Europe’s Economic Problems Causing Rise in European Immigration to Canada

The increase in the unemployment rate in many European countries due to the economic problems those countries have been facing after decades of very high social welfare spending levels, and most recently, the financial crisis of 2008, has led to a significant increase in the number of Europeans applying to immigrate to Canada, as described in a new report by Brian Stewart of the CBC:

More than 40,000 Irish workers poured into Canada in 2010-11 after economic calamity took down the so-called Celtic Tiger. In Toronto alone, a special Irish-Canadian immigration centre is being launched to help the more than 10,000 who arrived on working visas. If the past is any judge, this kind of out-migration from Ireland may be just a modest beginning.

This month thousands of carpenters, electricians, machine operators and the like lined up for hours to attend the Working Abroad Expo in the city of Cork. There they listened to pitches from Canadian and Australian companies who are in strong competition to recruit trades people for mining, construction and health-care.

But even the 300,000 unemployed in Ireland today is but the grim tip of the iceberg when it comes to Europe’s economy.

The latest estimates are of 24 million unemployed men and women in the European Union, with jobless numbers running at 23 per cent in Spain (a devastating 49 per cent among young people) and roughly 20 per cent in Greece.

European immigrants more easily assimilate into Canada than immigrants from Asia and Africa due to cultural affinity to the majority, better English and French language skills, and skills more relevant to an advanced economy, so the expected shift in immigration patterns is likely to be welcomed by Canadian immigration officials.

Changes made to Canada’s immigration assessment system in the last few years have given immigration applicants from English and French speaking countries an advantage in immigrating to Canada due to a greater emphasis placed on language skills in how points are awarded in the assessment process, so this group of applicants is expected to be more successful than the average in getting accepted.


Refugee Activists say new Bill violates Canadian Charter, Federal Government Says Bill Necessary to Protect Canada

Asylum Seekers (UNHCR/A. Webster)

The “Justice for Refugees and Immigrants Coalition”, a refugee activist group, made a public statement on Monday denouncing Bill C-31, a proposed update to the Immigration and Refugees Protections Act, charging that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights.

The bill would strengthen the ability of Canadian immigration authorities to deport refugee claimants and prevent claimants from remaining in Canada through a long series of appeals.

The Federal Government rejected the coalition’s charges, and insisted that the bill is a vital step in protecting Canada’s asylum program from being exploited.

The refugee advocacy group was particularly critical of the proposed new power the bill would grant Canadian immigration authorities to detain refugee applicants for up to 12 months.

The Canadian government believes that this is necessary to prevent refugee applicants from escaping immigration controls and residing in Canada illegally, a problem that is common to other developed nations like the US, which now has an estimated 20-22 million illegal immigrants.


Canada’s Best Places to Live – 2012

190 Canadian cities and towns have been ranked by Moneysense magazine and you may find some of the cities you’d have expected in the top 10, lower in the rankings.

Canada’s capital, Ottawa, has been ranked the number one place in Canada for the third year in a row, due to the combination of having affordable home prices relative to other major Canadian cities, a low crime-rate and, thanks to a large number of federal government jobs, a high average income.

Burlington, Ontario, a city in the Greater Toronto Area with a population of 175,000, took the number two spot in the ranking due to its high average income, extremely low crime rate and excellent weather, while Victoria, BC, was pushed down from last year’s second place showing to 35th place.

Canada’s most populated cities, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have been ranked 47th, 149th and 56th respectively. This is a bit surprising since Vancouver, for example, was ranked tied for 4th as the world’s best city to live by Mercer.

The methodology by Moneysense has received much attention with both praise and criticism. It works by ranking the cities by 22 categories, for example culture, weather, unemployment, childcare spaces, and crime. However, some of these categories, sub-categories and the scoring system have been criticized.

All in all, we’d recommend that you take a look at the rankings list and see where cities stand in each category.

More from Moneysense:

Chinese learning French to Immigrate to Canada

The Toronto Star reports that an increasing number of people in China are finding the best way to successfully immigrate to Canada is to learn French and apply through Quebec’s immigration program:

Chinese desperate to emigrate have discovered a backdoor into Canada that involves applying for entry into the country’s francophone province of Quebec — as long as they have a good working knowledge of the local lingo.

So, while learning French as an additional language is losing ground in many parts of the world — even as Mandarin classes proliferate because of China’s rise on the international stage — many Chinese are busy learning how to say, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Zhang.”

Unlike Canada’s federal immigration program, Quebec’s immigration program has no caps and no backlogs. This makes it the few remaining avenues of immigration for those not eligible for the investor program or family class sponsorship.

Foreign Sponsored Spouses of Canadians to Face Tougher Rules

A proposed new federal rule aims to clamp down on immigration fraud committed by foreign spouses of Canadians. This type of fraud involves a foreigner marrying a Canadian and getting their Canadian spouse to sponsor them for Canadian permanent resident status, then getting a divorce once they have gotten their permanent residency.

