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by: Isabel Inclan in Toronto, ON

It is no secret Canada is aiming to increase its immigration numbers over the next three years. The Liberal government will look to hit a target annual intake of 340,000 new immigrants by 2020. A number that stretches far beyond what the country has been able to reach within the past couple of decades, but still falls short of the 450,000 figure that was recommended by the federal government’s advisory council.

Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussein, has pointed to the growing demand for skilled labour. However, with data that shows there are former engineers, doctors and architects working as cab drivers, there are those that are seemingly already falling through the cracks in today’s job market.

Eugenia Gomez, once a researcher in infectology at the National Institute of Nutrition of Mexico, she now cleans residential homes in Toronto.

“My job was to work with the reagents, processed samples and special solution[s] for the scientific studies,” she recalls during one of her breaks. A specialist on a stomach bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, she has had trouble finding work in her field, despite credentials from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Prior to her current position, she worked at a local Tim Hortons. A graduate of Chemical Pharmaceutical Biology, she hopes to one day return to her previous career.

After a brief pause to lace up her sneakers — ideal shoes for six hours of cleaning — she heads back to finish off her shift.

Give me a break

Others offer similar experiences in their job searches. Maria Alvarez, who was a regional sales director at an international cosmetology company based out of Latin America, has faced the same issue. With over 10 years of experience in business development, sales training and leadership roles, she has been unable to find anything that matches her skill set. And not for lack of trying, since her arrival in 2014, she has held numerous positions as a housekeeper, overnight cleaning lady, night attendant, and concierge.

“I have distributed my curriculum vitae (resumé) with many people, but until now nobody called me. I just need one opportunity to show my skills as saleswoman”, she says.

Looking for a better way to make ends meet she finally decided to give driving for Uber a try, which she still does to this day.

“The income as a driver is not too bad if you are alone and work full time. In the last year and a half, I have made six thousand trips and my rating is 4.85 stars of 5,” Alvarez boasts. Although it is not what she envisioned, she stands proudly behind the fact that she can provide for herself working nine-hour shifts six days out of the week.

As a small sample of the female talent that have gone unrecognized, these women provide insight into the growing issue of “Canadian experience” that most immigrants lack.

Paola Gomez, founder of the Network of Latina Women in Canada, maintains that although many Latina women are grateful for the opportunity presented by living in this country, there can be a steep price. For those with extensive experience or higher educations in their home countries it can be difficult to find work within the same stream, which usually reduces them to survival jobs.

Misperception of Canada

In some instances, Canada’s reputation can actually hurt those who over-estimate the reach of the developmental programs in place. Claudia*, who immigrated from Mexico, explains that she was under the impression it would be easier to find employment once she moved.

“I wanted to be independent of my family. I thought it will be easier to find a job in Canada, similar to what I had in my country, but it wasn't,” she says.    

Previously a manager of a bank teller division, she still remembers how hard she pushed herself to climb the rungs. Now a cleaner, she spends her days mop in hand, moving around various residential and commercial buildings. To make matters worse, her supervisors are extremely unpleasant and a portion of her pay goes to a placement agency.

“I just need an opportunity in a company to show my skills. I know I can be selected in Canada as well I did in my country,” Alvarez states.

Maria Alvarez was able to build a career based on her professional experience abroad without a post-secondary education. She argues that a lack of a degree should not prevent potential candidates from consideration. In her opinion, companies should keep some openings for immigrants without certification but with enough technical knowledge to compete for the positions.

Higher Education

While furthering one’s education is always an option, working survival jobs does not always provide the best financial flexibility. Even with support programs many immigrants can have issues with the reduced schooling rates and the fact that they may not be able to work as many hours during that time frame.

“The problem is if I get the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) I would not live with the same standard I have now working as [an] Uber driver,” Maria Alvarez explains. Sitting behind the wheel of her car she adds, “I would like to study Dental Hygienists or Digital Marketing.”  

For Eugenia Gomez family obligations as well as monetary limitations have discouraged her from adding to her Mexican credentials.

“We arrive in Canada with many dreams and eager to work. In the beginning, we accept all kind of jobs because we have to pay rent, but when we want to try something else we are faced with the ‘Canadian experience’ requirement that is difficult for immigrants,” she explains.

The mother of two, now prioritizes her sons as opposed to her own professional opportunities.

Whereas others like Claudia, are maintaining up to two jobs as they save for fees that will regularize their immigration status.

Reaching full potential

In the Latin American community as well as many other immigrant groups, there is talent, experience, and professional skills that can go unnoticed. The government has attempted to eliminate the barrier that is “Canadian experience”, but as cases continue to arise, it seems a more concrete solution must be found.

Paola Gomez states that although these women face several professional obstacles of their own, they are content with the sacrifices they are making for their children.

