Douglas Todd: Refugees earn more than most Canadians after 25 years

Good solid analysis by IRCC and confirms what I am seeing in some of the data that I am looking at:

Refugees who arrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s are now earning more than the average Canadian.

An internal immigration department document shows that, after 25 years in the country, a typical refugee is earning as much or more than the Canadian norm, which is about $45,000 a year.

The document quotes a senior department official who says the long-term study of refugees’ wages suggests the recent wave of 50,000 refugees from Syria could several decades from now do as well as earlier refugees in regards to earnings.

“In a nutshell this is the trajectory we would expect (all things being equal) from government-assisted refugees and privately-sponsored refugees,” senior immigration department official Umit Kiziltan writes in a memo obtained under an access to information request.

The immigration and tax department data, which tracks refugees’ earnings from 1981 to 2014, shows that average government-assisted refugees earned less than $20,000 a year in their first decade in the country, when many families rely on provincial welfare and other government benefits to get by.

However, after 25 to 30 years in Canada, the average refugee is earning roughly $50,000 a year, about $5,000 more than the average Canadian. The study also shows the earnings gap between government-assisted refugees, who initially do worse than privately-sponsored refugees, basically disappears over the long run.

The largest groups of refugees to Canada in the 1980s and early 1990s came from Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. In that era the total number of refugees arriving ranged from 15,000 to 40,000 annually. In recent years Canada has accepted more than 50,000 refugees from war-torn Syria alone.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who obtained the internal government documents, said they contain reliable information that strongly indicate most refugees, no matter where they come from, develop usable skills and do well in the labour market over their careers.

However, even though the senior immigration department’s memo welcomed the news that refugees who arrived several decades ago perform well, Kiziltan cautioned that it’s hard to forecast how more recent refugees will do, given the “cyclical nature of the economy overall and especially (the) human capital of the Syrian cohorts.”

The report, in addition, also does not compare the earnings of refugees who have been in Canada for several decades (which means many would be in their 50s and at the peak of their careers) with the earnings of other Canadians of the same age cohort.

The data on refugees’ slow road to labour-market success in Canada comes on the heels of 2018 controversies over thousands of asylum seekers illegally crossing the Canadian border, a Syrian refugee being charged with the murder of Burnaby teenager Marrisa Shenand a Postmedia story revealing the federal Liberal government has not produced any report in two years on whether recent Syrian refugees are learning English or French, working, receiving social assistance or going to school.

This is not the first federal government indication, however, that many refugees eventually earn solid incomes. In 2014 then-federal Conservative immigration department minister Jason Kenney cancelled the contentious immigrant-investor program while revealing that refugees were actually paying more in Canadian income taxes than wealthy newcomers who had in effect bought their Canadian passports.

Asked about the contrast between taxes paid in Canada by refugees and rich immigrants, Kurland said it’s “a complicated comparison.” The breadwinner of an immigrant-investor family, Kurland explained, “usually returns home to support the family’s millionaire lifestyle in Canada” and therefore, unlike a refugee who stays in Canada, doesn’t pay significant income taxes in this country.

Previous studies have consistently shown that, while adult refugees often struggle in the short to medium term, many of their children quickly perform well in their new land, in large part because they gain extra social support, a taxpayer-funded education in English or French and the time to develop skills.

This recent internal study of refugee earnings, however, is among the first to emphasize that, over many decades, most of the refugees who had direct experience of war, persecution and trauma in their homeland are capable of attaining financial success in the country that welcomed them.

Source: Douglas Todd: Refugees earn more than most Canadians after 25 years

Germans upbeat about immigration, study finds

Interesting results from a large scale poll, providing a more nuanced view of German public opinion than the election results and support for AfD would indicate (article more nuanced than header):

People living in Germany continue to view the country’s multicultural society positively, according to a new study published by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR).

The “Integration Barometer 2018” is the first representative study on the matter to come out since the start of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, which saw hundreds of thousands of people escaping war and poverty in their home countries enter Europe.

Despite refugees and immigration policy dominating the news and politician’s speaking points in Germany, the study found that most people still think that life with their immigrant or non-immigrant neighbors is going well.

Main takeaways

  • Some 63.8 percent of local Germans — people described as not having an immigrant background — view the integration situation positively, down marginally from the 65.4 percent logged in 2015. Residents with immigrant backgrounds viewed the integration situation even more positively, rating it at 68.9 percent.
  • The study found a particular divide between the eastern and western states, with 66 percent of western Germans satisfied with the status of immigration, while eastern Germans rated it at 55 percent.
  • The study found that areas where fewer migrants live, such as in the eastern German states, there are more reservations about immigration and integration.
  • Men viewed the status of integration in Germany more negatively than women.

Solution to tensions in education

Researchers noted that skepticism about immigrants can be overcome by having more “personal encounters.”

“The everyday experiences are significantly better than what the [media] discourse would suggest,” researchers wrote in the study.

Germany’s integration commissioner, Annette Widmann-Mauz, said the study’s results were “a good sign” and that it’s important to support schools and other places where people have more opportunities to come into contact with their neighbors. She noted that the attitudes about integration are most positive “wherever there are direct contacts in the neighborhoods, among friends or at work.”

Majority want to help refugees

Attitudes towards refugees were largely positive from both people with and without immigrant backgrounds in Germany. Around 60 percent of local Germans support continuing to take in refugees, also if Germany were the only country accepting asylum-seekers in the European Union. However, a majority of them also want to curb refugee arrivals.

