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Ottawa clamps down on immigrants found cheating

Canadian visa for single entryImage via Wikipedia

Nicholas Keung Immigration Reporter

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Canadian immigration experts to visit ČR in late January ČTK

General map of the Czech RepublicImage via WikipediaPrague, Dec 30 (CTK) – Canadian migration experts will arrive in the Czech Republic in late January to check how Czech authorities protect minorities and help them integrate into society, Petra Sedinova, spokeswoman for Canada’s embassy in Prague, has told CTK.
The Czech Republic has called on Canada to lift the visas that were reintroduced for Czechs in July 2009 in reaction to high numbers of Czechs applying for asylum in Canada. Most of the asylum applicants were Romanies.
Czech diplomats have been unsuccessful in their effort to bring Canada to abolish the visas so far.
Prague sharply criticised the reintroduction of visas and it imposed visas on Canadian diplomats as a retaliatory step. Czechs asked the European Union to exert pressure on Canada in this respect. Ottawa has not met calls from the European Commission to lift the visas either, however.
Canadian representatives have set no deadline for the visa lifting.
Canada is to introduce a new asylum system in a year to prevent foreigners from misusing Canadian welfare benefits, speeding up the proceedings with unwarranted or fraudulent applications for asylum.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said last month it was hardly acceptable for Czechs to only wait for Canada to fully introduce its new asylum system.
Further negotiations are to be held next year.
Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Valerie Raymond, told daily Lidove noviny earlier that Canada’s migration experts will deal with the possible reasons that contributed to the exceptionally high influx of immigrants from the Czech Republic. The experts will also be interested in the Czech government’s plans and strategies that are to help stop the immigration, Raymond said.
Canada reintroduced visas for Czech citizens already once before for the same reason as in 2009: in 1997 after lifting them for a short period in 1996. The visa duty was finally abolished in November 2007, three years after the Czech Republic’s EU entry.
However, since Canada became a target country for a number of Czech Romanies who were claiming refugee status there, it decided to reimpose the visas last year.

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Canada and Manitoba to Provide More Housing for Newcomers in Winnipeg With $9 Million Investment

Aspen Affordable HousingImage via Wikipedia

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA–(Marketwire – Dec. 21, 2010) – The governments of Canada and Manitoba are providing more affordable housing for people in need, with the announcement of $9 million in funding to renovate and reconfigure existing Manitoba Housing properties into family accommodation for newcomers to Canada. The buildings will be managed by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba Inc. (IRCOM).
The Honourable Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba and the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) made the announcement today in Winnipeg.
“Housing is a fundamental requirement for immigrants beginning a new and successful life in Manitoba,” said Premier Selinger. “The Manitoba government is pleased to work closely with IRCOM to increase access to affordable housing for newcomers to our province.”
“Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, our government is helping to support people with their specific housing needs,” said Minister Toews. “When completed, these new apartments will ensure that newcomers to Canada can access safe affordable housing as they begin a new chapter in their lives.”
“Safe and affordable housing is the cornerstone for successful integration of all new Canadians. We are pleased to receive the trust and support of the provincial and federal governments and look forward to growing IRCOM’s relationships with new and existing partners and friends,” said Dorota Blumczynska, Executive Director, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba. “In the spirit of rejuvenation and new beginnings we extend a warm invitation to all of IRCOM’s supporters to take this journey with us as we work to transform this vibrant community.”
The funding for IRCOM Phase 2 includes a provincial investment of $6.3 million and an additional $2.7 million, shared equally by the governments of Canada and Manitoba through Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
The funding will be used to convert existing units at 470 Pacific Avenue and 477 Ross Avenue into a new configuration of flexible suites that allow IRCOM to house family sizes from two (single parent and child) up to 10 members. The key in the design is the flexibility of connecting adjacent suites to form larger and safer homes that meet the needs of many newcomers.
IRCOM is a non-profit organization that offers secure, affordable transitional apartments to newcomers for up to three years after their arrival. In addition, IRCOM provides on-site supports and services, including an After-School Program that runs five nights a week and a Community Resource Program that connects residents with employment, education, and various health resources throughout Winnipeg.
IRCOM is home to families from diverse cultural, educational, linguistic and professional backgrounds. Current residents of IRCOM House come from Afghanistan, Burma, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, Bhutan, Somalia and Sudan.
The federal and provincial governments are contributing equally to an overall investment of $158 million under the amended Canada-Manitoba Affordable Housing Initiative. The federal funding was made available through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government’s plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs during the global recession. Overall, the Economic Action Plan includes $2 billion for the construction of new and the renovation of existing social housing, plus up to $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure.
The Government of Canada wants to improve the quality of existing social housing for low-income seniors, single parent families, recent immigrants and Aboriginal households. Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides $850 million under the Affordable Housing Initiative to provinces and territories for the renovation and retrofit of existing social housing over two years.
Through Manitoba’s Long-Term Housing Strategy, HOMEWorks!, the Province of Manitoba with the financial support of the Government of Canada is contributing $378 million over two years for housing initiatives in Winnipeg and across the province. HOMEWorks! supports ALLAboard, Manitoba’s Poverty Reduction strategy by increasing the supply of quality, affordable housing for low-income Manitobans. More information about HOMEWorks! is available at www.gov.mb.ca/housing.
Under HOMEWorks! the province is working to sustain and improve existing social and affordable housing and increase the supply of affordable housing. Creating safe and affordable housing for new Canadians is a priority of the province’s long-term investment plan.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan builds on the Government of Canada’s commitment in 2008 of more than $1.9 billion, over five years, to improve and build new affordable housing and help the homeless.
More information on this and other measures in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government’s plan to stimulate the economy and protect those hit hardest by the global recession, can be found at: www.actionplan.gc.ca.
To find out more about how the Government of Canada and CMHC are working to build stronger homes and communities for all Canadians, call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-800-668-2642      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.cmhc.ca/housingactionplan.

