New Canadian Media

by Danica Samuel in Toronto 

New online programs are looking at how work is done in other parts of the world in order to more easily transfer newcomers’ skills to the Canadian job market. 

Abigail Fulton presented the British Columbia Construction Association's (BCCA) Integrating Newcomers program on Mar. 4 at the 18th National Metropolis Conference in Toronto. 

The program was one of two B.C.-based collaborative business plans showcased in the panel discussion “Facilitating Labour Market Integration to Skilled Trades”. The programs cater specifically to the construction market and offer an innovative way to reach immigrants who practise labour work in their home countries. 

“Many construction companies tend to look within their circles for hiring,” explained Fulton. “They employ their friends and family. Because of this, those who don’t fit into that category have a harder time finding work.” 

She explained that the integration program helps fill a gap, as 85 per cent of construction companies in B.C. have less than 10 employees.

... [U]nderstanding how construction is done in other countries [is] research Fulton calls “invaluable.”

An important aspect of the program is understanding how construction is done in other countries – research Fulton calls “invaluable.” 

Addressing competency gaps 

The BCCA Integrating Newcomers program focuses on assessing the skills of potential immigrants overseas as well as providing information about working and living in B.C., and later, employment leads. 

It is an example of several pre-arrival tactics that use online programs to properly survey, assess, mentor and inform newcomers about Canada’s workforce and labour market. 

Alongside this research is preparation for newcomers who want to settle in Canada and partake in the labour workforce. This is where the second business module called Facilitating Access to Skill Trades (FAST) comes into play. 

“Someone that comes from another country may have the components of many things, but we want to train them on the parts they don’t know.”

Sangeeta Subramanian of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC of BC) and Lawrence Parisotto of British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) presented FAST as a competency assessment and gap training tool for skill trades individuals. 

Parisotto says the program is “explicit and direct.” 

“Someone that comes from another country may have the components of many things, but we want to train them on the parts they don’t know,” said Parisotto. “The way to do that is being contextual and dependent between our content so that it provides and addresses outcomes.”  

Getting credentials recognized in advance 

FAST’s online application is collaborated with Shift IQ, a cloud-based learning management company. 

Shift IQ provides detailed diagnostics, validation, gap identification, post assessments and contributes to the e-mentoring program that guides and coaches a person through understanding the trades and services. 

The research BCCA Integrating Newcomers and FAST partake in both concluded that one of the main things immigrants should complete pre-arrival is getting their credentials recognized. 

Similar advice was mentioned in the “Seamless Service from Pre- to Post-Arrival in Canada” workshop.  

Maha Surani, a senior program officer and stakeholder at the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) said that research done by Planning for Canada to align newcomers with sector specific jobs showed that 63 per cent of employers encouraged pre-arrival immigrants to have their credentials assessed. 

Surani spoke on Planning for Canada’s collaboration with Acces Employment, a company connecting employers with qualified employees from diverse backgrounds. 

“There’s nothing generic about our work, which enhances the program altogether,” said Sue Sadler, a senior director of services and program development at Acces. 

“We have sector-specific training, and then follow through with a job search,” explained Sadler. “We then have business communications with our clients, the employers. All of this is done to connect our pre-arrival candidates to employers.” 

[I]t is also essential for employers and staff members within various companies to understand the importance of inclusion of various backgrounds and diversity.

Connecting with employers 

Acces Employment’s continuum module is enabled by online technology to enhance the job search of immigrants early on. The eight-week program caters to six sector-specific markets – engineering, human resources, finance, sales and marketing, supply chain and information technology. 

Markus Van Aardt, the business communications consultant behind the program, said that “folks are hungry for this information.” 

He explained the learning principle of the program: Immigrants usually start off being non-conscious and non-competent of the skills required for each of their desired job sectors. 

“I’ve walked in these folks’ shoes, it’s important to make sure they are in good hands,” said Van Aardt adamantly. 

“Newcomers want this information. They will drive you, and you don’t have to drive them. They will move quickly in the learning process, from being non-conscious, non-competence to conscious, [competence],” he said, using a diagram outlining the process of adult learning to illustrate his point. 

Enid Pico, senior vice-president and head of operations and share services at Scotiabank, spoke from an employer’s perspective. 

