IRCC Operational Data – Occupations – Shift toward lower skilled

Given a number of public discussions and advocacy for a permanent residency stream for lower-skilled workers, given labour market pressures, exploitation of Temporary Foreign Workers and the bias/preference of immigration programs towards the higher skilled (justified IMO), I spent some time looking at IRCC’s operational data: Canada – Admissions of Permanent Residents 15 years of age or older by Province/Territory and Intended Occupation (4-Digit NOC 2011), January 2015 – December 2022 .

Taking out the “other” and “occupation not stated” categories, about two-thirds of all data, the data shows a shift over this period towards lower skilled: the percentage of highest skilled (NOC A – Occupations usually require university education) had fallen from 50.6% to 37.2%.

The other skilled category, NOC B – Occupations usually require college education, specialized training or apprenticeship training, increased from 34.9% to 38.8%, with more dramatic increases in lower skilled. NOC C – Occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training, rose from 7.6% to 15.5%, and NOC D – On-the-job training is usually provided for occupations, rose from 6.0% to 8.1%.

The table below provides the annual details.

A (0, 1)31,08528,66531,40541,13544,29024,62039,92542,815
B (2, 321,43519,90524,29027,50532,18519,85580,27044,680
C (4,5)4,6404,0003,9355,6007,6953,03014,92017,905
D (6,7)3,7003,8254,1955,0305,5353,31511,5059,385
Occupation not stated451003520220150240345
Total stated occupations 61,37556,87064,15579,58590,23051,065146,955115,225
A (0, 1)14.5%12.8%13.8%16.1%16.3%16.6%11.9%12.4%
B (2, 310.0%8.9%10.6%10.8%11.9%13.4%23.9%12.9%
C (4,5)2.2%1.8%1.7%2.2%2.8%2.0%4.4%5.2%
D (6,7)1.7%1.7%1.8%2.0%2.0%2.2%3.4%2.7%
Occupation not stated0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.1%0.1%0.1%0.1%
Percentage of stated occupations
A (0, 1)50.6%50.4%49.0%51.7%49.1%48.2%27.2%37.2%
B (2, 334.9%35.0%37.9%34.6%35.7%38.9%54.6%38.8%
C (4,5)7.6%7.0%6.1%7.0%8.5%5.9%10.2%15.5%
D (6,7)6.0%6.7%6.5%6.3%6.1%6.5%7.8%8.1%
A, B85.6%85.4%86.8%86.2%84.8%87.1%81.8%75.9%
C, D13.6%13.8%12.7%13.4%14.7%12.4%18.0%23.7%
IRCC Immigration Occupational Codes Summary

8 of the top 10 occupations that increased the most over this period were NOC C and D, all of which increased by 1,000 percent or more:

4412 – Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations
6541 – Security guards and related security service occupations
6622 – Store shelf stockers, clerks and order fillers
6611 – Cashiers
0601 – Corporate sales managers
3237 – Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment
7247 – Cable television service and maintenance technicians
9461 – Process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing
7514 – Delivery and courier service drivers
6623 – Other sales related occupations
Top 10 Immigration Occupations

Another interesting aspect of the data is the relative lack of variation between the various occupational codes as shown in the following table with the last column showing the change 2015 to 2022. For all occupations, the share of NOC A decreases by an average of 12.4 percent or more, with the share of NOC C increasing by an average of 8.2 percent:

2015201620172018201920202021202220152016201720182019202020212022Change 22-15
0 – ManagementA (0, 1)26,32524,32025,97534,85538,05021,50036,05037,67566.0%66.4%65.4%67.1%64.7%64.4%42.1%53.1%-12.9%
B (2, 38,3906,9707,9959,60012,1257,21032,56518,61521.0%19.0%20.1%18.5%20.6%21.6%38.0%26.3%5.2%
C (4,5)1,6451,6351,6402,6053,4251,4457,0008,1004.1%4.5%4.1%5.0%5.8%4.3%8.2%11.4%7.3%
D (6,7)3,5003,7254,0854,9005,2053,21510,1006,5008.8%10.2%10.3%9.4%8.9%9.6%11.8%9.2%0.4%
1 – Business & AdminA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80063.9%64.4%64.3%66.9%64.7%64.4%41.0%52.2%-11.8%
B (2, 310,0058,65510,27512,19515,0659,28040,77522,74024.9%23.7%26.2%24.0%26.2%28.5%47.5%32.2%7.3%
C (4,5)2,3102,1652,0552,9453,6451,5107,3158,4355.8%5.9%5.2%5.8%6.3%4.6%8.5%12.0%6.2%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,5958002,5452,5755.4%5.9%4.2%3.3%2.8%2.5%3.0%3.6%-1.7%
2 – Sciences A (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80063.1%63.0%63.1%66.6%64.5%63.9%40.6%52.6%-10.5%
B (2, 311,26010,04011,52012,99515,6459,65042,08522,66527.7%26.9%28.8%25.4%27.1%29.4%48.5%32.4%4.7%
C (4,5)1,6051,5901,5602,4403,2451,3756,9057,9503.9%4.3%3.9%4.8%5.6%4.2%8.0%11.4%7.4%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,5958002,5452,5755.3%5.8%4.1%3.3%2.8%2.4%2.9%3.7%-1.6%
3 – HealthA (0, 1)27,46525,47027,90536,65539,04521,69535,99038,15068.3%69.7%71.2%73.5%70.3%70.5%45.3%55.4%-13.0%
B (2, 38,6907,0557,8308,85511,3306,75532,55518,19021.6%19.3%20.0%17.8%20.4%22.0%41.0%26.4%4.8%
C (4,5)1,8701,8701,7802,6953,5451,5058,3109,9754.7%5.1%4.5%5.4%6.4%4.9%10.5%14.5%9.8%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,5958002,5452,5755.4%5.9%4.2%3.3%2.9%2.6%3.2%3.7%-1.6%
4 – Education  & GovtA (0, 1)28,60525,94527,95537,67541,58523,32538,22540,59068.6%68.8%70.0%72.4%68.5%69.3%44.6%54.7%-13.9%
B (2, 38,4457,3107,9609,22512,1357,28034,52019,35520.2%19.4%19.9%17.7%20.0%21.6%40.2%26.1%5.8%
C (4,5)2,5052,2652,3953,5055,4202,25510,50011,7006.0%6.0%6.0%6.7%8.9%6.7%12.2%15.8%9.8%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,5958002,5452,5755.2%5.7%4.1%3.2%2.6%2.4%3.0%3.5%-1.7%
5 – Arts culture & SportA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80067.5%67.8%68.3%71.1%68.4%68.3%44.9%55.7%-11.8%
B (2, 38,5957,4308,5159,75512,3257,53033,75018,73522.6%21.4%23.1%20.4%22.7%24.6%43.1%28.4%5.8%
C (4,5)1,6051,5901,5602,4403,2451,3756,9057,9504.2%4.6%4.2%5.1%6.0%4.5%8.8%12.0%7.8%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,5958002,5452,5755.7%6.2%4.5%3.5%2.9%2.6%3.2%3.9%-1.8%
6 – Sales and serviceA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80065.1%66.1%65.4%67.6%64.7%64.6%40.2%50.3%-14.8%
B (2, 39,3057,9759,76511,67514,7709,05040,97022,18523.6%22.4%25.3%23.2%25.7%27.9%46.8%30.3%6.7%
C (4,5)2,1151,8801,8652,8703,7051,5407,7459,1655.4%5.3%4.8%5.7%6.4%4.8%8.8%12.5%7.2%
D (6,7)2,3102,2151,7351,7701,8608753,6904,9655.9%6.2%4.5%3.5%3.2%2.7%4.2%6.8%0.9%
7 – Trades, transport and equipment operatorsA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80064.3%65.8%67.2%70.8%67.9%68.7%42.3%53.4%-10.9%
B (2, 310,3658,3459,0059,86512,6457,31537,91020,41026.0%23.3%24.0%20.5%23.1%24.0%45.6%29.6%3.6%
C (4,5)1,7051,7051,6002,4853,2901,3907,4408,9004.3%4.8%4.3%5.2%6.0%4.6%8.9%12.9%8.6%
D (6,7)2,1852,2001,6751,6851,6358202,6752,8205.5%6.1%4.5%3.5%3.0%2.7%3.2%4.1%-1.4%
8 – Natural resources, agricultureA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80068.2%68.8%70.2%72.7%69.7%70.2%46.0%56.3%-11.9%
B (2, 38,0806,8657,4208,54011,1756,67531,67517,62521.5%20.1%20.6%18.2%20.9%22.4%41.4%27.0%5.5%
C (4,5)1,7401,6651,6552,6003,4001,4107,0708,2854.6%4.9%4.6%5.6%6.4%4.7%9.2%12.7%8.1%
D (6,7)2,1602,1651,6501,6651,6008002,5852,6455.7%6.3%4.6%3.6%3.0%2.7%3.4%4.0%-1.7%
9 – Manufacturing and utilitiesA (0, 1)25,65523,53525,21534,02537,19520,95035,17036,80068.1%69.0%70.0%72.3%69.2%70.0%45.3%55.7%-12.4%
B (2, 37,8256,4557,2758,37510,9556,57532,01517,47520.8%18.9%20.2%17.8%20.4%22.0%41.2%26.5%5.7%
C (4,5)1,9851,9451,8652,9753,9801,6007,8758,9955.3%5.7%5.2%6.3%7.4%5.3%10.1%13.6%8.4%
D (6,7)2,1852,1801,6501,6701,6158052,6352,7555.8%6.4%4.6%3.5%3.0%2.7%3.4%4.2%-1.6%
Immigration NOC Codes breakdown by skill level and occupation.

