Foreign-educated nurse allowed to work in Manitoba after appeal panel ruling

Misleading header as story is regarding provincial equivalency, not foreign:

A foreign-educated nurse has won an appeal and will be allowed to work in Manitoba — a significant development overruling the provincial nursing regulator, which repeatedly denied her a licence due to a nursing competency test requirement.

An appeal panel of the Council of the Colleges of Registered Nurses of Manitoba unanimously ruled Thursday that Ronna Sigua must be allowed to register with the provincial college of registered nurses.

To not do so, the council said in a decision obtained by CBC, would violate Canadian free-trade laws, which the college must heed under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Sigua, who was educated in the Philippines, was denied registration in 2013 by the Manitoba college unless she upgraded her basic nursing education. She was told, however, she required more education than could be provided at the time in Manitoba by two programs in place for international applicants.

Sigua instead finished a Quebec-based upgrading program, passed a Quebec professional nursing exam and was licensed there in 2019 and, a year later, in Ontario.

Sigua again applied for a Manitoba registration in March 2021 as a labour-mobility applicant, seeing as she was registered elsewhere in Canada.

The College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba again denied her, saying she needed to first undergo a clinical competency test. Sigua instead filed her appeal, which was heard July 26.

The appeal panel, chaired by public representative and former Law Society of Manitoba president Irene Hamilton, was of the view the college’s refusal to license Sigua “could not stand,” a four-page written decision said.

The ruling quotes from free-trade agreements that oblige signatories to certify people working in regulated professions in one jurisdiction to work in another “without any requirement for any material additional training, experience, examinations or assessments” as part of the process.

“It is the decision of the panel that these provisions apply to Ms. Sigua,” the ruling states. “Therefore we allow her appeal and direct that the CRNM register Ms. Sigua as a registered nurse in Manitoba.”

‘Stressful, expensive’ appeal

Winnipeg lawyer Evan Edwards, who represented Sigua, said the decision could have far-reaching implications.

“Ms. Sigua is pleased with the decision … which is important for so many nurses seeking to work in Manitoba,” he said in an emailed statement.

“She is looking forward to getting back to work as a registered nurse and having an opportunity to help ease the burden on the strained health-care system,” Edwards said.

But fighting the case has taken a toll on her and others in similar positions, as well as the provincial health system, the lawyer said.

“For her this litigation has been time-consuming, stressful, expensive, and in her opinion, completely unnecessary. Further, while the college was fighting this case, the province has been deprived of the much-needed services of a number of fully qualified registered nurses,” Edwards said.

The decision also comes at a time when the provincial health ministry is removing obstacles for nurses in similar positions to Sigua, as Manitoba contends with a nursing shortage, called a “crisis” on Thursday by Health Minister Audrey Gordon.

Gordon has issued a compliance order compelling the nursing college to remove its requirement that internationally educated nurses already licensed in other Canadian jurisdictions be subject to further testing if they’re trying for a second time to get licensed in Manitoba.

The order asserts the college’s clinical competence assessment demand — which Sigua was told she had to go through again but subsequently challenged — violates numerous domestic trade agreements and Manitoba’s Labour Mobility Act. Not all Canadian jurisdictions require the same clinical competence assessment.

The appeal panel’s decision said it was presented with Gordon’s order on July 26, the day of Sigua’s hearing — but after it had deliberated and reached its decision in her case.

The College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba says it’s working to implement the outcome of the appeal panel’s decision and Gordon’s compliance order.

The change is expected to impact fewer than 10 applicants coming from other parts of Canada who had previously submitted an application for registration, the college said in an emailed statement on Monday

Source: Foreign-educated nurse allowed to work in Manitoba after appeal panel ruling

New immigration plan targets agricultural workers

The government continues to implement more targeted immigration programs:

A long-awaited program to give temporary agricultural workers a path to citizenship will be launched today, but its tight criteria will exclude many of them, including those who work in Manitoba.

