Economy

by Themrise Khan in Ottawa

It is time to explore how to sustain Canada’s position as a preferred destination for the world’s talent, and as a safe and supportive home for refugees. With this in mind, The Conference Board of Canada (CBOC) has convened a national summit, bringing together major stakeholders from across Canada’s immigration system to share the latest research findings, unique insights and perspectives, and contribute to the development of a National Immigration Action Plan for Canada. Vice President of Industry and Business Strategy at the CBOC, Dr. Michael Bloom, provides a sneak peak of the two-day Canadian Immigration Summit 2015.

NCM: What is the key motivation/objective behind this summit?

Bloom: The Conference Board has worked on immigration related issues for the last 20 years. Over that time, we have seen immigration as a theme become more and more important for Canada, [as well as for] countries around the world. We have come to realize that immigration affects Canada economically, socially and culturally.

In order for us to prosper in the future, we feel we need to do a better job by addressing immigration comprehensively. As an organization we are dedicated to building leadership capacity and providing sound empirically based evidence that will help future leaders make informed decisions. Therefore, we needed to set up a dedicated centre, which would take our research to a new level. Hence we created the National Immigration Centre at the Conference Board.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]We think if we can create an event that leads us towards an action plan than can connect all the players that will be a great achievement.[/quote]

We wanted to create an event that would allow us an opportunity to showcase this new centre and also to increase the dialogue among all the stakeholders involved in immigration. Government plays a major role in this, but also others, [like] employers, the education system, communities, immigrant serving organizations, all have prominent roles to play in what happens to the future of immigration in this country.

We hope this summit will attract media attention and begin the process of approaching the topic of immigration in a broader way. Most people will talk to you about immigration in one particular way, about some slice of it, but not typically about the big picture view. We think if we can create an event that leads us towards an action plan than can connect all the players that will be a great achievement.

NCM: How will this summit contribute to the understanding of the current direction of Canadas immigration policy?

Bloom: We have already, in our initial research studies, identified a number of major themes to look at. We will be having a dialogue on some of those initiatives at this summit.

Six of the big topics being covered at the event will be: humanitarian class immigration; labour market success (of immigrants) this includes attachment, advancement and leadership opportunities; attraction, selection and retention (of immigrants); learning and credential recognition; settlement and integration issues particularly language services; and business immigration.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The National Immigration Action Plan will be a framework that sets out the issues in relation to one another and identifies not only the challenges, but also what we think will be viable workable solutions that will bring about change in the system as a whole.[/quote]

The latter is a changing term  [that] raises many questions. What should this term cover? Do we need to structure it further? These are not the only important issues in immigration, but they are six of the big ones. Roundtables on these issues during the summit will help us to further understand them in more detail.

NCM: What is the National Immigration Action Plan?

Bloom: The National Immigration Action Plan will be a framework that sets out the issues in relation to one another and identifies not only the challenges, but also what we think will be viable workable solutions that will bring about change in the system as a whole. We call it an action plan, because we feel it will only be successful when people agree with the system as its imagined. We must also agree that this change can be achieved and that we see ourselves in it.

NCM: How far are you in developing this National Immigration Action Plan?

Bloom: In the words of Winston Churchill, we are at the end of the beginning. We have done a number of previous studies and have been able to construct a multi-year plan for the centre over the next five years.

Research studies, convening leaders and practitioners every year, communicating our findings consistently through outreach, media and our own events, are all part of the action plan. Right now, we have about seven investors providing financial support. We hope to have 20 investors by the fall and ultimately 30 or more.

We are also building up a number of partner organizations that have agreed to share their expertise and data with us. Its early days yet, as its only been a year in. But there is a high level of interest from the federal government and the private sector. We are trying to showcase this leadership and successful initiatives during the summit.

NCM: The summit is heavily focused on business and economic growth. What about the more social aspects of immigration integration?

Bloom: In total, a set of events will cover the whole range of issues in immigration. As an organization we have a lot of experience in working on economic issues in particular. But I expect to see more on social issues at the second summit next year. This year, we want to flesh out our understanding of such issues and bring that to the next event. The action plan will definitely be covering social issues as we do more research.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]We recognize that security is important for Canada and Canadians, but we need to do more research on how to frame this in the context of immigration.[/quote]

NCM: How do you see current events like the Syrian refugee crisis and emerging security concerns as shaping Canadas immigration policy?

Bloom: We still have some work to do on this. We have substantial experience on working on security issues at the Conference Board. We recognize that security is important for Canada and Canadians, but we need to do more research on how to frame this in the context of immigration. We have not yet done enough work at the intersection point of these issues.