Unfortunately, WordPress tables do not allow table formatting so if interested, will send the spreadsheets on request. Pdf below:

Ram: Can ideology-detecting algorithms catch online extremism before it takes hold?

Intriguing. Likely the same techniques could be used with respect religiously-inspired extremism and “woke” extremism:

Ideology has always been a critical element in understanding how we view the world, form opinions and make political decisions. 

However, the internet has revolutionised the way opinions and ideologies spread, leading to new forms of online radicalisation. Far-right ideologies, which advocate for ultra-nationalism, racism and opposition to immigration and multiculturalism, have proliferated on social platforms.

These ideologies have strong links with violence and terrorism. In recent years, as much as 40% of the caseload of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was related to far-right extremism. This has declined, though, with the easing of COVID restrictions.

Detecting online radicalisation early could help prevent far-right ideology-motivated (and potentially violent) activity. To this end, we have developed a completely automatic system that can determine the ideology of social media users based on what they do online.

How it works

Our proposed pipeline is based on detecting the signals of ideology from people’s online behaviour. 

There is no way to directly observe a person’s ideology. However, researchers can observe “ideological proxies” such as the use of political hashtags, retweeting politicians and following political parties. 

But using ideological proxies requires a lot of work: you need experts to understand and label the relationships between proxies and ideology. This can be expensive and time-consuming. 

What’s more, online behaviour and contexts change between countries and social platforms. They also shift rapidly over time. This means even more work to keep your ideological proxies up to date and relevant.

You are what you post

Our pipeline simplifies this process and makes it automatic. It has two main components: a “media proxy”, which determines ideology via links to media, and an “inference architecture”, which helps us determine the ideology of people who don’t post links to media.

The media proxy measures the ideological leaning of an account by tracking which media sites it posts links to. Posting links to Fox News would indicate someone is more likely to lean right, for example, while linking to the Guardian indicates a leftward tendency. 

To categorise the media sites users link to, we took the left-right ratings for a wide range of news sites from two datasets (though many are available). One was based on a Reuters survey and the other curated by experts at

This works well for people who post links to media sites. However, most people don’t do that very often. So what do we do about them?

That’s where the inference architecture comes in. In our pipeline, we determine how ideologically similar people are to one another with three measures: the kind of language they use, the hashtags they use, and the other users whose content they reshare.

Measuring similarity in hashtags and resharing is relatively straightforward, but such signals are not always available. Language use is the key: it is always present, and a known indicator of people’s latent psychological states. 

Using machine-learning techniques we found that people with different ideologies use different kinds of language. 

Right-leaning individuals tend to use moral language relating to vice (for example, harm, cheating, betrayal, subversion and degradation), as opposed to virtue (care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity), more than left-leaning individuals. Far-right individuals use grievance language (involving violence, hate and paranoia) significantly more than moderates. 

By detecting these signals of ideology, our pipeline can identify and understand the psychological and social characteristics of extreme individuals and communities.

What’s next?

The ideology detection pipeline could be a crucial tool for understanding the spread of far-right ideologies and preventing violence and terrorism. By detecting signals of ideology from user behaviour online, the pipeline serves as an early warning systems for extreme ideology-motivated activity. It can provide law enforcement with methods to flag users for investigation and intervene before radicalisation takes hold.

Source: Ram: Can ideology-detecting algorithms catch online extremism before it takes hold?

USA: Black farmers worry new approach on “race neutral” lending leaves them in the shadows

Interesting discussion from both the substantive perspective (righting historical discrimination) and the politics that broadened eligibility and arguably entrenched discrimination:

Farmers of color across the country, who’d been promised debt cancelation as part of a special program to address racial disparity in lending, rejoiced when they received letters in 2021 in the mail that said their loans with the Agriculture Department would be canceled.

And then, for over a year, there was nothing.

Multiple lawsuits led by white farmers, who said the program discriminated against them for being white, stymied the race-targeted program.