How successful is linguistic integration?

Three quarters of German-born Muslims grow up with German as a first language. Among immigrants, only one fifth claim that German is their first language. The trend of language skills improving with successive generations is apparent across Europe. In Germany 46 percent of all Muslims say that their national language is their first language. In Austria this is 37 percent, Switzerland 34 percent

Split on headscarf bans

Around 80 percent of Muslims questioned in the study supported women and girls being allowed to wear headscarves to school. Only 41 percent of Christians, on the other hand, thought that headscarves should be allowed in schools. Local Germans were more open to allowing headscarves in public authorities, with 52 percent backing the idea.

Muslim women living in Germany were specifically asked in the SVR study about their opinions on headscarf bans. Out of the 29 percent of women who said they wear a head covering, a majority backed measures for them to be allowed at school and public authorities. Around 66 percent of Muslim women who don’t wear head coverings said they should be allowed.

Representative study

The “Integration Barometer 2018” is a representative study of people with and without immigrant backgrounds in Germany. A total of 9,298 people were surveyed between July 2017 and January 2018.

The results of the latest “Integration Barometer” come after weeks of far-right protests against refugees and immigrants rocked several eastern German cities, including Chemnitz and Köthen. Although topics focusing on migrants and refugees dominate headlines and dictate and within the German government, opinion polls suggest that concerns about pensions, housing, education and infrastructure top the list of issues people are most concerned about in Germany.

Source: Germans upbeat about immigration, study finds

By campaigning to cut immigration, Quebec’s opposition parties are playing politics with their province’s future

Great piece by Chantal Hébert, pointing out the sweetheart deal that Quebec has with respect to funding for immigrant integration and how it compares with federal funding to other provinces.

The numbers tell the story. Last time I looked, the federal government transferred $345 million to Quebec (2016-17 budget). While comparisons are inexact, the 2015-16 Rapport annuel de gestion of Quebec’s Ministère de l’immigration, de la diversité et de l’inclusion indicates about $97 million in direct program spending for language training (francisation) and integration services (65 percent of the total budget of about $150 million). 

Quite a gap!

Among Canada’s larger provinces, none is greying faster than Quebec. For the first time in its modern history, the province is struggling with labour shortages. To varying degrees all its regions including Montreal are affected.

Those shortages are projected to become more acute as the last of the baby boomers retire over the coming decade. Attracting workers from other provinces —as Alberta, Ontario or British Columbia routinely do — is less than an optimal solution. There is not in the rest of Canada a big supply of skilled workers readily able to function in French.

Why then are the province’s two main opposition parties campaigning on a promise to cut down on immigration?

If elected to power on Oct. 1, the currently leading Coalition Avenir Québec would reduce the number of immigrants coming to the province by 20 per cent as of its first year in office.

A CAQ government would also force newcomers, who do not after three years meet a government-set level of proficiency in French, to leave Quebec.

For its part, the Parti Québécois would limit admission to applicants who are already fluent in French. At this point, less than half of Quebec’s annual immigration intake falls in that category.

Under either plan, the number of immigrants admitted to the province would decline significantly.

By virtue of a longstanding federal-provincial agreement, Quebec selects all its immigrants except for those who apply for refugee status from inside Canada or who qualify under the family reunification program. But the citizenship process itself remains a federal responsibility and the national norms set by Ottawa apply in all provinces.

Quebec awards more points to applicants who are already fluent in French; it also proactively tries to woe them.

If there were a neglected pool of would-be immigrants — with the language skills the PQ considers essential — somewhere in the world, the province would have already found it.

On its face, the CAQ’s proposal to expel from Quebec those who fail to meet its language requirements is unconstitutional. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right of permanent residents to move from one province to another as they see fit.

But even if it did not, the proposition that the federal government — regardless of the party in power — should undertake to remove immigrants from Quebec to forcibly settle them elsewhere in Canada or, alternatively, to send them back to their country of origin would be dead on arrival on Parliament Hill.

Indeed, if CAQ Leader François Legault does become premier this fall, he might want to question the wisdom of shining a spotlight on the Quebec/Canada immigration accord, especially in a federal election year.

The agreement was last renegotiated in the immediate aftermath of the demise of the Meech Lake Accord — at a time when then-prime minister Brian Mulroney was desperate to blunt the impact of the failure of his constitutional bid in Quebec. It can be amended but not terminated by the federal government.

There is a reason why no Quebec government — including the PQ-led ones — has wanted to reopen the deal. It is one of the most advantageous federal-provincial agreements ever struck in the history of the federation.

It includes an escalator clause that ensures the funds Ottawa transfers to Quebec for immigration purposes do not decrease from year to year.

After more than two decades, there is a significant gap between the money Quebec receives per capita for integration purposes versus the funds transferred to the other provinces. That gap is larger than the extra costs involved in offering French-language training services. One would think no Quebec government would go out of its way to highlight this.

But then to look to common sense for the rationale of the PQ and the CAQ’s immigration proposals is to look in the wrong place.

By casting immigration as a threat to Quebec’s francophone identity, the CAQ and the PQ are playing to an audience of swing nationalist voters who could make or break their respective hopes on Oct. 1.

In this spirit, at mid-campaign Legault is casting his immigration platform as a firewall designed to prevent a French-language Quebec from disappearing within two or three generations.

There are no statistics to support the CAQ leader’s doomsday scenario. Quebec requires all immigrant children to be schooled in French until the end of high school. Even if their parents never managed to master the language, they would.