We know the security issue is not going away, but we need to understand this more clearly and do more research before we can address it. Once we have done our due diligence on this, we can expect to address this next year as well with all the right questions. The multi-year approach of the action plan will help us with this as we develop our research plan further over the coming years.

NCM: What will be your next steps after this summit?

Bloom: We hope to take what we learn from the summit and use it to enrich our research plan. We will be starting a major project to update a study we did in 2001 on brain gain. We will do a big piece on the credential issue starting June 1. This summit is also bringing together over 100people and we hope that we can engage them in our actual centre.

We hope to be doing more regional meetings; in the year ahead we will convene out East, in Toronto, Quebec and out West. We will also be starting to plan for next years summit and ramp up our communication efforts. Speaking to the media is an important part of getting the message out for us and we will be doing more webinars and online outreach to try and engage and inform a broader audience.

The Canadian Immigration Summit 2015: Towards a National Immigration Plan will be held on April 13 and 14, 2015, at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. Registration is open. New Canadian Media will be providing full coverage of this event.

{module NCM Blurb}

Faiza Hassan, a trainee lawyer in Ottawa, reflects on the importance of professionalism for young professionals from Black and Muslim backgrounds navigating workspaces where there are still not many people who look like them. This article is based on

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 17:24

Site C Jobs Should Be Open to All in B.C.

Written by

The concept of time travel got a big boost in the 18th century when writer H.G. Wells authored one of his most notable science fiction works, The Time Machine. Last week, the B.C. building trades’ unions made its own fantastical pitch for traveling back in time.

The building trades unions asked the court to bring the province back 50 years to a time when workers in their hiring halls were prioritized over all other workers on public infrastructure projects. They called on the government to abandon plans for the managed open-site model of the Site C hydroelectric dam megaproject and adopt an outdated closed-shop model

The Closed-Shop Model

At a time when we need to maximize access to skilled labour in the province, a closed-shop model would essentially hand building trades unions a monopoly on the largest public infrastructure project in B.C. history. 

The B.C. building trade unions are nostalgic for the uncompetitive, unfair, and untenable closed-shop agreements of the 1960s and 1970s. This model had project owners negotiate the terms of the project labour agreement with a union or a group of unions. Then contract bidding was allowed only to those contractors who already had agreements with the signatory unions. 

In some cases, only members of those building trades unions were allowed access to work. In others, alternative union and non-union workers had to pay dues to the building trades unions in order to work on the project, irrespective of their choice of labour representation.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]As a province we can’t afford to go back in time.[/quote] 

This approach had clear drawbacks. To begin with, it discriminated against workers who had chosen to be represented by a different union; plus, it discouraged these workers from contributing their expertise to the project due to these additional barriers to entry for the work. 

Canada’s labour market has also evolved dramatically since the 1960s to include a richer diversity of players: traditional craft unions, alternative unions, and non-union labour organizations. The diversity of players in the labour market has created a path for a managed open-site model.

The Managed Open-Site Model

What B.C.’s building trades unions don’t want you to know is that managed open-site models have been employed successfully on many major infrastructure projects in British Columbia. It’s a model that has worked for both public and private sector projects including BC Hydro’s Ruskin Dam and the Interior to Lower Mainland Transmission Line.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][W]e must all focus on working together to meet the labour challenges ahead.[/quote]

On these projects, CLAC workers, non-unionized contractors, and Building Trades subcontractors worked alongside one another. With this model, the question was never which workers can we exclude, but how many skilled British Columbians can we put to work. As a result, project owners have seen an improved labour supply, budget savings and greater hiring flexibility.

While Premier Christy Clark has recognized the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, she should also continue to support fair access to work and uphold the managed open-site model for the Site C megaproject. BC Hydro simply can’t shut out skilled workers when the province is expecting one million job openings by 2020. 

As a province we can’t afford to go back in time. 

Managed open sites are critical to the success of Site C and future major infrastructure projects because they create jobs for British Columbians and help build a prosperous future for our province’s economy.

With considerable plans on the horizon for B.C., especially in the LNG sector, government, industry and union players must have an eye to the future and not the past; we must all focus on working together to meet the labour challenges ahead.


David Prentice is the Provincial Director CLAC BC, which is a multi-sector union representing over 60,000 workers in almost every sector.