Only Immigration Fuelling Canada’s Population Growth

Canada: Population Density, 2000Image by SEDACMaps via FlickrOTTAWA — Canada’s population in the third quarter of 2010 was driven forward by the highest immigration rates seen in four decades, Statistics Canada reported.
Canada’s population was estimated at 34,238,000 as of Oct. 1 — an increase of 129,300 since July. The federal agency said 65 per cent of that growth came from new Canadians during the three-month period, as 84,200 immigrants arrived in the country, reported Postmedia news service.
The influx reached most provinces and territories, some of which had their highest quarterly immigration levels since 1971.
Prince Edward Island recorded the highest growth rate, with its population increasing by 0.7 per cent. The increase was largely driven by the 1,200 immigrants who arrived in the province, Statistics Canada said, the highest number since 1971.
Quebec, too, welcomed its highest number of immigrants in the last four decades, with 16,800 people arriving from other countries during the quarter. Manitoba also surpassed records set in 1971, with 4,700 new Canadians arriving in that province.
While not breaking a record, immigrants made up 70 per cent of Ontario’s new arrivals during the period.
Alberta was the only province that had third-quarter growth driven by a “natural increase,” which made up 60 per cent of the growth.
Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, actually faced a population decline in the third quarter, losing about 500 residents.
Growth driven by immigration is a trend the federal government said it expects to continue — at least through the end of 2010.
“In 2010, we should be landing the largest number of permanent residents in 50 years,” said Kelli Fraser, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Canada expects to welcome between 240,000 and 265,000 newcomers by the end of this year.
Fraser said that number is driven largely by a June announcement that Canada would open its doors to more immigrants, especially those in the economic category.
“The reason the announcement was made was because the post-recession economy is now demanding a high level of legal immigration to keep the workforce strong,” she said, adding that there also has been a high number of family reunification immigrants and refugees.
To date, the department said it has already made more decisions, issued more visas and admitted more people to Canada over last year.
It expects the numbers to stabilize at 2010 levels in 2011.

Drilling-worker shortage in Canada’s booming oil industry

Oil DrillerImage via WikipediaAmid all the stories we’re seeing about unemployed workers’ unsuccessful job searches, it’s a welcome change to see one about an industry where workers are being recruited: Canada’s oil-drilling companies say they’re desperately short of workers.  (Clarification: These are at the traditional oil wells, not at the tar sands in Alberta).
Joe Bruce, CEO of Nabors Canada, one of the largest drilling companies in the country, told the Toronto Globe and Mail, “We could probably work somewhere in the region of 63 or 64 of our drilling rigs this winter. We don’t believe we can crew any more than maybe 55 or 56.”
The pay’s not bad, either: Hourly rates for drill workers in Canada range from $24 an hour for a lease hand to $40.20 for a driller. But rig work typically lasts only for a few months at a time, and even the weekly two-on, one-off shifts are often interrupted by changes in plan that come from, for example, companies cancelling wells.
Of course, the recent Globe and Mail story on oil- worker shortages reminds us,

“Convincing people to work outside in cold, remote locations has never been easy for drilling companies. But they say this year has been especially difficult, since drill workers who went without work in the past couple of years have now abandoned the industry – in part for construction jobs and in part to stay away from companies that now admit their salaries haven’t kept up.”