The debt forgiveness was a congressional effort to help USDA make up for a history of discrimination. For decades, farmers of color have filed individual lawsuits, class action lawsuits and congressional testimony against the department. And for decades, rulings and reports have repeatedly concluded that USDA’s lending practices have been discriminatory.

Now, USDA is in the process of rolling out a second, newer, program passed by Congress as a part of the Inflation Reduction Act. But the $3.1 billion now appropriated as payments toward loans don’t just go to racial and ethnic minorities. They also go to some white farmers under a new category: “economically distressed.”

Economically distressed means farmers of any race who are behind on loan payments or on the brink of foreclosure.

And since this new program is now race-neutral, those who are particularly concerned about the disparate impact of lending practices on Black and other farmers of color say the move could hide the scope of the problem and lead to further disenfranchisement.

Farmers of color wonder if relief is being received as intended

In October, USDA began making automatic payments to the accounts of farmers who were 60 days or more delinquent. In some cases, payments were made without notifying the borrower: a pleasant surprise in some cases and procedural confusion in others.

However, advocates and producers complain there is a lack of clarity and transparency about who is getting the money.

“You lose a lot of the trust when there was very little trust in the beginning,” said Brandon Smith, a cattle rancher in Texas who received a payment and is an outreach coordinator for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. “No one’s trying to be ungrateful, but it’s just the trust and what was promised to them.”

As of Jan. 30, the USDA paid out more than $823 million for the Inflation Reduction Act program to farmers who were either delinquent on payments or on the verge of foreclosure.

“The steps we’ve taken so far are really for lack of a better analogy, to stop the bleeding,” said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, the lending arm of the department.

He said the next step is to deal with 15,600 “complex cases,” including borrowers on the brink of foreclosure and those near delinquency.

“As far as I know, we haven’t had any foreclosures in our guaranteed loans since we started providing this assistance. That’s an ongoing process to clean up those complex cases,” Ducheneaux said. “And, of course, having a bankruptcy judge and other creditors make those even more complex.”

This case-by-case funding will include some $500 million in payments.

USDA has not outlined what it will do with the remaining over $1 billion allocated by Congress.

States with “Economically distressed borrowers” net high dollars

Data obtained by NPR show that Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Puerto Rico are receiving the largest amounts of dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act towards economically distressed borrowers.

Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas also happen to be the largest states for FSA lending for what USDA labels “socially disadvantaged” producers – which are people of color and white women. Oklahoma leads the way in lending to those types of borrowers.

These were also the states that were expected to benefit the most from the original race-targeted program.

It is unclear, however, how many of these “socially disadvantaged” borrowers are people of color.

In the state of Oklahoma, out of 129,619 total producers in Oklahoma, 9.2% are American Indian/Alaska Native and 1.4% are Black or African American, and .4% Asian compared to 84.9% white, according to the self-reported 2017 Agriculture Census.

Puerto Rico, which has not recovered from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, also has a large percentage of socially disadvantaged borrowers.

It has a farming population of 8,230 of which 7% identify as Black, 90% identify as white, .8% as other and 1% as more than one race, according to the self-reported 2017 Census of Agriculture. About 99%, regardless of race, identify as Hispanic or Latino ethnic origin, making them socially disadvantaged.

“Economically, they are (also) disadvantaged. That’s not surprising to me,” said Iris Jannett Rodriguez, president of the coffee sector of the Puerto Rican Farm Bureau. “Many farms might have a lot of land but the land that is producing crops is really small.”

Almost any way you slice the numbers: looking at raw totals of borrowers and dollars, or average payments per borrower or loan, Puerto Rico – which is not among the nation’s top agriculture producers – consistently lands among the top recipients. With 820 direct loan borrowers receiving $72.3 million and two guaranteed loan borrowers receiving $1.3 million in payments, Puerto Rico ranks fourth in the nation for highest borrowers and IRA payments.

“Both Oklahoma and Puerto Rico have a large share of farm loans. Therefore, it is not surprising that they also have more distressed borrowers relative to other states,” said Marissa Perry, press secretary for USDA regarding the rates of payments made toward both states. “In the case of Puerto Rico, in recent years, a number of natural disasters have contributed to delinquencies.”

But advocates say they fear the money may now not be reaching all of the producers who benefited from the first program.

USDA officials say that since Congress did not make race a consideration for payments, it does not track that data. Nonetheless, some patterns stick out because some of the states with the highest number of USDA loan borrowers who are socially disadvantaged are getting the most of the IRA payments.

As a part of the American Rescue Plan, the early 2020 pandemic relief bill, lawmakers approved $5 billion toward debt relief and cancellation for minority farmers. The legislation was specifically targeting what was labeled “socially disadvantaged” farmers, or African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders.

But the program was swiftly blocked by about 12 lawsuits, including one out of Texas led by former President Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller and current state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. They argued the program was discriminating against white farmers for being white.

Lawmakers then repealed the program and passed a second one through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was absolutely a tough pill to swallow with regard to the overturning of American Rescue Plan [program],” said Dãnia Davy, director of Land Retention and Advocacy at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, however adding that some results have benefited her membership. “I have to say that a lot of our farmers ultimately have been very positive as they’ve received benefits under the Inflation Reduction Act that some folks didn’t even anticipate receiving. So it’s actually been a surprisingly positive response.”

The first program was specifically supposed to provide redress to farmers of color, many of who had been a part of class action lawsuits against USDA. Plaintiffs under Pigford v. Glickman, the lawsuit brought by Black farmers settled in 1999. However, tens of thousands missed out due to confusing paperwork and filing deadlines and near attorney malpractice, advocates say.

In 2010, Congress appropriated an additional $1.2 billion in a second round of payouts. But still, many did not receive them due to more denials of claims and deadline and processing issues. Plaintiffs fell even further behind on payments and legal fees — hurting their credit and bottom line for decades to follow.

“There are people who are still living from the first round of Pigford and they’ve never been made whole,” Davy said. “And a lot of times when people talk about Pigford, they think that Pigford addressed all of the racial discrimination that Black farmers faced, but it was really for a finite period of time.”

Smith says producers are happy about payments but upset there isn’t full loan forgiveness and confused about the rollout.

“They feel robbed about that part,” Smith said. “The law was passed almost six months ago and it seems like they [USDA] are a little sluggish.”

Much of the money remains to be doled out.

Smith said farmers who received notice in 2021 that their debt would be forgiven sat in limbo for a year, leading to many of them feeling like the department slow-walked the rollout of the original program, giving time for lawsuits to stall it.

“They were promised something by the government and then put on hold for over a year and a half,” Smith said. “They were told money was allocated to them during the pandemic. They were not able to use those funds. Now the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, they added more money to that pool but they aren’t doing debt forgiveness. They just had a couple of payments.”

In response to the concerns, USDA said they worked quickly to dole out the funds to farmers most at risk of losing their farms. The department is now in a more complicated phase, it said.

