by Kelsey Johnson

Canada is “clinging” to its Temporary Foreign Worker Program by “its fingernails,” the senior vice president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce warned, saying public and government attitudes towards the program are putting the Canadian economy at risk.

“Canadians still need to keep taking a little breath here and gain a bit of perspective,” Warren Everson said, noting the past two years there has been a “public feeding frenzy” on the program.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Processing of applications, which can be up to 14-pages long, he said, “is slow and getting slower,” and employers have problems reaching Service Canada to check on their applications,[/quote]

“The main thing here is that the Canadian economy needs to compete effectively. We have said for years that competitiveness in our economy is directly related to the skilled workforce that we can put in the hands of our employers,” he explained.

“It is very, very destressing to see government processes that are, at the moment, delaying the entry of those workers into our economy.”

Everson was speaking as part of a three-member panel on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program at the Conference Board of Canada’s annual immigration summit in Ottawa.

The federal government overhauled the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in June 2014 in light of mounting public criticism after a handful of businesses were accused of abusing the program. Among the changes were higher processing fees, now set at $1,000 per worker, and a cap on the number of low-skilled foreign workers that companies were allowed to employ at a time.

While most of the government’s changes were targeted at low-skilled workers, which has had serious consequences for industries like agriculture, Everson said the reinvention of the TFWP program has hurt skilled workers too.

Since that overhaul, Everson said Service Canada seems “hesitant” to approve any of the necessary paperwork needed to bring in temporary foreign workers – known as Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA).

LMIA’s are used by Employment and Social Development Canada to asses whether bringing in a foreign worker will have a negative impact on the Canadian workforce.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The main thing here is that the Canadian economy needs to compete effectively. We have said for years that competitiveness in our economy is directly related to the skilled workforce that we can put in the hands of our employers.[/quote]

Processing of applications, which can be up to 14-pages long, he said, “is slow and getting slower,” and employers have problems reaching Service Canada to check on their applications, Everson noted. In the past there was an appeal process, there was someone with whom employers could go over applications and where employers could “make their case.”

Now, there’s no one to talk to, Everson said.

Service Canada and Canadian Border Services Agency employees also need “improved training” on the needs and challenges currently facing the Canadian workforce, he said.

He also underscored the question of keeping these foreign workers as permanent residents as a “critical issue.”

Provincial nominee programs are overwhelmed with applications, he said, noting British Columbia has frozen applications until July because of the backlog. In Alberta, the backlog in applications is estimated to be about 10,000.


Re-published in partnership with iPolitics.ca

Published in Policy
Sunday, 09 March 2014 18:01

Canada is Now a Diaspora Nation

By Matthew Mendelsohn

Canadians rightly take pride in our country’s diversity. Our collective understanding and definition of the country have been shaped by waves of immigration and most Canadians cannot imagine a Canadian identity that doesn’t include diversity. We happily think of ourselves as a nation of immigrants.

Over a fifth of Canada’s population is made up of immigrants — the largest percentage in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) — and Canada grows more diverse every year. Canada’s prosperity is obviously tied to immigration, but unfortunately, we are not making the most of what should be an enormous comparative advantage. This is especially important as we seek to compete in the global economy. While much of our immigration growth is from countries with emerging economies, our trading and export patterns remain based on demographic and economic realities that existed decades ago.

Today, Canada attracts more immigrants from Asia and Latin America than from Europe. Of our top 10 trading partners, only two are emerging economies: China and India. We remain woefully dependent on trade with the United States.

Shifting ground

But the ground has also shifted beneath us in two important and related ways. First, immigrants to Canada are experiencing poorer economic outcomes than previous generations. And, secondly, the global economy is undergoing a re-balancing, with the rise of emerging economies and new structural economic challenges in OECD countries, including Canada.

In today’s highly-interconnected global society, immigrant communities act as diaspora networks – international networks of shared identity – which, because of their multicultural and multilingual capabilities, can play a larger role in the global economy. Diaspora networks are a dynamic and increasingly valuable but relatively untapped resource in Canada and their effective mobilization would bring significant economic and social benefits to the country.

Patterns of immigration are changing dramatically. Not long ago, immigrants would settle in new countries and maintain sporadic contact with their countries of origin. Today, we live in a world where more people move around the globe, have multiple national identities and have sustained contact with multiple countries.

No room for complacency

Canadians can no longer take for granted that we will be able to attract and retain the immigrants we need in a competitive global market for talent. We must up our game and do a better job ensuring that the economic opportunity that immigrants expect — and that is increasingly available around the world — is delivered.

