of McKinsey & Company before becoming Canada’s ambassador to China for a time, and former BlackRock Inc. honcho Mark Wiseman. They then created a Toronto-based lobbying group called the Century Initiative, which aims to increase Canada’s population to 100 million by 2100. Given sagging birth rates, this would require Canada to accept at least 500,000 immigrants a year, if not more.

Source: Justin Trudeau’s foolhardy immigration targets

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is ballooning to fill the labour gap, but workers say they’re abused and poorly paid. Is that the solution we want?

Of note. The easing of time limits and percentage of workforce changes make no sense apart from appeasing the business community’s wishes for more flexible and less expensive laboour:

David Rodriguez, a 37-year-old cook from Mexico, says he was fired from a Toronto restaurant less than two months after arriving in Canada for standing up to his verbally abusive employer.

Amelia, 37, from Indonesia, says she was fired for telling her employer she was sexually abused by his father while working as a live-in caregiver in his home in Toronto.

Orel, 35, from Jamaica, says he was “treated like a slave” while employed on a farm in the Niagara region for several years, enduring 10- to 12-hour work days seven days a week for seven months straight.

Claudia, 48, from Mexico, says she was threatened with having her contract terminated when she wanted to take time off to recover from illness and see her family.

All four were granted entry to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, which allows Canadian employers to hire migrant workers to fill temporary jobs to address shortages in the labour force. (The Star has granted anonymity to three of the workers and given them pseudonyms as they could face repercussions for speaking publicly.)

For more than 50 years the controversial program has supplied Canadian employers with migrant workers who can be paid less than Canadian workers while often working longer hours with fewer benefits. Now, thanks to an unprecedented labour shortage that has seen the number of job vacancies in the country skyrocket to a record high of nearly one million, the program has been quietly undergoing a massive expansion.

The number of approvals to hire temporary foreign workers shot up by more than 60 per cent in the first half of 2022 over the year before, and in April the federal government loosened restrictions introduced years ago to prevent employers from abusing the program.

Under the new rules, employers across most sectors are now permitted to hire up to 20 per cent of their workforce through the low-wage stream of the program, which pays workers as little as $15 per hour. That’s double the number of workers allowed under the previous 10 per cent cap — and employers such as hotels and fast food restaurants can hire even more, up to 30 per cent of their workforce.

Economists and worker advocates are concerned about the sudden expansion. They told the Star that while the changes help farms, nurseries, restaurants and trucking companies hire more workers when labour is tight, in the process, the program is creating a rapidly-growing second tier of workers without the same basic rights and protections that resident workers have, resulting in abuse and mistreatment of workers who are threatened with deportation if they complain.

“This absolutely creates a two-tier workforce. In many ways that’s what it’s designed to do, is to have this temporary workforce where people are treated simply as workers as opposed to full human beings. They are here to work under conditions that enable them to be exploited and then leave,” said Fay Faraday, a labour and human rights lawyer and professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Amelia came to Canada in 2019 as a live-in care worker. She told the Star she left behind two children to whom she regularly sends money. She has had to endure working 10- to 12-hour days with little time off, often getting paid for only six to eight hours at minimum wage.

Her contracts are precarious and she has often been in the position where she has had to scramble to find a new employer to maintain her status in the country, as was the case when she says she was sexually assaulted by her employer’s father. 

“I have to keep quiet because I have no power here. I live with my employer so I can’t complain. I need to send money back to my children so they can survive, and I need to survive here and pay rent,” Amelia said.

“I had so much hope coming to Canada. But now it’s like I’m in a nightmare. I miss my children, I can’t see them, I can’t touch them. But I have to be strong so I can give them a better life.”

Like Amelia, Orel came to Canada from Jamaica in 2015 to provide for his two children and wife back home, doing seasonal work on a farm in Niagara, harvesting and pruning plums and peaches with about 120 other workers. For several years, Orel said he worked for 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often for several months in a row.

In Ontario, farm employees are not entitled to daily and weekly limits on hours of work, time off between shifts and overtime pay.

“They treated us like animals, like we didn’t have any rights,” Orel said.

He added that if his employers thought workers were too slow, they would threaten them with deportation.

“He (the employer) used it as a weapon every day,” Orel said. “The government calls our work essential, but there’s no way to get permanent residence. It just feels like we’re being used and thrown away, that’s how we’re treated.”

The abuse some temporary workers are enduring today was not part of the original plan.

