Canadians need access to immigration and citizenship data. Through a new dashboard, the ICC and Andrew Griffith are making it more accessible to the public.

Just launched yesterday, a fun project to work on and one that hopefully will make some key IRCC data more accessible and understandable. My post on the Institute for Canadian Citizenship website below.

Check it out and let us know what you think:

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan Hiebert (University of British Columbia) and Howard Ramos (Western University) were speculating about the possible impact of COVID-19 on immigration and citizenship in Canada. These discussions highlighted the unique value and importance of data and ultimately led to monthly tracking of IRCC data across the full range of programs: Permanent Residents, temporary workers, settlement services, international students, citizenship, and visitor visas.

The importance of data was made visible during the citizenship backlogs in the early 2000s and 2010s, which prompted the respective governments to increase funding to IRCC to reduce large backlogs.

We were curious how COVID-19 would change the complex set of push and pull factors that incentivize migration. Put simply, source countries have attributes that make life look more attractive abroad and host countries have features that attract newcomers. For instance, a weak economy or poorer quality of life at home compared to good jobs and good health abroad.

Monthly tracking of data would allow us to observe the downstream impact of COVID-19 on the number and origin of people moving through Canada’s various immigration and citizenship programs delivered through IRCC.

As it happened, the data revealed that COVID-19 did not significantly affect immigration source countries apart from China, where Chinese government restrictions and policies resulted in an ongoing decline compared to other countries.

Source: Immigration Dashboard

In the end, it was the Canadian government’s immigration policy response after the initial shutdowns and restrictions that had a much greater impact on immigration and citizenship than our relative handling of COVID-19.

The government’s response included both short-term measures to address particular pressure points such as seasonal agriculture workers, greater flexibility for international students for remote study, and perhaps most significantly, the vast expansion of temporary residents transitioning to permanent residency (TR2PRR).

Picking up on earlier plans stalled by the pandemic, the government took full advantage of the opportunity to implement substantial increases in immigration levels, with the most recent plan committing to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in 2025.

Source: Immigration Dashboard

The citizenship program, briefly shut-down, moved to a mix of virtual and in-person citizenship ceremonies and has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Medium and longer-term measures included more online applications and tracking along with IT, AI, and associated investments to improve processing.

Each of these responses had an impact on the people moving through IRCC’s immigration and citizenship programs. But to what degree? The observable change can only be seen in IRCC’s monthly data tables, which remain complex and unapproachable to most.

The goal of this dashboard is to make basic immigration and citizenship data more readily available and accessible to the public. It focuses on permanent residents and new citizens in terms of overall numbers, immigration categories, the countries of citizenship and the year-over-year change. Application data is not included given the approximately six-month time lag. IRCC web data provides a sense of interest in immigrating to Canada and becoming a citizen.

The data series starts in 2018, two years prior to the start of COVID-19, and tracks the impact of COVID-19 and the related effects of the government policy and program responses to COVID-19.

Now, more than two years later, most of Canada’s immigration programs have recovered from the depths of COVID-19 health and travel restrictions.

A more in-depth analysis of COVID-19’s impact and Canadian immigration and citizenship’s recovery can be found in my article, “How the government used the pandemic to sharply increase immigration“.

The hope is that this dashboard will help to spark, substantiate, and contextualize more conversations about immigration and citizenship in Canada.

New Leger Poll says 30% of young new Canadians could leave in the next two years

Interesting data, worth looking at the detailed breakdowns by age, education, income etc and significant concerns particularly among the younger and university cohorts.

Data on the number of immigrants who actually emigrate is imperfect but this 2018 Statistics Canada study, Measuring Emigration in Canada: Review of Available Data Sources and Methods, provides estimates for all Canadians, not just immigrants, ranging from 150,000 (using tax data, likely the best indicator) to 450,000.

The Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2021, however, indicates about 37,000 in 2019-20.

Earlier studies by Statistics Canada indicate that recent immigrants, young adults and more highly educated individuals are more likely to emigrate.

Given that our selection criteria are biased towards the younger and more highly educated, a certain amount of “churn” is to be expected:

A new national survey conducted by Leger on behalf of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) — Canada’s leading citizenship organization and the world’s foremost voice on citizenship and inclusion — challenges some cherished Canadian assumptions about immigration and citizenship.

“Canada is a nation of immigrants — and one of the stories we tell ourselves is that we are welcoming to new immigrants, wherever they may be from,” says ICC CEO Daniel Bernhard. “But while this may be generally true, new survey data points to the fact that many new Canadians are having a crisis of confidence in Canada — and that should be ringing alarm bells all over Ottawa.”

Survey findings include:

  • 30% of 18–34-year-old new Canadians and 23% of university-educated new Canadians say they are likely to move to another country in the next two years.
  • While most Canadians and new immigrant Canadians alike believe that Canada provides immigrants with a good quality of life, Canadians have a much more positive outlook on Canada’s immigration policy compared to new Canadian immigrants.
  • New Canadian immigrants are more likely to believe that Canadians don’t understand the challenges that immigrants face and feel the rising cost of living will make immigrants less likely to stay in Canada.
  • Immigrants with university degrees tend to have less favourable opinions on matters related to fair job opportunity and pay than other immigrants.
  • Among those who would not recommend Canada as a place to live, current leadership and the high cost of living were the top two reasons

The full survey data is available here.

“The data suggest that younger, highly skilled immigrants in particular are starting to fall between the cracks,” said Dave Scholz, Executive Vice-President at Leger. “We need to continue working hard to ensure that we are welcoming newcomers with the resources they need to succeed, and that we continue to be a country that provides opportunity.”

Source: New Leger Poll says 30% of young new Canadians could leave in the next two years

Promoting diversity and inclusion, and how to tell the difference: RBC Neil McLaughlin

McLaughlin, head of personal and commercial banking for the Royal Bank of Canada, on how to leverage and benefit from diversity:

Canada is one of the world’s most diverse countries. Business gets it.

Diversity and inclusion are part of our values. They’re critical to the future prosperity of our country. They’re a business imperative and key for growth and innovation.

We know this. So what are we doing about it?

That’s a growing challenge for Canadian businesses as we come to grips with twin revolutions in the technology we use and the society we serve.

This summer, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship surveyed 64 leading organizations – from hospitals to technology firms – that collectively employ 1.2 million Canadians to ask them about diversity and inclusion: how they define it, how they go about promoting it and how they measure it.

The survey results will be released at the 6 Degrees Conference in Toronto on Sept. 26, and the findings are both encouraging and concerning. Canadian business gets diversity, but we’re struggling with inclusion – an imprecise and ambiguous word that most employers don’t know how to approach. Diversity is often considered to be what we see. It’s a fact. Inclusion is what we hear – how we value, respect and involve everyone. It’s a choice.

Nearly 90 per cent of organizations in the survey strongly believe diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions. And, as we deal with whipsaw changes in the digital revolution, we realize we need more diverse perspectives than ever.

Here’s the rub. Where the majority of organizations see themselves as diverse, and go to great lengths to foster diversity, few have found a way to come to grips with inclusion strategically.

The numbers tell the story: 65 per cent strongly agree that leveraging diversity is fundamental to organizational performance, but only 10 per cent say they’re taking full advantage of a diverse work force. Only 20 per cent tie diversity and inclusion results to performance objectives and only 10 per cent measure the effects of diversity and inclusion on innovation.

In roundtables across the country, we heard shared concerns from different and diverse companies. A mining giant saw attracting more women as an answer to the problem of an aging work force – and then realized at its mine sites it didn’t have goggles or helmets that fit them properly. A state-of-the-art hospital in a low-income neighbourhood discovered that many of the residents its serves view it as the “castle on a hill” rather than a health-care partner or potential employer.

These firms recognized that while they’re surrounded by diversity, they’re not harnessing it and, therefore, are not moving at the pace of change of the communities around them. We all know we have more talent, more ideas, more passion, more perspectives than we use. In business, we’d call it a stranded asset.

When you consider that Canada accepts 300,000 immigrants annually, that one-fifth of Canadians are visible minorities and that 60 per cent of Canadian females between the ages of 25 and 64 have post-secondary degrees, the survey numbers tell us we need to do better. Add to that the fact global talent is highly mobile, and it’s clear: We need to do better now.

At RBC, we’ve seen incredible creativity and innovation through a co-op program, Amplify, that encourages students – two-thirds of whom were born outside Canada – to solve some of RBC’s most complex business challenges. We’re taking that diversity of thought and trying to leverage it for better business results. That’s inclusion.

