New Canadian Media
By Ranjit Bhaskar
With the labour market becoming the main driver for Canadian immigration, attempts to label immigrant groups as “good” and “bad” based on their economic viability is a troubling trend.
 
This was the main crux of the conversation initiated by Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam at a recent Couchiching Institute event hosted by Samara and the Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.
 
“Canadians should not be buying into this ‘model’ immigrant racial stereotyping and young millennials amongst us should be at the fore front of this push back,” said the activist councillor, whose Ward 27 is a snapshot of Toronto’s demographic diversity. “Instead of competing to be the most-educated baristas and merely clicking at ‘like’ icons and signing petitions, millennials should end their self-inflicted disenfranchisement and access the political podium.”
 
Referring to the Trudeau-era immigration policies that helped codify inclusive political and social awareness, Ms. Wong-Tam was alarmed by the slew of rapid changes made by the Conservative government to regulate the flow of migrants. “These are regressive changes that peel away rights with surgical precision,” she said. “The rules are more stratified than ever before and we are on dangerous ground.”
 
Recent changes include an increase in Temporary Foreign Workers; reductions in the number of government sponsored refugees; and a shift away from family reunification policies. For a telling example of the speed with which they come into force, the number of operational bulletins released by Citizenship and Immigrations Canada is an eye-opener. In 2007, it released nine bulletins. In 2012, it released 94.
 
‘Corporate-sanctioned narratives’
 
During the conversation, concerns were raised about more drastic changes with the introduction of the Expression of Interest System that would let employers cherry-pick skilled immigrants from a pool of pre-screened
candidates. Tabling his annual report to the Parliament on Monday, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has said the system is to start on January 1, 2015.
 
Ms. Wong-Tam said as Canadians we cannot be honest to ourselves as an immigrant nation if we do not see through the insidious nature of these corporate-sanctioned narratives. “Although we are more connected and engaged in our conversations, there is less and less of political content,” bemoaned Ms. Wong-Tam who was quick to clarify in a lighter vein that she should not be mistaken for a “left-wing, latte-sipping, pinko.”
 
On the influence selective immigrant policies have on the ethnic voting bloc, the councillor said while those who found refuge in Canada would be eternally grateful to late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal Party’s advantage with new Canadians has eroded as their vote in the Greater Toronto Area helped the Conservatives win the 2011 elections.
 
As a politician of Chinese heritage, Ms. Wong-Tam said she too was partly to be blamed for “creating a monster” by swinging the community vote in the favour of the ruling party based on the government’s apology for past injustices inflicted by the infamous head tax rule. “The Conservatives went on an apology tour to buy goodwill from various ethnic groups,” she said, adding “how we undo the damage we bought on ourselves” is a question for ethnic communities to ponder on.
 
Describing herself as a humanist, Ms. Wong-Tam suggested that secular Canadians should not hesitate to seek out faith leaders to “change the channel”. She said we can learn from the Americans who have inherited the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement that easily brings together religious institutions and labour unions for positive social change. – New Canadian Media
 

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 Policy

St.Vincent and the Grenadines will celebrate its 34th Anniversary of Independence from Great Britain on October 27th 2013, and three main events have been organized by The St.Vincent and the…

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The Caribbean Camera

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Published in Arts & Culture
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 20:55

New Canadians pushed to edges of the economy

by Ranjit Bhaskar
 
Social mobility, access to opportunity and fairness are foundational principles of Canadian society.
 
Sold on these ideals, immigrants arrive ready to thrive. Instead most struggle to survive as they find themselves shut out of the formal economy.
 
Faced with such exclusion, many are forced to find precarious jobs in the informal economy, says the latest study on the poor labour market outcomes faced by new immigrants. The Shadow Economies report released in Toronto on Tuesday attempts to throw more light on the dark underbelly of the city’s economy that is mostly invisible.
 
It puts a human face to an issue that is often talked in terms of the money it hides. Statistics Canada pegged the country's underground economy at up to $36-billion as of 2008.
 
A collaborative effort by east-end Toronto community service groups, the report moves past anecdotal stories to document the stark realities newcomers face. “Ours is the first Canadian ground-level examination of the topic to take a look at the hard numbers of the informal economy,” said Diane Dyson, the report’s co-author. “What we found was worse than what we expected. Instead of resilience, we found poverty.”
 
Poverty, in all its complexity, is a central theme in the findings of this report funded by the Wellesley Institute. It builds on earlier studies which looked at the dynamics of growing segregation of neighbourhoods by income bracket and the social networks that connect or isolate residents from the wider community.
 