The program kicked off back in 1973 with the aim of addressing labour shortages for jobs Canadians could not or would not fill, including agricultural workers, domestic workers and highly skilled jobs, such as specialist physicians and professors.

In 2002, the program was expanded to allow companies to apply to bring in foreign workers to fill jobs in new sectors, including food service and hospitality jobs, under the “Low Skill Pilot Project.”

As a result, between 2000 to 2012, the population of temporary foreign workers in Canada more than tripled to 338,213 from 89,746, according to a report by the Metcalf Foundation, authored by Faraday. By 2014, a total of 567,977 people were working with temporary immigration status, the report said. 

Following allegations that McDonald’s was abusing the program in 2014 — which lead to a federal probe — new regulations were implemented by then employment minister for the federal Conservative party, Jason Kenney, which put a cap on the number of foreign workers employers can hire and limited low-wage workers to no more than 10 per cent of a company’s workforce. Employers were also barred from hiring TFWs in regions where the unemployment rate was above six per cent.

Then, in April of this year, the regulations changed again.

In a bid to address a record-high number of job vacancies in the wake of the pandemic, the federal government amended the TFW program to make it easier for employers to access low-wage temporary foreign labour by increasing the number of migrant workers a company can hire.

The latest numbers show Canadian employers are doing just that. According to recent data from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the government department responsible for the TFW program, there was a massive surge in requests from employers to hire foreign workers in the first half of 2022. 

ESDC numbers show that between January and June of this year, employers received 108,595 approvals to hire workers through the program (data for the last two quarters of 2022 have yet to be released). That’s up by more than 60 per cent from the 67,233 approvals granted in the first half of 2021, and more than the pre-pandemic annual total of 108,056 approvals for all of 2018. 

To hire a TFW, an employer must first submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to ESDC for approval, demonstrating that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job. 

Once the LMIA is approved, the worker can apply for a work permit. A single application can include several positions and so one LMIA approval could equate to several worker permits issued, and there is no limit on how many positions an employer can apply for with an LMIA. 

Since 2016, LMIA approvals to hire TFWs have steadily increased, with a slight dip in 2020 due to pandemic closures. In 2021 there were a total of 132,027 approvals, up from 87,760 in 2016.

The majority of approvals in the TFW program are for farm workers. From 2017 to 2021, 249,867 LMIAs for farm workers were approved, according to ESDC data. This number is followed by home child-care providers, which had 22,839 approvals between 2017 to 2021.

Cooks are also in high demand, with 20,614 approvals in the same period. In Q2 of this year, there were 7,644 approvals for positions in accommodation and food services, a leap from the same period in 2021, when there were only 2,979 approvals.

According to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 4,144 work permits were issued for cooks in the TFW program from January to October this year, a steep climb from the 112 work permits issued in 2016, and 1,167 work permits in 2017.

Farm workers in the TFW program had a total of 315,484 work permits issued by IRCC from 2016 to October 2022, the highest number of permits among occupations.

But as the program expands, TFWs continue to live with precarious immigration status and are tied to one employer as a condition of their work permit, which means that complaining about an employer could cost a worker their job and legal status in Canada. 

Without permanent status, the threat of deportation hangs over any worker who dares complain about abusive conditions, making workers vulnerable and hostage to their employers’ demands.

“What we’ve had over the past two decades is a series of tweaks here and there which try to sharpen or smooth off some of the rough edges of the temporary worker program,” Faraday said. “There hasn’t been anything that has addressed fundamentally the way in which the laws we have create precariousness and exploitation of workers.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Julie Lafortune counters that changes have been made to the program to protect workers. She said in an email that as of 2019, foreign workers with an employer-specific work permit are able to apply for an open work permit if they are being mistreated by their current employer.

As well, in September 2022, IRCC and ESDC announced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations concerning TFWs, which mandated that employers provide all TFWs with information about their rights in Canada and prohibited punishment by employers against workers who bring up complaints.

Enforcement of the rules is rare. But last June, Scotlynn Growers — an Ontario farm where a COVID-19 outbreak claimed the life of a migrant worker — was convicted of violating workplace safety laws. The farm pleaded guilty to one count of failing to take all reasonable precautions to protect a worker and will be fined $125,000.

Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, is not convinced that workers are truly protected. He says TFWs in Canada date all the way back to Chinese railroad workers in the 1880s and before, but “we just didn’t call them that.”

“The excuse of a labour shortage is just one of the reasons that are being used to justify the program and to access cheap labour,” Hussan said.