As the first female president of Scotiabank Puerto Rico and once a newcomer to Canada, she shared her encounters as a newcomer to the country and stated that while a pre-arrival program that prepares immigrants for job specific sectors is important, it is also essential for employers and staff members within various companies to understand the importance of inclusion of various backgrounds and diversity. 

“These cross-competency relationships are important. [Scotiabank] believes in diversity. It’s the right and smart thing to do,” said Pico. “Because of this, it’s important for us to find units and partners [like Planning for Canada and Acces] so that we can work with them to give us what we need.” 

Acces Employment and FAST’s pre-arrival modules will launch later on this year and the BCCA’s Integrating Newcomers program is now accepting applications.


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 Economy
Monday, 15 February 2016 19:02

Online Resources Key to Integrating Refugees

by Florence Hwang in Regina

Integrating new immigrants quickly and seamlessly when they arrive in Canada not only makes their lives easier, but benefits the rest of society. 

For this reason, Garen Direnfeld, a social worker in Dundas, Ontario says that providing refugees and their sponsors with services that allow them to integrate into society is in everyone’s best interest.

“The degree to which we can facilitate one’s transition to Canada and the quicker that transition, the sooner these folks can be productive in a way harmonious with our values. That’s in everyone’s interest,” he says. “So spend that money upfront, and you get a faster payback in the back end.”

After the Liberal government pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, settlement agencies across the country had to quickly respond to the wave of queries from private sponsors and the general public.

Debbie Douglas, executive director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), knew that her organization needed to supplement its services with something that was both accessible and informative for newcomers and eager volunteers. That something ended up being Welcome Ontarioa site that would provide both volunteers and refugees with all the information they needed in one place.

“We knew that we needed to play an information role because we are often the first point of contact for folks,” says Douglas. 

Resources for refugees and sponsors

OCASI was formed in 1978 to act as a collective voice for immigrant-serving agencies in Ontario, sharing the needs and concerns of newcomer Canadians.

After Canada announced its Syrian refugee plan in November 2015, the organization was inundated with phone calls and email inquiries from folks who wanted to volunteer, donate and even offer offer jobs to the refugees.

"The quicker that transition, the sooner these folks can be productive."

“One of the things we’re trying to do is harness the enthusiasm we were getting from Ontarians and folks from the across the country wanting to do something to help,” Douglas says.

Dave Montague, the OCASI IT and media manager, put together a simple, clean and easy-to-use website to act as a portal specifically for those involved with the Syrian resettlement process.

“What we really wanted to do with this site was — [for] sponsors or people trying to help Syrian refugees — to introduce the settlement sector, if you will, because a lot of them will be new to the whole idea of immigration and settlement,” explains Montague, who has been with the organization for more than 15 years.

He says people may not be aware of all the services, so they put together a database of all the settlement agencies of Ontario. The site also provides information regarding referrals for legal advice, housing, health care and more.

Similar initiatives across the country

OCASI is not the only organization trying to develop resources to help newcomers and refugees integrate.

In Alberta, Immigrant Services Calgary connects new immigrants to services and resources, such as employment agencies, government offices, schools, daycares, libraries, legal aid and therapeutic counselling agencies. 

They also offer an Integrated Mentorship program to help immigrants find unpaid internships in the fields they are interested in working for.

"A lot of them will be new to the whole idea of immigration and settlement."

Meanwhile in Newfoundland, the Association for New Canadians has orientation and integration programs as well as settlement social workers that work with newcomers to adjust and take steps to become established in their new home.

The Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) is yet another program that can help connect new immigrants with services in their respective communities. 

These programs all build on existing networks to make services more accessible to newcomers who might not know where to begin their search.

Coordinating with settlement groups

In order to make the OCASI site useful for resettlement organizations, two additional forums were created for Lifeline Syria, a group in Toronto working with private sponsors, and Refugee 613, an Ottawa group working with private sponsors.

Over the next two years, Lifeline Syria hopes to recruit, train and help sponsor groups to welcome and support 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the Greater Toronto Area, according to its website.

Refugee 613 offers ways for citizens to sponsor, donate or volunteer their time or resources for privately sponsored immigrants.

These programs all build on existing networks to make services more accessible to newcomers.

“This is not only what we’re about, but it’s what we can do and what we’ve proven we can do,” wrote John Tory Toronto Mayor on the Lifeline Syria website.