“We need a more real political and societal intention, the intention of including Latina women into the workforce in ways that they can reach their full potential and Canadian society can benefit from it. Not only because of the betterment of the nation's economy but also because it gives a higher sense of belonging with the new home,” she concludes.


*Full name withheld to protect identity of individual.

Isabel Inclan is a journalist with three decades of experience in Mexico and in Canada. She currently works as a Foreign Correspondent for Notimex News Agency, a Mexican newspaper. This piece is part of the "Ethnic Women as Active Participants in Ontario" series. 

Published in Top Stories
Friday, 10 November 2017 12:07

Small Biz Owners Face Many Challenges

Commentary by: Dan Kelly in Toronto, ON

Governments of all stripes are often eager to turn the page in times of tumult.

It's probably an appropriate strategy: when you're in the midst of turmoil, it's best to change the conversation by presenting the public with some positive news.

Last week — following three months of intense backlash culminating from their small business tax proposals — the federal government introduced some 'cheerful' news in the form of their fall economic statement. In it, the government trumpeted lower-than-projected deficits, solid GDP growth and improving job numbers. They also increased the Canada child benefit by indexing it to inflation as of July 2018 and boosting their working income tax benefit for low-income Canadians in the workforce.

Much of this is good news, but has the page turned?

Not so fast.

The smaller deficit number is welcome but what's missing is a plan to get back to a balanced budget. Right now the country's economy is improving, but are we prepared for the next slowdown? What tax tools or levers will the government be forced to implement when the rainy days eventually come and revenue growth inevitably drops?

A plan towards deficit elimination should be a priority right now.

What was also missing from the government's economic update were details on its revised small business tax proposals.

Thanks to a three-month unprecedented backlash from the small business community, the government has partially retreated on their tax measures.

Most importantly, they dropped provisions to limit the use of capital gains in business succession. They also exempted up to $50,000 in annual passive income from proposed higher tax rates on the money firms have invested for future expansion or for the business owner's retirement.

They even reinstated a 2015 election promise to reduce the small business corporate tax rate to nine per cent. That promise — which had been abandoned in the 2016 budget — will help return hundreds of millions of dollars to independent business owners. The government should be congratulated for these important moves.

But while the feds have backed away from their original bluster (which included characterizing small business owners as tax-cheats), version 2.0 of the tax measures will still make it more difficult for business owners to grow their businesses, innovate and create jobs.

We await further details to understand the full effects of these proposals on small businesses and their families. In particular, we need details on whether the passive income threshold will be indexed to inflation or what the CRA test will be for income shared among family members associated with a business.

Aside from the proposed tax changes, small business owners still face a myriad of other challenges.

We are anxious about the NAFTA negotiations — the current U.S. administration muses about killing the trilateral pact. What happens if NAFTA is terminated? There are also major tax hikes going ahead, including EI and CPP rates, carbon taxes on top of rising borrowing costs, higher minimum wages and new labour legislation in some provinces.

So, while the federal government may wish to turn this page — for small business owners, the next page still has a lot of question marks.


Dan Kelly serves as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Republished under arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post 

Published in Commentary

Commentary by Bessma MomaniJillian Stirk, Anna Klimbovskaia 

The story of Canada’s embrace of different languages, cultures and peoples is not a new one. Diversity in Canada is in many ways a cornerstone of our identity, and for generations, we have largely supported government commitments to immigration, multiculturalism, and pluralism. Now there is a new story emerging about this commonly celebrated feature of our identity. At a time of rising global xenophobia, anti-immigration parties, and populist nationalism, Canada is projecting a powerful and unique global message – diversity in society can be and is good for everyone. While some repeat the normative case for diversity, the argument is sometimes more rhetorical than substantive. The recent report (April 2017), The Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage, dives into why diversity makes economic sense and how to spell out a clear case for its many gains.

With support from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and a number of other partners, we set out to investigate the link between diversity and economic prosperity. We conducted round table consultations with 100 Canadian business leaders across Canada, carried out interviews with industry associations, and analyzed under-used Statistics Canada data. To arrive at our findings, we used a matching methodology whereby we compared firms that were statistically identical in all factors that influence revenue, save their share of workplace ethnocultural diversity. By controlling for all other variables, we were able to isolate the effects of diversity on revenue. The term “ethnocultural diversity” is used here to refer to individuals born outside of Canada, and to those first-and-second generation immigrants who speak a language other than English or French at home.