Economists and activists say a worker crisis is developing as the program balloons, creating a surge of cheap labour which disincentivizes companies from raising wages and improving conditions.

“We don’t have a labour shortage. We have a wage shortage because people aren’t being offered the wages they are looking for to take certain jobs,” said Sheila Block, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“What we’re seeing is workers for the first time in decades have a great deal of bargaining power with employers, and that has the potential to improve wages and conditions,” Block said.

“But rather than increase wages and shift the way workers would be organized, the government has instead agreed to increase the number of low-wage workers who have very limited rights.”

Block stressed that foreign labour is not taking any jobs away from Canadians and the solution to protect migrant workers is to grant them permanent status or open work permits at the very least.

“This is not an argument against expanding immigration. It’s an argument against the elements of this policy that create a second tier of workers,” Block said. “We should not bring people into this country to work without providing them with status.”

Claudia, 48, who came to Canada from Mexico in 2021 to work in a lobster shop in New Brunswick, agrees that giving foreign workers the same rights and pay as resident workers is the solution. 

“Many of my friends who I lived with over the last year can’t speak English or have access to a computer. It’s a very sad situation because you don’t have someone who can help you or explain the rules,” Claudia said.

She worked 12-hour shifts, cleaning, weighing, sorting and packaging frozen lobster tails. During the peak summer months, Claudia said worked without any weekends for three months straight.

“When I was sick, they told me to just take a pill and keep working,” Claudia said. “When we come here we don’t know if it’s legal so we just follow the rules or what they tell us.”

Claudia hopes one day she’ll be able to get permanent status in Canada.

“I like Canada. I pay taxes like everybody. I make the economy of the province better, so why don’t I have the same rights?”

Source: Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is ballooning to fill the labour gap, but workers say they’re abused and poorly paid. Is that the solution we want?

Yakabuski: National Gallery mess shows what happens when decolonization goes awry

Thanks to Paul Wells raising the alarm, more commentary. And, while I don’t have any inside information, it strikes me that the previous director who developed the plan and then left just over half-way through her term is blameworthy (strategic thinking vs implementation). Disclosure, some of my father’s prints are in the collection:

The messy and rancorous upheaval at the National Gallery of Canada is the result of efforts to “decolonize” the institution at the pinnacle of the country’s museum hierarchy. But it is hardly an isolated case. Similar battles are playing out at museums across Canada and the West as institutions conceived as repositories of the collective memory are morphing into agents of social change and redefining themselves in the name of reconciliation.

What could go wrong? Plenty. The saga unfolding at the NGC shows what happens when good intentions are undermined by a mixture of naiveté, overzealousness and political score-settling. And make no mistake, the decolonization exercise – aimed at correcting curatorial errors of the past by placing an obsessive emphasis on inclusiveness and Indigenous perspectives – is steeped in politics.

We have entered an age of curatorial activism. Indigenous and minority artists are being co-opted into this exercise to satisfy the agendas of museum directors and, in some cases, their political masters. It follows the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for “a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement further supercharged efforts by museums to feature works from minority artists.

The new approach was evident in the NGC’s Rembrandt in Amsterdam exhibition that ended in 2021, which juxtaposed the 17th-century Dutch master’s work against the crimes of colonialism committed in his era. The museum “took a new curatorial approach by integrating newly commissioned and acquired works from Indigenous and Black artists, bringing multiple voices to contextualize the period in which Rembrandt lived and the devastating impact of colonialism then and now for Indigenous and Black people,” the museum’s annual report explained.

The NGC also went through a rebranding exercise in 2021, led by an advertising agency, that resulted in the adoption of the term Ankosé (an Anishnaabemowin word meaning “everything is connected”) to embody the museum’s new approach. “This powerful word invites us to find hope and joy in difference and encourages us to seek out the perspective and knowledge of those who are not around the table,” said Sasha Suda, then the NGC’s director.

There would be something wrong if major cultural institutions did not seek to question their practices in the face of evolving societal expectations. Things start to go awry, however, when decolonization takes the form of erasure and leads to the purging of those who question its methods, pace and consequences. That, along with an archetypal power struggle among those leading the decolonization effort, is what now appears to be happening at the NGC.

“It is literally a coup d’état. It resembles the Russian Revolution; the methods are the same,” former NGC director Marc Mayer told La Presse last week.

Seven former high-level NGC staffers wrote to Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to denounce the recent dismissal of four senior museum employees by interim director Angela Cassie, as well as the departures of at least half a dozen others during Ms. Suda’s three-year tenure. They warned the NGC risks falling into “irrelevance” as it neglects core aspects of its mandate.