Reprinted with permission from the Asian Pacific Post.

by Mark A. Cadiz (@markacadiz) in Toronto

Newcomers to Canada, now more than ever, are thinking twice about where to lay down their roots.

Rural towns in the prairie provinces are rapidly growing hot spots for many new immigrants, more so than anywhere else in the country. But the trend does pose a challenge for some towns not accustom to welcoming immigrants.

A recent study by Pathways to Prosperity (P2P), an organization advocating for the economic, social and civic integration of migrants and minorities, found that rural Saskatchewan had higher rates of immigrants arriving per capita than larger urban centres.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The main driving force for immigrants to these communities are jobs, not family networks.” - Ray Bollman, Researcher[/quote]

Lead researcher Ray Bollman says he wasn’t surprised to see the prairie provinces leading the way.

“In terms of percentage of increases in number of immigrants, Saskatchewan has been leading the pack over the last few years,” Bollman says. “The main driving force for immigrants to these communities are jobs, not family networks.”

Settling Where Labour Demands are Increasing

The research, based on the 2011 National Household Survey, revealed the top five non-metropolitan towns with the highest number of immigrants as a per cent of total population were all in Saskatchewan. Although the number of immigrants moving to rural areas are smaller, the impact on the local population is significant. For example, topping the list was the town of Englefeld, Saskatchewan, with a total population of 225 people, 80 of them being immigrants – about 35.6 per cent of the population.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Over time, the labour markets in the larger centres become particularly saturated, so immigrants will perceive more opportunities in smaller jurisdictions and that will bring them outward.” - Dr. Michael Haan[/quote]

Ontario still attracts the most in sheer numbers, but the prairie provinces rank higher per capita for several reasons says Dr. Michael Haan, the Canada research chair in population and social policy at the University of New Brunswick. He describes the recent trend to rural Canada as a natural progression of a country’s immigration movement.

“When a country initially welcomes immigrants, they tend to cluster in particular regions, here the largest cities received the most,” he explains. “Over time, the labour markets in the larger centres become particularly saturated, so immigrants will perceive more opportunities in smaller jurisdictions and that will bring them outward.”

In combination with this natural progression, many of the fastest growing industries are located outside of major metropolitan areas such as rural Saskatchewan, northern Alberta and Newfoundland. Currently these provinces are facing a substantial increase in labour demands mainly in the potash, natural gas and oil reserve industries.

According to Kirk Westgard, executive director of immigration services in Saskatchewan the province has one of the strongest job growth rates in the country, ending 2014 at a rate of 2.5 per cent year-over-year unadjusted, falling only behind Alberta, which stood at 2.8 per cent.

“Most of these jobs are in the manufacturing of agricultural equipment, mining and oil and gas sectors,” he says.

To fill the labour demand, the provincial nominee program is utilized to get working boots on the ground, often in isolated areas where immigrant support services are less developed. As the largest avenue for immigrants the program accounts for 77 per cent of all immigrants moving to Saskatchewan, Westward adds, with federal and humanitarian streams rounding out the remaining 23 per cent.

As a whole, Canada’s largest sources for immigrants between 2006 and 2011 were Asia and the Middle East, accounting for 56.9 per cent or approximately 661,600 of immigrants to the country according to Statistics Canada.

Settling Where Services Are Scarce

The promise of jobs in these rural towns may be enough to sway newcomers, but according to the study, 15 out of the 23 communities where immigrants represented 10 per cent or more of the total population had very little experience welcoming newcomers.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“One of the biggest challenges for any newcomer to rural Saskatchewan is infrastructure.” - Janine Hart, Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre[/quote]

Janine Hart, executive director from the Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre in Saskatchewan highlighted some challenges she has observed in recent years.

“One of the biggest challenges for any newcomer to rural Saskatchewan is infrastructure,” Hart says. “We have a lack of or no public transportation, so transportation is one of the major hurdles in these communities.”

Another barrier she says is the lack of English programs for newcomers, especially between the kindergarten to high school years where schools don’t have adequate staffing or English as an Additional Language (EAL) programs.

For adults, they face another challenge and that’s in the workplace where misunderstandings could arise.

“I would like to see lot more public awareness and cross-cultural training in the workplace. We really need to have a better understanding of our cultures and how one person’s culture can intertwine with another person’s culture,” she says.

Haan adds that initially there might be some antagonism in these smaller towns.

“The reaction of these smaller jurisdictions I would say is mixed. The strongest predictors of successful influx of immigrants is exposure to immigrants,” he says. “Initially there is always a difficult transition that needs to be made, but over time people realize that this is the new normal.”