“This work requires diligence and time to make sure we are doing right by producers and fundamentally changing our approach to be better and in a long-lasting way,” said Dewayne Goldmon, senior advisor for racial equity to the Secretary of Agriculture. “I’m in this job to advance racial justice and opportunity – and we will keep mending and improving our approach at USDA to ensure Black farmers and any other farmers who have been left behind in the past are no longer left behind.”

Black farmers’ concerns over equity remain

Still, some farmers of color argue that they have still not benefited from a program originally designed to help them.

Eddie Lewis, a farmer in Louisiana, said he falls into that “complex case” category — he is delinquent $600,000. While he was poised to receive cancellation under the first program, the delay to get any payment under the new program is affecting his ability to get the capital he needs, he said.

“I would be the perfect candidate for a case-by-case basis. I’m a good farmer. I got good yields, I got good character. I got good credit,” he said. Lewis is in limbo, unable to secure other loans he needs because of the outstanding delinquency.

Advocates are also concerned that Black farmers who led the movement to get a debt-relief program will be left out of it.

In June 2022, Rep. Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter to USDA asking them to use money appropriated in another section of the COVID-19 relief package, also aimed at tackling inequity, to cover the costs of debt to Black farmers while litigation on the debt relief program continued.

Adams argued that according to USDA data, only 3,100 Black farmers would be eligible for the relief totaling less than $300 million. The most recent FSA report released in September shows the cost of 5,970 loans taken out by “socially disadvantaged farmers,” including white women, was $1.2 billion.

Advocates say the amount needed to cover the debt of farmers of color, and especially Black farmers, is so small that the funding should be appropriated — especially out of a multibillion-dollar program.

“Unfortunately, our folks have been so shortchanged that I think the numbers will probably bear out that there’s still a significant number of white farmers who not only benefited from the subsidies and the COVID benefits but now even IRA,” Davy said. “I think that program can’t truly be called a success for civil rights because you have to really intentionally address racial discrimination if you want to call it a success for civil rights.”

However, other farmers argue that the new, race-neutral program may be better at providing aid to those immediately struggling without triggering lawsuits. And many of them happen to be farmers of color.

In defense of the original race-targeted program, the government argued in court that white farmers were far less likely to be delinquent on their loans. The ratio of white borrowers who are delinquent on FSA loans in 2021 was 11%, compared to 38% of Black borrowers, 15% of Asian borrowers, 17% of American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and 68% of Hispanic borrowers.

Rod Simmons, a farmer in North Carolina, at first struggled with the department. He cited familiar problems, like a confusing application process and deadlines, as barriers he faced getting involved with the department’s programs.

When the pandemic hit, he lost 22% of his inventory. He was on the verge of liquidating his assets in order to get money to make the loan payments And then the Inflation Reduction Act loan payment came through, it amounted to two years worth of money he owed.

“My granddad had never seen any type of program in his time that made an impact for farmers like this one did,” Simmons said. “Now, the programs can be designed in a manner that will cater to those that need it versus those that want it. And there’s a big difference.”

Source: Black farmers worry new approach on “race neutral” lending leaves them in the shadows

Skuterud: Canada’s worker ‘shortage’ is an illusion, and bringing in cheap labour doesn’t help

Needed commentary:

If your inclination in hearing about Canada’s labour shortage crisis is to ask, “Where did all the workers go?” you have the wrong economic model in mind.

Despite our aging population, the percentage of Canadian adults participating in the labour force was 65.7 per cent last month, identical to what it was in October, 2018, and July, 2016, after accounting for usual seasonal variations.

In terms of absolute numbers, Canada’s labour force now stands at 20.8 million workers, the largest it has ever been.

Rather than not enough workers, the issue is that the prices of the goods and services that workers produce have increased faster than their wages, motivating businesses to hire more workers and sell more.

Canada’s current tight labour markets overwhelmingly reflect increases in the demand for workers, not a decline in their numbers. And the solution is not to satiate that demand with cheap labour, which undermines labour productivity and average economic living standards in the population.

Why do so many people interpret current labour shortages as “not enough workers”? It is because in their minds the jobs that need to be done in our economy are fixed and the job of policy makers is to make sure there are enough workers to fill all the slots, so the economy does not fall apart.

But employers’ demands for workers are constantly fluctuating and evolving in response to factors within the economy, including relative prices, interest rates, technological advances and consumers’ preferences and incomes.

In 1921, one-third of Canada’s workers were employed in agriculture. After more than 100 years of innovation in farming equipment, less than 2 per cent are.

Very few jobs, if any, are truly essential.

Once we recognize that the jobs employers seek to fill in the economy are fluid, it all becomes clear.

Throughout this pandemic era, I have been tracking Canadian labour-market tightness, measured as the number of job vacancies per available job seeker. After hovering between 0.2 and 0.6 in the 2015-20 period, the ratio surged in January, 2021, and peaked at 1.1 job vacancies for every job seeker in June, 2022.

It is not a coincidence that this increase in labour-market tightness lines up precisely with movements in the relative prices of the goods and services that businesses sell and the wages that workers are paid.

Canada’s headline inflation rate – Statistics Canada’s measure of the annual change in consumer prices – stood at 1 per cent in January, 2021, but increased rapidly, peaking at 7.9 per cent in June, 2022.

After accounting for changes in the mix of jobs, I estimate that workers’ wages were growing at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent in January, 2021, which sluggishly increased to 3.7 per cent by June, 2022, far behind the pace of increases in consumer prices.

In other words, workers’ wages have not kept pace with the prices of the goods and services they produce and consume.

Workers aren’t disappearing; what’s happened is employers’ profit incentives to hire more workers have increased dramatically.

And as the gap between the growth in consumer prices and workers’ wages diminished after June, 2022, so did the hiring appetite of Canadian businesses. With one exception, the number of job vacancies declined in every month between May and November, 2022, resulting in a 21-per-cent reduction in total job vacancies in six months.

In November, 2022, the most recent data we have, there were 0.8 job vacancies for every job seeker, down from the June peak of 1.1.

No doubt, Canadian labour-market tightness remains elevated, making life difficult for some businesses. Competing for scarce workers with other businesses and retaining the ones you have requires improving wages and working conditions, which eats into profit margins. And where competition is especially fierce, it can pose existential risks.

But business failures are a healthy feature of a well-functioning economy. Starting a new business is necessarily risky. It ensures scarce capital is invested where its expected returns are highest and that the businesses that survive are the ones that utilize their workers most efficiently by, for example, investing in new technologies to maximize employee productivity.

These competitive pressures are not a good thing for businesses struggling to turn a profit, and those businesses will plead for government support.

But not coddling the business lobby by, for example, expanding wage-subsidy programs or easing access to low-skilled temporary foreign workers, including foreign students, is good for worker productivity, workers’ wages and average economic living standards.

Mikal Skuterud is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and the director of the Canadian Labour Economics Forum.

