Immigration applications from victims of typhoon Haiyan in Philippines to be fast-tracked


A satellite shot of hurricane Haiyan

Canada’s immigration department says it is giving special consideration to Filipinos affected by typhoon Haiyan.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office says it will give priority to applications from Filipinos who are “significantly and personally affected” by the typhoon that left thousands dead last weekend.

The note also says that Filipino citizens temporarily in Canada who want to remain will be assessed in a “compassionate and flexible manner.”

The announcement comes as the Canadian military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, heads for the hard-hit Philippine city of Iloilo.

The Canadian Forces are also helping with the deployment of a separate 12-member Canadian Red Cross field hospital.

Philippine authorities say Iloilo, one of two major cities on the island of Panay, was in the direct path of the typhoon and suffered 162 deaths and the destruction of 68,543 houses as a result.

Canada Top Country for Immigrant Businesses – Financial Post

Canada tops the list of countries to start a business according to a new article in the Financial Post (Martin Cajzer)

An article featured in last Friday’s Financial Post makes the case for Canada being one of the best countries in the world for immigrants to start a business.

Among the factors that make Canada such a welcoming place for immigrant entrepreneurs are its business friendly environment and immigration program, says author Chris Riddell:

The World Bank labelled Canada the best place in the G-7 to start a business, and thanks to an open immigration policy, a comparatively easy one to enter. Add a strong banking system, growing job market, and high standard of living, and it’s no wonder it tops immigrant entrepreneurs’ list.

For many, the government’s Start-Up Visa launched in April is making Canada an even more appealing place.

For business people considering Canada as a destination for immigration, there are three points to consider:

  • The per capita income of new immigrants is well below the Canadian average, with the gap growing since the early 1970s despite the average level of education of recent immigrants increasing in the intervening time. The longer an immigrant is in Canada, the closer their income tends to be to the Canadian average.
  • Immigrants and first-generation Canadians make up a sizeable percentage of Canada’s millionaires, at 48 percent.
  • The average income of immigrants who are admitted into Canada through the business class immigration programs is slightly below that of immigrants admitted through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), despite the former group having had to meet stringent capital and business experience requirements.

Taken together, it suggests that:

1) immigrants who arrive through economic class non-business immigration programs, like the FSWP, are likely not at a significant disadvantage compared to their business class counterparts in their chance of creating a successful business, that

2) immigrants are likely more entrepreneurial than the general population, and that

3) many immigrant business people fail for the few that succeed.

Matt Man, a successful immigrant businessman profiled for Riddell’s article, advises immigrants who are starting their business to try to get as much face-time as possible to improve their chance of success:

“Face to face can always make up for some of what I lost due to my accent or the way I’m communicating.”

Three Canadian Cities in Top 10 in World Liveability Ranking

Vancouver placed third in the Economist's annual liveability ranking for the second year in a row, after spending most of the last decade in first place

The Economist’s annual liveability ranking was published on Tuesday and it placed three Canadian cities, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, in the top 10.

Vancouver placed third for the second year in a row, failing once again to regain the first place position that it had held in the rankings for nine consecutive years until 2010. Ahead of Vancouver is Melbourne, Australia, which came in first, and Vienna, Austria, which placed second.

Other Canadian cities also placed well, with Toronto coming fourth and Calgary tying Adelaide, Australia for fifth place. The ranking, created by the Economist Intelligence Unit, evaluates a city’s liveability according to five indicators:

  1. stability, which includes threats of crime and war,
  2. the quality and availability of private and public health care,
  3. culture and environment, which includes qualities like absence of social and religious restrictions, average temperature/humidity, number of cultural events, and the availability of goods and services,
  4. the quality of public and private education
  5. infrastructure

The index does not factor in cost of living, which worked in favour of Melbourne, as it placed 15th worldwide in Mercer’s annual cost of living survey this year, far ahead of Vancouver and Toronto which placed 63rd and 61st worldwide respectively.