Were a future Quebec government to deliberately decrease its immigration intake even as the other provinces go the other way, it would be at a cost not only to its economy but also to its demographical weight and its influence in the federation.

Source: By campaigning to cut immigration, Quebec’s opposition parties are playing politics with their province’s future

Home Office separating scores of children from parents as part of immigration detention regime

The bad stories keep on coming:

The Home Office is separating scores of children from their parents as part of its immigration detention regime – in some cases forcing them into care in breach of government policy.

Schools, the NHS and social services have written letters to the department begging them to release parents from detention because of the damaging impact it is having on their children.

Bail for Immigration Detainees (Bid), a charity that supports people in detention, said they have seen 170 children separated from their parents by the Home Office in the past year – and believes there are likely to be many more.

While usually the youngsters remain in the care of their other parent, the charity has seen a number of cases where children are taken into local authority care as a result of the detention.

Case workers highlight that this is in breach of Home Office guidelines, which state that a child “must not be separated from both adults if the consequence of that decision is that the child is taken into care”.

In one case, three young children were taken into care for several days after their dad was detained earlier this year – an experience that left them traumatised and fearful that he will be “taken away” again.

Kenneth Oranyendu, 46, was detained in March while his wife was abroad for her father’s funeral. Despite the Home Office being aware of this, they kept him in detention and his four young children were forced to go into care.

The Independent has seen letters to the Home Office from public bodies in which teachers, social workers and medical workers inform officials of the detrimental impact the detention of parents is having on their children.

One letter to the Home Office from a head teacher states that the detention of the father of two of the “most delightful and brightest” pupils in the school would impact “significantly” on their emotional wellbeing.

“It is incredibly upsetting for the girls to suddenly have their father removed from their life. This distress, to what was a happy life for these girls, will no doubt impact significantly on their emotional wellbeing,” the letter states.

“It is deeply saddening that a member of our school community who is very much liked and respected by both staff and parents has been treated in this manner, and whilst he may just be a number to you he is a friend to all of us.”

Another letter to the Home Office, from a social worker in Southwark, warns that if a man in detention is not released in time for the birth of his unborn child in three weeks’ time then the baby would have to go into care.

“If [name of detainee] is not released in time for the baby’s birth, the child will be accommodated in local authority care and care proceedings will be initiated to secure the long-term care planning arrangements for the child,” it states.

“This is understandably a situation Southwark Children’s Services wish to avoid to prevent family breakdown.”

A third letter, from an NHS trust in London, urges the Home Office to release the father of a one-year-old girl who is suffering a bleed in her brain, saying: “He has accompanied [her] to all health and therapy appointments.

“He has received training and has undertaken daily therapy activities with [her] which have been key to her development. Being deported would place the immediate family in a vulnerable situation.”

Nick Beales, a legal case worker at Bid, told The Independent he had seen three cases in the past 18 months where children were placed in care because their parent was detained.

“The Home Office knew how much damage is going to be done. We get letters from schools, and social services are pleading with them to release people,” he said.

“We regularly get reports from schools of children’s behaviour deteriorating, their school work suffering. We get reports from parents of children wetting the bed, letters from social services raising concerns about children’s conduct.

“The initial decision to detain someone is usually made with very little assessment of what’s actually going on. It’s ‘detain first, ask questions later’. Any new evidence submitted falls on deaf ears. All rationality goes out of the window.”

Maddy Evans of SOAS Detainee Support, a campaign group supporting immigration detainees, told The Independent the Home Office had been “tearing parents away from their children for years”.

“These families do not know if they will be reunited or separated forever. Needless to say, this causes unbearable distress to many detainees and their families,” she said.

“This punitive and heartless policy of family separation not only has a devastating impact on parents who are separated from their children, or left to parent alone, it has lifelong ramifications for the children involved.

“It is absolutely unconscionable to put political point scoring on immigration above a child’s right to the care and love of their parents.”

The Home Office did not provide a formal comment but said it did not separate children from both adults for immigration purposes if it means the child would be taken into care, unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

Source: Home Office separating scores of children from parents as part of immigration detention regime

What to Know About Denmark’s Controversial Plan to Eradicate Immigrant “Ghettos”

No recognition that a significant part of integration lies with the host society, and too much emphasis on sticks rather than carrots:

Pupils in 24 Danish schools will be “guinea pigs” for a new policy aimed at integrating non-Western immigrants into Danish society. From 2019, it will become law for schools that take more than 30 percent of their students from “ghetto” areas to force their students to take language tests.

Denmark‘s government currently lists 22 areas as “ghettos,” areas with social problems where more than 50% of residents are non-Western immigrants.

According to the Copenhagen Post, Students from those 24 schools will undergo Danish tests in the coming months—making them some of the first to be affected by the Danish government’s new sweeping laws aimed at eradicating immigrant “ghettos” by 2030.

“There are a number of parents who come from the Middle East who have a totally different understanding of pedagogy, childhood and school than their Scandinavian counterparts,” said Merete Riisager, the Danish minister of education, according to the Post.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen had previously announced in his New Year speech that the government intended to take measures to “end the existence of ghettos” completely. That was followed by an announcement in March that the government would pursue a new set of laws to will “deal with parallel societies.”

While it’s not the first time the government has tried to abolish “ghettos,” the latest raft of laws mean the government will specifically target these areas—proactively enforcing rulesaimed at integrating non-Western, predominantly Muslim immigrants into Danish society.