Based on a survey of 450 immigrants, the researchers found only three per cent of respondents were still working in the professional occupations they were in before coming here.  Unemployment levels were very high with an average of 23 per cent compared to the Canadian average of three per cent. Only one-third of households reported being able to fully cover their household expenses on income earned through formal employment and 42 per cent of those engaged in informal economic activities earned less than $10,000 annually from them.
 
“If I knew the situation here ... I wouldn’t have applied to immigrate to Canada. I had a good job.
When they interviewed me at the visa office, I showed them my credentials, diplomas and my
experience. They were so nice. They never told me that they weren’t going to be recognized in
Canada,” said a respondent to the survey.
 
The report sits at the intersection of a number of complex issues: growing inequality, the spread of poverty and its concentration among immigrant and racialized populations, the changing shape of the labour force and the growth of employment precariousness, the debates over immigration classes (economic, family, refugee, temporary and undocumented), cultural diversity and immigrant settlement, the underground economy and tax avoidance.
 
Few ways out
 
“Immigrants who came through the front door, find they are not welcome and often settle for low wage ‘survival jobs’,” said Dyson. “Their Canadian dreams are quickly broken once they arrive.”
 
While the researchers expected discussions on credentialing processes, career ladders, and employment opportunities in their attempt to know how newcomers are coping, what they heard were stories of deadening isolation, unrestricted exploitation, exasperation, and dead ends with few ways of finding a bridge out of it.
 
Even their own ethnic communities in which they hope to find succour become entrapments rather than stepping stones. Consistent with other research, the study found that newcomers could not always rely on their ethnic groups for help in finding a good job. Those immigrants with fewer English-language skills could find needed supports, or, as easily, be taken advantage of within their own communities.
 
“As Canadians, we must be aware of the effects of these wider forces, especially on the most vulnerable and who have fewer choices. Even the wider protective effects of higher education do not shield against the structural discrimination that confines many immigrants to poor jobs,” said Dyson.
 
While the study did find some bright spots of mutual support, free enterprise, inspiration and new beginnings, the harsh reality is that many newcomers are working without the legislated protections which are intended to be universal minimum standards for all.
 
The study recommends that part of the solution will be to make explicit how regular employment is more profitable on both a personal and societal level and how one can claim one’s employment rights. However, a stronger underpinning has to be systemic enforcement, so that employers do not resort to an easy source of trouble-free, cheap labour and so that the most vulnerable among us are not left working without protection.
 
Dyson alluded to a separate country forming out there. The very “kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries” the government is keen to avoid. -- New Canadian Media
Published in Economy
Sunday, 13 October 2013 20:22

Toronto housing market still going strong

 

 

By Lachman Balani

TORONTO: Over the last few months many reports have come out corroborating the stability of the housing market in Toronto and Canada-wide. Some even point out that the plunge of 21% in housing starts in August that negated the effects of the huge jump in starts in July only further cements that future supply will

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News East West

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Published in Economy


TORONTO -  To the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the old portable behind Rockford P.S. was an eyesore that needed to go, but to the Orthodox seniors who...

Jewish Tribune

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Published in Education

   The following is a first person account by a Canadian couple, Laj and Surinder Prasher, who caught caught in the great flood in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, in which nearly 6000 people, most on their pilgrims to the Hindu holy site, perished. Starting in February, the Himalayan snow and ice melts as the [...]

The Weekly Voice

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Published in India

 

Teenager killed by police gunfire on a Dundas streetcar early Saturday had come to Canada five years earlier

Canadian Immigrant

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Published in National

A group of students from around the world who enrolled in an expensive college graduate program in hopes of obtaining three industry certifications were victims of a misleading course description, Ontario’s top court ruled, according to The Canadian Press. In upholding a lower court ruling, the Appeal Court agreed with the trial judge that George [...]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Education

Lourdes Octaviano Tolentino’s eyes welled up with tears when she learned about Ottawa’s plan to change the definition of “dependent child” in immigration law.

The live-in caregiver left her only son behind in the Philippines to look after other people’s children so she could give him a better life and eventually have him join her in Canada.

Canadian Immigrant

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Published in Policy

By Stewart Bell,

TORONTO — Canada is investigating allegations that Eritrea’s diplomatic mission in Toronto has continued soliciting money for the East African regime’s military despite being warned by the Department of Foreign Affairs to stop.

Meftih Enterprise

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Published in National

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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