Nevertheless, many settlement agencies have felt overwhelmed by the number of Syrians arriving in the country, making resources like Welcome Ontario and Immigrant Services Calgary, which allow Canadians to learn more about resettlement services on their own, especially useful.

So far, Douglas says that the feedback on the site has been good. 

“Often at meetings, I’ll hear, ‘Oh, we went on your site’ or somebody who used your site they’re thankful because it’s so easy to use and the information was quite relevant,” Douglas notes.

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
Thursday, 07 January 2016 07:42

How Tax Changes Affect Newcomers

by Sukaina Jaffer in Toronto

A tax cut introduced by the new federal government looks to strengthen the middle class, but some Canadian immigrants disagree about how it will help newcomers.  

The new change will provide about $3.4 billion in tax relief to nine million individuals, according to Stéphanie Rubec, a communications officer from the Department of Finance in Ottawa. 

Canadians earning between $45,282 and $90,563 will see taxes drop from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent. 

Single individuals who benefit will see an average tax reduction of $330 every year. Couples that benefit will see an average tax reduction of $540 annually.

A mixed bag for newcomers

Rida Zeeshan and her husband, who works as a senior analyst at CIBC Mellon, emigrated from Pakistan six months ago. They see both advantages and disadvantages to the changes.

“The government here gives more benefits to people.”

“[It’s] a good move for middle-class families who are earning above $45,000; however, it won't help lower-class families because tax rates for [the] first taxable income threshold ($45,282 or below) haven't changed at all,” Zeeshan wrote in an email interview with New Canadian Media.

According to Canada Revenue Agency’s most recent tax-filing data and income statistics for the 2012 tax year, around 66 per cent of people had income below $45,000. This group would not benefit from the tax cut.

Although she says the benefits of living in Canada are much better compared to Pakistan, Zeehan says there is no clear information available specifically for new immigrants.

“There should be a website or printed brochures that describe benefits available to new immigrants.”

Zeeshan mentions that they do not utilize any government benefits. They took advantage of just one when her husband bought professional attire through an employment centre.

As for Basim Al-Ali, who relocated from Dubai to Canada in 2011, he says he feels the taxing system in the country is fair. “The government here gives more benefits to people.” Al-Ali mentions that in Dubai, non-nationals do not pay tax.

Syed Furqan Zaidi, an inventory controller in a manufacturing company, says that by paying his taxes regularly here, he is able to take advantage of the government’s benefits, such as the child tax benefit, GST/HST premium benefit, universal childcare benefit and the Trillium benefit. He moved from Pakistan to Canada three years ago.

Volunteer tax clinics, like the one at Northwood Neighborhood Services in Toronto, are available help people complete their tax forms.

The government also intends to introduce the Canada Child Benefit – a tax-free and more generous benefit to help families raise their kids.  

Faheem Mazher, a senior tax analyst with Deloitte LLP in Toronto, says that this benefit will help families for a longer time than the previous Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).

In addition, the government plans to repeal income splitting for families with children. Zeeshan says this is “not a good move because this was the only tax relief available to lower-class families, which has now been relinquished.”

Tax benefits

For newcomers to Canada to be able to access benefits, income tax forms must be filed. Volunteer tax clinics, like the one at Northwood Neighborhood Services (NNS) in Toronto, are available to help people complete their tax forms.

“In a year we serve an average of 400 people whom we help to file income tax returns,” says Francois Yabit, executive director of NNS, a non-profit organization running for more than 10 years.  

This service is provided for low-income community members who qualify and assists a diverse clientele of Chinese, Spanish, South Asian and African newcomer Canadians.

The organization offers income tax clinics from March to April by appointment. However, during the year, they offer services to those who face problems such as forgetting to file their tax forms on time.

“If you do not file tax forms, then you cannot get benefits from the government,” says Yabit.

Some taxpayer benefits include the child tax benefit, GST/HST premium benefit, disability support, universal childcare benefit, medical credits, children’s fitness and art credits, tuition credits and the Trillium benefit.

While the new tax cut is set to benefit the middle-class population, it still may not help many immigrants who are struggling to make ends meet in low-income jobs.

But to ensure that one is eligible for such benefits, Mazher says newcomers need to be “transparent” and to “not cheat the system in any way, shape or form” because the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can enforce heavy penalties.