“Immigration criteria is set up for urban-centric occupations and not rural, farm and food occupations,” said Janet Krayden, a spokeswoman for Mushrooms Canada.

The federal Liberals announced the agri-food immigration pilot program last summer, but delayed its launch, set for March, due to COVID-19. It will offer permanent residency to non-seasonal, year-round agricultural workers in Canada who meet certain criteria.

Ottawa will grant permanent status to as many as 8,250 workers over three years. Just as many people can qualify as family members, for a total of 16,500.

But applicants have to pay for an assessment of their home country’s high school degree. They also must pay for a Canadian Language Benchmark-4 language test, a level that involves being able to read a recipe and give driving directions.

“The requirements are fairly high,” said Diwa Marcelino, an organizer with Migrante Manitoba.

Seasonal workers, who continue to spend summers in Canada before returning to their home countries, are ineligible for the pilot program.

Yet the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council praised the program, saying the sector has lobbied for years to keep workers with skills that agricultural companies need, but whom Ottawa doesn’t deem as specialized labour.

“This is what this new program is designed to address,” said council head Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst.

Her group found that in 2017, 1,100 unfilled Manitoba agriculture jobs cost the sector $367 million in lost sales. The council believes Manitoba is on track to fall short by 5,300 jobs at the end of this decade, as demand rises for grain, oilseeds, beef and pork.

MacDonald-Dewhirst said her industry has pushed hard to hire Canadians, but recruitment campaigns haven’t bridged the growing job gap that leads to unharvested food.

Now, COVID-19 travel restrictions make it harder to fly in foreign workers and safely house them, and the coronavirus is disrupting supply chains that import food.

“This is a great time to be doing this project,” MacDonald-Dewhirst said of the pilot. “These are people who are here on a temporary basis, and are looking to make Canada their home; they’re excited to do so.”

Marcelino fears the program will worsen the exploitation of foreign workers. His group has long advocated that agricultural workers are only safe when they have Canadian citizenship.

“There’s a huge power imbalance employers have over their employees, because their status is dependent on their employment,” he said.

Marcelino argued employers will use the pilot program as leverage to make sure workers don’t cause a fuss over labour conditions.

“You have this even bigger carrot on a stick that workers are vying for.”

Marcelino argued that’s especially dangerous during COVID-19, with migrant workers alleging that Alberta meat plants encouraged them to keep working even though they had symptoms, sparking some of the largest coronavirus outbreaks on the continent.

Source: New citizenship plan targets agricultural workers

The sole premier to stand up against Bill 21


As Canada’s premiers gather Monday in Toronto, there will be no shortage of topics to discuss. But one topic, Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols by designated public-sector workers such as teachers and police, has been banned from the formal agenda.

Based on the principle of separation of church and state, Bill 21 would prohibit a person from wearing a crucifix necklace or a headscarf on the job.

Only one premier, Brian Pallister of Manitoba, has spoken out strongly and consistently against Bill 21. He introduced a motion in the legislature, passed unanimously, affirming the opposition of all MLAs to “any law that seeks to unjustifiably limit the religious freedoms of citizens, including passing a law that unjustifiably denies an individual’s right to wear religious clothing or symbols of one’s choice.”

Last week, that opposition gained national notoriety with the placement of pointed French language ads in Quebec daily newspapers by Manitoba citing “21 reasons to feel at home in Manitoba,” featuring a photo of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Quebec Premier François Legault responded tartly, suggesting Mr. Pallister spend the ad money on French-language services and, by the way, keep a Winnipeg Jets hockey player in Manitoba, before you start asking Quebeckers to move there.

Premier Pallister was unrepentant. “If you are not willing to defend others’ rights and freedoms, do not expect them to defend yours.” he stated in the legislature. “Something ugly and unjust is happening right now in Quebec.”

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative premiers have had a mixed history when it comes to Charter rights and Quebec. Sterling Lyon was a long holdout against a Charter of Rights and Freedoms during the constitutional negotiations of the early 1980s, citing the supremacy of legislatures. Gary Filmon was a public skeptic of recognizing Quebec as a “distinct society” throughout the Meech Lake negotiations of the late 1980s.