We currently do not do a good enough job integrating immigrants into the Canadian economy. Our cultural diversity is one of Canada’s strengths but we’re not capitalizing on it very skillfully. This is a large and growing problem because diaspora networks are becoming more and more important to global economic growth.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]A recent study from the Mowat Centre – Diaspora Nation – argues that Canadian businesses that discover how to tap into emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India and the Philippines will thrive in coming decades.[/quote]If Canadian businesses fail to mobilize immigrant talent and expertise, Canada will miss one of the enormous global economic developments now underway.

Diaspora networks

Diaspora networks are increasingly powerful social and economic forces with cultural knowledge and substantial connections to economies and communities beyond Canada’s borders. Canadians are connected to every corner of the world in unprecedented ways. Canada is now very much a diaspora nation.

Diasporas provide linkages. They help information circulate. They provide cultural knowledge where it didn’t exist before. They can help establish trust and deepen social capital.

Their knowledge can lower transaction costs and reduce the time it takes to enter new markets and form new partnerships. They connect people, ideas and understanding.

Canadians have a general awareness of these benefits. When Toronto hosts the International Indian Film Academy Awards or Africa Fashion Week we are briefly reminded of the cultural and economic opportunity that our diaspora networks provide. But it is not consistently a front-of-mind consideration for decision-makers in the private and public sectors.

By not recognizing the cultural knowledge, international experience and global networks they bring, we not only fail immigrants, but also fail Canada as a whole. We can do better.

We need to re-imagine the role that immigrant communities can play in helping to fulfill Canada’s global economic aspirations and support their fuller participation in the Canadian economy.

Capitalizing on our potential

The private sector could deepen its connections with ethnocultural chambers of commerce, professional immigrant networks, alumni networks and immigrant resource groups within firms. All these networks can help businesses better understand opportunities in emerging markets. Successful firms are already doing this.

But capitalizing on our potential requires more than the private sector. It requires governments to ensure that rules and regulations from a half century ago are not undermining our capacity to fulfill our potential as a diaspora nation.

Student and business visas are too frequently delayed. Small- and medium-sized businesses do not have access to the insurance they need to explore new export markets. Unrealistic residency requirements are imposed on immigrants preventing them from travelling for business. There are too many obstacles to global philanthropy. We too often require “Canadian experience” for employment when such a requirement is unnecessary. Those who process remittances are not subject to appropriate regulation and too often take advantage of their clients.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Diaspora networks are playing a larger role in the global economy. Recognizing and acting on this trend should be part of a thoughtful policy response to the shifts in the global economy and immigrants’ declining economic outcomes.[/quote]

Canada is particularly well-placed to benefit from the growing importance of diaspora networks. Given Canada’s successful history with diversity and accommodation, the country – and Ontario and the Greater Toronto Region in particular, given their high concentration of immigrants – should be leading discussions on how to respond to these changes.

Once we put the goal of harnessing our diaspora networks as a top strategic priority for the country, the unintended consequences of many of our rules and regulations become apparent. We need to start to act like a country that takes the opportunities presented by diaspora networks seriously.

Matthew Mendelsohn is the Director of the Mowat Centre, an independent public policy think tank at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance and Ontario’s non-partisan, evidence-based voice on public policy.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Commentary
Saturday, 08 February 2014 18:22

Brazilians getting over it

by Humberta Araújo

The October allegations that Canada’s surveillance agency was spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy took Brazilians in Canada by surprise. The so-called “industrial espionage” has strained the relationship between both countries. The incident became a serious diplomatic embroilment overshadowing bilateral relations.

These allegations seem contrary to Canada’s official statements that Brazil is a key partner for Canada. "Brazil is at the nexus of the Government of Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, Global Commerce Strategy and International Education Strategy,” reads the Government of Canada’s web site.

Raul Papaleo, president of Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), said there was no justification for Canada’s espionage. "This incident was an unwise and serious act. Canadian companies with interests in Brazil have always had open channels of communication. There was no need for such an attitude. The Canadian ambassador and the Brazilian minister have daily and direct contacts with each other, in case they need to discuss any kind of issue.”

The Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce was established in 1973 as a business association to foster stronger commercial relations between Brazil and Canada, and, in fact, hosted a meeting between Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and Canadian mining corporations last December, just a few weeks after these spying allegations were front page news in Brazilian and Canadian media.

"We all know that countries are concerned with their own national security sector. However, this kind of industrial and commercial espionage is not good and no one accepts it," added Mr. Papaleo.

While Brazilians may be upset by these actions, Mr. Papaleo believes that the work of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) will have no impact on ongoing business. "The Brazilian Government will not implement specific regulations to restrict business in the wake of this incident. But, of course, this cannot happen again," he warned.