Source: Canada’s worker ‘shortage’ is an illusion, and bringing in cheap labour doesn’t help

U.S. delivers reality check: New border deal with Canada not top priority

More coverage, deeper than most:

The premier of Quebec wants a new migration deal with the U.S. He wants it urgently. He wants the prime minister of Canada to negotiate it. The prime minister? He wants it too.

It’s become a pressing political priority and major federal-provincial irritant, with Canada eager to slow the flow of migrants entering on foot from the U.S. at unofficial points of entry, such as the contentious one at Roxham Road, south of Montreal.

There’s one small problem. The Americans get a say here.

For years, the U.S. has been conspicuously tight-lipped on the topic, and this week offered new — and rare — public insight into the American perspective.

Newsflash: A country dealing with millions of migrants per year is not in a major rush to reclaim Canada’s thousands.

U.S. Ambassador David Cohen told CBC News irregular crossings into Quebec are a symptom of a broad global migration challenge; and he’d rather address problems, not symptoms.

He wouldn’t even acknowledge the countries are talking about Canada’s desire to extend the 2002 Safe Third County Agreement to make it easier to expel migrants who cross between regular checkpoints.

Conversations with officials in both countries make clear no agreement is imminent. Whether President Joe Biden’s trip to Canada next month changes anything is an open question.

Two sources say that, to date, there have been constructive talks with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but the issue is far from settled.

Here’s an assessment in blunter language from an immigration expert in Washington, who also happens to know Canada very well.

“There is zero incentive for the United States to reopen Safe Third Country right now. Zero,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, senior adviser on immigration at Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Centre, who once led Homeland Security operations at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.

‘Our house is burning right now’

In its current form, the Safe Third Country Agreement says asylum seekers who enter the U.S. or Canada must make their claims in the first country they arrive in, but it only covers official points of entry.

Canada wants the agreement extended across the entire frontier, so it applies to migrants who use irregular entry points like the now-famous Roxham Road.

To Canadians wondering why it’s taken years for the U.S. to prioritize these negotiations, Brown said: “Because our house is burning right now on the other border.… Sorry.”

Just look at two parallel events that unfolded this week, in Canada and the U.S. They might as well have been happening in parallel universes.

Quebec Premier François Legault got lots of attention back home for a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an op-ed in the Globe and Mail.

He said Quebec received 39,000 irregular crossers last year, and could not handle more, saying it was straining housing, hospital services, and language training.

He requested money from Ottawa, said all future migrants should be sent to other provinces, and he demanded a new Safe Third Country deal with the U.S.

While the northern neighbour was asking the U.S. to accept more migrants, the Biden administration released plans to accept fewer, with a draft executive order.

The proposed rule would make it easier to instantly deport asylum claimants who try entering the U.S. without first scheduling an appointment in a mobile app, and first requesting asylum in Mexico.

That hardening attitude would come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to developments in the U.S.

Amid a historic worldwide surge in human displacement, migration has become perhaps the most explosive issue in American politics.

U.S. border agents could encounter more than three million migrants this year, higher even than the record-smashing total in 2022.

It’s causing strain in border communities like Yuma, Ariz., where agents met 300,000 migrants last year — that’s triple the local population.

Arizona official on northern complaints: ‘A joke to me’

The head of a regional hospital in Yuma said his staff have been caring for migrants and it’s cost the organization $20 million.

He said he laughs when he hears northern states complain about migration: Denver and New York, for example, have expressed a welcoming attitude then later declared they were overwhelmed.

“It’s pretty funny,”  said Dr. Bob Trenschel.

“They all seem to have a conniption when they get two buses of migrants.… The mayor of New York is squawking when he gets two busloads? That’s a joke to me.”

Now the mayor of New York is, in fact, paying for buses to carry migrants upstate, including to northern border communities where they enter Canada on foot.

After Canada averaged about 10,000 refugee claims per year since 2017, this northward surge has added tens of thousands of new border-crossers.

For comparison’s sake, the U.S. could expect more asylum claimants from Russia alone; if the recent rate holds, more than 60,000 Russians could seek asylum in the U.S. this year.

Other countries have even bigger challenges. Take Colombia: it’s currently home to nearly 10 per cent of the population of Venezuela, more than 2 million people who’ve fled.

An asylum-policy analyst in Washington said Canada’s migration issues don’t come up often in the policy conversation there.

“It’s certainly not something that is frequently raised,” said Susan Fratzke, a former State Department official and now senior analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.

“When it does come up, it’s always in reference to knowing that it’s a Canadian priority.”

She said it’s possible there could be a deal, probably as part of a broader migration agreement and probably not soon.

Watching Biden visit for development

One American analyst of Canada-U.S. relations is more optimistic.

He said Biden has a demonstrated desire to maintain good relations with Canada, as evidenced by his resolving irritants around electric-vehicle incentives and the Nexus trusted-traveller program.

For that reason, said Chris Sands, he wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some sort of development next month when Biden visits Canada.

“It would be a wonderful announceable at an event like that,” said Sands, director of the Canada Institute at Washington’s WIlson Center. “This is eminently doable if there’s will on both sides.”

On Thursday, Trudeau said he has spoken directly to Biden about this and suggested it will be on the agenda of Biden’s upcoming Canadian visit.

One person familiar with the binational discussions said there’s a shared desire to get a deal, but working out the details is more complicated.

Sands concurred.

He said goodwill isn’t the issue. The problem, he said, is working through budgeting and logistics, like sorting out who handles what responsibilities among the handful of law-enforcement and border agencies in both countries.

Potential deal: Something bigger

So what would it take to get a deal?

To get Americans’ interest, Brown said Canada would probably have to offer something unrelated, or related tangentially.

Maybe something like a major Canadian stabilization role in Haiti, she said, or a clampdown on the flow of Mexicans through Canada into Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York, which U.S. officials say is an emerging trend.

She suggested one surprising way the premier of Quebec might get Washington’s attention: accept more U.S. dairy imports, adding, “I’m only partially joking.”

The U.S. ambassador was clear in the CBC interview: his objective is a broader plan for international migration.

Canada has, in fact, signed a hemispheric agreement where it promised to take a lead role on some initiatives, one being resettling more French-speaking migrants, especially from Haiti.

Connecting the dots, Fratzke said any agreement on this issue will probably be bigger, not just a one-issue deal on Safe Third Country.

Two suggestions she offered: Canada could help build the capacity of other countries’ asylum systems, and could expand legal opportunities for economic migration.

The latter is what Brown wants for the U.S. too.

She said any solution must include opportunities for people to apply legally, so that they have hope the official pathways might work, for both humanitarian and economic visas.

The U.S., for example, is resettling only a few hundred refugees per year lately from Latin America: “That’s crazy,” Brown said.

And for all the millions of migrants it’s received, the percentage of people on U.S. soil born abroad is not actually that high, about average among industrialized countries.