Haan explains the trend will continue and likely accelerate when the price of oil rebounds.

In Saskatchewan, the top source country for immigrants has been the Philippines for the last few years, but also China, India, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ukraine. Within the last 18 months, Hart has seen a rise coming from Francophone countries like Mauritius, Tunisia and Senegal.

{module NCM Blurb}

by Robin Brown (@RobinBrown) and Kathy Cheng in Toronto

Twenty years ago, the British/South Asian comedy show, Goodness Gracious Me, ran a skit where a British employee at an Indian firm needed to change his name from Jonathan because it was deemed too foreign and hard to pronounce. Behind the parody was the fact that South Asians in Britain often felt they needed to adopt English names to succeed.

At that time, globalization was seen as a result of the increasing influence of Western culture and ideas across the globe. The East needed to adapt to the West. Twenty years later, after a global financial crisis, that power equation has shifted.

Growing Chinese Influence on Business

Those working in Canada’s resources sector have long been conscious of the East’s power (specifically China’s) as their fortunes are often tied to it. For many of us working in Canada’s marketing services, however the reality of our global situation was brought into sharp focus by the recent acquisition of Cossette Communications’ parent company by China’s BlueFocus Communications.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][I]t is hard to see how the nature and impact of China’s business culture will evolve as the country interacts with the world in its new more diverse and influential role.[/quote]

As China’s influence on business in Canada and the world grows, our success becomes more dependent on a need to understand China’s business culture. The West has gained much of its early understanding of Chinese business culture not from working with the vast population of mainland China, but from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, as well as the Chinese diaspora.

Of course, our learning has increased, as China rapidly entered the global economy over the last 20 years. But this has provided the West a specific view of China and Chinese businesses primarily in the role of a lender, a consumer of resources and a vast network of producers – all often entangled with the bureaucracy of the state. From that angle, it is hard to see how the nature and impact of China’s business culture will evolve as the country interacts with the world in its new more diverse and influential role.

Business Culture and Ethnic Culture

Ethnic culture differs from a company’s business culture, but has an influence on the way business is conducted. For this reason, it makes sense to look at how China’s ethnic culture may differ from other nations.

Our own research at Environics has shown the differences between the Chinese and Canadian cultures. One of the most widely used tools, developed by Geert Hofstede, shows how Chinese culture differs from Canadian culture on six primary dimensions.

Canada, in line with much of what is called “the West,” is more individualistic than collectivist China (see chart). China tends to be more hierarchical compared to the more egalitarian Canada (see “power-distance” on chart), as well as more pragmatic.

So, on a practical level, what do those working with Chinese companies need to be aware of to have a successful relationship?

Chinese “Pragmatism”

One aspect of Chinese culture that we already see impacting business culture is what Hofstede calls “pragmatism.” He says that, “In societies with a pragmatic orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions easily to changed conditions.”

Many in the West attribute China’s manufacturing success to low costs, especially of labour, but that is not all that lies behind Chinese manufacturers’ ability to shift quickly depending on their circumstances. The ability of Chinese manufacturers to respond quickly, for example, to Steve Jobs’ sudden demand for an unscratchable glass iPhone screen has become part of business lore. Behind this agility are a number of factors and important among them is the Chinese position on the pragmatic cultural dimension.

Cultural Characteristics Impact Business

Generally, a result of this cultural characteristic is the perspective that each situation needs to be evaluated independently from accepted rules. Just because one rule has worked in the past doesn’t mean it should apply now. For rule-oriented Canadian businesses, that can cause tensions. It can even raise complaints about a lack of integrity or at least fairness, just as some of the American manufacturers who watched their Chinese competitors pivot to produce iPhone glass screens surely thought that’s not fair - they’re not following the rules.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]And this is one area where we will find the seeds of progress that the interaction between these two cultures create; the combination of best business practices developed in the West with Chinese pragmatism and the business agility it fosters.[/quote]

That is not to imply that Chinese businesses are not interested in learning and, if appropriate, following the best practices that have been developed in the West. This is where we suspect we will find the seeds of progress that the interaction between these two cultures create; the leveraging of best practices developed over years of experience in an agile manner. The fact that Chinese business culture has been born into a highly dynamic market will likely contribute to the country’s “pragmatic” cultural character as well as its ethnicity. China can embrace new approaches more easily without the pain of wrestling with the past, just as consumers in developing markets have “leap frogged” the West in adoption of mobile and digital technologies.