The allegations

Allegations of espionage arose in October, after documents leaked by former (U.S.) National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden claimed that the CSEC was targeting metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.

José Francisco Schuster is a Brazilian-Canadian journalist who has been following this issue. For him, the "allegations of espionage caught Brazilians in Canada by surprise. Until then, Brazilians saw Canada as a sympathetic and supportive neighbour."

These claims "could affect the bilateral relationship between Brazil and Canada, endangering a 10-year history of important diplomatic partnerships and trade growth," said Mr. Schuster.

While more than three months have passed since these accusations "the situation seems to have vanished from front page news, while Brazilian cordiality gives way to caution," he said.

When the news broke, Brazilian foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, summoned the Canadian ambassador to demand explanations.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern about the situation, and announced that government officials were reaching out to their counterparts in Brazil, he did not issue an official apology — a gesture that Brazil, including its president, Dilma Rousseff, hoped for.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Brazilian Secretary of Geology, Mining and Mineral Transformation, Carlos Nogueira da Costa Júnior, said in an interview with New Canadian Media that "questions relating to this matter are being taken care exclusively by the Ministry of External Relations." He also said these allegations they won’t impact future bilateral relations. "Currently, Brazil and Canada enjoy a very positive bilateral environment with good expectations for current and future business."[/quote]

Mr. Nogueira visited Canada last December and met with Canadian corporations working in Brazil. "In Toronto, I had the chance at the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, to present the forecast for the mining industry in 2014. As we all know, both countries have important business interests in the sector, the reason for my get-together with the many public and private Canadian companies, who are active in the mining industry."

Canada leading investors

Currently, there are 55 Canadian companies working in Brazil. "The majority are mining gold and iron in Minas Gerais, Pará and Bahia. Canadian companies are also active in the equipment and services sector," said the Secretary.

The Brazilian Mining Institute estimates that between 2012 and 2016, investment in this sector will reach $75 billion U.S., with Canada as one of the leading investors. "The rate increase in commercial relations between the two countries tells us that the mining industry will continue growing in the next few years," he said.

In Toronto, Mr. Nogueira met one-on-one with investors and new corporations interested in exploring Brazil's potential. Kinross, MBAC Fertilizer Corp, and Jaguar Mining Inc.  were some of the companies present.

The spying claims were clearly on the minds of the investors during those meetings. "Obviously, there was some concern, but not enough to hurt each one's trust. The Brazilian government is open to dialogue and the ongoing projects were not impacted by the news," said Mr. Nogueira.

Commercial ties

Today, the volume of bilateral business in the mining sector is around $35 billion:  $19 million for Brazil and $16 million for Canada, after the purchase of Inco. Canadian commercial ties to Brazil are not limited to the mining industry, however. Investments in education, technology, health, aeronautics, satellites and transportation infrastructure are on the rise. All in all, some 500 Canadian companies are active in Brazil. In 2012, Brazil was the 7th highest source of foreign direct investment in Canada with $15.8 billion in cumulative stocks.

If the trend continues, Canada’s investment in Brazil will likely increase and although it looks like the recent espionage will not affect its business and commercial relations, they do leave a bad taste for the more than 20,000 Brazilians that live in Canada, especially as Brazil waits for an apology.

The first significant wave of Brazilians came to Canada in 1987 and Canada has recently become the largest recipient of Brazilian students, surpassing the United States. In 2011, 20,000 Brazilian students came to Canada. The program Science without Borders is sending thousands of Brazilian students for under-graduate and post-doctoral degrees in Canada. Most Brazilians in Canada reside in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Canada has had a trade office in Brazil since 1866, and in May 1941, Brazil opened its embassy in Ottawa and now has consulate offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Latin America
Friday, 31 January 2014 01:45

Brazilians getting over it

by Humberta Araújo

The October allegations that Canada’s surveillance agency was spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy took Brazilians in Canada by surprise. The so-called “industrial espionage” has strained the relationship between both countries. The incident became a serious diplomatic embroilment overshadowing bilateral relations.

These allegations seem contrary to Canada’s official statements that Brazil is a key partner for Canada. "Brazil is at the nexus of the Government of Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, Global Commerce Strategy and International Education Strategy,” reads the Government of Canada’s web site.

Raul Papaleo, president of Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), said there was no justification for Canada’s espionage. "This incident was an unwise and serious act. Canadian companies with interests in Brazil have always had open channels of communication. There was no need for such an attitude. The Canadian ambassador and the Brazilian minister have daily and direct contacts with each other, in case they need to discuss any kind of issue.”

The Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce was established in 1973 as a business association to foster stronger commercial relations between Brazil and Canada, and, in fact, hosted a meeting between Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and Canadian mining corporations last December, just a few weeks after these spying allegations were front page news in Brazilian and Canadian media.

"We all know that countries are concerned with their own national security sector. However, this kind of industrial and commercial espionage is not good and no one accepts it," added Mr. Papaleo.

While Brazilians may be upset by these actions, Mr. Papaleo believes that the work of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) will have no impact on ongoing business. "The Brazilian Government will not implement specific regulations to restrict business in the wake of this incident. But, of course, this cannot happen again," he warned.

The allegations

Allegations of espionage arose in October, after documents leaked by former (U.S.) National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden claimed that the CSEC was targeting metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.

José Francisco Schuster is a Brazilian-Canadian journalist who has been following this issue. For him, the "allegations of espionage caught Brazilians in Canada by surprise. Until then, Brazilians saw Canada as a sympathetic and supportive neighbour."

These claims "could affect the bilateral relationship between Brazil and Canada, endangering a 10-year history of important diplomatic partnerships and trade growth," said Mr. Schuster.

While more than three months have passed since these accusations "the situation seems to have vanished from front page news, while Brazilian cordiality gives way to caution," he said.

When the news broke, Brazilian foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, summoned the Canadian ambassador to demand explanations.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern about the situation, and announced that government officials were reaching out to their counterparts in Brazil, he did not issue an official apology — a gesture that Brazil, including its president, Dilma Rousseff, hoped for.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Brazilian Secretary of Geology, Mining and Mineral Transformation, Carlos Nogueira da Costa Júnior, said in an interview with New Canadian Media that "questions relating to this matter are being taken care exclusively by the Ministry of External Relations." He also said these allegations they won’t impact future bilateral relations. "Currently, Brazil and Canada enjoy a very positive bilateral environment with good expectations for current and future business."[/quote]

Mr. Nogueira visited Canada last December and met with Canadian corporations working in Brazil. "In Toronto, I had the chance at the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, to present the forecast for the mining industry in 2014. As we all know, both countries have important business interests in the sector, the reason for my get-together with the many public and private Canadian companies, who are active in the mining industry."

Canada leading investors

Currently, there are 55 Canadian companies working in Brazil. "The majority are mining gold and iron in Minas Gerais, Pará and Bahia. Canadian companies are also active in the equipment and services sector," said the Secretary.

The Brazilian Mining Institute estimates that between 2012 and 2016, investment in this sector will reach $75 billion U.S., with Canada as one of the leading investors. "The rate increase in commercial relations between the two countries tells us that the mining industry will continue growing in the next few years," he said.

In Toronto, Mr. Nogueira met one-on-one with investors and new corporations interested in exploring Brazil's potential. Kinross, MBAC Fertilizer Corp, and Jaguar Mining Inc.  were some of the companies present.

The spying claims were clearly on the minds of the investors during those meetings. "Obviously, there was some concern, but not enough to hurt each one's trust. The Brazilian government is open to dialogue and the ongoing projects were not impacted by the news," said Mr. Nogueira.

Commercial ties

Today, the volume of bilateral business in the mining sector is around $35 billion:  $19 million for Brazil and $16 million for Canada, after the purchase of Inco. Canadian commercial ties to Brazil are not limited to the mining industry, however. Investments in education, technology, health, aeronautics, satellites and transportation infrastructure are on the rise. All in all, some 500 Canadian companies are active in Brazil. In 2012, Brazil was the 7th highest source of foreign direct investment in Canada with $15.8 billion in cumulative stocks.

If the trend continues, Canada’s investment in Brazil will likely increase and although it looks like the recent espionage will not affect its business and commercial relations, they do leave a bad taste for the more than 20,000 Brazilians that live in Canada, especially as Brazil waits for an apology.

The first significant wave of Brazilians came to Canada in 1987 and Canada has recently become the largest recipient of Brazilian students, surpassing the United States. In 2011, 20,000 Brazilian students came to Canada. The program Science without Borders is sending thousands of Brazilian students for under-graduate and post-doctoral degrees in Canada. Most Brazilians in Canada reside in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Canada has had a trade office in Brazil since 1866, and in May 1941, Brazil opened its embassy in Ottawa and now has consulate offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Economy

New Canadian Media provides nonpartisan news and views representing all Canadian immigrant communities. As part of this endeavour, we re-publish aggregated content from various ethnic media publishers in Canada in an effort to raise the profile of news and commentary from an immigrant perspective. New Canadian Media, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views and opinions contained in content from such other sites. The views expressed on this site are those of the individual writers and commentators, and not necessarily those of New Canadian Media. Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved