Canada to Encourage Irish Immigration at Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork

A street in Dublin, Ireland. Thousands of Irish job seekers are expected at the job expos being held in Dublin and Cork on September 6, 7 and 10 (Jean Housen)

At least seven Canadian companies will have a presence at this year’s Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork, where they will promote the country as an ideal destination for Ireland’s skilled workers to find work and to settle.

The job expo, which is scheduled for Friday September 6th and Saturday 7th in Dublin, and Tuesday September 10th in Cork, will attract thousands from across Ireland seeking to assess the employment opportunities being offered. Dozens of companies from around the world will be manning booths at the event.

With Ireland now back in recession, immigration to Canada is becoming an increasingly attractive option for the country’s workers, whose skills, including English fluency and many with skilled trades qualifications, are well matched for Canada’s economy.

Among Canadian firms present at the expo will be CICS Immigration Consulting, which will be holding seminars on immigration to Canada in Dublin on Friday September 6th from 3pm – 3.45pm and in Cork on Tuesday September 10th from 5pm – 5.45pm.

Canadian immigration consultant and CICS principal Alex Khadempour will detail the main routes through which Irish workers can obtain work permits and permanent residency in Canada and provide a layout of the Canadian labour market and what immigrants might expect to encounter when they arrive in the country.

The job expo will run from 11am to 4pm in the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin and from 12pm to 6pm in the Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork.

Changes Made to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program

HRSDC Minister Diane Finley speaking in the House of Commons last September. New rules and increased fees for work permit applications were announced by Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday (Government of Canada)

Amid controversy and criticism over a series of incidents involving temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in recent months, including a story that emerged last month of Canadian workers losing their jobs to foreign workers at the Royal Canadian Bank, the federal government has announced several immediate and upcoming changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

These changes are:

  • An employer is required to guarantee to pay a TFW prevailing wages for that foreign worker to be eligible for a work permit, effective immediately. The rule allowing companies to pay TFWs 15 percent less than prevailing wages for high-skilled positions, and 5 percent less for low skilled ones has been repealed.
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  • The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) has been suspended, effective immediately.
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  • The federal government is seeking the authority to suspend a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) if new information emerges showing that it negatively affects the Canadian economy and Canadian workers, and revoke work permits that were authorized by that LMO.
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  • Fees employers pay for work permit and LMO applications will increase so that a portion of the cost of processing them will no longer have to be paid out of general taxes.
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  • Job requirements for positions that use TFWs can only have English or French as required languages, unless an employer receives a special exemption after having shown Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) why the foreign language is necessary for the position.

The new rules attempt to close some of the major loopholes that critics have identified in the program that they say allow Canadian companies to use foreign workers instead of available Canadian workers.

The changes were jointly announced by HRSDC Minister Diane Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday.

Illegal Immigration in Canada Expected to Surge in 2015

temporary foreign worker

Over 190,000 temporary foreign workers entered Canada last year. Many of those whose work permits are set to expire in April 2015 are expected to remain in Canada illegally (CICS News)

The number of people in Canada illegally is expected to increase substantially in April 2015, when a large contingent of foreign workers see their work permits expire.

Their work permits will expire on April 1st 2015 because of a rule enacted on April 1st, 2011, that created a four year limit on cumulative time a foreign national can spend in Canada as a temporary foreign worker.

The rule change was made to reduce the perceived over-dependence of Canadian employers on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to meet their permanent labour needs.

The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has increased from approximately 100,000 in 2002, to over 300,000 today, which some have criticized as a subsidy for business at the expense of Canadian workers.

Setting limits on how long a temporary foreign worker can work in Canada was seen as a way to limit the use of the TFWP to its intended role: to temporarily meet labour shortages until a permanent solution could be found.

People familiar with visa and immigration controls expect a significant percentage of those whose permits will expire on April 1st 2015 to over-stay their visa and reside in Canada illegally, leaving Canada with a problem that Americans are more familiar with: a sizeable illegal immigrant population.

The immigrant magnets of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are expected to host the majority of those illegal migrants, which will likely put pressure on their infrastructure, public transit and policing resources, which are already being strained by rapid population growth.

Costs vs Generosity

Canadians are a generally generous people, who don’t like deporting individuals whose only crime is to stay in a country that affords them a better quality of life, but that generosity has to contend with the reality that unskilled foreign workers represent an economic cost for Canada.

Each additional person living in Canada comes with additional set costs in government spending, that can only be compensated if the person pays taxes that are at the Canadian average – something low-wage unskilled workers do not.

Allowing any of the literally hundreds of millions of people who would choose to immigrate and work in Canada if they could, to do so, would, in real terms, result in skyrocketing government spending levels and lower wages / higher unemployment rates for less skilled Canadians who would have to compete with the entrants in the labour market.

This means that immigration controls, and their integrity, are important for the economic well-being of Canada. Nevertheless, an extensive policing campaign that deports thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them living as families in Canada, would spark public outrage and would also be logistically difficult.

How Canada deals with the surge in the illegal immigrant population in 2015 remains to be seen.

Canadian Government Proposes Limiting Student Visas to Attendees of Provincially Recognized Schools

International students in Vancouver, Canada. International students are estimated to contribute nearly $6 billion to the Canadian economy annually (CICS News)

In an effort to stop abuse of the International Student Program by those seeking to work illegally in Canada and stem the growth of a student-visa mill industry that harms the reputation of Canadian educational institutions, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Friday proposed to parliament new regulations that would limit student visas to enrollees of institutions recognized by provinces and territories.

In announcing the measures, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney extolled the benefits of international students for Canada and his department’s intention to maintain the high educational standards of Canadian post-secondary institutions.

“Attracting the best and brightest young minds from around the world is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy and long-term prosperity,” said Kenney.

“But there are too many stories of international students who pay a lot of money and leave their families back home to study in Canada, only to find out they have been misled. These changes will help us better protect international students and the reputation of Canada’s post-secondary education system by making sure that international students are coming to quality institutions that comply with basic standards of accountability.”

The proposed rules would require that a student visa holder’s primary intent in Canada is to study, and would grant CIC the authority to request evidence from study visa holders to prove they are complying with this condition and revoke their student visas if they fail to do so.

The proposed rules would enact recommendations of a 2011 review of the International Student Program.

Bridging Visa Introduced For Temporary Residents Applying for Permanent Residence in Canada

In an effort to reduce regulatory barriers for foreign workers in Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced a bridging open work permit for those applying for permanent residence under economic class immigration streams (Jarek Tuszynski)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced the ‘Bridging Open Work Permit’ for temporary residents who are working in Canada and are awaiting a final decision on their application for permanent residence through an economic class immigration program.

The new work permit will save foreign workers from having to discontinue their work in Canada and leave the country while they wait for permanent residence.

A similar bridging open work permit already exists for temporary foreign workers with pending applications in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) and spousal or common-law immigration streams.

Temporary residents with pending applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will be eligible for the bridging visa.

CIC has made several changes in recent months to make it easier for foreign nationals in Canada on temporary work or study assignments to transition to permanent residence.

Canadian Unions Seeking Roll Back of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Two major Canadian unions have asked a federal court for an injunction to prevent the federal government from granting work permits for the Murray River project until their case has been heard (Markus Schweiss)

Two trade unions have filed an application in federal court to force the federal government to reverse its decision to grant some 200 work permits to temporary foreign workers from China that a Canadian company wants to hire to run a new mine in British Columbia.

The International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, which together represent the majority of workers employed in Canadian mines, are asking for a judicial review to over-turn the Canadian government’s grant of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to HD Mining International, the operator of the Murray River project near Tumbler Ridge, BC, near the Alberta border.

The unions argue that the decision harms Canadian wage-earners and does not meet HRSDC’s own standards for receiving approval to hire temporary foreign workers.

Under Canadian immigration law, a company wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker is required to apply to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for a LMO, which HRSDC approves if it meets five main conditions:

  • the wages and working conditions offered are consistent with prevailing norms for the occupation in Canada;
  • the foreign worker would fill a pressing labour shortage;
  • there is no labour dispute between a union and the employer in progress;
  • the employer made a significant effort to recruit or train Canadians or permanent residents for the position that the temporary foreign worker will fill;
  • the foreign worker will result in a net benefit to the Canadian economy and workers

According to an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday by Brian Cochrane, a business manager for Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the unions have succeeded in forcing the federal government to disclose internal documents relating to HD Mining’s application for the LMOs:

We have been successful in court so far. We have been granted standing by the court to challenge the federal government on these LMOs, and we have succeeded in forcing them to release more than 85 pages of secret documents, despite their strong objections. We are now continuing to seek a full judicial review of the temporary foreign workers program.

HD Mining’s transition plan

Included among the documents disclosed is a transition plan that HD Mining International submitted to HRSDC in its LMO application, which outlines how it said it will replace its temporary foreign workforce with Canadians over a period of 14 years.

The transition plan calls for the first Canadian workers to begin working at the mine in four years, and for 10 percent of the foreign workforce to be replaced by Canadians every year for the next 10 years afterwards, as they are trained.

To demonstrate its intention of following through with its plan and eventually hiring Canadians, HD Mining recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Northern Lights College to develop an underground mining education program that will train Canadians for positions in the mine.