In addition, Mazher points out, “Many newcomers don’t realize that they have to pay taxes on overseas income.” This may include property overseas or accounts, stocks, investments and bonds that are generating interest.

Tax-filing for newcomers 

Mazher advises newcomers to retain their receipts, transit passes and donation receipts and to file their taxes even if they have no income so they can get tax credits to carry over.

He also recommends people to retain their receipts for six years in case of an audit by the CRA.  

“It is essential that tax forms be filed by the end of April or one can accrue penalties and interest from the CRA,” states Mazher.

But while the new tax cut is set to benefit the middle-class population, it still may not help many immigrants who are struggling to make ends meet in low-income jobs.

Zeeshan has a couple of suggestions for ways the government could help those who may need a little more support.

“We think the government should also introduce a tax relief or discounted tax rates for new immigrants living in Canada for two years or less,” she says.  

“This will help them to decrease their expenses and to get settled here quickly.” 


Journalist Samantha Lui mentored the writer of this article, through the New Canadian Media mentorship program.

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 Economy
Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:01

Newcomer Canadians Pay the Price for Refugees

Commentary by Khaled Salama in Toronto

Whether or not Canadians voted for the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, everyone will be forced to honour his promise to bring more than 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country in a span of few months’ time.

The problem with this decision is that the government alone will not be bearing the cost of this promise: that burden falls on the shoulders of Canadian taxpayers.

Canadian taxpayers will be affected in at least two major ways. One is a direct effect, as all those refugees will add an extra burden to the already encumbered health care sector. 

This means rising costs, longer wait times and more researchers to cope with the newly imported diseases and disorders that will disembark on Canadian shores with the influx of new refugees.

The other major effect will be felt by some of those taxpayers who are newcomers themselves. These new immigrants paid dearly and waited years for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to process their landing papers as skilled workers or applicants in other categories.

They paid dearly, only to have others now jump the queue.

Impact of receiving refugees on Canadians

These new Canadians who are of non-refugee status worked hard to make ends meet. They took starter and entry-level jobs after leaving good jobs in their countries of origin to pursue their dream in Canada. 

That dream could turn sometimes into a nightmare in which families couldn’t afford to put proper food on their tables, despite working long hours at entry-level jobs.

Compare this with refugees, most of whom have heard about Canada for the first time and were recently air lifted to free food, shelter and healthcare and who will pay little to no taxes.

As a proud Canadian and an immigrant myself, I feel battered and betrayed by a government that promised change.

They paid dearly, only to have others now jump the queue.

Myself and thousands of other Canadians are actively looking for this change as well. We’re looking for a better job, better pay, fewer taxes, more time to spend with our families as well as the ultimate dream of receiving a decent pension when we retire.

But now, we have to bear a cost—an extra cost—for a decision we might not have supported and definitely were not consulted on. 

The only change we should expect is paying more for less in everything. We will pay more taxes for fewer job opportunities. We will have to work more hours to support our families and spend less time with them. Ultimately, we’ll get peanuts when it comes to pensions.

Those hard working Canadians who’ve been working for twenty or thirty years have to downsize in everything when they reach retirement age simply to make ends meet. Only in Canada does this happen.

Protecting Canada’s security

Am I against supporting refugees? Of course not. The issue is more about which refugees we should support.

Syrian refugees are not the typical kind of refugees that should be taken care of or looked after. Many of these refugees are coming from Turkey and other countries that might be a threat to our own national security.

Many of those refugees have forced their way through borders and have confronted local authorities in countries they passed.

Syrian refugees are not the typical kind of refugees that should be taken care of or looked after.


Real refugees are those that are victims of real civil wars or national disasters. 

Syrian refugees are not victims of real civil wars. They are a product of rich countries destroying other countries for their own interest, and we naïve Canadians pay and bear the cost of these actions. 

I’m simply against risky commitments to wrong people in wrong times. Canada is in a precarious economic situation and needs to protect its jobs and opportunities.

Troubling economic times

Decades ago, Canada used to export talent to the whole world. Canada used to export the best heavy machinery.

Canada used to build the best (US) cars. Canada used to brag about its efficient government services and affordable food prices.

Simply put, Canada used to be the best in many economic aspects.

Now, Canada has very few industries left, and that has left Canadians struggling to find real jobs.