Our findings show a pronounced diversity dividend. Specifically, we find that a 1 percent increase in ethnocultural diversity among employees is associated with an average 2.4 percent increase in revenue and 0.5 percent increase in workplace productivity across 14 industries. Businesses that welcome diversity show an increase in their economic bottom line. The sectors reaping the greatest benefits from ethnocultural diversity include business services (e.g., administrative, tech, law, and insurance firms), information and cultural industries (e.g., publishing, broadcasting, arts, and telecommunications companies), and transportation, warehousing and wholesale enterprises. These sectors experienced 6.2 percent, 3.6 percent and 4.1 percent growth in revenue, respectively, for every 1 percent increase in ethnocultural diversity in the workplace.

Manufacturers, mining, oil and gas extractors, banks, communication and utility companies, rental and leasing operators, and consumer service providers also benefit from greater ethnocultural diversity. The hard data spells out a clear case for why diversity is profitable. When we paired this data with the responses of Canadian business leaders, we found an even stronger case for the benefits and net economic effects of diversity.

The consultations with the business community, backed up by a review of the scholarly literature, showed that ethnocultural diversity in the workplace facilitates creativity and generates ideas by bringing together individuals with different lived experiences, outlooks and approaches to problem solving. A diversity of employees can invent new products and services, meet a wider range of clients’ demands, and even help companies expand into new markets, domestically and abroad. In effect, an ethnoculturally diverse workforce not only stimulates production of improved goods and services, it also connects businesses to a wider range of customers, clients, and partners.

Of course, greater workplace diversity is not without challenges. Creating an inclusive work environment that is conducive to maximizing the advantages associated with diversity may require providing certain accommodations and expending additional resources at the outset. Companies may need to make (and stick to) diversity-related commitments in their corporate culture. Inclusive hiring, training for human resources staff in recognition of international experience so they value differences, mentorship programs, measuring and understanding workplace demographics, and introducing diversity into procurement policies, are all key to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. These adjustments may seem costly in the first instance, but they are more than justified when businesses stand to gain from them substantial performance dividends.

What does this relationship between diversity and economic prosperity mean for broader policy reform? First and foremost, there is a need to address recurring issues with foreign experience and credential recognition. In 2009, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration estimated the cost of not recognizing immigrants’ foreign credentials to be between $2.4 and $5.9 billion a year. We need to remove the barriers that prevent qualified but unemployed or underemployed immigrants from finding gainful employment, so we can capitalize on this stranded resource as well as alleviate the oversupply of unskilled labour.

Our conclusion is that ethnocultural diversity is good for the Canadian economy and is, in some respects, an underestimated tool for economic prosperity. But the conversation about diversity does not end there. What our research points to is that this conversation is just beginning.

While we focused on ethnocultural diversity in our study, there are many other important aspects of diversity that, if addressed, would improve the inclusiveness of society: gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, to name a few. Canada is a nation built on immigration, but more importantly, it is a nation built on difference. We have celebrated, and we should continue to celebrate the things that make us unique, while reinforcing the things that bring us together. Prioritizing pluralism not only makes us richer as a country, it makes us a stronger country. 

By arrangement with Policy Options - Institute for Research on Public Policy 

Published in Economy
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 12:06

Whitening Your Resumé to Get the Job

Commentary by Hamlin Grange in Toronto

While working as a television journalist with Canada's public broadcaster, CBC, in Toronto, I produced a documentary series on how new immigrants were settling in Canada. It was part of an effort by the CBC to celebrate Pier 21, the point of entry for up to one million immigrants to Canada from 1928 to 1971. Pier 21 was often called the "Gateway to Canada." Today it is a national historic site and museum.

For the series, TV cameras followed a man and his wife on their journey from Shanghai to Canada, and in their early weeks of settlement in Toronto. They had worked as electrical engineers in power plants in China. Now, like all new immigrants, they were starting over.

We were there when they moved into their one-bedroom apartment above a convenience store. We were there when they went to the local job placement office to search for jobs and to update and print off their resumes. And we there when they bumped up against the stark reality of discrimination.

I knew him by his real name, which was, of course, Chinese. His accented English was quite good because he studied English in China. We talked frequently during those weeks, exchanging phone calls to catch up on his efforts to find a job.

Then one day I got a message that “Andrew” had called. I didn’t recognize the name. Once I called back, I recognized his voice right away. He was the same person I’d been talking to all those weeks, except his new name was Andrew. I asked him why he had changed his name. He said that acquaintances in Toronto’s Chinese community had advised him to change his Chinese name to a “Canadian name” if he wanted to get a job. That’s what Chinese immigrants have to do, he was told. Once he changed his name, his phone began to ring.

I recalled that story as I read a Toronto Star story about a new study by University of Toronto researchers. According to the study, 40 per cent of non-white job seekers are “whitening” their resumes in order to get called for job interviews. Names such as the Chinese “Lei” become “Luke”.

That’s not the only change applicants are making to their resumes in their effort to ‘whiten’ their profiles.