The interaction between Chinese pragmatism and Western business protocols will cause conflict. We have seen it in our own experience. Overcoming that conflict is of course important to those involved. The key for both Western and Chinese businesses to prosper side by side is to take the cultural diversity and even the conflict that it might generate and turn it into progress. And this is one area where we will find the seeds of progress that the interaction between these two cultures create; the combination of best business practices developed in the West with Chinese pragmatism and the business agility it fosters.

Individualist Canada versus Collectivist China

The difference between an individualist outlook and a collectivist outlook creates an enormous amount of cultural tension and misunderstanding. Individualism values one person standing up, with a loud voice and doing his or her own thing. Collectivism values working together within an accepted set of protocols with an eye on the collective goals.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Cultural differences, if understood and managed well, are seeds to progress.[/quote]

As Western companies have expanded outside of their domestic markets, they have encouraged an individualistic business culture. The assumption in the West is that individualism fosters creativity and allows the brightest to shine and be rewarded. As China’s influence expands, Chinese businesses will carry their collectivist ethnic culture with them. Will that create conflicts and misunderstandings just like it did when Japan’s influence extended across the globe? It likely will. But tension can be fertile soil for progress. And the West should be open to the notion that individualist values are not always superior.

A recent experiment into creativity led by Dr. Gad Saad of Concordia University attempted to test the difference between the way collectivist and individualist cultures generate ideas. What it found implied that individualist cultures were more creative in that they did indeed generate more ideas. But collectivist cultures, where the group focuses on perfecting ideas, generated fewer, but better, ideas. Again, we see opportunities for progress in the interaction between these two cultural modes. It may be simplistic, but if individualism generates more ideas and collectivism creates better ideas, we can manage the interaction between cultures to generate more and better ideas! 

Cultural differences, if understood and managed well, are seeds to progress. Some of the greatest ideas of human history have been born from cultural tensions, often developed from commercial interactions. As cultures mingled and clashed in the trading cities on the fringes of the Roman Empire or the colonial outposts during the spice trade era, powerful new ideas and ways of looking at the world were born. Now opportunities to build new ideas through the interaction of distinct cultures are emerging as the influence of the East rises. The future belongs to those in both the East and the West who can develop the “transcultural competence” to take full advantage of them.


Robin Brown is Senior Vice-President, Consumer Insights and Kathy Cheng is Vice-President, Cultural Markets Research at Environics Research Group, a research and consulting firm. They are the authors of Migration Nation, A Practical Guide to Doing Business if Globalized Canada.

{module NCM Blurb} 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 13:11

Making the Most of Your Ethnic Media Dollar

Written by

by Gautam Nath (@GautamNath) in Toronto

Although media consumption has changed over the past 10 years, the importance of ethnic outlets will remain high in the years to come, said Madeline Ziniak, former national vice president, OMNI, during a panel event on ethnic media and multi-cultural marketing in late February.

The event, hosted by the American Marketing Association (AMA) Toronto chapter, titled ”Making the Most of Your Ethnic Dollar,” also featured Mariam Hoosen, consultant and former group media and strategy director, OMD Canada; Pankaj Mehra, director, multicultural markets, Scotiabank and Kiumars (Kiu) Rezvanifar, president, Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA), all who explored how ethnic media consumption and the nature of advertising has changed over the last decade.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]... [I]t was also noted that among new Canadians, it was largely the younger ones who used smartphones while the elders were still very reliant on print and radio media.[/quote]

First to respond was Hoosen, who argued that the digital invasion has changed media consumption and that these days many people consume content on their smartphones. However, it was also noted that among new Canadians, it was largely the younger ones who used smartphones while the elders were still very reliant on print and radio media.

Ten years ago, agencies also didn’t have the capacity to measure and track consumers’ engagement levels with content, noted Pankaj Mehra leaving publishers/producers to essentially ‘work in the dark’.

Kiu pointed out that costs of production now are a fraction of what they were previously and with the advent of the Internet on a large scale, expectations have changed – high quality material is now demanded at far lower costs.

Rise of Third-Language Media

Today’s media still require cultural references and create designs to resonate with new Canadians, noted Ziniak, who added that while the immigrant criteria indicated a certain skill level in English, this was not always the first language for new Canadians.

As a result languages and cultural nuances are still very critical aspects of media consumption.

Third-language media is also growing in numbers, added Ziniak. The Canadian Radio-Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) was looking this at when granting licenses to new media. She said that they have been working towards applying a more lenient yardstick when approving third-language media as these often have start-up challenges.