Mr. Pallister’s opposition is grounded in neither of these shibboleths. It is an unapologetic defence of individual rights and freedoms and how they reinforce Canadian unity. It springs from a unique Prairie conservatism that combines libertarian individualism with progressive societal values of community. Turns out, he is one of the few – maybe only – practising proponents of this active progressive conservatism in the Canadian conservative movement.

Neither federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, nor Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has expressed anything close to Mr. Pallister’s level of criticism. Mr. Scheer was hunting seats in Quebec in the federal election and Mr. Kenney hopes to get a pipeline through the province. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford hastened to assure Premier Legault that a unanimous motion in the Ontario Legislature criticizing Bill 21 sprung from the opposition side and not his government.

Quebec’s political clout in the federation is, well, distinct. Its outsized influence has shaped Canada from Confederation. The key to a majority government only works in the Quebec door.

But premiers in the rest of Canada don’t have to win votes in Quebec. The cavilling of federal politicians is understandable if unsightly; but premiers?

They either quietly agree with Mr. Legault or they silently concur with his right to act as he is doing. Despite its billing as an instrument “to strengthen the Canadian federation,” the Council of the Federation has morphed into a forum where internal differences are muted in favour of securing consensus demands upon the federal government.

Bill 21 falls squarely into this category. It is a distraction to presenting a united front to Ottawa. More to the point: Why alienate Quebec when your own provincial alienation demands attention?

Such is politics but it also illustrates an emerging provincial force in the federation: autonomy. “Going it alone” through a more muscular exercising of provincial powers and authorities, as Alberta and Saskatchewan are currently contemplating, is the sister covenant to “distinct society.” Chastising Quebec on Bill 21 would contradict the autonomous impulse every province and premier cherishes to justify its unique circumstances now or in the future.

But the premiers’ collective silence on Bill 21 reflects something much more uncomfortable to Mr. Pallister: a potential erosion of rights requiring the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by Quebec to allow it to proceed and protect it from legal challenge.

But that too is no longer taboo. New Brunswick is invoking it on a provaccination bill and Ontario threatened to use it for legislation to upend Toronto City Council elections and cut the size of council by half. The notwithstanding clause is proving the autonomists’ tool of choice.

Standing alone has never been a barrier to Mr. Pallister’s exercise of his conception of Canadian unity and protection of rights and freedoms. He sees Bill 21 as a threat to both. It is as much a national unity issue as Western alienation and an overreaching federal government.

With federal leaders, premiers and Conservatives mostly silent and provincial autonomy demands growing, Manitobans and Canadians can expect to hear more from this premier, not less.

Source: The sole premier to stand up against Bill 21: David McLaughlin

Amid political gamesmanship, some Quebec Muslim women enticed by offer to move to Manitoba

Cheeky of Manitoba but Premier Pallister has been one of the most principled Canadian politician on Bill 21:

As a political spat plays out between Manitoba and Quebec over Bill 21, some Muslim women affected by the province’s ban on religious symbols say they are tempted by the offer to move to the Prairie province.

“If this persists, and as a result of this there are more hate crimes against me and my people, then why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I go somewhere where I feel welcome?” said Chaachouh, who wears a hijab.”I know that if I go there, they will look at my skills rather than what I am wearing on my head.”

The ad campaign launched Thursday is aimed at Quebecers who feel limited by the province’s secularism law, which prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. These include the hijab, skullcap and turban.

In a nod to Bill 21, the ad lists 21 reasons why Manitoba is an appealing place to move, ranging from its diverse population to its plethora of provincial parks.

There isn’t, in fact, much history of movement between the two provinces. In 2018, for example, only 341 people moved from Quebec to Manitoba (and 799 went the other way).

A better solution: no Bill 21

Chaachouh is under no illusions a government ad means she would be safe from discrimination in Manitoba.

At the very least, though, Chaachouh said it is encouraging to see a province take a stand against the legislation, while Ottawa has shied away from doing the same.The Manitoba government’s campaign was dismissed as a political ploy by Premier François Legault and much of the opposition in Quebec City.

Legault said Bill 21 will ensure secularism in the public sector, and that the law is “a decision to be taken by Quebecers and Quebecers only.”

But Shahad Salman, a lawyer who runs a public relations firm in Montreal, said the message appealed to her as well.

“The fact that they used 21 reasons — that made me laugh,” she said.

“I think it’s an interesting move from another province: They take something bad happening somewhere else and turn it into a good thing for them.”

Salman, 32, said she would consider such a move. But a better solution? “Not having Bill 21,” she said.

The legislation is facing multiple legal challenges.

Critics say it infringes on a person’s right to practice their religion, and disproportionately targets Muslim women who wear a headscarf.

In a Quebec Court of Appeal hearing earlier this week, civil rights groups argued the law is causing immediate and irreparable harm.

“People’s lives are being ruined. People are being forced to leave their professions. People are being forced to leave this province,” Catherine McKenzie, a lawyer representing the groups, told the court.

Fighting inside Quebec

Nour Farhat, a 28-year-old Montrealer who recently completed a master’s in criminal law, is involved in one of the legal challenges.

She says the law thwarted her dream of becoming a Crown prosecutor in Quebec.

She said the Manitoba ad was like “a breath of fresh air,” and such a move is appealing.

But Farhat, who works in litigation, has no plans to leave.

“Why can’t I be this person here, where I was born and raised? Why do I have to go to the other side of the country to realize my dream?” she said. “This is why I won’t go to any other province — because I want to be able to do this here in Quebec.”

Source: Amid political gamesmanship, some Quebec Muslim women enticed by offer to move to Manitoba

Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

Not surprising. Premier Pallister has been the most outspoken premier against Bill 21:

Le gouvernement du Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois préoccupés par la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, qui interdit les signes religieux dans l’exercice de certaines fonctions.

Alors même que la Cour supérieure du Québec rejetait, jeudi, la requête de groupes de défense des libertés civiles et religieuses, qui réclamaient la suspension de la loi, le premier ministre Brian Pallister indiquait que le Manitoba avait besoin de fonctionnaires bilingues.

M. Pallister a promis de s’adresser aux employés de l’État québécois pour les assurer que sa province n’avait pas, elle, de « police du vêtement ». Il a indiqué que des lettres seraient bientôt envoyées aux associations professionnelles du Québec ainsi qu’aux cégeps et autres institutions d’enseignement afin de recruter des Québécois.

La Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, adoptée en juin à l’Assemblée nationale, interdit aux employés de l’État en position d’autorité coercitive, comme les juges, les policiers et les gardiens de prison, de porter des signes religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions ; cette interdiction s’étend aussi aux enseignants du réseau public. Les opposants à la loi affirment qu’elle cible injustement les musulmanes, les sikhs et les autres minorités religieuses.

Le premier ministre Pallister, qui cherche à se faire réélire au Manitoba le 10 septembre, avait déjà affirmé son opposition à la loi québécoise lors de la rencontre estivale des premiers ministres des provinces et territoires, le 11 juillet. Le premier ministre François Legault a rappelé au Conseil de la fédération que la loi est appuyée par une majorité de Québécois et que son parti respectait une promesse électorale.

Jeudi, le juge Michel Yergeau, de la Cour supérieure du Québec, a déclaré que la loi continuerait de s’appliquer jusqu’à ce qu’un tribunal se prononce sur le fond de l’affaire.

En avril, le maire d’Edmundston, Cyrille Simard, invitait dans sa municipalité du nord-ouest du Nouveau-Brunswick les Québécois « qui pourraient rencontrer des obstacles » dans certaines catégories d’emplois. Alex LeBlanc, directeur général du Conseil multiculturel du Nouveau-Brunswick, rappelait alors que le Nouveau-Brunswick vivait notamment une pénurie d’enseignants francophones et bilingues qualifiés, et que de nombreux Québécois pourraient pourvoir ces postes.

Source: Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

Can’t get much stronger than that:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he will be seeking a joint response to Quebec’s new religious symbols law when western and northern premiers meet on Thursday in Edmonton.

“That is, certainly to my mind, dangerous and un-Canadian and deserves to be opposed,” Pallister said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We are not a two-tier-rights country.

“We’re not a country that celebrates sameness. We celebrate diversity, and we need to make sure that we don’t restrict people’s freedoms, whether it’s speech or movement or religion.”

The Quebec law prohibits teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, and critics say it unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s not government’s responsibility, or in its interest, to legislate on what people should be wearing. But he did not specify what action his government would take to protect minority rights.

Pallister said response from federal politicians has probably been muted in part because of the looming national election in October.

“They don’t wish to irritate the province of Quebec, but Quebec is one province in a beautiful country,” he said.

“Canada is a beacon around the world for supporting freedoms, not suppressing them.”

Source: Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

And Jack Jedwab’s called for stronger messaging from federal leaders:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of the federal opposition parties were cautious in their reaction to Quebec’s legislative ban on religious symbols, Bill 21. That’s probably because of the popularity of the ban amongst Quebec francophone voters who may have an important impact on each party’s political fortunes.

With the exception of the Bloc Québécois, it seems that the preferred approach of the federal party leaders is to reaffirm their respective disagreement with the ban while staying silent about taking action. This stand will not work as we near the start of the federal election campaign in September.

Some party leaders will be tempted to voice their disapproval of the ban while allowing their candidates in Quebec to insist that the provincial government was perfectly within its rights to adopt the legislation. But many Canadians will see this ambiguous line of reasoning for what it is: a cynical excuse for inaction. Voters in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada deserve to know what, if anything, the political parties plan to do about Bill 21. Whatever choice(s) the parties make will certainly have political ramifications both within and outside Quebec.

What should the parties do? It is safe to assume that none of the party leaders will consider recourse to the federal power to disallow the legislation. They would be wise to hold back, as disallowance would delegitimize the democratically elected government of Quebec. The much better alternative is to support court challenge(s) to the law. All federalist parties should take this position regardless of the electoral cost for them in Quebec. Thus far, the Canadian Council of Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have launched a judicial challenge to Bill 21. They deserve support from the federal government.

Despite considerable support for the bill amongst Quebec francophones, a May Leger Marketing survey revealed that a majority of Quebecers weren’t automatically opposed to the idea of submitting it to the courts for an opinion (specifically, 46 per cent of Quebecers didn’t approve of a court reference; 41 per cent were in favour of securing an opinion; and the rest didn’t know or refused to respond). The same survey revealed that important majorities in Quebec and Canada greatly valued the Charter of Rights – which is the basis on which the bill would be challenged.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette will likely describe federal intervention as an unacceptable encroachment on an exclusively Quebec matter. But Bill 21 states that the ban on religious symbols applies “despite certain provisions of the (Canadian) Charter of human rights and freedoms and the Constitution Act, 1982.” This provision justifies intervention on the part of the federal government so as to ensure that constitutional commitments enshrined in the Charter are upheld, regardless of the province in which a citizen resides. To act otherwise would not only weaken freedom of religion but also commitments to other key freedoms in the Charter. If a provincial government outside of Quebec decided to suspend certain rights and freedoms for minority francophones, there would rightly be multiple calls on the federal government to act. The same principle should apply to Bill 21.

Quebecers have been given the impression that the use of the “notwithstanding clause” in Bill 21 means that the issue of fundamental rights is no longer in question. But the clause seeks to dismiss recourse to rights protection, and in no way dismisses the idea that rights are being violated. Minister Jolin-Barrette and Premier François Legault have insisted that the bill does not violate the Quebec or Canadian Charter of Rights. There is good reason to be skeptical. But if they truly believe that, they should have nothing to fear from a court challenge.