Many of the country’s 500,000 non-Western immigrants—largely from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Somalia—live in these so-called ghettos. There, politicians say, “Danishness” is threatened by the prevalence of other languages and cultural traditions.

To many immigrants, the plans feel like a thinly-veiled way of telling them they are not welcome in Denmark. Hardline policy on immigration has become the new political consensus; even the typically pro-immigration Social Democrat party, Denmark’s largest opposition party, has supported the government’s anti-ghetto plans in an effort to win back voters deserting the party over immigration concerns.

Here, more on exactly what the new policies involve.

Obligatory daycare

One of the most contentious aspects of the plans is the forced enrolment of children from “ghetto” areas in classes from the age of 1 that teach “Danish values” and the Danish language. Such classes would run for a minimum of 30 hours per week, according to government plans.

While Danish parents are not obliged to enrol their own children, parents in “ghettos” who fail to do so could have their child benefit payments stopped by municipalities.

Demolition and redevelopment

The new laws allow the government to instruct certain ghettos be demolished. “For certain ghetto areas,” the plans say, “the challenges of parallel society, crime and insecurity are so massive that it is both practical and economical to [demolish] the ghetto area and start over again.” The government has set aside more than $1.8 billion for the demolition or conversion of ghetto areas until 2026.

The plans assert that part of the reason for social problems in ghettos is the prevalence of “family homes,” and that private investors should be allowed to construct “new housing types” in struggling areas to address this. The plans also make it easier for landlords to evict tenants, in order to speed up the government’s regeneration strategy.

Tougher criminal punishments in certain areas

Under the new plans, crimes such as vandalism or theft will be punished twice as harshly if they occur within ghetto boundaries as opposed to outside them. For crimes that already have high penalties, the punishment will be increased by one third. And if a crime is normally punished with a fine, imprisonment can be levied if it occurs inside a ghetto. The plans also state that more police will be deployed to the streets of the areas under most pressure.

Lowering benefits within ghettos

Immigrants who settle in Denmark can claim benefits with few strings attached. But one of the new laws states that immigrants who live within ghetto boundaries should receive lower benefits—thereby making it “economically less attractive” to live in ghetto areas.

Incentives for reducing unemployment

Unemployment is a serious problem in these areas; the government says a third of non-Western immigrants have been out of work or school for four of the last five years.

To tackle this, the government has announced that municipalities which succeed in getting immigrants into employment will be rewarded financially, to the tune of nearly $8,000 per worker.

Source: What to Know About Denmark’s Controversial Plan to Eradicate Immigrant “Ghettos”

ICYMI: Medical inadmissibility rules make Canada a laggard

Useful comparison with the policies of other countries (most of which have overall more restrictive immigration), buried in the advocacy:

Last year, between 900 and 1,000 individuals and their families were deemed medically inadmissible to Canada because of the “excessive demand” provision in section 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These are people who have been working hard for years in Canada, who are paying their taxes in Canada, who have a network of support or an extended family in Canada. And when they apply for permanent residency, they are told, after years of navigating a cumbersome administrative process, that, for instance, their child with a disability “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”

In December 2017, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (known as CIMM) recommended the repeal of the excessive demand provision. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, had acknowledged before the committee a few weeks earlier that this provision, after being enforced for several decades, is not compatible with our Canadian values. He left open all policy options, ranging from incremental changes to a full repeal, and promised to act within months. But the minor revisions he announced on April 16 to “[bring] medical inadmissibility policy in line with inclusivity for persons with disabilities” fall short.

The provision has affected people such as Karen Talosig, who came to Canada in 2007. In 2010 she applied for permanent residency for herself and her deaf daughter, Jazmine, who had stayed in the Philippines. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada informed Talosig in 2014 that her daughter was medically inadmissible to Canada because of the possibility of “excessive demand.” Letters of support from a school board and a school for the deaf emphasized that Jazmine would not require any additional education costs. One of Talosig’s four employers lamented that “the mother has to either give up her rights to the child or leave Canada. Neither of which is a good option.” The administrative decision was reversed, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and Karen and Jazmine were eventually reunited in Canada.

The medical inadmissibility provision is 40 years old, though similar provisions have been in place in Canada for at least 150 years. When administrators conclude that applicants’ medical conditions or disabilities could cause excessive demand on services, the ruling can create a range of challenges for families and individuals, from lengthy and complex paperwork all the way to deportation. The Warkentin family, with a daughter with special needs, faced a deportation order, but they were eventually allowed to renew their permanent residency; the Montoya family, whose son has Down syndrome, had to leave Canada before the administrative decision was overturned.

As one witness before the committee said, if Terry Fox and Rick Hansen were applying for permanent residency in Canada, both of them would be denied under the excessive demand provision.

Others affected by the application of section 38(1)(c) have been persons under HIV treatment, and persons living and working in Canada who have suffered an accident that physically or mentally impaired them. Chris Mason, a permanent resident who became paraplegic while working, was deported. As one witness before the CIMM said, if Terry Fox and Rick Hansen were applying for permanent residency in Canada, both of them would be denied under the excessive demand provision. What would Canada look like without them?

The flawed logic behind this provision is that excessive demand would put pressure on “existing waiting lists and would increase the rate of mortality and morbidity in Canada.” The data available are only approximate and utterly unconvincing: these people may cost the system between 0.01 and 0.1 percent of Canada’s total annual health care and social costs. Moreover, while section 38(1)(c) applies only to the economic immigration category, the two other categories (family and refugee) have not been subjected to it for years, and Canada’s health care and social systems have not been bankrupted by families and refugees.