Only 10 per cent of African-Canadians who included experience with African-Canadian organizations were invited to interviews, but that rate jumped to 25.5 per cent when they deleted that experience from their resumes.

I can certainly relate to this. When I was recruited by the CBC in the late 80’s, a manager on the hiring panel asked me if I could be “objective” covering the black community because he noticed I had indicated on my resume that I had volunteered with a few black community organizations.

I told him I could be objective and that because of my involvement in that community I had unique access to a community other reporters did not have. I also pointed out that my resume also included my volunteer work with the YMCA and that I am certain I would be able to objectively cover stories about the Y. I got the job.

Sonia Kang, the lead author of “Whitened Resumes, Race and Self-Representation in the Labour Market” says the findings show that job applicants from racial minority groups are fighting back against discrimination.

In our practice at DiversiPro, we have heard these stories over and over. They are not new. We have been told of immigrants changing their names, their accents and their experience to be more acceptable to other Canadians.

We’ve also heard from immigrants from former British or French colonies in the Caribbean and elsewhere whose European names have disguised their race or ethnicities until they turn up for a job interview – only to find the welcome mat withdrawn.

In the current political climate in the United States, and to a lesser degree even in Canada, many individuals are cautious about how they identify themselves. In a time of "travel bans" and screening for "Canadian values", it's no surprise some new immigrants may decide to minimize their differences in order to be accepted.

The encouraging news is that new immigrants and people from racial minority backgrounds are finding ways to adapt and work around a system that is not often based on merit but how well a hiring manager believes a job candidate will “fit” into the organization.

I have no doubt that such short-sightedness has deprived companies of competent, hardworking individuals who could have contributed to the bottom line.

Hamlin Grange is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist and principal consultant with DiversiPro.

Published in Economy
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 14:22

Entrepreneurs Moving North

by Don Curry in North Bay, Ontario

Economic development officers in the upper reaches of Northeastern Ontario have noticed a trend in the past few years — as businesses come up for sale the buyers are first generation immigrants to Canada.

They had no idea where the newcomers were coming from, how they found out about the business opportunity, how many businesses they own, how many people they employ, or much else.

Now they do. 

I wrote about this trend for New Canadian Media in December, explaining why municipalities may be better off canvassing for new immigrants from within Canada's borders, rather than launching expensive international campaigns for potential newcomers from other regions of the world. 

Working with the Timmins & District Multicultural Centre through a project sponsored by the Far Northeast Training Board, I travelled to Latchford, Temiskaming Shores, Earlton, Englehart, Kirkland Lake, Matheson, Timmins, Chapleau, Cochrane, Kapuskasing and Hearst in the summer and fall of 2016 to interview as many newcomer business people as possible. The full report is here.

Of a possible 55 business owners identified by economic development officers, 38 were interviewed, or 69 per cent. This extremely high sample number provides very reliable data.

Entrepreneur profiles

So who are they?

The typical newcomer business owner in the Far Northeast Training Board catchment area is 44, originally from India but moved north from the Greater Toronto Area, owns a restaurant or fast food franchise, motel, convenience store, or gas station, has lived in Canada 13 years, has an average family size of 3.6, loves the beauty and tranquility of the north and plans to stay. The friendly people in the north, the lack of crime and congestion were the other top draws.

Together the 38 people interviewed own and operate 58 businesses, employ 206 people full-time, of whom 56 are family members, 139 part-time, and 20 seasonal. Almost half of them know people from southern Ontario who would move north for the right business opportunity.

Almost half found out about the business opportunity from friends or relatives, with real estate agents, franchise chains and online information cited by others. Two-thirds of those interviewed are originally from India, with the remainder from Pakistan, China, Egypt, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Iran and Belgium.

Twenty own restaurants or fast food franchises, 15 own motels, 10 own convenience stores, seven own gas stations and two own pharmacies. Others owned a landscaping business, nail salon, strip mall and a movie theatre.

Where they come from

Twenty-four of the 38 people interviewed moved north from the GTA. The remainder came from Montreal, Saskatchewan, Windsor, Orillia, India, Kitchener-Waterloo, Gravenhurst, Hamilton, London England, Florida, Vancouver, Fenelon Falls and Belleville. Seventy-nine per cent say they feel connected to the town they live in and plan to stay.

Gejal Gandhi, 35, and her husband Keyur own the Casey’s Restaurant, Esso gas bar and convenience store and the Park Inn Motel in Kapuskasing. They employ 10 full-time and 25 part-time people. They moved to Kapuskasing from Cochrane and lived in Toronto prior to that. They have been in Canada 17 years, are from India, and have two children.

“We bought the Park Inn Motel first,” she says. “We had a motel in Cochrane and sold it. Once we were in Kapuskasing we found the Esso, and then the same thing for the restaurant. There was a sign and we contacted the owner and went through the process.” They have lived in Kapuskasing for four years.

Minesh Prajapati, 44, is originally from India and owns and operates the Subway franchise in Kirkland Lake. In addition he is in partnership with Indian friends in Mattawa who own the Subway there and together they own Subway franchises in Hearst and Englehart.

Change in careers

“I bought the business primarily for my wife,” he says. “She was working in a Subway but was just getting minimum wage. I was a banker doing lending and mortgages. Next year my wife will take over this store and I will be more like managing it. I can go back to banking if I want. They are still calling me.

“Right now, though, the way it is going, I don’t think I’m going back to the bank. Every year we are buying one more Subway.” He has lived in Canada 10 years and moved to Kirkland Lake from Brampton.

With six full-time and two part-time employees in Kirkland Lake, Prajapati says his two part-timers were hired through a special needs program and are doing very well. He says he attends Subway conventions twice a year “and that’s when people spread the news that they would like to sell.”

David Mohamed owns Willis Pharmacy in Matheson, where he is the sole pharmacist. Born in Egypt, he has been in Canada six years and moved to Matheson from Belleville. A couple of friends owned the business and he became a partner recently, after working at the Matheson location for 18 months.

“I decided to purchase because I like working with them and it was a good opportunity in the north,” he says. “Here you are alone in the business and we don’t have any nearby pharmacies.”

Louiz Soliman is also a pharmacist from Egypt. He owns Smallman Pharmacy in Temiskaming Shores. He moved to Haileybury from Montreal to take over the business a year ago. He came to Canada from Greece seven years ago. I asked him if he knew Mr. Mohamed. He said he did not, and asked “where is Matheson?”

If people ask him about moving north to start or purchase a business he says “I would tell them it’s a good area. The people are very polite. It’s a safe area.”

Peter Patel, 67, owns three motels, a restaurant and convenience store in Chapleau, employing 25 to 30 people. He and his partners also own a motel in Fenelon Falls, near Peterborough.

Starting from scratch

Another large employer is Siva Mylvaganam, 49, of Timmins. His is a Canadian success story. He came to Canada as a refugee from Sri Lanka and Siva’s Family Restaurant in Timmins Square now employs 35 people with the restaurant and catering business. In addition, he has a commercial real estate sideline where he employs another one or two people, depending on business activity.

Very well known in Timmins, he started the business from scratch in 1996. “When I came to Canada I had no English so I worked as a dishwasher, and in a car factory. There were layoffs so I worked in a restaurant and became a cook, and then a chef, and then opened my own business. I found this location and I thought Timmins would never be really high, or really low, because it is a mining town.

“I loved smaller towns because I was born and raised in a small village. I lived in Toronto and it wasn’t my place to live. I always go back but I never enjoy it. It’s not like here. People always say ‘Hi Siva, how are you doing?’ and I ask them about their family. It’s not like that in Toronto.”

Amjinber Cheema , ( “the locals call me Ami”) is typical of the younger entrepreneurs from India settling in the north. Only 28, his wife just joined him in Latchford from India. He came to Canada as a student and in his seven years here he lived in Saskatoon, Regina and Toronto before arriving in Latchford to purchase The Dam Depot, a gas station and convenience store.

Harsher winters

“There is value for money in the north,” he says. “The winters are harsher but you get used to it. Compared to the bigger cities like Toronto and Ottawa you get value for your money.” He feels connected to the people of Latchford and laughs that “after I was here for two months they appointed me the honourary Indian ambassador to Latchford. It was in the paper. It was very nice.”

Sam Singh, 24, owns the Mac’s franchise in New Liskeard and is another of the young people from India making their mark in the north.  He also came to Canada as a student and started in his business a year ago. “Young people like me don’t have much opportunity,” he says. “From here I can get a start. I am learning a lot of things. It’s a small community and I get involved. In the future if I am going to buy a bigger business I won’t have a problem. For everyone, a small town is the best place to start a business.”

Roger Gandhi, 58, was born in India but has been in Canada 40 years. He is typical of the older immigrant from India who is now well established. He lives in Earlton and owns and operates the Earlton Motel and Coté’s Variety. In addition he owns the mall where the variety store operates, plus the Regal Motel in Timmins.

Navin Tamakuwala, 67, is another. He owns the Thriflodge and Terry’s Steakhouse in Cochrane and has 14 full-time and five part-time employees there. He lives in Montreal most of the year and owns a Sobey’s grocery store there. Also from India, he has lived in Canada for 44 years.

While North Bay was not part of the study area, it has more than 70 first-generation immigrant-owned businesses. Its cricket team is dominated by young entrepreneurs from India. The same is true of cricket teams in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins. Together they are changing the face of Northern Ontario and investing in its future.