Canadians 2nd Most Optimistic About Economy After Brazilians in New Poll

A view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's largest city. Brazilians were on average the most optimistic about their country's economy outlook of the nationalities polled in a recent survey of 13 countries (Ramon)

The results of a new poll commissioned by the International Trade Union Confederation show Canadians behind only Brazilians as the most optimistic citizens of any of the thirteen countries included in the poll.

The poll covered the adult populations of Canada, Brazil, United States, Mexico, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, South Africa, Bulgaria, Japan, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, and interviewed 1,000 respondents in each country.

It found Greeks and Japanese the most pessimistic and second most pessimistic. The last place showing for Greece and Japan is unsurprising given Greece’s recent economic crisis, and Japan’s two decade long economic stagnation, mounting national debt, and the widespread destruction caused by the 2011 earthquake, including continuing problems with radiation leakage from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The majority of people in all but two of the countries said they believe their country is headed in the wrong direction. In the US, only 35 percent were optimistic about the direction their country was headed, far lower than the 61 percent of Canadians who said the same. Among Brazilians, 69 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the direction their country is headed.

Nearly Three Quarters of Canadians Oppose Increasing Immigration Levels

Immigrants make up 40 percent of the population of the Greater Vancouver Region (GVR), pictured above. Public opinion in Ontario and British, the provinces with the most immigrants, was the most critical of immigration, with 38 percent saying it has a negative impact on the country. (Image provided by Michael G. Khmelnitsky)

A new public opinion poll shows that 72 percent of Canadians oppose increasing immigration levels, a sign that Canada is following in suit a broader trend among Western countries of public sentiment turning against immigration.

Despite the opposition to raising the number of immigrants admitted each year, Canadians on average still view immigration as having more of a positive impact than a negative one on Canada, which contrasts with public opinion in other western countries like the UK, where 68 percent of respondents in a recent poll said they believed immigration has a negative effect on their country.

Canada has historically had the most favourable public opinion toward immigration among OECD countries, and as a percentage of its population, has the highest immigration levels in the world.

The Ipsos Reid poll used a sample of 1,101 Canadians and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points


Poll Places Canada as Best Place to be a Woman

A women's day rally in Bangledash

In a poll of 370 gender specialists conducted by Trustlaw, Canada was perceived to be the best G20 country to be a woman, and India the worst.

Factors that put Canada on top include government-guaranteed health care, the fact that 62 percent of university graduates and one third of federally appointed judges are women, and the figure of 75 percent of 15-49 year old females using contraceptives.

Saudi Arabia and India were placed second to last and last, respectively, due to perceived legal discrimination and inadequate protection of rights.

Violence toward women, high rates of child marriage, and a relatively high mortality rate for women during child birth resulted in India’s last place showing, while Saudi Arabia, with higher levels of education and better maternal health outcomes than the much poorer India, received a low ranking due primarily to women’s legal disadvantages in the country like being prohibited from driving and their testimony being given half as much worth as a man’s in court.


Canada Rises 3 Spots to 4th Place in Global Peace Index

Image of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2002. Canada's ranking in the latest Global Peace Index improved due to a drawdown of the country's combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011.

The Global Peace Index (GPI), an annual ranking of national peacefulness produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, was released today, and showed Canada rising three places, to 4th place among the 158 nations in the index.

The index evaluates a nation’s GPI score by 23 dimensions of peace, ranging from ‘perceived criminality in society’ to ‘death from external conflict’, and saw most of the world, outside of MENA (Middle East and North Africa), improve its score from last year.

Canada’s position improved due to a decrease in the number of casualties it suffered in the conflict in Afghanistan, as a result of the country withdrawing most of its troops and ending combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011.

Improvements in other countries’ GPI scores were largely due to a decrease in militarization as governments made austerity-driven defence cuts.


Census Data Shows Canadian Retiree Population to Rapidly Increase in Coming Years

The majority of baby boomers are on the verge of entering retirement, which puts Canada's social programs in jeopardy

Results from the 2011 census show that Canada’s population has reached its peak in terms of productivity, and that the population of retirees will explode in coming years as the main bulk of baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.