There are financial and psychological costs for these families, and Canadian taxpayers end up paying a substantial bill for the government to defend the provision in court.

Those who can afford an immigration consultant or a lawyer may challenge these administrative decisions in court. To convince judges that they will not cause excessive demand in Canada, these families generally either argue that the federal government did not apply the assessment rules correctly to individual cases (Hilewitz v. Canada) or propose mitigation plans to demonstrate that they can afford out-of-pocket health care and social costs (Hassan Chaudry v. Canada). There are financial and psychological costs for these families, and Canadian taxpayers end up paying a substantial bill for the government to defend the provision in court. Families who cannot afford to go to court are able neither to challenge the assessments nor to propose mitigation plans. Scott Macdonald, a Toronto immigration consultant, recently argued that the excessive demand provision is “anti-poor.”

Taking a broader view, numerous scholars, lawyers and advocates argue that section 38(1)(c) is not compatible with several international treaties that are binding on Canada, such as key United Nations human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Childand the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Maurice Tomlinson, senior policy analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, told the CIMM, “Article 18 of the [CRPD] specifically calls on states parties to ‘recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to liberty and movement, to freedom to choose their residence, and to a nationality.’ The excessive demand regime clearly violates this convention.” Tomlinson also noted, “What is ironic is that we ratified the [CPRD] at the start of the Vancouver Paralympic Games, when we welcomed the world of disabled individuals to Canada. You could play here; you just couldn’t stay here. That’s the message that was sent.”

Our country, renowned for its international role and eager to get a seat at the UN Security Council in 2021-22, has been breaching these treaties for decades. If Canada is serious about this bid, the excessive demand provision should be removed, because voting nations inspect meticulously the candidates’ public track record in international law.

Moreover, on this score, Canada is lagging behind many developed countries that do not have an excessive demand provision and whose health and social services are functioning effectively: for instance, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The United Kingdom, which had the provision before us, got rid of its own a few years ago.

Minister Hussen’s decision to make only minor adjustments to the provision, while the federal government keeps working with provinces and territories toward a full repeal, is a missed opportunity. Instead of maintaining a disgraceful ableist approach to our immigration policy, we should embrace a respectful, engaging and inclusive model, as disability rights organizations have suggested for years.

Canadians will look back one day and wonder why nothing was done in 2018 to put an end to an unfair, costly and ineffective policy. All provinces and territories except Saskatchewansupport the repeal of the excessive demand provision. The CIMM heard an overwhelming call for repeal from representative organizations and individuals.

In 2018, this government had the opportunity to end nearly 150 years of discrimination against people with disabilities in Canadian immigration legislation and policies. Canada needs more people like Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, but when will we welcome them?

via Medical inadmissibility rules make Canada a laggard

Parental sponsorship rules are antifeminist

Well I suppose. But assuming one needs to have criteria and limits to parental sponsorship in terms of overall levels of immigration (and of course assuming one supports managed immigration and levels), what alternative criteria should one use?

2018 levels plan has target of 6.5 percent for parents and grandparents:

Can you imagine being required to show proof of income of $39,000 a year for three years just to be able to have your parents close by? That’s about how much new Canadians must show to be reunited with parents through Canada’s parental sponsorship program. And only a few thousand Canadians and permanent residents are allowed, each year, to make the application to bring parents and grandparents here. As if that weren’t tough enough, the processing time is so long and the process can be so cumbersome that aging parents might die before the application is processed.

That’s what happened to the Jaffers, a family forcibly displaced from Kenya when they fled persecution of ethnic South Asians, as the Toronto Star’s Nicholas Keung reported in early March. When Shabbir Jaffer applied to sponsor his mother to come to Canada from the UK in 2007, after the death of his father, he did not know that the application would take 11 years instead of the promised 36 months. He did not know that she would be denied on the basis of the possible costs of a medical procedure that, as it turned out, she did not require. He did not know that the family would incur additional costs because of the appeal process, nor that his mother would pass away in January 2018 from pneumonia with the application stuck in processing, so that all these efforts came to naught.

Here’s the problem: simply put, Canada views parents as a burden. Canada’s parental sponsorship system is set up so that we let as few parents into this country as possible. The requirements imposed on a Canadian citizen or permanent resident submitting the application are onerous. The applicant must undertake to provide their parents with financial support for 20 years, show three years’ worth of income of at least $39,000 per annum and hope that they literally win the lottery: applicants first submit an expression of interest, and then are randomly selected (10,000 spots are available in 2018) to be allowed to apply.

Moreover, medical inadmissibility laws remain on the books; they prevent the granting of permanent residence to someone who may cause “excessive demand” on Canada’s health care system. For most aging parents, this is effectively a bar to admission that can be overcome only through an additional costly application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. That’s why the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has said that medical inadmissibility rules are not aligned with “our country’s values of inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society.” With changes promised by April 2018, Canadians and permanent residents wait for meaningful reform to the discriminatory requirement, eager to be reunited with their families.

Critics argue that liberalizing parental sponsorship will cost taxpayers money, burdening the system with the disproportionate health care needs of parents and grandparents. We know that the cost savings from medical inadmissibility rules are negligible: 0.1 percent of all provincial and territorial health spending. Moreover, most sponsored parents and grandparents arrive in Canada with assets, many find employment upon arrival, and new Canadians are, as a result, able to keep their savings in Canada rather than sending them home as remittances.