She said the other part of a solution is more orderly enforcement. The asylum backlog is massive, and it takes an average of over four years to decide cases.

Brown said applications should be processed swiftly, decided near the border.

In the meantime, she said, when richer northern countries, like Canada, and the U.S., talk about restricting migration, they’re essentially pushing the burden south, to poorer countries, to places like Colombia, Central America and Mexico.

“That’s what we’re talking about,” she said.

Source: U.S. delivers reality check: New border deal with Canada not top priority

Australia’s multicultural framework under review after 50 years

Of note and to watch. Given that the review is under a Labour government, likely to incline towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion:

The Australian Government is set to begin a policy review of the 50-year-old ‘A multi-cultural society for the future’ report by Whitlam.

Consultation on the draft terms of reference to ensure they advance a multicultural Australia, support a cohesive and inclusive multicultural society, and harness the talents of all Australians.

“Australia is proudly one of the world’s most vibrant and successful multicultural societies. Widespread community support for multiculturalism is one of our major strengths as a nation,” said Minister Giles, adding that “50 years on from our first multicultural policy it is time to look at Australia’s multiculturalism and make sure we have the settings right. We need to make sure every Australian from a culturally and linguistically diverse background can reach their full potential.”

“Drawing on the knowledge of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the Review will assess what the Commonwealth needs to do at institutional and policy levels to ensure no one is left behind, and everyone feels as though they truly belong.”

The draft Terms of Reference for the Multicultural Framework Review are now open for public comment and close on 19 March 2023. Find it here.

Source: Australia’s multicultural framework under review after 50 years

Lisée: And what if Quebecers are less racist than other Canadians?

Lisée contrasting Quebec and RoC polling data and providing context for Quebec policies on immigration, multiculturalism/interculturalisme and language. Polling data with regional breakdowns between Montreal and the regions would likely nuance his assertions, nor fully explain the high levels of support for Bills 21 and 96 or the general level of political discourse on these issues, but they certainly play a part.

Lisée may have overstepped his case with respect to the number of visible minorities elected in the 2022 election, 12 elected members by my count, 9.6 percent, not 12 percent, largely reflecting the concentration in and around Montreal (just as the GTA bumps up Ontario provincial and federal MP representation numbers:

The number is nine. That’s the percentage of Quebecers who believe some races are superior to others. They, along with other Canadians, were asked this straightforward question by Angus Reid in 2021: “In all honesty, do you think that all races are equal in terms of their natural characteristics, or do you think that some races are naturally superior to others?”

Nine per cent may seem high, but compare it to Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with a rate of 14 per cent. There is a spike of 19 per cent in PEI (this may be a sampling error) and lows of 11 per cent in Alberta and eight per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Interestingly, one finds that 13 per cent of Indigenous people believe in the inequality of races and 18 per cent of non-Caucasian/non-Indigenous – double the Quebec number.

How can we possibly square this result with the mere existence of Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21, and the apparent consensus outside Quebec that citizens there are closed-minded? The answer, as Justin Trudeau explained the other day, is Quebecers relation to religion, especially with the misogynistic aspects of the Catholic religion of yesteryear and, these days, Islam.

That is why this same Angus Reid poll found what every other poll will tell you: a much bigger slice of Quebec opinion has negative views of religions as a whole and of Islam in particular. Angus Reid reports that whereas 25 per cent of all Canadians feel “cold” towards Muslims, the chill reaches 37 per cent in Quebec. Still in minority territory (63 per cent feel warm towards them) but a significant difference.

Since support for the secularism bill, which bans the wearing of all religious signs for civil servants in authority, hovers around 65 per cent, there are simply not enough Quebecers who dislike Muslims to account for that great a number. Clearly, other variables are at play and racism is not one of them.

In fact, Canadian pollsters regularly find Quebecers more tolerant on a range of issues than other Canadians. Ekos found in 2019 that 30 per cent of Quebecers believed there were too many members of visible minorities among immigrants. That is awful. But this level rose to 46 per cent in Ontario and 56 per cent in Alberta. And among visible minorities, 43 per cent felt there were too many visible minorities among immigrants. In short, Quebecers were less intolerant of racialized immigrants than Canadians as a whole and citizens of color themselves.

But these are opinions. What about actions? Hate crimes were more numerous in Ontario than in Quebec per capita in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the year in which there is the latest available data. The Montreal police reports that in 2020 and 2021, the first years of application of the law on secularism, the number of hate crimes related to religion was down 24 per cent. Sure, with the pandemic, there were fewer opportunities to meet and hate each other. Yet they also had a pandemic in Toronto and there, according to the Toronto Police 2021 Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Reportreligious hate crimes increased by 16 per cent over the same period.

How about discrimination in employment? 2021 Statistics Canada data show that immigrants in Quebec have an employment rate greater than workers born in Quebec (at a ratio of 107 per cent) whereas the opposite is true in Ontario (a ratio of 95 per cent). The gap is greatest for women, with a ratio of 102 per cent employment in Quebec versus 91 per cent in Ontario, probably a result of Quebec’s far reaching daycare program. The same is true for members of visible minorities, whose rate of employment is equal to that of the rest of Quebecers, better than the 95 per cent level in Ontario. Simply put, as an immigrant or a BIPOC, your chances of getting a job is higher in Quebec than in Ontario, especially if you are a woman.

The recent October 2022 Quebec election was remarkable for one barely noticed achievement. For the first time, it delivered the same proportion of elected members from visible minorities, (12 per cent) than their share of the electorate and the same rate (20 per cent) of members of non-French and non-English origin. A perfect score. In Ottawa, Parliament still falls short of its goal of representing 25 per cent of visible minorities, having reached only 15.7 per cent.  In Ontario, with 30 per cent of minority population, the recent parliament counts 23 per cent representation.

None of these numbers are new, but I bet you are reading them here for the first time. Why? Simply because they are so counter-intuitive that few people outside Quebec look for them. Or when these numbers are encountered, they are treated as outliers that surely do not represent reality.

Yet going back in time, Quebec has reached achievements on race significantly before others on the continent. For example, the August 1 commemoration of the British Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 is problematic in Quebec because it ignores the fact that slavery had already been abolished there for 30 years. In Upper Canada, MPs had voted in 1793 to abolish slavery but grandfathered the “property” of current slave-owners. Slavery thus persisted until 1820. The British 1833 act compensated slave-owners for the “loss” of their property.

Quebecers had none of that. Open-minded judges started declaring slavery illegal in Quebec as early as 1798, without delay or compensation. It disappeared completely in very short order, as told by Frank Makey in his seminal Done with Slavery: The Black Fact in Montreal, 1760-1840 (McGill-Queen’s Press). “The way in which slavery was abolished in Quebec turned out to be one of the most humane and least constraining,” he writes. Slavery thus ended in Quebec 20 years before its demise in Upper Canada, 30 years ahead of the rest of the Empire and 63 years before the emancipation of Black Americans.