The census shows that Canada’s population has increased by 5.9 percent, to over 33.46 million, since 2006, the last time the census was taken.

With the ratio of children to adults at a record low, the number of dependants per worker is also at historic lows, but the low number of children will mean that the working age population will shrink relative to dependents as today’s workers begin retiring in greater numbers and an insufficient number of children reach working age to replace them.

Funding the Old Age Security (OAS) program and Medicare as their costs increase without a sufficient increase in tax revenue will consequently be a major problem for Canada in the coming years. Solutions proposed by commentators to the revenue shortfall include increased immigration, cuts to government spending, and creating personalized pension accounts that invest in the private sector to increase returns on social security payments.

Visible Minority Population of Canada Increasing

A Toronto Star story reports that the visible minority population in Canada is growing, and at a rate faster than the general population:

StatsCan projects that the visible minority population in this country will continue to be bolstered by sustained immigration and slightly higher fertility rates in the next 15 years or so.

By 2031, Canada could be home to 14.4 million people belonging to a visible minority group, more than double the 5.3 million reported in 2006. The rest of the population, in contrast, is projected to increase by less than 12 per cent during that period, the federal statistical agency projects.

Immigration has drastically changed Canada's major cities. Nearly 20 percent of the Greater Vancouver Region's population is of Chinese origin. (City of Vancouver)

The StatsCan projections predict that by 2031, South Asians will make up the largest visible minority ethnic group in Canada, with a population of 4.1 million, and the Chinese population will be the second largest, at 3.5 million.

Immigration has transformed Canada’s major cities in recent decades. Chinese immigration has increased the percentage of the Vancouver metropolitan area’s population that is of Chinese origin to nearly 20 percent.

In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, visible minorities now make up nearly 47 percent of the total population, and nearly 50 percent of the city’s residents are foreign born.

BBC Article asks “What does it mean to be Canadian?”

An article published last Thursday in the BBC asks what it means to be Canadian, and explores the role immigration plays in it:

Canada is anything but a homogenous Commonwealth state; nearly one million indigenous people rub shoulders with immigrants from around the world, including many from Asia. What does it mean to be Canadian now? What are the traits which help make up modern-day Canada?

Canada's regional differences and ethnic and linguistic diversity make finding a common Canadian trait elusive. Image of Canadian Parliament (Library of Parliament / Tom Littlemore)

The piece, by Lorraine Mallinder, describes Canada’s unique identity as a heterogeneous nation, with vast regional differences and multiple large linguistic and ethnic minorities. Mallinder asks: what does a French-speaking Quebecer have in common with a West Coast Anglophone Vancouverite?

It quotes John Ralston Saul, an author of books on Canadian culture, who says “[Canadians] accept that difference is actually quite interesting. What makes it possible to live together is agreement on things like ethics and public policy. Not agreement on accents and religion”.

Mallinder describes Canada’s situation as a bilingual nation, with 200 additional languages being added to the mix due to immigration, largely from Asia. Canadians are generally tolerant toward immigration, writes Mallinder, but views have become more mixed recently, with more Canadians preferring a US-style melting pot, with a unified culture, over Canada’s more mosaic multiculturalism.

Canadians have a generally high standard of living, continues the article, with a large percentage of them connected to the internet and involved in social networking sites. Crime is low, but Canadians on the average have grown more concerned about crime, with about half supporting the Harper government’s plan to build more prisons.

The issues that are most important to Canadians now are the economy and jobs, ahead of healthcare and the environment, which has helped the Conservatives win elections on a platform promising economic growth and more jobs, writes Mallinder.

She adds that Canadians are generally generous, with the adult population having given more than two billion hours to volunteer work in 2010.

The article quotes Noah Richler, author of a book on Canadian identity, in its conclusion on what defines Canadians: “The defining trait of being a Canadian is understanding our good fortune, knowing that we’re not actually better than anybody else”.