And fewer rigs in operation means fewer runs for the stars of cable’s “Ice Road Truckers” to deliver salty snacks to all those hungry oil-rig workers way up north.
Bruce says, “We’re doing everything we can to attract people,  but at the same time we’re not about to put people at risk by putting a whole bunch of green hands on a rig that don’t know what they’re doing.”
The drilling companies in Canada are also reaching out to “under-represented” groups like women, immigrants, and first-nation workers.

Canada lifts visa requirement for visitors from Taiwan

Non-citizen, diplomatic, travel document, and ...Image via WikipediaOttawa, November 22, 2010 — Effective immediately, travellers with ordinary Taiwan passports issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan no longer require a Temporary Resident Visa to visit Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
“Canada regularly reviews its visa requirements and has determined that Taiwan meets the criteria for a visa exemption,” said Minister Kenney. “This decision will help boost Canada’s significant trade, investment, cultural and people-to-people links to Taiwan.”
In 2009, more than 51,000 Taiwan travellers visited Canada. More than 150,000 Canadians are of Taiwanese descent.
“The decision to lift the visa requirement means that Canada will benefit from stronger ties between Taiwan and the Canadian-Taiwanese community,” said Minister Kenney.
Canada’s visa policy is based on an assessment of a number of established criteria, including immigration violation rates, asylum claims, the integrity of travel documents and the cooperation on removals by the country or territory in question.
In Taiwan’s case, Canada’s review found, among other things, a very high visitor visa approval rate for travellers from Taiwan. It also found a very low number of asylum claims from Taiwan nationals: 23 claims between 2007 and 2009. The review also found low numbers of immigration violations and removals from Canada to Taiwan. This means that a large number of people were meeting Canada’s eligibility criteria to come and visit.
The visa exemption only applies to holders of ordinary Taiwan passports issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that contain the personal identification number of the individual. During a technical visit, Canadian officials observed good passport management practices for ordinary Taiwan passports.
For a complete list of countries and territories whose citizens require a visa, please visit CIC’s website at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.

Panel ponders how to strengthen region’s economy

Map highlighting Atlantic CanadaImage via WikipediaThe economic future of Atlantic Canada may depend on developing a brand, according to the president of the University of Prince Edward Island.
“That question of brand is really critical,” Wade MacLauchlan said during a panel discussion in St. Andrews on Friday. “It takes us to the question of how do we think about ourselves and what our expectations are, and what we think we have that is a basis for having competitive excellence in the world.”
The P.E.I. mussels are one brand that has worked for the region, said MacLauchlan during a discussion on the economic future of Atlantic Canada. The session was part of a three-day Ideas Festival conference, hosted by the Fredericton-based 21inc. and Ottawa’s Public Policy Forum.
MacLauchlan noted that P.E.I. mussels show up on menus across the world, and food could be a potential area where the region can achieve global excellence.
“The good news is that we already have global players here that are showing us how to do that,” said MacLauchlan, referring to the international success of the region’s food companies such as McCain Foods Ltd. and Oxford Frozen Foods.
The economic future of Atlantic Canada could also lie in increasing the international export of food, said Karen Oldfield, the president and CEO of the Halifax Port Authority.
During the panel, Oldfield told the audience of a pilot project recently completed by her port.
In collaboration with CN Rail and a Montreal-based container company, the port authority transported grains products from Saskatchewan to Halifax, and then shipped that grain to overseas markets looking for Canadian goods. With Atlantic provinces now growing plenty of crops, such systems can allow for the export of these products to the world.
“This is a true Atlantic success story – we are taking soybean product from P.E.I., we are taking soybean product from Nova Scotia, and we are creating a whole new market for a whole new product. It’s going to be one of the products for the future – food.”
During the session, Oldfield also touched upon the immigration, and the need for Atlantic Canada to create a more welcoming environment for immigrants. She said Atlantic Canada is not doing enough to integrate immigrants into communities.
“It’s easier to be a global business when you can draw upon the experience of your own workforce to help you to understand a particular market or culture,” said Oldfield, speaking to the value of employees coming from abroad.
While the panel focused on the future of the region, Monique Collette, the senior advisor to the privy council office in Ottawa, spoke to the past success of the region.
Collette said one of the assets of Atlantic Canada is the ability of the region to bounce back. While Ontario continues to struggle with the breakdown of the manufacturing industry, Collette noted that Atlantic Canada is doing relatively well in recovering from the recession.
“We are a very resilient people, and resiliency is not given to everybody,” Collette said.