Jews were barred from elected office in the entire British Empire until 1858, except in Quebec. In 1832 the Assembly, with a Patriote majority (the ancestor of both the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois) voted an act granting full citizenship to Jews, the Brits be damned.

As for relations with First Nations, in 1701 the Governor of New France and 39 leaders of First Nations gathered in Montreal for the most far-reaching peace treaty ever negotiated between settlers and First Nations in the hemisphere. That’s Nobel Peace Prize territory. In modern times, Quebec signed the first comprehensive land claim in Canada in 1975 and René Lévesque made sure the Quebec National Assembly was the first Parliament in Canada in 1984 to recognize the existence of Indigenous nations on the territory. In 2003 the Paix des Braves with the Cree nation became the gold standard for the granting of autonomy to First Nations.

Environics Institute reports that like other Canadians 44 per cent of Quebecers believe the government has not done enough to ensure true reconciliation. But there are laggards. Those who find that we have gone too far, that we have been too generous. In Quebec, 13 per cent think so. Too many. In Canada: 20 per cent. Too many and a half.

It is also interesting to note how the anti-religious sentiment of Quebecers is intertwined with the issue of residential schools. Polling firm Léger asked who was responsible for this disaster: the federal government or the Catholic Church. Obviously, the answer is: both. But the pollster forced his respondents to choose. Two-thirds of Canadians pointed to the church. Quebecers even more: 69 per cent. The more memory Quebecers have, the more they condemn the church, at 76 per cent among those over 55 years old. Quebecers also say they are more ashamed, at 86 per cent, than the high Canadian average of 80 per cent.

Surely, tons of columns can be – and have been – written on all the faults and frailties of Quebecers. I have written a few myself. Comparative arguments have little weight when the task is to fight back against discrimination, racial profiling, decades-long neglect of Indigenous communities.

They have value, however, when mainstream voices outside Quebec take a moral high ground to misjudge and mischaracterize Quebec, its citizens and its history on issues of race and tolerance.

Source: And what if Quebecers are less racist than other Canadians?

Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina, seeking passports — and options — for their kids

More detailed account than elsewhere. In contrast to some earlier reports, appears many are fairly afflluent. And not all are birth tourists with some settling in Argentina:

Shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Alla Prigolovkina and her husband, Andrei Ushakov, decided they had to flee their Sochi, Russia, home.

Ushakov had been detained for holding up a sign that read “Peace,” and Prigolovkina, a pregnant ski instructor, feared he would soon be drafted and potentially killed, leaving their baby fatherless.

The original plan was to stay in Europe, but anti-Russian sentiment discouraged them.

“We chose Argentina because it has everything we needed: Fantastic nature, a large country, beautiful mountains,” Prigolovkina, 34, told The Associated Press inside the home her family is renting in Argentina’s western Mendoza province. “We felt it would be ideal for us.”

They were hardly alone.

Over the past year, Argentine immigration authorities have noticed flights packed with dozens of pregnant Russians. But whereas Prigolovkina said her family intends to build a life here at the foot of the Andes mountains, local officials believe many of the other recent Russian visitors are singularly focused on receiving one of Argentina’s passports.

All children born in Argentina automatically receive citizenship and having an Argentine child speeds up the process for the parents to obtain residency permits and, after a couple of years, their own passports.

Crucially, the navy blue booklets allow entry to 171 countries without a visa, a backup plan that Russians believe could come in handy in the ever-uncertain future. Due to sanctions, Russians have also had trouble opening bank accounts in foreign countries, something an Argentine passport could solve.

According to official figures, some 22,200 Russians entered Argentina over the last year, including 10,777 women — many of whom were in the advanced stages of pregnancy. In January, 4,523 Russians entered Argentina, more than four times the 1,037 that arrived in the same month last year.

After an investigation, Argentine officials concluded that Russian women, generally from affluent backgrounds, were entering the country as tourists with the plan to give birth, obtain their documentation and leave. More than half of the Russians who entered the country in the last year, 13,134, already left, including 6,400 women.

“We detected that they don’t come to do tourism, they come to have children,” Florencia Carignano, the national director for migration, said during a meeting with international media.

Although Argentina generally has a relatively permissive immigration process, the recent arrest of two alleged Russian spies who had Argentine passports in Slovenia raised alarms in the South American country, where officials reinforced immigration controls.

“We canceled residencies of Russians who spent more time outside than in,” Carignano said, expressing concern the Argentine “passport will cease to have the trust it enjoys in all countries.”

Immigration authorities have also called on the justice system to investigate agencies that allegedly offer assistance to Russian women who want to give birth in Argentina.

It’s unclear how many women have left Russia to give birth in the last year, but the issue is big enough that lawmakers in Moscow this month raised the question of whether those who choose to give birth abroad should be stripped of the so-called maternity fund that all Russian mothers receive — a financial benefit of almost $8,000 for the first child and about $10,500 for the second.

There is no discussion on whether to cut off access to the maternity fund for Russian mothers who give birth abroad, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

The phenomenon also is not entirely new. Prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, Russian women were part of a wave of “birth tourists” in the U.S. and many paid brokers tens of thousands of dollars to arrange their travel documents, accommodations and hospital stays, often in Florida.

Embarking on a long journey during an advanced pregnancy can be particularly perilous, and Russians in Argentina insist that their decision to leave their homes goes beyond a new passport. Despite the government’s claims, some at least seem eager to make Argentina their new home.

In spite of the language barrier and the unfamiliar, stifling summer heat, Prigolovkina and Ushakov have quickly adopted Argentine customs since their July move. Prigolovkina said they especially enjoy spending time in the park with their dogs. And while the family may not have been interested in soccer in Russia, they happily cheered when their newly adopted country won the World Cup late last year.

Still, she also concedes that obtaining a passport for their newborn son, Lev Andrés, was a motivating factor for the move: “We wanted our baby to have the chance to not just be Russian and have a single passport.”

Some experts say a country in which migrants once made up as much as 30% of the population should be particularly sensitive to the plight of Russians trying to start a new life. The South American country was transformed in the late 19th and early 20th century by the influx of millions of European migrants, including many from Italy and Spain.

“Given our history of migration, a country like ours should empathize more with the humanitarian dimension” of these recent immigrants, Natalia Debandi, a social scientist and migrations expert who is a researcher at the publicly funded CONICET institute, said. “They are not terrorists, they are people.”

A study by immigration agents based on interviews with 350 newly arrived Russians concluded that most are married and largely well-off professionals who have remote jobs in finance and digital design or live off savings.

Days before giving birth to a boy named Leo, 30-year-old Russian psychologist Ekaterina Gordienko lauded her experience in Argentina, saying “the health care system is very good, and people are very kind. My only problem is Spanish. If the doctor doesn’t speak English, I use the (Google) translator.”

