New Canadian Media
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 19:58

Myth Busting in Nova Scotia

Commentary by Howard Ramos in Halifax 

With a rapidly aging population and low birth rate, Canada’s Atlantic provinces have turned full force towards immigration. 

Nova Scotia, for instance, has nearly doubled its allocation of provincial nominees and Premier Stephen McNeil has been a vocal supporter of immigration as a solution to the province’s problems. 

This being the case, it is worth asking how immigrants fare there. 

Individuals such as Globe and Mail columnist, John Ibbitson, believe that, “Immigrants avoid the Maritimes because of the lack of economic opportunities and because they tend to gravitate toward communities that already have newcomers.” 

However, a recent report for Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) by Yoko Yoshida, Madine VanderPlaat and myself of Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities, in partnership with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), suggests that immigrants do well in Nova Scotia. 

Debunking myths

The report busts a number of myths. The first is that immigrants don’t find work in the province. 

This may have been the case a couple of decades ago, however, recent economic immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2010 and 2012 out-performed newcomers in other parts of Canada. 

Immigrants to the province actually have higher rates of employment one year after arriving (76 per cent) compared to Canada as a whole (73 per cent). 

[I]n Nova Scotia, economic principal applicants’ average earnings are $44,000 compared to $36,000 nationally.

Another busted myth is that immigrants will be underemployed compared to other parts of the country. 

The report finds that one year after landing in Nova Scotia, economic principal applicants’ average earnings are $44,000 compared to $36,000 nationally. 

Changes in policy and the success of settlement organizations, such as ISANS, have clearly worked at better integrating recent cohorts of immigrants to the province. This is largely because of the work they do in terms of language training, employment and interview coaching, and bridging programs that link immigrants to specific job sectors.

One more busted myth is that immigrant spouses and partners do not fully contribute to the economy. 

The report shows that 96 per cent of spouses and partners who come with economic immigrants and 91 per cent of family sponsored spouses and partners are of “prime” working age, between 20 and 55 years old. 

The majority of spouses and partners are also employed one year after arrival and over a third have a university degree. 

When spouses and partners immigrating to Nova Scotia are compared to immigrants settling across Canada we find that rates of employment are about the same, however, when earnings are examined the report again shows an advantage for family sponsored spouses and partners in Nova Scotia. 

For those landing between 2010 and 2012, average earnings were $26,000 one year after arriving compared to $22,000 for immigrants across Canada. Policy makers should not underestimate the economic potential of sponsored family immigrants. 

Emerging trends 

Such findings show that the federal government’s decision to increase the cap on immigrants to the province is well justified and that Nova Scotia is right to continue to ask for more immigrants. 

[M]ore autonomy in crafting immigration policy ... could be a way to stem population pressures and even grow the economy.

If the trends identified in the report continue, more autonomy in crafting immigration policy to the region with a broader mix of immigration pathways could be a way to stem population pressures and even grow the economy. 

The report, however, also identifies some trends that should be examined further and that need policy attention. 

In particular, when a comparison is made between economic and family-sponsored stream immigrants, interesting findings emerge. 

For instance, among cohorts of immigrants landing in Nova Scotia in the 1990s and early 2000s, family-sponsored spouses and partners rivalled and even outperformed economic-stream principal applicants, which suggests that there is an important role for the family stream in the immigration mix. This is a trend unique to the region and one that has shifted in recent years. 

[I]t is important for Nova Scotia to continue to invest in researching immigration.

Also worth policy attention are the noticeable differences identified in the report between economic versus family-sponsored spouses and partners. 

The economic successes have been greater for spouses and partners coming through the family pathway rather than those who come with economic principal applicants. It is unclear why this might be the case and this should be a focus of future analysis. 

A need for more research

Questions like these mean that it is important for Nova Scotia to continue to invest in researching immigration. 

It is through investigation and critical review that strong evidence-based policies can be developed. 

Such policies combined with quality efforts by settlement organizations are what have led to the dramatic shift in how immigrants fare in Nova Scotia. 

Premier McNeil and Immigration Minister Lena Diab, who is the daughter of first generation immigrants herself, are right to encourage immigrants to come to Nova Scotia. They will likely be successful in integrating into jobs and making meaningful contributions to the province. 