I still remember when I landed here as a newcomer and travelled across Ontario and visited dozens of automotive factories. At the time, it was the dream of any Canadian to work for the automotive industries, which paid anything in a range between $28 to $45 an hour. 

I’m simply against risky commitments to wrong people in wrong times.

Now, only a handful of those factories and production lines are still there.

The government should take care of these existing economic issues and make them priorities. Instead, Trudeau pledges $100 million of taxpayers’ money this year (and the same amount next year) for processing and settling those refugees. 

I still remember a very famous national campaign that went viral towards the end of nineties that said “Out of a Job Yet? Keep Buying Foreign.”

Mr. Trudeau, you’re simply buying foreign, and very soon, you’ll keep us all out of jobs. 

This is the change you’ll make.


Khaled Salama, a bilingual writer/columnist, reports on politics, economics, tourism and social issues. As a radio and a TV anchor, Salama interviewed heads-of-states and renowned figures. Now a social worker, he's helped lots of new Canadians. He says “I’m lucky to witness chapters of today’s history before they write it differently."

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
Sunday, 22 November 2015 15:30

Defeat? No Way, I Still Have Two Feet!

by Devanshu Narang in Toronto

“What is your motivation in life?"

My talkative, confident frame, turned silent. The interview is going good so far – similar to many other interviews I had in the last 15 days for positions like cashier, sales associate, produce associatecall centre adviser and the like.

The interviewer lookback at my now pale face with a glow in her youthful eyes, staring at this fat, old, beaten man trying to compete with boys and girls just out of school (or a few other losers like me) for the job of a second shift stocker.

What motivates you?” she repeats.

My tongue is frozen and my lips dry. I am shell-shocked.

Earlier she had asked me about how I handled difficult customers, how I managed change and how I managed a job where I was provided limited resources.

I had spoken confidently about my lifes journey.

I cannot think of any motivation left in my life.

How after completing my mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, one of the top engineering institutions back home in India, I had run factories, businesses and corporations in various managerial capacities including CEO/business head over a rich career spanning 26 years.

How I had turned around a sick unit losing a million dollars a year and made it one of the most modern and profitable textile millin northern India.

How adapting new technologies, sustainability and the like were strategies that I effectively used at the workplace to develop and lead teams ranging in size from six to 6,000.

And how even in a cold, hostile nation like Canada, which brings doctors, engineers, architects and lawyers from foreign nations to their feet, I had created my own path of success and had built a business and a name that resulted in Canada recognizing me as being amongst the top 75 immigrants in 2013.

I had so much to speak to her about up until this moment, but now my mind is blank.

Devanshu, is there any problem? Dont you have a motivation in life?

I am speechless, numb, taken aback.

I cannot think of any motivation left in my life.

[W]hen you are considered a dinosaur best suited to be kept in a museum displaying past glory, then what could motivate you?

Finding motivation

When you reach a dead end in your professional life and your education and experience is considered useless in the workplace, or when you are considered a dinosaur best suited to be kept in a museum displaying past glory, then how do you answer that question?

What could motivate me?

MoneyA minimum wage, minimum skill job would actually remind me every day of where I have brought myself with the risks that I had taken.

Respect, job satisfaction, creativityThe less said, the better. 

My eyes are hurting by now and the pain inside is trying to pour out in small droplets.

And then the smiling face of my daughter hugging me hard, shouting Pappu Narang upon returning for a short break, from her campus in the U.S. comes to mind.

Following that, the memory of my son explaining to hundreds and hundreds of Niagara Falls residents at his graduation ceremony how proud he was of his old man.  

And finally a thought of my wife smiling and telling me to forget our loss of thousands and thousands of dollars brought on by a wrong investment decision of mine.

I wipe my eyes clean, moisten my lips and bare the best smile I can on my weary, but now shining, face. 

My family and their smiles motivate me, I say. I want to go to work to ensure that I can enjoy the small pleasures of our lives and grow old with them and see my children shine … I want to let them know that I will not give up and will fight till the very end and will rise every time I fall.

"I want to let them know that I will not give up and will fight till the very end and will rise every time I fall.”

Continuing on the journey

My fellow travellers, and perhaps losers of today, of whom I hope there are few, life can be a roller coaster and this could be our low point, but we will rise.

And these instances of nothingness have been a great time too.

After all, small things make me happy.

Like cleaning the utensils and preparing a small meal and seeing the smile on my wife’s face when she comes back tired from work.