“The message conveyed to Canadian and international audiences in recent years has been sadly devoid of celebrating art, the Gallery’s collections, and its artists, without which there is no National Gallery of Canada,” they wrote. “The newest dismissals of senior staff will impact the security of the artworks, the development of knowledge of the collections and future acquisitions, and the delivery of a world-class exhibition programme.”

For now, the NGC’s board of trustees is standing behind Ms. Cassie. NGC chair Françoise Lyon, appointed by then-heritage minister Mélanie Joly in 2017, last week put out a statement saying that the initiatives around racism, diversity and decolonization are “not politically driven platitudes” and reflect “the sentiments of the government of Canada.” Nothing less.

The decolonization of museums is a culture war for the highbrow set. The International Committee for Museology last year devoted a virtual symposium to the topic, hosted by the Université du Québec à Montréal. The academic papers presented at the event highlighted the tensions within the museum world that decolonization has unleashed.

“This polarisation seems, at first sight, to be similar to the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns that spread through the cultural world in Europe in the 17th century,” UQAM professor Yves Bergeron and Michèle Rivet, vice-chair of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, wrote in an anthology on the symposium. “Ultimately, we believe that the museum is not doomed to disappear … but there is no longer any doubt that museums are most certainly on the road to reform, while a conservative faction seems to be moving towards counter-reform.”

The NGC is Exhibit A, and not in a good way.

Source: National Gallery mess shows what happens when decolonization goes awry

Indian tech workers in Silicon Valley protest immigration discrimination

Of note, another potential advantage for Canada;

With thousands of Central America refugees converging on the U.S. southern border, the issue of immigration is heating up this week.  It’s a fight that usually centers on a fear of Americans losing their jobs. But there are some immigrants who were invited here specifically because their skills are needed and they say even they are being let down by the system.

The thirty or so people who marched in San Jose Sunday were not immigrants demanding to enter this country. They’ve already been here — some for decades. They were recruited from India to work in the Silicon Valley tech industry using H1B visas.  Using H1Bs, employers can legally hire foreign workers who have specific skills and, once here, they usually qualify for a permanent green card within a year or two.  Unless, that is, they come from India…

“We all have applied for a green card and it has been approved.  Only thing is, we need to wait 150 years to get a green card,” said Akhilesh Malavalli.  “A hundred fifty years!  I’ll be dead.  I’ll be dead by the time we see a green card.”

There is a cap on the number of skills-based green cards that can be issued to any one country of origin and there are so many workers from India, getting one has become practically impossible.

Sunday, the workers protested in front of the San Jose home of congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, demanding that she fulfill a promise to bring a bill to the House floor for a vote.  HR 3648 would remove national origin as a consideration for getting a skilled-worker green card.

Source: Indian tech workers in Silicon Valley protest immigration discrimination

Sears: Government secrecy hides corruption and covers for the incompetent. Why do we still allow it?

Good question. Imagine one of the reasons is the fear that media and others may focus more on the “gotcha” quote rather than a deeper read to understand more comprehensively the issues and interests at stake. That being said, I agree that the default should be openness, not the current opacity and delay.

Wonder if that was his position more than 30 years ago when working as Chief of Staff to then Ontario Premier Bob Rae:

Imagine living in a democracy where open access to everything politicians and governments say and do is automatically made public. Where everyone in public service knows that documents are public, unless you can make a persuasive case that a specific file impacts national security or personal privacy, among a short list of exemptions.

A fairy tale? No, Sweden. They’ve governed this way for well over 200 years, ever since King Gustav III staged a coup d’etat and instituted open government in the 18th century, as a means of revealing corruption in Parliament and the judiciary. Today, all Nordic countries have similar commitments to the importance of accessing information.

But this is Canada, where it seems every week we have another minister or official caught in a coverup. Recently, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc were almost insolent in their testimony before a parliamentary committee examining why the government had not investigated reports of political bribery by China. As Global News reports, LeBlanc “could not disclose whether he has been informed of ‘specific cases,’” while Joly “reiterated that both she and (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau were not provided specific information.”

This leaves Canadians with a very unpleasant binary choice: either they are not telling truth, or they are. The latter option begs the more worrying question: why were they not briefed?

Our performance on access to information would be laughable, if it were not so dangerous. One witness, a frustrated information seeker, claimed he had been told the delay in meeting his request would take up to 80 years. Needless to say, when decision-making is done in secret, we do not get better government.