Managing an Ethnic Media Budget

Managing an ethnic media budget should depend on what the marketing objectives are and the ROI should be measured not just in terms of the immediate bottom line, but variables such as corporate image, brand value and intangibles that make the brand salient, all the panelists agreed.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Mehra added that new Canadians were here because they wanted to be recognized as Canadians first and by their ethnic background second.[/quote]

Ziniak also highlighted the work that the CEMA is doing in preparing a directory of all the ethnic media across the country, and explained that in the future, CEMA would look at value-added services, giving strength and support to ethnic media in attracting marketing dollars.

Rezvanifar highlighted the need for a holistic strategy in that the role of the media was to support the success of the brand and that this encompassed not just traditional and digital media buys, but extended into the realm of public relations and community outreach. Mehra added that new Canadians were here because they wanted to be recognized as Canadians first and by their ethnic background second. While this was so, Hoosen added that it usually took a few generations to feel truly Canadian and even then, cultural ties and nuances never really went away.

Ziniak emphasized that all this goes to prove that ethnic media is, and will remain, very high in the marketing team’s portfolio, and added that metrics need to be created to gain the confidence of media planners; this is something CEMA was said to be looking at further down the road.


Gautam Nath is Vice President at Balmoral Multicultural Marketing, a leading agency connecting client brands to ethnic communities in Canada. Nath also serves on various boards and committees and is a leading voice on multicultural marketing. He was the recipient of the Top 25 Canadian immigrant awards in 2011 and lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

{module NCM Blurb}

 

 

by James Munson of iPolitics.ca

In a recent expansion of the Harper government’s anti-corruption push and with a possible eye to avoiding embarrassing pre-election headlines, Ottawa has tightened the requirements for companies receiving help from the government in operating abroad.

Since September, the federal government has required Canadian firms operating abroad to declare they are not engaged in corruption if they want to receive help from the Trade Commissioner Service.

The service, housed in Canadian embassies and missions abroad, is asking firms to declare in a document whether they or an affiliate are under charge or have been convicted under Canada’s anti-corruption laws, including the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, during the past five years.

The new rule extends Ottawa’s growing zeal in tackling corruption, which this year included new procurement rules for the government’s own purchases and legislation mandating the disclosure of government payments by Canadian extractive firms.

“It’s supply-side corruption, namely the payers,” said Milos Barutciski, a board member of the NGO Transparency International and a partner at Bennett Jones LLP, of the new Trade Commissioner Service waivers.

On the other hand, the extractive sector payment disclosure, which is embedded in a budget implementation bill currently before a House of Commons committee, deals with the demand side of the problem by reducing the attraction of bribery among government officials, said Barutciski.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Determinations on the potential withholding (or withdrawal) of government of Canada economic diplomacy and trade commissioner services will be case-specific, and will be informed by a fair and transparent process,”[/quote]

The Trade Commissioner Service waiver brings the program in line with requirements at Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), said Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) spokesperson Caitlin Workman.

The service mainly helps advocate for firms in foreign jurisdictions. The EDC provides loans and risk insurance for Canadian firms working overseas, while the CCC primarily helps companies get procurement contracts in other countries.

The issue of withdrawing Trade Commissioner Service from Canadian firms resurfaced in recent weeks as Ottawa unveiled a retooled Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Extractive Sector that included the power to stop providing the service to a mining or petroleum company.

But the corruption waivers are not part of the new CSR strategy, said Workman.

“This is a standard operating procedure of the Trade Commissioner Service and is neither specific to the extractive sector nor associated with the CSR strategy,” she wrote in an email.

Not only are firms not supposed to be charged or convicted to receive the service, they also are not allowed to have had a “contract annulled by or been barred from contracting with a government, an inter-governmental organization, a state-owned enterprise, or an international financial institution due to bribery or corrupt or fraudulent business practices,” the declaration says.

The Trade Commissioner Service declaration could be tough for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that might not have the money to ensure they’re compliant with legal and ethical anti-corruption standards.

The federal government is trying to nearly double the number of SMEs in foreign markets from 11,000 to 21,000 by 2018, according to DFATD’s Global Market Action Plan.

The Trade Commissioner Service is a pillar of the Global Market Action Plan, the centrepiece of the government’s ‘economic diplomacy,’ unveiled in November 2013.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Since September, the federal government has required Canadian firms operating abroad to declare they are not engaged in corruption if they want to receive help from the Trade Commissioner Service.[/quote]

But there’s also reason to believe that the waiver won’t be too difficult for firms given the renewed focus on corruption from the government and the RCMP in recent years, said Barutciski.