Don Curry is the president of Curry Consulting (www.curryconsulting.ca) He was the founding executive director of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre and the Timmins & District Multicultural Centre and is now chair of the board of directors.

Published in Economy
Saturday, 03 December 2016 12:18

Thunder Bay – Off the Beaten Path

Commentary by Paul Wojda in Thunder Bay, Ontario

Immigration represents both an incredible opportunity and a challenge for Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

As skilled workers across a wide range of fields retire from the workforce in Northern Ontario, employers are struggling to find trained and experienced replacements who can step in to take their place.

Owners of small businesses throughout the region who would like to sell and retire are finding it challenging to find buyers. The inability to fill these gaps has a potentially devastating impact on smaller communities, leaving them with a reduced tax base and fewer services.

While the development of the local workforce to meet these needs is a necessary and desirable outcome, immigration can allow these businesses to survive and flourish while this training takes place.

Net negative migration

The number of immigrants arriving in the region has remained fairly steady over the past few years, but overall, the region has been experiencing negative net migration. This has sparked a number of efforts to reverse this trend and to encourage immigration both from other parts of Canada and other countries.

The Common Voice Northwest conference in September 2016 brought together stakeholders from across the region to analyze the topic and to develop a series of next steps to address it.  The creation of the Northwestern Ontario Immigration portal represents an effort to provide newcomers with an accurate picture of the advantages and resources available should they move to the region.

Job opportunities, businesses for sale, funding opportunities and other resources are centralized in one location to make the immigration pathway a seamless process for prospective newcomers.  

In addition, city and regional representatives have been attending job fairs, conferences and expositions around the world to showcase the opportunities available. The emphasis of these marketing efforts focuses primarily on the unique benefits of life in Northwestern Ontario.

Personalized attention

There are a number of distinct advantages for immigrants looking to move to a smaller community outside of the larger metropolitan areas. One of the key messages that is repeatedly heard from newcomers is the personalized attention and support they receive upon their arrival.

In Northwestern Ontario, there is often more of a communal effort to help welcome newcomers and support their integration, since they are seen as essential to the survival and growth of the community.  While there is a vast representation of different cultural groups from around the world, they do not tend to be grouped into enclaves as they might in large cities, resulting in a fuller integration into the community as a whole.

Recently, Thunder Bay has seen a rapid increase in the number and variety of restaurants and grocery options to meet the needs and desires of newcomers from diverse backgrounds to the area. The overall high quality of life with affordable housing, excellent health care facilities and a wide range of entertainment and dining options also plays a role in attracting and retaining newcomers.

Local residents can enjoy all the amenities of a bigger urban centre while still being only minutes away from a vast array of outdoor recreation opportunities. While some may see the area as being isolated, it is easy to connect to larger centres such as Toronto, Winnipeg or Minneapolis through several daily flights from the international airport or by ground transportation.

Keep students here

Encouraging newcomers to choose a smaller community can be a challenging process. A main obstacle can be convincing them to visit, tour and see the area with their own eyes.

One way to address this is by building on the success of Confederation College and Lakehead University in attracting international students.

These students are often highly skilled, motivated and bring a wealth of previous experience. Since they have already overcome that first step of visiting and living in the area, it would be advisable to create more programs to encourage them to stay rather than leaving upon graduation for larger urban centres.

The creation and enhancement of economic incentives for newcomers to settle in smaller communities can help to stimulate the purchase of businesses for sale, allowing those communities to continue to benefit from the services and jobs they provide.  

Expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program could allow more discretion in this area, to both support the settlement of newcomers and to help sustain the existence and quality of life in smaller communities.  

With affordable housing, employment opportunities, diverse recreational pursuits and an exceptionally high quality of life, Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario represent an incredible destination for immigrants to create a new life in Canada.  

 

Paul Wojda is the youth programs facilitator of the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association

Published in Economy

Credit: SFU News, Vancouver, Canada.
As Canadians are being invited to play a key role in the future of innovation for the country, a public dialogue at SFU's Wosk Centre for Dialogue on September 8 (6:30-8:30 pm) will provide a unique opportunity to add your voice to the discussion.
The event will give entrepreneurs, employees, students, social innovators and the general community the chance to share their ideas and vision for Canada's Innovation Agenda, with the view to (...)

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The Patriotic Vangaurd

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Published in Economy

I was talking with my good friend James (real person, but name changed) the other day and he wasn’t very happy. But first let me tell you a little bit about James. He has spent his whole retirement living here in Ontario — he is 83 and first started drawing his UK State Pension in 1990.