Who knows? Maybe the court decision will vindicate them. Either way, the government of Canada and the opposition should give Quebecers and other Canadians an opportunity to find out and make clear their intention to support a court challenge sooner rather than later.

Source: Jedwab: Canadians deserve to know what federal parties will do about Quebec’s Bill 21

Farming project helps Yazidi refugees return to roots


Adol Ilyas has farmed for as long as she can remember.

It’s how her family earned their living in northern Iraq, before ISIS swept through their village.

Now, the 52-year-old is getting the chance to return to those roots.

She’s part of a farming initiative launched by a Yazidi refugee resettlement group in Winnipeg, Operation Ezra. Dozens of synagogues, churches and schools are part of the group, which has sponsored a dozen Yazidi refugee families so far. It also works with government-assisted refugees.

The aim of the farming project is to unite the Yazidi community and help refugees who are struggling to meet their own food needs.

Michel Aziza, chair of Operation Ezra, says the farming project began about a year ago as a way to provide food assistance for government-assisted Yazidi refugees. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Nearly five years ago, ISIS militants launched attacks on the religious minority in northern Iraq, killing thousands of Yazidis and abducting and abusing many women and girls. The UN called it a genocide.

Ilyas and five of her children escaped, but her other five children, all adults, remain in refugee camps. Speaking through a translator, she said she worries about them constantly.

But getting the chance to farm has brought back good memories. It has helped her cope.

And she’s not alone.

The Yazidi farming project launched last year, yielding about 315 kilograms of potatoes on donated farmland near Portage la Prairie, Man. ( Pierre Verriere/Radio-Canada)

“This is probably one of the most successful projects that we’ve run,” said Michel Aziza, chair of Operation Ezra.

He said the farming initiative began as a pilot project last year after Operation Ezra realized that government-assisted refugees needed extra food support. Government financial assistance typically ends after a year.

Many of the Yazidi newcomers were farmers. So an idea sprouted for refugees and volunteers to farm potatoes on less than an acre of donated farmland near Portage la Prairie, an hour west of Winnipeg.

The project yielded about 315 kilograms of potatoes last fall.

The hope is that members of the Yazidi refugee community will also be able to sell extra produce at local farmers markets. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

This year, the initiative is much larger.

More than 50 families are farming approximately eight acres of land in nearby St. François Xavier. They’re expecting to harvest about 5,400 kilograms of potatoes, plus dozens of other crops — enough to feed about 250 people for months, and to sell what is left over at local farmers markets.

The goal is for the farming project near St. François Xavier to produce enough food to feed at least 250 people for months, including more than 50 Yazidi families. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

Bo Wohlers, president of Shelmerdine Nurseries, donated this year’s land. He’s a congregant of the Charleswood United Church, which is working with Operation Ezra.

“I thought they deserved a good start in Canada, so we offered the land,” he said.

Refugees can ‘come together as a community’

Aziza says in a world where government-assisted refugees face so many challenges, including language, banking and transportation, to name just a few, the farming project is where they can be themselves and work and socialize together as a community.

That sentiment rings true for Majid Haji, one of Operation Ezra’s privately sponsored refugees. He farmed for more than a decade back in Iraq.

He felt nostalgic when he got out in the field here, he said through a translator.

He was reminded of his home as soon as he touched the soil, he said — although the soil in Iraq was a ‘bit tougher.’

Yazidi refugee Majid Haji says he farmed for more than a decade back home in Iraq. (Warren Kay/CBC)

An official with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the government has resettled more than 1,400 ISIS survivors since 2016, with Yazidis making up more than 85 per cent of that group.

Aziza says Operation Ezra plans to sponsor even more families, and to keep growing the farming program as well.

He thinks the refugees and volunteers could work up to 20 acres next year.

Adol Ilyas says she isn’t thinking that far ahead. She’s still focused on this year’s harvest — and looking forward to harvesting the crops and feeding families.