The existing program also discriminates against many new Canadians, because a significant proportion are low- and middle-income families unable to afford the high costs associated with sponsorship. Nor can they afford the high-priced “super visa,” which also requires private medical insurance and is often difficult to obtain; what’s more, this channel is currently plagued by a large processing backlog. Further, family separation hurts not just new Canadians but also the economy. It is the cause of anxiety and emotional distress that can lead to more sick days and less productivity.

But these cost arguments do not account for the emotional and child care support that parents provide. By providing mental and emotional support to their children, parents help set new Canadians up for success. Moreover, without affordable child care, many newcomer parents, particularly single mothers, are shut out of the workforce. By making it easier to sponsor parents, the government can uplift an entire cohort of workers otherwise unable to work.

It should be clear, particularly to this government, that existing parental sponsorship rules are decidedly antifeminist. They keep families apart, cost thousands of dollars to newcomers and hold single parents, particularly women, back from success. If the government is serious about governing through a feminist lens, it could start by overhauling this system that creates two tiers of citizens: one of Canadians who have their families here by accident of birth, and one of new Canadians who must pay thousands in fees, wait many years and win a lottery to be reunited with theirs.

Canadians should have the right to be with their children, and children with their parents. The Jaffers told their story in the hope that nobody else will suffer the heartache forced upon them by the Canadian government. As we reflect after International Women’s Day on building a country that is truly feminist, let’s act by reuniting parents with their children.

via Parental sponsorship rules are antifeminist

Des examens de français mieux adaptés

Appears to have been a comprehensive and thoughtful revision:

Finis les corrections trop sévères et les thèmes trop vagues. Mieux adapté au candidat, l’examen de français obligatoire que les immigrants doivent réussir pour devenir membres d’un ordre professionnel vient d’être entièrement revu pour faciliter la réussite. Et déjouer les tricheurs.

« L’ancien examen n’était pas conçu pour évaluer la compétence langagière liée à la profession », reconnaît Danielle Turcotte, directrice générale des services linguistiques à l’Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). « Alors que maintenant, tout est conçu pour que les candidats se sentent directement impliqués dans un processus lié à leur profession, à travers une étude de cas. »

Autre changement important : la grille d’évaluation sera plus souple pour la correction de la production écrite, la « bête noire » des candidats, a reconnu Mme Turcotte. Ainsi, on tolérera « de nombreuses erreurs liées à la qualité de la langue », pourvu qu’elles ne nuisent pas à la compréhension. « Les virgules et les accents, ça ne compte pas [comme des fautes] », a-t-elle souligné. Si un candidat écrit « malhreuse » au lieu de « malheureuse », on comprend ce qu’il veut dire, ajoute-t-elle. De la même façon, on ne pénalisera pas un candidat s’il met un article féminin devant un nom masculin. « On n’est plus au mot à mot ou au lettre à lettre. On est dans un contexte de langue seconde. » Cela ne veut pas dire qu’une personne peut se contenter de « baragouiner » le français, avertit-elle. « On vise la compréhension globale, qui assure que la communication se fait de façon à assurer la sécurité du client ou du public. »

Une longue attente

Cela faisait des années que les ordres professionnels réclamaient pour leurs futurs membres un examen qui tienne compte de leur contexte professionnel. En 2012, le comité d’examen de l’OQLF a décidé de répondre à la demande du milieu en créant un nouveau test en collaboration avec chacun des ordres, qui devaient déterminer eux-mêmes les compétences langagières à atteindre. Des experts en évaluation des apprentissages de l’Université de Montréal ont aussi été consultés. D’où le délai de cinq ans avant d’en arriver à cette nouvelle version de l’examen.

« Ça paraît long, mais ne perdez pas de vue la démarche qu’il a fallu faire avec les 46 ordres professionnels », a expliqué Mme Turcotte. Et l’approche par compétence, ici préconisée, demeure assez nouvelle, a-t-elle ajouté.

Ce qui change grosso modo ? Avant, le candidat avait notamment à écrire un texte d’environ 200 mots portant sur une situation en milieu de travail, mais sans nécessairement de lien direct avec le quotidien de sa profession. Par exemple, on pouvait lui demander d’écrire une lettre pour souligner le départ d’un collègue à la retraite ou pour répondre à la plainte d’un client.

Cette fois, l’examen, d’une durée d’au maximum 2 h 30, se fera d’une traite, les quatre étapes — compréhension écrite et orale, expression écrite et orale — étant préalables les unes aux autres et formant un tout. Le candidat reçoit d’abord une fiche avec des consignes qu’il doit comprendre avant de passer à la seconde étape, une discussion avec un maximum de sept autres candidats de sa propre profession. Il devra ensuite écrire un texte d’après ce qu’il aura compris de la discussion de groupe pour finalement terminer son examen par un entretien avec l’évaluateur. Certaines étapes sont filmées et enregistrées.

« Tous les examens ont leur limite, mais […] les scénarios qui mettent l’accent sur la capacité à communiquer dans un contexte de travail, c’est beaucoup plus réaliste », a affirmé Marion Weinspach, cofondatrice de l’entreprise Le français en partage, qui offre des cours de français à cette clientèle d’immigrants voulant intégrer un ordre professionnel.