At that time he was paid £46.90/week, which in those days meant he was getting about $90/week; this was when gas cost 59 cents/litre, and a loaf of bread cost just 70 cents.

Today, because of the UK’s “frozen” pension policy, James is still getting £46.90/week, which immediately after the Brexit vote converted to $79/week — the British pound instantly fell 18% against the loonie. Meanwhile the cost of gas has gone up to 94 cents/litre ($1.15/litre in Western Canada), and a loaf of bread is now nearly $3. How can anybody be expected to live on 80 bucks a week?

Brits in Toronto

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Published in Economy
Saturday, 23 July 2016 11:18

Most Think World More Dangerous Place

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

As Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican convention Thursday evening with a speech that played to Americans’ fears about the economy, illegal immigration and national security, many wondered aloud whether Canadian politics might be susceptible to his kind of populist appeal to the disaffected.

New polling from EKOS Research suggests the answer to that question, for the time being, is no: Most Canadians have a positive outlook, aren’t concerned about their economic future and value “openness” over “order” — even if they do believe the world is a more dangerous place than it was five years ago.

Earlier this month, from July 8 to 14, EKOS surveyed a random sample of 1,003 Canadians (with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20) on a range of subjects, recruiting them by phone to take online surveys.

They found a country that is, for the most part, seeing the glass as half-full.

Given a choice of a few adjectives to describe their current outlook on life, almost three-quarters of Canadians (73 per cent) said they were either “happy” or “hopeful”, compared to only 22 per cent who were “discouraged” and two per cent who were “angry”.

Anxiety over economy

There are certainly pockets of Canada that have seen job losses as a result of NAFTA and trade liberalization more generally — versions of Donald Trump’s “communities crushed by horrible and unfair trade deals” — but that hasn’t translated into collective anxiety about the economy.

Three in 10 Canadians do agree with the statement that they’ve lost all control over their economic future — but almost half (48 per cent) don’t, and one in five are agnostic.

“In addition to the clear lean to a positive emotional outlook, the incidence of those who feel they have lost ‘all control’ over their economic futures, although still significant, is actually lower than what we saw in the late 1990s. A sense of lost control is linked to a more negative emotional outlook and is strongly linked to the more economically vulnerable in society,” write EKOS President Frank Graves and EKOS research analyst Jeff Smith.

On one subject, however — safety — that sanguine feeling seems to disappear.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump said Thursday evening.

Risk perception

Most Canadians appear inclined to agree. Only one in 20 (5 per cent) think the world is safer than it was five years ago, compared to 60 per cent who think it’s more dangerous and 34 per cent who think it’s about the same.

“It is disturbing to see how the public are seeing the balance of danger and safety in the world,” Graves and Smith write. “A rational review of the evidence would suggest that objective risks and safety of North Americans have improved over the last decade. But the emotional response to risk perception is egregiously different.”

Those results need to be put in perspective. No more than 12 per cent of Canadians have ever felt the world is safer than it was five years ago. That said, as recently as 2012, more thought the world hadn’t become any more dangerous.

To the extent that there is a large portion of the population worried about terrorist attacks, rising crime levels and the like, the next question becomes: What are they prepared to do about it?

Is there any appetite to build walls — even metaphorical ones — and suspend immigration? Or to embrace more authoritarian “law and order” governance?

It doesn’t look like it — at least for now.

Order vs. openness

EKOS asked Canadians to choose between a set of different values in what they call “forced choice questions”: openness versus order; respect for authority versus individual freedom; good behaviour versus creativity; morality versus reason and evidence; obedience versus questioning authority.

“When we summarize the results we find that overall a clear majority of Canadians lean to openness (54 per cent) versus the not insignificant minority who favour order (33 per cent). These numbers, while rough, suggest that an authoritarian or ordered outlook is less common in Canada than the United States (according to PEW who found over half of Americans to be authoritarian),” Graves and Smith write.

If drawing concrete conclusions about Canadians’ appetite for a Trump-like figure — or at least for the values he espouses — is a pretty subjective exercise, other recent EKOS polling has gotten at the subject more directly.

In June, EKOS asked what kind of impact Canadians thought a Trump presidency would have on Canada. Only 6.8 per cent thought it would be positive.

Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca

Published in Top Stories
Commentary by Marco Navarro-Genie in Halifax
 
When prominent Nova Scotia MP and President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison recently spoke about banning the expression “come from away” (CFA, in short) from the vocabulary of Atlantic Canadians, he drew attention to our hospitality toward immigrants.
 
His discussion also led me to reflect on my own origin as a newcomer to Canada, and more recently, as a new arrival in Atlantic Canada.
 
The precise meaning of “come from away” remains unclear to me.
 
It seems to refer to people who come from elsewhere, but the degree of distance varies.  In some cases, to qualify as a CFA, one can be from the next county, or the next Maritime province, or the next province outside the region, or from a faraway land.
 