It’s not about relying on the “smartest person in the room” but the talent of many. It’s about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. As our Amplify program shows, a diverse group of engaged people is more likely to solve a challenge than a genius lone wolf. This diversity of thought is where you get innovation.

If we are to tackle challenges such as climate change and health care, we need to cultivate the talents of all our best minds. We need to see inclusion not as an employee-engagement tool, but a core part of corporate strategy and a way to build stronger communities.

So, how can Canadian employers leverage the country’s diversity to come up with new ways of thinking and working? Here are some ideas we heard in conversation with organizations across the country: Get the strategy group to make diversity and inclusion their own priority. Adopt innovation metrics to see how inclusion is paying off. Make it a central part of every leadership discussion. Promote a questioning culture, to engage the minds of the many, not just those who think they’ve got it figured out. Measure, measure, measure. Compensate accordingly. Repeat.

Canadian business gets it. Now we need to act on it.

Source: Promoting diversity and inclusion, and how to tell the difference – The Globe and Mail

Canada’s identity is an experiment in the process of being realized: Foran

Interesting reflections by Charlie Foran on Canadian identity and its complexities:

It has certainly been a slow awakening. In 1972, a young Margaret Atwood willed a unity onto the then-nascent notion of a Canadian literature with her influential thematic study, Survival. “When I discovered the shape of the national tradition I was depressed,” she admitted. The immigrant “is confronted only by a nebulosity, a blank: no ready-made ideology is provided for him.”

Ms. Atwood famously declared the act of cultural, political and, yes, meteorological “survival” in such an environment to be our determining narrative. Not long afterward, the journalist June Callwood wondered if the actual daily practice of civility – in part, our overpraised politeness – might be the Canadian unifier. Truth be told, neither concept goes far enough toward the territory of heroic statuary or stirring legend.

Here we are in 2016, when few dispute any longer the unseemly length of English Canada’s colonial hangover. For the first century of nationhood, we didn’t bother moving away from imported and inherited customs and thinking, a stark disavowal of lived history and geography.

Canada in the 21st century is certainly an energized place by comparison. Our cultural industries are big businesses and our artists are reasonably supported. Audiences for most of the arts are on a steady rise.

Even so, we continue to export much of our acting and musical talent, ignore our films, keep Canadian theatre largely in the commercial margins, and at the moment appear destined to outlast the era of brilliant long-form television without making a significant contribution to it – unlike, say, tiny Norway or Denmark.

The senior film producer Robert Lantos fumed in this newspaper at the CRTC’s rejection of an all-Canadian movie channel under the “mandatory carriage” category, calling the chairman “utterly blind to the cultural imperatives of what it takes to be a nation.” That was last weekend. Mr. Lantos also lamented the modest Canadian box office for Remember, the latest film by Atom Egoyan. Add Paul Gross’s impressive Hyena Road to the predictable list of the predictably neglected.

Given these ongoing challenges for Canadian arts and artists, why then would anyone think it lucky for English Canada to be too late to create an old-fashioned cultural nation? Consider the Prime Minister’s comments again, especially his calling us the “first postnational state.”

Like so much of the focus of the new government, the words seem calculated to change the direction of public thought. In the months since the election, the Liberals have proposed lots of new words for fresh thinking: reconciliation, diversity, inclusion, to name a few.

If this was Justin Trudeau’s intent, it is worthy. We do need new language to describe this vast, improbable country called 21st-century Canada. We do need to find a way to inhabit our entire cultural space.

To do so, we must get past one easy misconception – the outdated nation-state model – and one harder reality: the historic comfort level among Canadians with conceiving of themselves as parts of smaller, cozier self-definitions, as well an attendant incuriosity about who else lives reasonably nearby.

The launching point for this project is obvious. Indigenous Canada is where we all live, in terms of geography, spirit, and history. In order for that to be real and meaningful, we must start with the stark: that a cultural genocide occurred, and most of us were unaware or, perhaps, just not concerned enough. Artistic expressions of these truths are necessary, and can only help.

Overall, Canada as an experimental cultural space requires the right spirit in order to take shape. That spirit, simply, is an openness to having your history unsettled and your mind changed. As well, a certain comfort level with complexity and irresolution is probably good. In her forthcoming book, The Promise of Canada, Charlotte Gray calls us an “unfinished and perhaps unfinishable project.” That sounds about right.