Refugee claimants entering Quebec from U.S.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceImage by Robert of Fairfax via Flickr

A legal loophole has would-be refugees in the U.S. coming into Canada through the Quebec border, CBC News has learned.
“Sometimes we get half a dozen of them on a shift, and then you’re a week without getting any, said RCMP Sgt. Christian Dubois. “And then, all of a sudden, ‘boom.'”
Dubois said since the new RCMP border patrol started, more than half of their time is being spent on would-be refugees.
RCMP Insp. Marc Lacasse said there have been 64 arrests in just two months along the 140 kilometres of the Quebec-Vermont border, representing a 400 per cent increase over the same time period last year.
With immigration laws tightening in the U.S., increasing numbers of people have simply given up on ever getting permanent residency. Spot checks by American authorities have them worried about being caught and deported.
Lacasse believes that people are taking advantage of a loophole created by a document signed between Canada and the U.S. called the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.
Under the agreement, if a person that is already in the U.S. tries to move further north into Canada to claim refugee status, they will be turned back because both countries are considered safe. But the agreement only applies at organized crossings. Those determined to enter are now simply walking across through the bush.
“Our belief is there are organizations that are trying to use those areas to basically direct people to come over to Canada and gain refugee status,” said Lacasse. “Contrary to a point of entry [where] they would be turned back.”
Immigration lawyer David Cohen said that once a refugee gets away from an organized border crossing and enters Canada through the brush, Canada is obligated to process them.
“There’s no surprise and in fact it was absolutely predictable … and was predicted,” he said
“People avoid the Canadian port of entry and somehow make their way into Canada and make the refugee claim,” Cohen said.
It’s difficult to stop would-be refugees because there are more unprotected roads leading to the Quebec border than that of any other province.
Border services has also confirmed it will close or reduce hours for at least five entry points in Quebec alone, potentially increasing the number of unguarded roads.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/30/refugee-border-canada.html#ixzz17wOzV8ZH


Immigrant Investor Program re-opens today

Jason KenneyImage by mostlyconservative via FlickrStarting today, newcomers can now begin applying for the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP).

The Canadian government initially suspended the IIP in June due to a high volume of applications and long wait times.

The program which grants permanent residency, among other benefits, to successful applicants has changed investment criteria that will require immigrants to have a net worth of $1.6 million, up from $800, 000 and ask individuals to invest $800, 000 up from $400, 000.

New criteria will bring Canada’s foreign investor policies in line with the rest of other western countries said Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney.

“These changes were necessary,” Kenney. “The requirements had not been increased in more than a decade and we need to keep pace with the changing economy.”

According to Immigration Canada, the country had one of the lowest investor programs compared to other countries due to the fact that the program had not been changed since 2005.

Currently, Australia requires businesspeople to have a net worth of $2 million and invest just under $1.5 million.  The U.K. asks for $3.3 million in assets and an investment of $1.6 million.

The changes will also help communities across Canada said Kenney. Provinces and territories can expect to financially benefit from the influx of money which can be used for a variety of projects.

“Higher investment amounts mean provinces and territories will receive more investment capital to put toward job creation and economic development projects.”

Nova Scotia hoping to attract more immigrants

Hants County, Nova ScotiaImage via WikipediaNova Scotia officials want to lift immigration caps for the province in order to attract more skilled newcomers but face opposition from the federal government even though Immigration Minister Jason Kenney does agree more newcomers may resolve the province’s labour shortage.

“I think it’s admirable that Nova Scotia is focused on growing its population,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney according to the Chronicle Herald. “Immigration is part of the solution to the challenge of shrinking population in general and in Atlantic Canada in particular.”

The eastern province has a rapidly shrinking population and therefore has been a keen supporter of newcomers moving to the province. In the past decade, officials have spent millions of dollars trying to persuade immigrants to relocate to Nova Scotia under the provincial nominee program and increased spending for settlement programs.

Last year 2,2424 immigrants moved to Nova Scotia and officials would like to see that increase to 7,200 each year by 2020. However, in order to do that they need the federal government to remove cap restrictions on immigration. A notion that minister Jason Kenney isn’t too keen to do just yet citing growing needs by other areas in Canada.

“In general it’s a positive goal, but every province needs to remember we need to work together in the federation,” he said. “We can’t have 10 provinces arbitrarily setting their own goals, because ultimately there’s one pipeline for immigration, if you will, and that runs through the government of Canada, through my ministry.”

The provincial nominee program gives newcomers the opportunity to work in positions that are unfilled by Canadians.

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