Like being able to do my little acting gigs from time to time and seeing the smiles on the faces of people when they see this old, bald man acting, singing, dancing and making merry.

Oh, and by the way, I did not get that job. Some young spirit beat me to it, but so what? I will try again.

Every dog has his day and my day will come. Until then, I will keep walking.


Devanshu Narang is a mechanical engineer with 25 years of corporate experience. He has worked in a variety of fields and industries. He is also a filmmaker, writer, and poet.

 

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

The Immigrant Welcome Centres of Campbell River and the Comox Valley are recruiting focus groups participants to discuss a local partnership council on strategic planning for immigration.  The group discussions will be carried out in the Comox Valley June 17, 5-7 p.m. at  Public Library and in the Campbell River on June 18, 5-7 p.m.at [...]

Canadian Immigrant

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Published in National

If you are a newcomer planning to study in B.C. there could be good news for you. Twenty open textbooks will be developed for skills training and technical post-secondary subject areas. These 20 open textbooks are in addition to the open, online textbooks already being developed for 40 high enrolment first- and second-year subject areas.

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Canadian Immigrant

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Published in Education

 

CIC’s new flagship publication is intended to be the official handbook to assist immigrants in preparing to come to Canada

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Canadian Immigrant

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Published in National
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 19:57

‘People – not workers – build countries’

By Mayank Bhatt for New Canadian Media

Immigration in Canada is an issue which everyone admits requires an urgent redress but nobody quite knows what exactly is to be done about it. Generally speaking, a majority of Canadian politicians favour immigration, which by itself is commendable considering the rising tide against immigration all across Europe. But even as it favours immigration, Canada really doesn’t have a clue what do with newcomers.

Two illuminating events – a lecture and a panel discussion – highlighted the indifference to newcomer integration in Canada.

At a lecture in Toronto organized by the Literary Review of Canada (LRC), Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Medical Director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, observed that the Canadian approach to immigration is flawed because it focuses on workers rather than people. “Workers build an economy, people build countries,” he said. 

Selection of the right immigrant is of great significance. Using a hockey analogy, McKenzie noted that Canada’s policy on immigration should have the same philosophy as the legendary Wayne Gretzky, who planned his moves in anticipation of where the puck would be rather than where it currently is.

In his one-hour talk, which was co-produced by LRC with Big Ideas (TVO), McKenzie suggested that applicants should be evaluated for their emotional quotient in addition to their skills.

He once took a taxi whose driver was a doctor in philosophy from West Africa. When McKenzie asked the cabbie about his life in Canada as an immigrant, he answered – with the equanimity of a wizened man who had come to terms with the frustrations of life – that he had resigned to being a taxi driver, but hoped that his children would succeed. “If they don’t, I’ll come to you at the [mental health] hospital.”

McKinzie said by denying highly-qualified people their right to careers in their chosen field, Canada is actually committing two grave injustices – it is depriving developing societies of their finest talent and wasting these talents in Canada.

Deconstructing “Canadian experience”

One of the bottlenecks immigrants face is the demand from employers for “Canadian experience”. A University of Toronto project is attempting to look at the “Canadian experience” from a human rights perspective. At a seminar in January, “Beyond Canadian Experience” panelists were united in their conviction that the issue is not a human resource problem at all.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Toronto Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, the Mennonite New Life Centre, the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, and the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

The project has twin visions:

·         A Canadian labour market that prospers from the full and meaningful integration of immigrants from all regions in the world

·         A Canada that respects, values and makes use of the international education, experience, and expertise of immigrants

Izumi Sakamoto and Lin Fang, both from University of Toronto Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, are the lead investigators for the project, which proposes to “deconstruct” the notion of Canadian experience to be able to reduce barriers to immigrants’ employment.

Barbara Hall, the former mayor of Toronto and the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, was the keynote speaker at the event. She remarked, “Traditional thinking has always approached the problem from the perspective of human resources; a growing movement suggests that it must be thought of in terms of human rights.”

The impressive panel included Claude Balthazard, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Human Resources Professional Association; Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic; Amy Casipullai, Senior Coordinator, Policy and Communications, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI); and Gerard Keledjian, Journalist & Writer, New Voices Magazine, Mennonite New Life Centre-Toronto.

-         New Canadian Media

Published in National

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