At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan gained national attention with his poem We Are More. Canadians thrilled to lines such as “We are an idea in the process of being realized” and “We are an experiment going right for a change.”

Source: Canada’s identity is an experiment in the process of being realized – The Globe and Mail

True test of Canadian citizenship is in how we welcome Syria’s refugees: Charles Foran

Charlie Foran of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship on the test for all Canadians:

In most regards, Syrians are like every other refugee group. We’ve been reminding ourselves lately of how well we managed with the Vietnamese in the late 1970s, and the Hungarians in the late 1950s. There is a certain degree of false comfort in this. Surrounding these good-news stories, of course, have been numerous other arrivals, many of whose rights we violated. Japanese internment camps shouldn’t be forgotten. Nor the turning away of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, or Sikhs aboard the Komagata Maru in Vancouver harbour.

To explain Canada’s often begrudging acceptance of immigrants, some of us insist on arcing all the way back to a foundational narrative to make the point. In the spring and summer of 1847, the sleepy colonial outpost of Toronto had its population involuntarily tripled by boatloads of Irish escaping the great famine. “A calamity upon the Province,” is how one emigration agent described the hasty influx of 40,000 impoverished Celts.

Locals, then largely of British extraction, felt much put upon, and didn’t like the Irish showing up in such large numbers, and in such a woeful state. They treated the newcomers badly. But things turned out okay for sleepy Toronto, now the astounding GTA, and the province, and, for that matter, Irish-Canadians. They’ve turned out okay for most everyone else, as well.

With the Syrians, however, there are, unfortunately, uneasy circumstances. None emanates from the refugees themselves, it must be stressed – all are projections upon them. Some people try to draw dark links between a global religion and a virulent extremist movement. Suspicions of guilt are being raised, based on ethnicity and geography alone. Most of the accusers are scared and ignorant, but some are craven and cynical, intent on havoc.

Little in reality confirms these anxieties – terrorists don’t huddle in camps for years and then apply to immigrate; terrorists are usually homegrown – but they exist. In Europe, especially, the sane political centre may be at temporary risk. In the United States, there is Donald Trump, among other worries.

“Alienness,” the author Pico Iyer writes, “inheres not in a place or object, but in our relation to it. Our fears – of course – are as irrational as our dreams.” In the 21st-century Canada I’ve been outlining, it isn’t easy to hold on to those irrational fears of the proverbial alien or “other.” There is just too rapid and ongoing a dissolve of us-and-them divisions for such narrow, dismal thinking to survive scrutiny.

Even so, we’ve already had the election niqab controversy and the Peterborough mosque attack, and it is naïve to assume 2016 will pass without further attacks and signs of strain. Whatever they are, we’ll need to remain calm and assured, and stand our values’ ground. Those values can be, must be, expressed through gestures of welcome, large and small.

For example, I work at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a not-for-profit based in downtown Toronto. One of our programs is the Cultural Access Pass (CAP). It provides new citizens a year of free admission to more than 1,200 cultural attractions, parks and historic sites across the country, and is a modest way of issuing a welcome, and encouraging a sense of belonging. For 2016 we’re going to extend a version of the pass to the Syrians, to say the same, and in case others might be sending them different messages.

Passing our collective citizenship test in 2016 will involve making many such gestures, along with a real thoughtfulness and self-awareness about the “defining moment” the Governor-General has described.

It isn’t just about the year ahead, either. It is about the years, decades, to come.

It is also about 2017, and the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Celebrate the sesquicentennial, we all surely will. But the anniversary should also serve as the next platform to engage in honest exchanges about the kind of country we once were and the kind of country we’re in the process – always the process – of becoming.

Accepting, embracing, the present and future Canada may compel a still greater appetite for the necessary self-examination around issues concerning our complex history with immigrants and First Nations, Métis and Inuit. We sure do need to make a few things right.

If we can keep working on this while celebrating, in 2017, then the next Syrians – whoever they prove to be – will be likewise welcomed, and the next group again after that. The statistical destination of 2030 may soon cease to have any real meaning: By then, we’ll probably already be that bold post-nation-state Canada, with its plurality of minorities and advanced citizenship.

Source: True test of Canadian citizenship is in how we welcome Syria’s refugees – The Globe and Mail