The “Freedom Convoy” inquiry has already revealed the cost of government secrecy. That shambolic, finger-pointing circus showed Canadians in painful detail the efforts by many officials to hide information and pass the buck.

Then the inquiry into the failure of Ottawa’s LRT reported that former mayor Jim Watson and senior staff had been economical with the truth, hiding dozens of serious warning signals about the project. Another failure in secret.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith attempted to legislate a defenestration of Parliament and to govern by decree whenever she chose — an astonishing proposition also brewed in secret. The firestorm caused her to relent within days.

Source: Government secrecy hides corruption and covers for the incompetent. Why do we still allow it?

Encore loin de la représentativité dans la fonction publique québécoise

Of note. But as in the case of the federal government, progress:

Le gouvernement du Québec tarde à atteindre ses objectifs d’accès à l’emploi pour les fonctionnaires des minorités visibles et ethniques. La fonction publique doit ajouter au strict minimum deux milliers d’employés issus de la diversité d’ici l’an prochain, mais le compte à rebours est bien amorcé.

Pour que « l’ensemble de la population du Québec puisse se reconnaître dans la fonction publique », Québec s’était fixé l’objectif que 18 % des employés de l’État fassent partie d’une minorité visible ou ethnique (MVE) en mars 2023. Or, selon des statistiques tout juste rendues publiques, le gouvernement est encore loin du compte.

Le 31 mars 2022, le taux de présence des personnes racisées parmi les quelque 60 000 employés de l’État s’élevait à 15,4 %, révèlent les données du Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor. C’est 1,4 point de pourcentage de plus que l’année précédente (14 %), mais encore loin de la cible réitérée l’an dernier par le Groupe d’action contre le racisme (GACR).

Mis sur pied lors du dernier mandat caquiste, ce comité interministériel n’a pas pu faire le bilan de ses actions en 2022 à temps pour les Fêtes. Celui-ci paraîtra « cet hiver, [donc] en 2023 », a indiqué au Devoir le cabinet du ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme,Christopher Skeete. En décembre 2021, cependant, le ministre responsable de l’époque, Benoit Charette, avait convenu que la fonction publique en faisait « trop peu » en matière d’embauche de personnes racisées.

En quatre ans, la représentativité des personnes issues des MVE au gouvernement a grimpé de 4,1 points de pourcentage.

Des meilleurs aux pires

Le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration remporte, et de loin, la palme de la représentativité. En mars, près de la moitié (46,1 %) de ses employés provenait de la diversité, et l’ensemble de ses objectifs régionaux avaient été atteints. Au second rang : le ministère de la Famille, à 28,4 %, puis l’Économie, à 21,1 %.

Parmi les cancres, le ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs — depuis scindé —, qui comptait dans ses rangs 3,4 % de personnes racisées en mars 2022. Non loin de là, le ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles — lui aussi remanié cet automne — (8,9 %), ainsi que celui de la Culture et des Communications (10,9 %).Interrogé par Le Devoir à ce sujet, le ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs n’a pas répondu dans les temps impartis. Son rapport annuel de gestion 2021-2022 indique cependant que sur 1112 nouvelles embauches, 63 personnes étaient issues des MVE.

Le ministère du Conseil exécutif, qui est piloté par l’équipe du premier ministre, atterrit aussi parmi les moins représentatifs. Au total, 8,3 % de ses employés sont des personnes racisées.

Dans son plan d’action déposé en décembre 2020, le GACR avait formulé cinq recommandations quant à l’emploi des minorités visibles et ethniques. « Pour faire de la fonction publique […] un employeur exemplaire », Québec s’engageait notamment à « négocier et à conclure, d’ici cinq ans, des ententes internationales en matière de reconnaissance des qualifications professionnelles » et à « garantir la présence d’au moins un membre provenant d’une minorité visible au sein de la majorité des conseils d’administration des sociétés d’État ».Le Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor, qui gère l’embauche des fonctionnaires, assure « met[tre] en place des actions pour soutenir les [ministères et organismes] dans l’atteinte des cibles ». « Au printemps et à l’automne 2021, le secrétaire du Conseil du trésor a transmis deux communications aux sous-ministres et aux dirigeants d’organismes afin de dresser le portrait de la situation et les inciter à mettre les efforts nécessaires en vue d’atteindre la cible de 18 % en 2023 », a écrit l’équipe des communications au Devoir vendredi.

Source: Encore loin de la représentativité dans la fonction publique québécoise