The new rule would allow Immigration Canada to deport a foreign spouse if the marriage does not last two years. The proposal for a two year probationary period will be open to public input until early April. The Canadian government is planning to enact it in late summer.

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration has already started tightening spousal visa rules. On March 2nd it ruled that a foreign spouse who divorced her husband had to wait five years before sponsoring a new partner.

Marriage fraud has become the focus of much attention recently with a series of high profile cases involving Canadians being defrauded by their foreign spouses. The most notable of these is the one of Lainie Towell, who married Fode Mohamed Soumahm, a native of Guinea, and sponsored him for Canadian permanent resident status, only to have him walk out on her three weeks after he had arrived in Canada. Mr. Soumahm was eventually deported, three years after arriving in Canada.

Canadian Government to increase Investor Program Financial Requirements

Last year, only 30 minutes after it began, the federal government’s investor program reached its quota of 700 applicants. Now Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to increase the amount immigration applicants need to invest to become permanent residents of Canada.

As reported in the National Post, Mr. Kenney said:

“I’ve always said that I believe Canada has been underselling itself through our Immigrant Investor Program ..

They get permanent residency in the best country in the world for lending Canadian governments $800,000 for five years … so it seems to me, given there are millions of millionaires around the world who would love to come to Canada, we can do better than that and we’re looking at ways we can redesign the program to extract more bang for the buck.”

Instead of an $800,000 loan to the federal government for five years, Mr. Kenney said he would prefer that that immigrant investors be required to make a permanent investment in Canada, and to show that the investment created a certain number of jobs for a certain number of years.

That is how the federal government’s entrepreneur program, suspended last July, worked. That program is currently being revamped to attract more “high value innovators” and is expected to be re-instated soon.

Mr. Kenney also said that the federal government is considering increasing the size of the required investment, which is currently less than the $1 million required by the investor programs of Australia and the US, and the equivalent of $1.6 million required by the UK’s.

Canadian Immigration Minister to announce new Entrepreneur Program

Canadian Citizen and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that the Canadian government will introduce its new immigrant entrepreneur program soon, which will target “high value innovators” and not be saddled with the problems of the previous entrepreneur program.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Mr. Kenney said that the previous program, that was suspended in July of last year, was overly burdensome and ineffective.

The Globe and Mail article notes that the previous program had a backlog of 10,000 applications, with a processing rate of only 1,000-1,500 per year, meaning a best-case clearing time of eight years.

The Immigration Minister said that what will be done with the backlog has not been determined. One option the Canadian government is considering is allowing provinces to cherry pick applicants from the backlog that they believe are the most promising, so that applicant processing time is determined more by the needs of provinces for applicants’ skills and experience, rather than the criteria used in the old program of time spent in the queue.

Mr. Kenney said that New Zealand has used a similar process since 2003, when it faced a large backlog like the one Canada currently faces. A pilot program allowing provinces to mine the backlog has already started, he said.

Canadian Immigrants See Declining Health After Arriving

A study by Louisa Taylor under a fellowship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research has found that Canadian immigrants are healthier than the average Canadian when they first arrive to Canada, but subsequently see a rapid decline in their health.

In an article in the Vancouver Sun, she writes:

Since the 1990s a growing body of data has suggested that most newcomers arrive in Canada healthier than the native-born population, only to have that advantage erode over time. New immigrants tend to live longer than the Canadian-born population, but within a decade of resettlement, their mortality rates creep up, as do their rates of chronic disease. In looking at almost a decade of data in its biannual National Population Health Survey, Statistics Canada also found immigrants were almost twice as likely as native-born Canadians to report feeling unwell. Recent non-European immigrants — the largest proportion of newcomers we currently admit — were the most likely to report their health declining from good or excellent to fair or poor.

This phenomenon of declining health upon immigration is known as the ‘healthy immigrant effect’.

Immigrants from the US and Europe see a smaller healthy immigrant effect, while those from India, China and the Philippines, see a much larger effect, and have significantly higher rates of chronic diseases than the general population.

Some possible causes that Taylor suggests could be behind the healthy immigrant effect are:

  • A high number of recent immigrants are non-Caucasians, who have ethnicity-specific diseases that Canadian medical practitioners are not accustomed to treating
  • Many recent immigrants come from countries where preventive care is uncommon, and therefore do not respond to calls by Canadian health agencies to make use of preventive health care
  • Many immigrants from non-Western countries having difficulty communicating with medical practitioners due to cultural and language barriers
  • Taylor writes that practitioners are beginning to better understand the unique needs of newly arrived immigrants groups and are collaborating to form better strategies to help them maintain their health.