It is now time to let the rest of Canada in on the secret: immigrants do well in Nova Scotia.


Howard Ramos is a professor of sociology at Dalhousie University. His research focuses on issues of social justice including the non-economic elements of immigration and examination of family and non-economic streams of immigration to Canada.

Published in Commentary

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriyain Toronto

When it comes to research pertaining to immigration and new Canadians, things are definitely picking up quickly this fall. In the second installment of Research Watch we take a look at some important research coming out of other parts of the world on migration issues, as well as the upcoming Pathways to Prosperity research conference and an exciting new research collaboration between Ryerson University and the Maytree foundation.


The Ryerson Maytree Global Diversity Exchange

As of September 15, a section of the Maytree Foundation – projects, staff and resources – will have a new home: inside the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. Through what is shaping up to be a dynamic research collaboration that will focus on effectively bringing about increased inclusion of immigrants and racialized minorities in the Canadian business world, four specific projects will come to Ryerson with Maytree: DiverseCity onBoard, HireImmigrants, Cities of Migration and Flight and Freedom. It truly speaks to the important role immigrants play in our country’s economy, explains Wendy Cukier, founder of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute and Vice-President of Research and Innovation.

“I think that increasingly people are recognizing equity and diversity are grounded in a commitment to human rights and that it is the right thing to do from an ethical perspective,” Cukier says. “But, increasingly, they are recognizing the business case and how addressing [diversity] issues appropriately is critical for the competitiveness of businesses, for the effectiveness of government, and, in fact, for Canada as a nation.”

According to Cukier, the new initiative’s Executive Director Ratna Omidvar, and her team, is looking forward to being able to tap into Ryerson’s faculty and students to get involved in current projects. Cukier says this partnership will bolster the expertise, contacts, networks and partners Maytree has as a leading organization in reducing poverty and inequality since 1982. It will also further expand on Ryerson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

But increasingly they are recognizing the business case and how addressing [diversity] issues appropriately is critical for the competitiveness of businesses, for the effectiveness of government and in fact for Canada as a nation.

Canada has a history of being a country of immigrants, and other countries are trying to catch up, Cukier explains. Leaders from countries around the world – she notes the president of Germany, Joachim Gauck, will be here later this month – come to Canada to find out how the nation has been so successful at inclusion of immigrants and racialized minorities.

At the same time, we know we can do better,” she adds. “I hope this partnership pushes that envelope.”

Misconceptions about migration to EU

Interestingly, over 90 per cent of the children I interviewed have a family member in the U.S., with just over 50 per cent having one or both parents there.

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has faced considerable economic turmoil. And as such, something has to be blamed. For many, that something is migration. Although political leaders once staunchly defended migration, since the 2008-09 financial crisis, defenders are few and far between. Views such as migrants-are-not-needed in the EU or migrants-take-up-all-the-jobs, run rampant. But, the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute challenges these notions with a new research paper: Is what we hear about migration really true? Questioning eight stereotypes, edited by researcher Phillipe Fargues. A combined effort of 10 authors and contributors, the 92-page report provides in-depth analysis that debunks eight specific stereotypes of migration in the EU.

Of the eight stereotypes, six are argued as point-blank wrong – we do not need migrant workers; migrants steal our jobs; we do not need low-skilled immigrants in the EU; migrants undermine our welfare systems; migration hampers our capacity to innovate and our southern coastline is flooded with asylum seekers. The authors counter these stereotypes with research proving otherwise; for example, an aging population and waning work force in the EU means immigrants will help stimulate the economy. The final two stereotypes – economic migrants are trying to cheat our asylum system and our children suffer from having immigrants in class are deemed complex issues that are not as cut-and-dried to easily proven or disproven.

The misconceptions of migration are not limited to the EU, it seems. In July, The American Immigration Council released a study by researcher Elizabeth Kennedy, No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children are Fleeing Their Homes, which worked to get to the bottom of the influx of unaccompanied child migrants in the United States coming from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Perhaps, what stood out the most about Kennedy’s findings was this passage, “Interestingly over 90 per cent of the children I interviewed have a family member in the U.S., with just over 50 per cent having one or both parents there. Most referenced fear of crime and violence as the underlying motive for their decision to reunify with family now rather than two years in the past or two years in the future. Seemingly, the children and their families had decided they must leave and chose to go to where they had family, rather than choose to leave because they had family elsewhere. Essentially, if their family had been in Belize, Costa Rica, or another country, they would be going there instead.”

Through this finding, Kennedy shows that it isn’t so much about the United States and the pursuit of the American Dream that brings the children across the border, as is widely reported, but rather it is serious issues such as organized crime, gangs and violence. The report also speaks to the fact that leaving their country is often a last resort for these young people and that the children and their families often don’t trust their own national governments to help them.

P2P's second annual conference in Montreal

A benefit of attending this conference is to receive up-to-date information from a variety of stakeholders about the latest research being done on cutting-edge issues

Pathways to Prosperity (P2P), which unites university, community and government partners in the work of promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada, will bring together its researchers with policy and program officials from all three levels of government, graduate students and community service providers to set research priorities for the coming year. The 2nd annual conference, being held on November 24 and 25 in Montreal, builds off of last year’s success, which conference co-chair Victoria Esses says created real connections between community partners and academics, which led to meaningful work.

“A benefit of attending this conference is to receive up to date information from a variety of stakeholders, about the latest research being done on cutting edge issues,”says Prof. Esses, who is the Director of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations.

Six main sessions are scheduled, themed around issues such as regionalization and immigration to communities outside of metropolises and changing entry pathways, including students, temporary workers and transition classes. Workshops and roundtable discussions will be held to set research priorities regionally – remote Northern communities, Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces, the Prairies and British Columbia are all focus areas, for example.

As Prof. Esses points out, not only will this conference help shape the priorities of P2P’s academic collaborators in the coming year, but it will also help finesse how projects are identified and how existing studies will be re-aligned to better suit community/government goals. The conference will also provide an excellent platform for graduate students to network and find out what’s new in the field, while they seek out possible thesis ideas or gain insight on how to narrow down broad thesis statements. Registration is now open.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in National

A national organization which aims to bring together stakeholders to promote the successful integration of immigrants and minorities has just released a video series highlighting ideas on how to do just that.

Pathways to Prosperity (P2P), an alliance of university, community and government partners, recently filmed a series of interviews with individuals working through Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) in Ontario.

The video series includes:

  • Audrey Andrews, Durham Region Local Diversity and Immigration Partnership: promoting funding opportunities for community organizations by disseminating  a compendium of  funding opportunities  and by organizing  forums in which funders discuss their programs with interested parties;
  • Alex Goss, Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership: engaging employers through facilitation of a mentorship program in the region and development of tools and resources for businesses that may be interested in hiring  immigrants;
  • Don Curry, North Bay Local Immigration Partnership: engaging employers through the establishment of an employers’ council that develops resources and arranges activities to promote the attraction and retention of immigrants in the region;
  • Hindia Mohamoud, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership: promoting a welcoming community through the Welcoming Ottawa Week that showcases the diversity of Ottawa and connects newcomers and established residents;
  • Bill Sinclair, Toronto South Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership: coordinating services for immigrants through a common intake and assessment form, a common welcome brochure on local assets, common staff training, and common research.

P2P says that “the long-term aim is to develop a comprehensive body of videos on promising practices for networks such as the LIPs and the Réseaux en immigration francophone (RIFs), and for community organizations working with immigrants so that they can share practices and activities that they have found to be successful in meeting their goals”.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Integration Branch funded the video series.

See each of the videos here:

Audrey Andrews

 

Alex Goss

 

Don Curry

 

 

Hindia Mohamoud

 

Bill Sinclair

Published in Policy

by Yaa-Hemaa Obiri-Yeboah

The immigrant service sector may be on the verge of a “fiscal cliff,” faced with reduced funding from several levels of government and a dramatic shift in the profile of newcomers arriving in Canada, an Ottawa conference heard on the weekend.

In a presentation that was designed to be provocative, Meyer Burstein, director of policy and planning for Pathways to Prosperity (P2P), highlighted some of the shifts underway: more immigrants headed to western Canada, a higher number settling in rural areas and an “explosion” in the number of non-permanent migrants. P2P describes itself as “an alliance of university, community, and government partners dedicated to fostering welcoming communities and promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada.”

Mr. Burstein talked about the “rapid changes” that have occurred in “the whole settlement ecosystem” - from the ‘flatlining’ of immigrants through the family class to the dependence of many settlement organizations on government funding, while cutbacks occur at the federal level and are expected at the provincial level as well. He commented on the sector’s lack of capacity to respond to these and other changes and the need for innovation and to “capitalize on key strengths” in the sector.

There is arguably a “reduced need for service,” he said, urging settlement agencies to use new technologies and existing networks to identify new sources of funds.

Jon Worren, of MaRS Discovery District, also discussed innovation in the sector, and presented a business model framework for use by the sector. Adnan Qayyum of Pennsylvania State University stressed the importance of smart targeting and “high touch” services for newcomers – some of whom may be exposed to a deluge of information.

Some Pathways participants expressed opposing views, noting that the sector has adapted from a focus on refugees to that of skilled workers. Challenges to sharing information and best practices were also noted given the competing nature of contribution grants and contracts.

Quebec's secular charter

The Quebec node of Pathways to Prosperity hosted a roundtable discussion on the Quebec Charter of Values and its implications on immigration. Panelists from universities both within and outside of Quebec, as well as provincial networks working with minority groups, addressed the reasons behind the charter’s development as well as its implications for minority (ethnic and language) communities.

Chedly Belkhodja of the University of Moncton stated that the charter’s development is “politics at its best,” noting that Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois is seeking to “define its turf” and be in a clear position before the next provincial election. Prof. Chedly also stated that the discussion in Quebec is “not different from the discussion in other countries,” countries that are also retreating from multiculturalism and blaming immigrants (e.g. Arabs, Muslims) for internal issues.

Pathway investigators sought to use the panel discussion to identify needed research areas. Participants noted a need to find out what immigrants in other parts of Canada are thinking, as well as the views of religious Quebeckers before and after the establishment of the charter.

Pathways organizers expressed a desire to set up a “repository of information” and to make the sector’s voice more visible in research. From the audience, Getachew Woldyesus, of Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA) offered a “challenge to the academic community,” noting their power and that government “policies are based on what [they] write.” Mr. Woldyesus, with visible support from others in the audience, addressed the need for the academic community to be aware of its role and to serve as “an ally” and to work with local service providers.

Pathway organizers intend to make the conference an annual event, providing future opportunities to bridge and reinforce the relationship between researchers and settlement service practitioners.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

by Don Curry

Providing newcomer settlement services to northern and rural areas is a challenge, especially when municipalities and employers are not prepared for an influx of newcomers, which is now just beginning. 

The North Bay & District Multicultural Centre is the only settlement agency serving the region of Northeastern Ontario from Parry Sound in the south to Hearst in the north, including the regional centres of North Bay and Timmins. Our main office is in North Bay and we have a satellite office in Timmins, a four-hour drive north.

It takes eight hours to drive from Parry Sound to Hearst, so it is a huge territory, comprising 17 per cent of the land mass of Ontario. Some of the smaller municipalities include Mattawa, Sturgeon Falls, Temiskaming Shores, Kirkland Lake, Iroquois Falls, Hearst, Kapuskasing, and Cochrane.

The population of North Bay is 54,000 and Timmins has a population of 45,000. The catchment area we serve has a population of 240,000.

We have been in existence only six years and had an entrepreneurial nature from the outset, fully appreciating the close relationship between immigration and economic development in Northern Ontario.

In our six years of operation the number of permanent residents we serve has quadrupled and we have seen a regional rise in the number of temporary foreign workers and international students.

Mining jobs

Permanent residents and temporary workers are being hired by the many international mining companies we have in the region, plus those companies serving the mining industry. Mining engineers, millwrights, welders and skilled tradespeople are particularly in demand. The health care, government, and service and hospitality sectors are constantly looking for people as well. Immigrant entrepreneurs are arriving and purchasing hotels, convenience stores, gas stations and franchise operations, or starting their own businesses, such as pharmacies and restaurants.

For Northeastern Ontario this is a new phenomenon. The last wave of immigration to fill mining jobs in the north was many decades ago.

We have two settlement workers in North Bay and one in Timmins and we are not funded to serve temporary foreign workers or international students. But, as with most settlement agencies, we do not turn people away. When we looked at the numbers of international students we served from Canadore College and Nipissing University in North Bay last year we decided to charge the institutions, not the students, for the service.  

The college readily agreed and the university is still thinking about it. Similarly, when one local employer showed up at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon with six welders who are temporary foreign workers in tow, we thought it was time employers paid as well. 

We now have an agreement with that one employer, who has a dozen temporary foreign workers—11 welders and one engineer from Tunisia and the Philippines.  Most of them want to become permanent residents and bring their families to North Bay. We are aware of discussions at both the provincial and federal levels to include service to international students and temporary foreign workers in settlement funding, but there is nothing in effect at present.

Because we hold the contribution agreement for our Local Immigration Partnership and lead that initiative, we have a broader mandate and more tools at our disposal than some settlement agencies. The LIP in Timmins is led by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, a key partner.

Mobilizing a region

Seeing the coming changes to the immigration system--economic immigration is expected to increase to 63 per cent of the total in 2014 and the Expression of Interest program is expected to be rolled out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in January of 2015—we saw the need to get our entire region mobilized. With the coming changes employers will be driving Canada’s immigration program more than they did previously.

While we have been responsible for servicing a huge area in fact we haven’t been doing a great job outside North Bay and Timmins. Dropping off brochures in a strategic fashion and encouraging social service agencies to have immigrant clients contact us by our toll-free number or Skype has not worked well. We now realize that personal contact is required to engage the community and newcomers.

In October we invited municipalities and government funders to attend an immigration symposium in Temiskaming Shores, a scenic city roughly in the middle of our catchment area. Pathways to Prosperity was a sponsor and presented at the event. We presented the North Bay and Timmins settlement agency and LIP models and had a panel discuss the issues they are facing.

Two economic development officers talked about immigrants purchasing local businesses and settling in their areas but having limited settlement and integration support. A business owner talked about the challenges of finding skilled labour and the LIP coordinator from Renfrew District talked about the difficulty of operating a LIP without a supporting settlement agency.

We had a working group meeting two weeks later and devised a plan to address the issues raised at the symposium.

The way forward

We are fortunate to have access to both provincial Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and federal FedNor funding through Industry Canada for economic development activities. The plan involves seeking funding support from those two bodies, plus municipalities, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and CIC to do the following:

1. Provide resources for itinerant settlement counsellors based at the North Bay and Timmins & District Multicultural Centres to visit participating municipalities to provide settlement and integration services to immigrants.

2. Provide resources for HR North to expand into the smaller municipalities. The HR North project is in its incubation period and is not yet sustainable. HR North (www.hrnorth.ca) is a project of our North Bay LIP’s Immigrant Employers’ Council and is a head-hunting service for purple squirrels—those very difficult to find people with a skill set not normally found locally. It uses the Skills International database of some 15,000 skilled international professionals living in southern Ontario and adds university and college graduates.

3. Create Immigrant Employers` Councils in each municipality. There is an urgent need for employers to educate themselves about immigration, the Expression of Interest model, the need to create a welcoming community to retain newcomers and a myriad of other issues revolving around immigrant attraction and retention.

4. Assist municipalities with immigrant attraction and retention. The project will add practical steps to existing municipal strategic plans to move municipalities’ immigration efforts forward.

5. A region-wide advertising campaign to both set the stage for creating welcoming communities and providing settlement information to newcomers is seen as a necessary project component. Immigration has not been top-of-mind for smaller Northern Ontario communities.

6. Pathways to Prosperity will assign researchers to follow this project, systematically analyze key components that contribute to success, and produce a research report and evaluation at project’s end that will supplement a ‘how-to’ manual.

7. ‘How-to’ Manual. Extensive documentation will be kept throughout the project for both the researcher/project evaluator and the project principals, who will prepare the manual.

This is part of our strategy to address the changing landscape in our region. So far it has verbal support from one major funder and four municipalities and we are optimistic that we will be in the implementation phase in early 2014.

Don Curry is the executive director of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre. He is a member of the board of directors of Pathways to Prosperity and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

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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