The RCMP began earnestly enforcing the Corrupt Foreign Officials Act in 2009 after years of neglect on the file, he said. At the time, the only Canadian companies with strong anti-corruption policies were those listed on stock exchanges in the U.S. because of how much more rigorously the Foreign Corruption Practices Act was enforced there, said Barutciski.

“With no enforcement until the late 2000s, there weren’t very many Canadian companies…that were paying a lot of attention,” he said.

There have been three convictions in the last five years and the RCMP likely have around 35 active investigations on the go right now, he said.

“There’s been an evolution here,” he said. “In some cases, I think it’s fair to say some companies are going through the motions.”

But there has also been a massive amount of investment by some firms in anti-corruption compliance that would make adjusting to the Trade Commissioner Service a non-issue, said Barutciski.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The new rule extends Ottawa’s growing zeal in tackling corruption, which this year included new procurement rules for the government’s own purchases and legislation mandating the disclosure of government payments by Canadian extractive firms.[/quote]

Ottawa’s anti-corruption policies have received opposition of late from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which recently penned an internal report critical of the government’s procurement conditions.

The council’s concerns, at least publicly, did not include conditions related to the Trade Commissioner Service. The council did not respond to a request to comment on the waiver.

As for the extractive sector’s CSR strategy and the Trade Commissioner Service, any potential barring from the service will come from a firm’s reluctance to conform with Ottawa’s mediation process for conflicts between miners and overseas communities, said Workman, the DFATD spokesperson.

The mediation process will be first run through a special counsellor’s office and then through the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

But DFATD is keeping to itself any details on how a decision to bar a firm from the service will be made, though eventual decisions to not participate in mediation will be made public, said Workman.

“Determinations on the potential withholding (or withdrawal) of government of Canada economic diplomacy and trade commissioner services will be case-specific, and will be informed by a fair and transparent process,” she wrote in an email.

Around 19 per cent of the world’s bribery incidents are believed to occur in the extractive sector, according to the OECD’s latest global bribery report.


Re-published with permission.

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 16:59

Foreign Worker Program Needs a Rethink

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Controversy over Canada’s temporary foreign workers program – and perceptions that some employers are abusing it – made headlines earlier this year. U of T Magazine editor Scott Anderson asked Jeffrey Reitz, a sociology professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs who studies immigration, for his perspective on the debate.

NCM Editor's Note: This interview was conducted in March-April, 2014. We asked Prof. Reitz for his opinion following changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program announced in June. His response is at the end of this interview.

Typically, who is permitted to immigrate to Canada? 

For 40 or 50 years now, we have selected immigrants on the basis of skill level, with a preference for higher-skilled workers. Recently, though, the Canadian government has altered the selection criteria for permanent immigrants. They now emphasize more immediate employment prospects as opposed to long-term employment prospects. And they have vastly expanded the temporary foreign workers program, which allows employers to bring in immigrants of all skill levels in very large numbers.

The temporary foreign workers program has been around for more than 40 years. Why the recent controversy? Since 2006, the program has grown from tens of thousands of workers to hundreds of thousands. It was designed to address situations where Canadian employers need workers for a short time, and can’t find Canadians to do the job. This is difficult to administer because, in most cases, it’s very difficult for the government to verify that Canadians are actually not available for these jobs.

Then there’s the challenge of enforcement – of the rules of the program, but also the rules of labour relations in Canada. Workers without permanent resident status tend to be more compliant. It’s easier for employers to ask them do extra work for low or no pay.

These folks are required to leave Canada when their visa expires. Unskilled workers are more likely than skilled workers to continue working in Canada without a visa. So what we’re doing, in effect, is creating a problem of undocumented workers simply so employers such as McDonald’s can have access to a more compliant, low-skilled workforce.

Do you buy the argument that there are not enough Canadians to do low-skilled jobs?

No. The fact is that we have high unemployment of less-skilled workers in some parts of the country and a high demand for low-skilled workers in other parts. In this context, it seems perverse to bring in people from thousands of miles away rather than focusing on making the best use of the Canadians who are closer at hand and looking for work – even if they are not in the immediate vicinity of an employer who’s looking for low-skilled workers. We should not conclude that the only solution to the problems faced by these employers is to bring people in from overseas.

Do you think the federal government’s solution – to eliminate the program for restaurants – is the answer? 