Source: Farming project helps Yazidi refugees return to roots

‘Determining our growth:’ Morden, Man., finds hope for future in provincial immigration program

It all began 20 years ago with Manitoba’s provincial nominee program, one of the very first experiments in Canada matching foreign workers with specific job openings.

It’s a fast-track option, allowing provinces and territories to nominate people who want to immigrate to Canada, are interested in settling in a particular province or territory and have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy.

Each province and territory has its own criteria and “streams” — programs targeted to specific groups such as students, business people, skilled workers or semi-skilled workers.

The more points they have, based on their work qualifications, experience and language ability, the faster they move up the queue in the immigration process. A definitive job offer by an employer is a significant benefit.

After being nominated, applicants still have to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent residence status.

Manitoba’s program remains one of the most successful. It boasts high recruitment and retention rates and accounts for a significant percentage of the province’s population growth.

“We see a program that has specific objectives. It’s met them and it’s one that we can measure as a successful government program,” Winnipeg immigration lawyer Ken Zaifman said last month during a celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Province Program started Total landed nominees Estimated 2017 annual provincial growth* 2017 landed nominees Percentage of 2017 growth from nominee program
Man. 1998 130,000 21,786 9,425 43
B.C. 2001 63,230 59,502** 7,650 13
Alta. 2002 89,979 54,189 6,996 13
N.S. 2003 17,365 6,536 2,735 42
Ont. 2007 27,890 216,727 6,980 3

*Population growth estimates from Statistics Canada

**Source: Province of British Columbia

According to provincial statistics, of the 130,000 immigrants who have settled in Manitoba through the nominee program since 1998, 85 per cent were working within three months and 76 per cent were homeowners within three to five years of their arrival.

In 2012, Morden began a community-driven immigration initiative under the provincial program to attract even more people. Since then, it’s brought 50 families a year to the rural community.

“It’s a win-win situation for us because we get to choose people that our employers want. I believe it’s a win for [the program] because our retention is really good because of the support we give,” Voth said.

With an unemployment rate of just three per cent and a small local labour pool to draw from, Voth said some businesses might be hesitant to invest in the community “but because of our steady flow of people coming in and the fact that we can target skill sets to what they’re looking for, it is a really great incentive for setting up in Morden.”

The city program has been so successful that other communities across the country come to get advice on how to set up their own strategic initiatives inside their provincial nominee programs, Voth said.

It’s more than just the skill set. It’s the work ethic…. That’s a hard thing to find.– Jim Duff, vice-president of manufacturing for ON2 Solutions

The national and international rhetoric around foreign workers taking jobs from Canadians crops up now and then in Morden. Voth and others say they sometimes get asked why they’re recruiting immigrants when there are local people without jobs.

Their answer? Some of these are jobs Canadians don’t want to do while others require skills and experience that can’t be found — or recruited — in the area.

And, Voth said, very few of those who apply are chosen.

“It’s not just an open the doors and anybody comes in. We go through a tough application. We’re picking about five per cent of our applications,” she said.

“We’re picking really good people and I think the success stories of the people that have been coming in speaks a lot for the program and also helps the community to be more comfortable with the program.”

‘It’s the work ethic’

Jim Duff, vice-president of manufacturing for ON2 Solutions, is working with Voth to find up to 200 workers in the next three years. He needs electricians and plumbers to help grow his business of manufacturing oxygen concentrators for hospitals and emergency shelters for mining companies.

Duff has tried to hire local people, but says he can’t find what he needs.

“It’s more than just the skill set. It’s the work ethic. It’s the contribution to the team, the desire to be part of the team. That’s a hard thing to find,” he says.

“Our last interview process, we interviewed a couple of born and raised Canadians and the attitude was shocking, really, when it came down to it. I don’t know how to put that in words but it was a significant difference.”

Duff has talked to the school division and local educational programs to try to train workers, but said he has run into the same problem.