Si le candidat échoue ne serait-ce qu’à une seule des quatre étapes, il devra recommencer l’examen en entier et être réévalué sur toutes les compétences. Et, comme c’était le cas auparavant, il pourra recommencer l’examen autant de fois qu’il le souhaite (dans les délais prescrits par son ordre professionnel). L’examen est gratuit et il est offert depuis la fin du mois de janvier.

Des inquiétudes

Une enseignante de français se dit très inquiète de la deuxième étape, celle de la discussion de groupe où les candidats devront parler et comprendre les autres qui, comme eux, ne maîtrisent pas le français. « Ils vont entendre parler des gens avec toutes sortes d’accent et ensuite mettre par écrit des informations qui vont avoir été dites de façon imparfaite », s’est inquiétée cette professeure de plus de 20 ans d’expérience qui souhaite garder l’anonymat. L’OQLF rétorque qu’une personne animant la discussion s’assurera du bon déroulement de l’activité.

Et s’il sera plus difficile de préparer les étudiants spécifiquement pour cet examen, au moins la tricherie sera éliminée. « Avant, ils connaissaient les grands thèmes et pouvaient apprendre par coeur des textes qu’ils réécrivaient. »

L’assouplissement des critères d’évaluation pour le français écrit est « un couteau à double tranchant », croit Marion Weinspach. « L’écrit est devenu un petit peu moins exigeant, mais d’un autre côté, c’est au niveau de l’expression orale, où il y a un vocabulaire très spécifique à connaître, que ça devient plus exigeant. Être capable de lire un certificat de localisation pour un courtier ou de verbaliser un bilan pour un comptable, c’est plus difficile mais c’est plus réaliste. Et c’est ce que les ordres avaient demandé. »

La présidente du Conseil interprofessionnel du Québec, Gyslaine Desrosiers, salue la nouvelle version de l’examen, mais rappelle que tout le poids de l’intégration en français des travailleurs immigrants ne doit pas reposer sur l’OQLF. « L’examen, c’est un seul élément de la trajectoire. Il faut qu’il y ait des efforts faits en amont, par l’individu lui-même et son employeur. Le MIDI [ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion] doit aider en dégageant des budgets. » Elle met toutefois en garde contre une baisse des exigences. « Dans un contexte de mondialisation, il y a énormément de pression pour ça, […] mais la protection du public exige un minimum de fonctionnement dans la langue. Dans ce sens, l’OQLF a fait son travail et revu son examen. »

via Des examens de français mieux adaptés | Le Devoir

L’internet joue un rôle crucial dans l’intégration des immigrants, selon une étude

Not much new here but nevertheless useful to have the study. Recommendations relate to reduced cost of internet (considered expensive) and more public access points (I had thought that libraries were filling that gap):

L’internet joue un rôle crucial dans l’intégration des immigrants au pays, autant pour se trouver un emploi que pour comprendre la culture de leur terre d’accueil, révèle une étude.

Celle-ci a été entreprise par des chercheurs de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), qui voulaient comprendre si et comment l’internet favorisait l’intégration.

Rien ou quasiment rien n’existait sur le sujet, a expliqué en entrevue téléphonique l’un des auteurs, le professeur Christian Agbobli, du département des communications sociales et publiques. L’étude a aussi été rédigée par Magda Fusaro, professeure au Département de management et technologie de l’UQAM et titulaire de la Chaire de l’UNESCO en communication et technologies pour le développement.

Leur conclusion? L’internet joue un rôle majeur pour les immigrants.

«Ils nous ont dit: “on a besoin d’internet” et “on ne peut pas fonctionner ici sans internet”», rapporte le professeur Agbobli, aussi cotitulaire de la Chaire de l’UNESCO.

Ils s’en servent même plus depuis leur arrivée au Canada que dans leur pays d’origine, a fait remarquer M. Agbobli.

Plus de la moitié des répondants ont inscrit que leur consommation d’internet avait augmenté de plus de 51% depuis qu’ils ont posé leurs valises au Canada.

Et cela parce que leurs réseaux existants dans leur ancien pays les aidaient à se trouver un emploi, par exemple, alors qu’ici, dépourvus de contacts, ils se fient beaucoup à l’internet pour la recherche d’un boulot. C’est le cas pour plus de 75% d’entre eux, est-il indiqué dans l’étude.

Les immigrants qui ont participé à l’étude résident au Canada depuis moins de 10 ans, et un sous-groupe évalué y était depuis moins de trois ans.

Les immigrants du Canada avaient presque tous (70,9 %) une connexion internet à leur maison et le téléphone cellulaire intelligent est l’équipement qu’ils utilisent le plus pour naviguer sur la toile.

Ils s’en servent aussi pour obtenir une foule de services, comme ouvrir un compte bancaire, se trouver un logement, des ressources dans leur quartier, et aussi pour comprendre les coutumes locales, comme savoir comment les gens se saluent. Ils vont aussi y lire les journaux canadiens, ajoute le professeur.

«Ça m’a beaucoup aidée, a déclaré une répondante. Vous pouvez trouver de l’information sur les sites internet du gouvernement et trouver les bénéfices pour enfants, et actuellement j’applique pour la citoyenneté et vous pouvez y trouver toute l’information.»

L’un des sites internet les plus sollicités par ces nouveaux arrivants est Google map, a souligné M. Agbobli.

Beaucoup de femmes immigrantes ont indiqué que cela les aidait à se déplacer d’elles-mêmes et ainsi être plus autonomes sans craindre de se perdre dans la ville.