The restaurant industry is the tip of the iceberg. The problem exists right across the program, and the government hasn’t invested enough resources to investigate whether employers are truly unable to find Canadians to do the work. That’s why I think a large-scale, low-skilled temporary foreign workers program is unrealistic. The government has been advised to go slow on this kind of program, but it has expanded the program dramatically in a short time.

So would you suggest reducing the size of the program rather than investing in more resources to oversee it better? 

You could certainly invest more resources, but the government’s general position has been to whittle down the size of the bureaucracy. I would advise cutting the program back substantially and monitoring it much more carefully. Currently, we don’t even have the means to know whether temporary workers are leaving the country when they’re supposed to.

NCM Update: Do the changes to the program announced in June change your opinion on how the program is administered?

My opinion is not changed because the announcements about change have been insufficiently specific to allow one to make a judgement.  If the program is supposed to be reduced, and more tightly controlled, but reduced by how much, and with what new controls specifically?  We don’t know. 

Re-published with permission from UofTMagazine.

by Samantha Lui (@samanthalui_) in Toronto

Studying business techniques used by some Canadian immigrants can be useful for entrepreneurs looking to expand their companies into the international market.

That was the theme of Tuesday’s The Power of Diaspora Networks Conference held at the Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, where entrepreneurs and business advisors opened up about their experiences and offered advice for those wanting to learn how to export their goods and services globally. 

According to entrepreneur Yan Martindale, networking and making connections in the early stages of her business played a major role in her success. 

Martindale, who emigrated from China to Canada 15 years ago, worked in information technology in New York and as an insurance broker before launching Panacea Aftermarket Company, an international industrial parts supplier that specializes in the forklifting industry, with her husband in 2009.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s about who you know. Networks are the most important things for any business.”[/quote]

Martindale faced many challenges while getting the company off the ground. For example, a large competitor who had tried to stop Martindale’s business warned vendors in Asia that it would stop doing business with them if they dealt with Panacea.

Challenges like this ultimately led Martindale to cold call a director of a forklifting parts company in China and introduce him to her business. She told him that she could make his site look better by explaining that Panacea could help Chinese vendors and manufacturers break into the forklifting industry in North America. He ended up giving her free advertising on his website for seven days. 

Martindale continued to contact vendors in China. She has since been able to establish cooperative partnerships with forklift parts manufacturers in mainland China and Taiwan. 

“It’s not about what you know,” Martindale says. “It’s about who you know. Networks are the most important things for any business.”

Victor J. Garcia, another conference speaker and a member of the Board of Directors for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, agrees. 

Having moved to Canada from Argentina 35 years ago, Garcia has helped non-profit organizations and educational and research institutions with programs focused on job creation, innovation, education and community integration. He is also the Vice President of the Canadian Hispanic Congress and an adjunct professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It is a pro to understand how people think, how people do business, how conversations happen, how relationships happen.”[/quote]  

He says that entrepreneurs should find someone to help them achieve their goals if they can’t do it themselves, noting that researching provincial and federal government resources can often provide companies with a lot of information on how they can export their goods and services internationally. 

“Always connect with someone that knows more than you did,” he shares.

“It is a pro to understand how people think, how people do business, how conversations happen, how relationships happen.” 

But according to DATAWIND CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli, perseverance and understanding the culture of international markets are also ingredients for achieving success. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Coming from Canada, and coming from a Canadian environment, we saw opportunities and problems easier."[/quote]

Since founding his computer hardware company with his brother Raja in 2001, Tuli says the pair has had to learn how to persevere in a new environment. When he and his brother decided to place their focus on helping improve the educational system in India – as DATAWIND’s inexpensive devices allow access to the Internet at lower data costs and faster speeds across congested mobile wireless networks – they soon learned that they did not understand how the country’s market worked.

“The misconception that because we spoke the local language [and the fact that] we looked liked locals didn’t mean we knew how to do business in India,” he shares. 

Having moved from Iran to Fort McMurray, Alberta, Tuli credits his Canadian upbringing with eventually helping him and his brother understand how they could bring their products into India’s marketplace.

Since then, they’ve become the largest supplier of tablets in India and have been able to expand their business to countries like Nicaragua, Mexico and Uruguay. As well, one of DATAWIND’s products, the Aakash tablet, has since been dubbed the cheapest at $35 (U.S.) a unit by India’s Economic Times.

“The advantage of being from Canada is that we saw the opportunities easier than the locals did because I think there was a level of acceptance to the problems of [their] environment,” he explains. “Coming from Canada, and coming from a Canadian environment, we saw opportunities and problems easier.”

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