The expression has never exclusively been used to apply to immigrants from other countries.
 
Nova Scotians, for instance, apply the term to other Nova Scotians, as well. While in all instances it refers to someone seen as an outsider, it is not always used in pejorative ways. In some cases, it is purely descriptive, as a synonym for a stranger. Sometimes, it is used in humorous ways.
 
Attitudinal change
 
None of this should be a surprise: words have various and varying meanings. In the exact same sentence, an expression can mean more than one thing depending on who utters it, who hears it, and the tone and intention with which it is said. For that reason alone, the idea of banning a phrase from usage seems curious to me, but I am sure the minister only meant to use “ban” in a figurative sense.
 
As for the negative uses and connotations of the expression, the minister is correct in pointing out that attitudes need changing. In my observation and personal experience, they are changing.
 
When my sisters and I requested asylum in Canada in 1979, I was assigned to the École Polyvalente in St.-Henri, a neighbourhood of Montreal then well-known for its poverty and high unemployment.  There, I first encountered hostility toward “les maudits immigrants,” those damned immigrants. In the minds of many of the local children in the school, immigrants represented a threat to their cultural identity and to their parents’ jobs.
 
Their identities seemed threatened by the presence of the many foreign languages they could not understand. Even the teachers seemed resentful at St.-Henri. At our school, they looked the other way when many of the refugee or immigrant children were pushed, shoved, threatened, and on one occasion, attacked — not with a hockey stick, but with a most un-Canadian instrument — a baseball bat.
 
Immigrants to Atlantic Canada and their children are not at the receiving end of physical violence. But, the extent to which immigrants may be made to feel like outsiders if someone refers to them as CFAs, it is not in the more affluent spaces such office towers and banks, stores, and shopping malls.  
 
[T]he extent to which immigrants may be made to feel like outsiders if someone refers to them as CFAs, it is not in the more affluent spaces such office towers and banks, stores, and shopping malls.  
 
In the nearly three years that I have been living in Atlantic Canada – and having already travelled through all four provinces — I have heard the expression “come from away” many times, most of them in jest, but I have never witnessed anyone being subject to it in an unwelcoming way. Nor have I been at the receiving end of any unkindness.
 
While the negative attitudes need changing, we need to be reminded that attitudes will change if the context in which they are born changes.
 
Words do not beget attitudes; rather, words describe or express them. What gives rise to words are social and economic experiences. In that sense, suppressing a word without dealing with the experiences that begot them would only send the expression underground, and create new terms that would simply be expressed code for the one suppressed.
 
[S]uppressing a word without dealing with the experiences that begot them would only send the expression underground ...
 
 
"The Other"
 
After the horrible baseball bat incident at St.-Henri, many of the newcomers were shipped to other schools in Montreal. I was sent to École Sécondaire St.-Luc, still on the edge of affluent Westmount, but this time on the west side, bordering Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Hampstead.
 
These were neighbourhoods with higher economic profile, much lower unemployment and greater ratios of university education. Here, it was the immigrant children who were sometimes thuggish, picked fights, and were more unruly than the locals. But there was peace, and I never felt unsafe in the way that I had felt in St.-Henri.
 
At St.-Luc, I never felt the threat and insecurity that I experienced in St.-Henri. The attitude of the vast majority of the students and teachers at St.-Luc was much more welcoming.  Having visited homes of classmates in both areas, I am quite sure that the pupils from Westmount and Hampstead didn’t leave their home for school in the morning showered with parental complaints about jobs, lack of money to eat or pay the rent, or heard epithets about immigrants who were stealing jobs from locals. 
 
That was the great difference.
 
Socio-economic context
 
The animosity and suspicion we hear toward immigrants and newcomers, almost everywhere, has a socio-economic context, a background profile that is very similar across borders and cultures.
 
Atlantic Canada is no different.
 
Maritimers’ suspicions of “the other” will erode with more prosperity. The more prosperity, the more they will also be exposed to immigrants coming to settle here.
 
Atlantic economies will only improve and thrive on their own when they become less dependent on subsidies from outside the region, and when home policies foster economic growth through more efficient government and lower taxes, less cumbersome and repetitious regulatory regimes, and when our economic policies exhibit greater friendliness toward entrepreneurs and innovators.
 
With a better economy, fewer Atlantic Canadians will feel threatened by newcomers, whether they have arrived from the next county, or from the other end of the planet.
 
Marco Navarro-Genie is the President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS.ca). This comment is part of our continuing series on immigration to the Atlantic provinces. 
 
Related reading: The Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy (Feb. 2014) - Section on "Immigration is Essential"
Published in Economy
Page 1 of 8

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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