«Par exemple, si mon mari prend la voiture, je peux facilement me déplacer parce que j’ai l’internet et je peux vérifier quel autobus passe près de ma maison, alors je ne suis pas tout le temps dépendante de mon mari, pour qu’il m’amène d’une place à l’autre. C’est l’une des choses les plus importantes pour moi», a relaté une autre répondante, dont le témoignage est retranscrit dans l’étude.

L’internet brise l’isolement, a fait valoir le professeur. «Et il devient »un lieu«, un »mode de vie«».

Évidemment, les immigrants se servent aussi de l’internet pour rester en contact avec leur famille et leurs amis dans leur pays d’origine.

La plus grande majorité des répondants étaient âgés de 30 à 39 ans, plus de 65% ont un diplôme universitaire et près de 80% d’entre eux sont des femmes. «Ce qui crée un biais dans l’interprétation des données, mais répond au biais qui avait été généré par la recherche elle-même», peut-on y lire. Car les femmes faisaient partie de l’un des trois groupes (avec les jeunes et les nouveaux arrivants) sur lesquels la recherche voulait plus spécifiquement se pencher. «Car les femmes sont souvent plus vulnérables dans le processus migratoire», fait valoir le professeur.

Les auteurs de la recherche formulent aussi des recommandations. D’abord, ils suggèrent au gouvernement de rendre l’internet plus accessible: les coûts sont élevés au Canada, ont constaté bon nombre d’immigrants. Un plus grand accès au wifi dans des lieux publics serait apprécié, disent-ils.

Aux organismes d’aide aux immigrants, ils suggèrent des cours sur l’usage d’internet, pour mieux les outiller et qu’ils puissent en faire un usage plus précis et efficace.

La collecte de données de l’étude a été faite en 2016. L’équipe a choisi de mener cette recherche dans les quatre provinces qui accueillent le plus d’immigration, soit l’Ontario, le Québec, l’Alberta et la Colombie-Britannique. Elle a été menée à l’aide d’entretiens en personne et de questionnaires.

via L’internet joue un rôle crucial dans l’intégration des immigrants, selon une étude | Stéphanie Marin | National

Quebec: Ministère de l’Immigration: la VG dénonce de graves lacunes de gestion

Some of these issues not unique to Quebec:

Le Québec a accueilli plus de 500 Syriens l’an dernier, et près de 8000 demandeurs d’asile ont frappé à la porte à la frontière depuis six mois. Au même moment, le ministère de l’Immigration présente de graves lacunes de gestion. La francisation des nouveaux arrivants et leur intégration ne sont pas soumises à des contrôles rigoureux.

Près de 8000 demandeurs d’asile ont frappé à la porte à la frontière depuis six mois.

Dur verdict de la vérificatrice générale, Guylaine Leclerc, qui dépose son rapport de l’automne aujourd’hui à l’Assemblée nationale. Ses observations sur la vente de trois immeubles de la Société immobilière du Québec, en 2007, mobiliseront l’attention des médias. La mission est délicate pour Mme Leclerc qui, comme juricomptable, avait déjà audité le même dossier, avec un mandat de la Société québécoise des infrastructures. Au surplus, l’Unité permanente anticorruption fait déjà enquête dans ce dossier qui touche des responsables du financement du Parti libéral du Québec, William Bartlett et Franco Fava. Mais l’appréciation de la vérificatrice à l’égard des pratiques du ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) nécessitera des correctifs de la part du gouvernement.

Selon les sources de La Presse, la vérificatrice mettra en lumière l’absence de reddition de comptes dans deux volets importants des activités du Ministère, soit l’intégration et la francisation. Le MIDI accorde 16 millions pour l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, sommes qui transitent par des organismes communautaires.

La reddition de comptes est défaillante en matière d’intégration. Le Ministère négocie avec un organisme parapluie et n’a aucune idée de ce qui se passe sur le terrain.

D’autre part, le Ministère paie la note auprès des établissements d’enseignement pour la francisation des immigrés. Or, dans ces deux volets, le Ministère n’a pas de moyen d’apprécier l’efficacité de ses efforts, il ne peut évaluer la qualité des services rendus ni l’amélioration des compétences en français. Chez Emploi Québec, on relance les prestataires au téléphone trois mois après l’intervention du Ministère pour évaluer son succès. Rien de tel pour les interventions du MIDI, explique-t-on. Il y a déjà eu des visites des fonctionnaires de l’Immigration pour vérifier les activités d’intégration, mais cette pratique est disparue depuis belle lurette.

Sans contact avec leur clientèle, les fonctionnaires du MIDI atteignent des sommets de démotivation, indique-t-on en coulisse – les demandes de mutation des fonctionnaires du MIDI sont nombreuses, situation surprenante puisqu’il s’agit de l’un des rares ministères concentrés à Montréal.

Le gouvernement Couillard, à l’approche des élections, a retrouvé plus d’argent et s’apprête à infirmer deux décisions qui avaient été prises sous Kathleen Weil, à la fin de l’époque Charest. On envisage de rouvrir les bureaux régionaux, fermés en 2013 et 2014, au grand dam des syndicats de fonctionnaires. En outre, on redéploiera des effectifs à l’étranger – on parle d’une trentaine de personnes pour revamper une représentation réduite à sa plus simple expression au cours des dernières années.

via Ministère de l’Immigration: la VG dénonce de graves lacunes de gestion | Denis Lessard | Politique québécoise