Gordienko arrived in the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires in December with her 38-year-old husband, Maxim Levoshin. “The first thing we want is for Leo to live in a safe country, without a war in his future,” Levoshin said.

In Mendoza, Prigolovkina is excited for her family’s new life in Argentina and optimistic they will be able to give back to the country that has welcomed them.

“We have left everything behind to live in peace. I hope that Argentines understand that Russians can be very useful in different areas of life, in business, the economy, in science,” she said. “They can help make Argentina better.”

Source: Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina, seeking passports — and options — for their kids

Canada to introduce open work permit for Iranians, simplify process to stay

Not sure how widely the measures – waiving fees for passports, Permanent Resident travel documents and citizenship certificates – has been done in the past and for which groups.

Given the announcement in North Vancouver, where many Iranian Canadians live, not sure the fee waivers makes sense from a policy perspective (no issue with open work permit pathways).

The federal government is rolling out special temporary measures to make it easier for Iranians in Canada to stay.

As of March 1, measures will come into effect to simplify the process for Iranians who are visiting, studying in or working in Canada to extend their stay and switch between temporary streams.

For Iranians already in Canada, an open work permit pathway will be introduced as well.

The federal government will waive fees for passports, permanent resident travel documents and citizen certificates for Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Iran who wish to come back, and for those in Canada who want to remain.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement in North Vancouver today as part of the federal government’s ongoing effort to support Iranians following unrest.

Protests erupted in Iran in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police, leading to a brutal crackdown by the Iranian government.

Source: Canada to introduce open work permit for Iranians, simplify process to stay

Lanctôt: Préparer l’avenir [future waves of climate refugees]

Reminder that today’s problems may be insignificant compared to the futuree:

Puisqu’il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud et qu’on fait tout pour qu’il le demeure, nous y voilà encore. La panique entourant le chemin Roxham semble s’être installée pour de bon, dans les termes déplorables qu’on connaît. Si au moins il s’agissait de braquer les projecteurs sur le drame humain qui se joue dans l’espace liminal des frontières, ce serait une chose. Or, c’est sur le « fardeau » de l’accueil qu’on se focalise, pendant que les demandeurs d’asile eux-mêmes flottent en périphérie de la discussion, comme une simple variable dans un calcul qui se fait sur leur dos, mais sans eux.

C’est ainsi que, cette semaine, le premier ministre François Legault s’est adressé directement à son homologue fédéral, Justin Trudeau, pour exiger qu’Ottawa agisse pour soulager le Québec de la pression exercée par les demandeurs d’asile sur sa société. La lettre est remarquable en ce qu’elle condense, en quelques paragraphes, plusieurs années d’une construction méticuleuse de la version toute québécoise du discours sur le péril migratoire aux frontières.

Les États-Unis, l’Europe aussi, ont une longueur d’avance à ce chapitre, alors que ces discours se construisent, se reconfigurent et se peaufinent depuis bien plus longtemps. Mais alors que la migration d’urgence s’intensifie partout dans le monde, le Québec fait face soudain, lui aussi, à une détresse qu’il lui était autrefois plus facile d’ignorer. Sans surprise, on réagit en important les dispositifs idéologiques qui, partout ailleurs, président au durcissement des frontières et à la construction de la figure du migrant comme menace.

François Legault l’a bien compris, et sa lettre à Justin Trudeau est une formidable radiographie de la panique migratoire telle qu’elle se vit chez nous. Le premier ministre québécois campe d’abord ses revendications sur le terrain de la défense des services publics, soulignant que l’arrivée « massive » de demandeurs d’asile au Québec pèse bien lourd sur des institutions déjà à bout de souffle.

Il ne se trouvera personne pour le contredire : les services publics, tout comme les groupes communautaires — à qui l’on demande d’éponger le trop-plein du réseau public avec une fraction des ressources —, sont poussés à bout de manière structurelle. La crise est chronique, et elle a été délibérément fabriquée par des décennies de gouvernance néolibérale.

Il est vrai que les ressources manquent pour accompagner les demandeurs d’asile de manière digne. Les histoires que l’on entend brisent le coeur ; des familles qui passent d’un refuge à l’autre, des gens contraints de dormir dans la rue après avoir traversé la frontière par Roxham, une attente interminable pour obtenir de l’aide financière, et le dépassement bien réel des organismes qui prodiguent de l’aide immédiate. Tout cela est insupportable, sauf qu’on pose le problème à l’envers : notre échec à accueillir correctement ces personnes est le symptôme de carences préexistantes, et non leur cause. On pointe la lune et on regarde le doigt.

Il faudrait plutôt renverser la question : comment se fait-il que le Québec n’ait rien de mieux à offrir que l’itinérance et des dédales administratifs déshumanisants à des personnes qui ne demanderaient pas mieux que de pouvoir contribuer à la société québécoise ?

François Legault brandit le chiffre de 39 000 migrants arrivés de manière irrégulière en 2022, ajoutant que cela s’ajoute aux 20 000 personnes admises par voie régulière. Il veut souligner, on l’imagine, l’ampleur de la contribution du Québec. Or, comme le remarquait la directrice générale d’Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, France-Isabelle Langlois, dans une lettre parue dans ces pages, on compte actuellement 100 millions de personnes déplacées de force à travers le monde. À travers les Amériques, la Colombie accueille à elle seule 1,8 million de personnes. On estime par ailleurs que d’ici 2050, plus de 200 millions de personnes seront déplacées par la crise climatique à l’échelle mondiale.

Qu’à cela ne tienne, le Québec, lui, a déjà statué quant à sa responsabilité dans la prise en charge des mouvements de population mondiaux : « La capacité d’accueil du Québec est désormais largement dépassée », écrit le premier ministre. François Legault le dit sans détour : il ne veut pas améliorer la capacité d’accueil du Québec. Il ne demande pas à Ottawa plus de ressources pour mieux accueillir. Il affirme au contraire que le Québec en a déjà fait assez, et qu’il espère même être dédommagé pour les efforts déjà déployés.

Il fait ensuite un pas de côté pour mentionner le déclin du français à Montréal, qu’il associe, d’ailleurs, à l’arrivée de tous les migrants, pas seulement les demandeurs d’asile — après tout, il a une base à exciter. Puis, il réclame l’élargissement de l’entente sur les tiers pays sûrs à tous les points d’entrée au Canada, et la fermeture complète du chemin Roxham. Comme si l’interdiction de demander l’asile au Canada par voie terrestre, ainsi que la fermeture d’un seul point d’entrée devenu emblématique n’allaient pas tout simplement pousser plus de gens sur des routes clandestines.

Au-delà de ce que cette lettre dit de la situation présente, on y lit aussi l’ébauche, plus troublante, d’une vision à plus long terme. François Legault prépare le terrain, il entame doucement la normalisation du mot d’ordre qui sera celui de l’avenir cauchemardesque de la crise climatique : laissez-les se débrouiller.

Source: Préparer l’avenir