Jim Duff, left, is working with Morden’s immigration program to find up to 200 new employees in the next three years and says foreign workers like Victor Kovtan, right, are helping ON2 Solutions grow and thrive.(Warren Kay/CBC News)

Meanwhile, he’s thrilled with the workers he’s hired through the provincial nominee program and Morden’s strategic initiative.

“I would very honestly say that if we didn’t have these five people, we wouldn’t be where we are now. I don’t even know that we would necessarily be in business. I would say [the foreign workers are] that crucial,” he says.

Source: ‘Determining our growth:’ Morden, Man., finds hope for future in provincial immigration program

Is ‘assimilate’ offensive? Legal battle pits Star Trek fan against Indigenous activists | National Post

Both sides make valid arguments in sharing their perspectives.

But understand for Indigenous peoples the particular sensitivity regarding the word assimilate given Canada’s history.

For immigrants, of course, the long standing Canadian approach is based upon integration, not assimilation:

At issue is a legal battle that has just been launched that pits the right of a Star Trek fan to have it on his licence plate against Indigenous groups opposed to the word.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nick Troller, a Winnipeg man whose licence plate — ASIMIL8 — was rescinded by the provincial government for being offensive to Indigenous people.

“It’s another case that pits the Charter freedom of expression against the new, phoney right not to be offended,” said JCCF President John Carpay, a former Alberta Wildrose party candidate.

Carpay said he can understand why the plate might offend someone, but the word still shouldn’t be censored.

“There’s a difference between words that are inherently offensive regardless of how you use them, such as vulgarities, obscenities, four-letter words, versus words like ‘war’ or ‘assimilate,’ which can have positive or negative connotations,” he said.

Troller said the licence plate is clearly a reference to the Borg, a fictional race from Star Trek that forcibly assimilates other cultures. The plate holder says, “WE ARE THE BORG” and “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“The word ‘assimilate’ is just a word — it is neither good nor bad. We assimilate nutrients into our bodies in order to live,” Troller said in his affidavit.

But Indigenous activists say Canadians should do more to understand why the word could be considered offensive.

Anishinaabe Nation member and University of Manitoba assistant professor Niigaan Sinclair called free speech a “bogus argument” and said that Indigenous people are having “a very understandable reaction.”

“If Indigenous peoples feel triggered by a licence plate or a sports logo, or the name of a historical figure on a building, Canadians would be best served to listen to why Indigenous peoples are triggered, and show some care and sensitivity when they express themselves,” he said.

“You can’t just say whatever you want to say without any worries of consequence or responsibility.”

Source: Is ‘assimilate’ offensive? Legal battle pits Star Trek fan against Indigenous activists | National Post

Literacy Class Visited by Manitoba Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy

Practical illustration of settlement services and general literacy training in Manitoba:

[Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy, Flor] Marcelino continues to be inspired by all the success stories that come out of the English and Literacy classes.

“We have 85 or so robust, working, active learning and literacy centres that are truly, truly helping the communities where ever they are. They have transformed so many people’s lives and have opened many doors and offered people many opportunities. And for that were very thankful to all the teachers and administrators and also the students who believe in themselves and in pursuing goals for themselves and their families – and the results are encouraging, amazing and inspiring!”

Marcelino will finish visiting the centres in the Pembina Valley and the South Eastman, then the Winnipeg area in December or January. She promises to work hard in obtaining more support for literacy and learning centres during her term.

Executive Director of South Eastman English and Literacy Services, Jireh Saladaga-Medina, says this non-profit, charitable organization provides free classes for Canadian citizens and landed immigrant adults improve their English speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, as well as free literacy classes for those who want to upgrade their reading, writing, math and basic computer skills. Free child care is provided. To contact Jireh at South Eastman English and Literacy Services, call 204-326-4225.

Eastman Immigrant Services helps newcomers to settle in Manitoba. Services include: reception and orientation, employment counselling and special events. For more information on settlement services phone 204-346-6609.

Literacy Class Visited by Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy – Local News – Local News –