The transition plan is touted by the mining company as evidence that the use of foreign workers will be temporary, while the unions and other critics of the foreign worker decision say that the 14 year length of the transition period shows the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is being mis-used for long term labour needs.

Wider questions about Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The unions’ court challenge of the HRSDC’s LMO decision on HD Mining and the subsequent media attention it received spurred the federal government to announce a review of the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to determine if it was too lenient in granting work permits.

The review comes amid a steadily increasing temporary foreign worker population, from approximately 100,000 in 2002 to over 300,000 today, which has drawn criticism from a diverse coalition that includes labour union advocates and free-market economists.

In one example, SFU economist and senior fellow at the free-market-leaning Fraser Institute Herbert Grubel last month called the TFWP a subsidy for business that comes at the expense of lower Canadian wages, a statement that is virtually indistinguishable from many that are coming from much more left-leaning labour unions.

Much of public opinion is also cool to the foreign worker program, with a CBC/Nanos survey this month showing that 68 percent of respondents said they were against allowing temporary foreign workers into the country if there were Canadians looking for work who are qualified for the same jobs.

Despite the opposition, there is no sign that the demand for temporary foreign workers from Canadian businesses will slow down soon, as companies in the resources sectors find it difficult to meet their labour needs in often inhospitable locations, and various occupations that are undesirable to Canada’s workers for the wages offered face labour shortages.

Nationals of 29 Countries to Require Biometrics to Enter Canada

A new biometric chip containing a cryptographically signed digital encoding of the applicant’s photo and fingerprints will be embedded in the Canadian visas and work permits of nationals of 29 designated countries (Government of Canada)

Starting in January 2013, the federal government will require individuals from selected countries wishing to visit or immigrate to Canada to have their biometric information registered and checked before entering the country.

The new rules will apply to nationals of 29 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Subject nationals applying for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at the time of application. Foreign nationals who are Canadian permanent residents or citizens will be exempt from the new rules.

The biometric identification requirement is similar to United States Homeland Security’s biometric registration which applies to all visitors to the U.S. Other countries that use biometrics for border security or immigration control include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Friday extolled the advantages of the security measure: “Biometrics will strengthen and modernize Canada’s immigration system. Our doors are open to legitimate travellers and, through the use of biometrics, we will also be able to protect the safety and security of Canadians.”

The implementation of the new rules will correspond with the roll-out of the new Canadian ePassport, which will begin being issued on January 1st, 2013, and will include the biometric information of the passport holder.

Federal government officials say that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the federal agencies responsible for administering the new biometric program, will work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to protect the personal personal information of applicants in accordance with Canada’s Privacy Act.

Immigrating to Canada to Escape American Election Results

Resource hubs like northern Alberta's oil sands offer prospective immigrants numerous jobs, which can be the best first step to immigrating to Canada

When Americans look for a country to flee to in the event of their favoured candidate losing the presidential elections, they inevitably look to Canada, their (mostly) English speaking cousin to the North.

For the past three decades, it has been predominantly supporters of Democratic candidates that have made the immigration ultimatum, as Canada has been perceived to align with their party on foreign policy, income redistribution, and cultural issues.

This election season though, the warnings of immigrating to Canada have taken on a more bi-partisan quality, as Canada’s lower government debt levels, stronger economy, tighter control over illegal immigration, more reserved culture, and what many perceive as overall more functional governance, appeals to many conservative-leaning voters.

The growing appeal of Canada to American conservatives also stems from a strong personal dislike that many of them have for Obama, for reasons both ridiculous/bigoted – e.g. conspiracy theories of Obama being a secret Muslim – and ideological.

Whatever the appeal, the number of Americans who actually follow through with their threats and make the move is few. There is no statistically significant spike in immigration levels from the U.S. following presidential elections.

The length and complexity of the Canadian immigration process requires a significant investment of time and a long-term commitment that political passions typically do not motivate.

Immigration Pointers

If you are an American and, having read all of this, still intend to move to Canada, keep these points in mind:

  • Getting a job in Canada is the most practical way for Americans to become landed immigrants. Having Canadian work experience confers significant advantages for foreign nationals applying for Canadian permanent residency through several immigration programs.
  • Occupations not traditionally viewed as prestigious, like heavy duty mechanics and welding, can give you the best opportunity of getting a job offer and a work permit in Canada, which will start your process of becoming a Canadian.
  • Less populated provinces with booming resource-industries, like Alberta, have better job markets and easier paths to immigration than the immigrant magnets of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

As an American, you can take comfort in the fact that you will likely have an easier time immigrating than the nationals of many other countries, as proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages (English and French), is one of the most important criteria in Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s assessment of a permanent residence application.

Canada Ranks 5th in World Ranking of Economic Freedom, US Falls to 18th

Canada is now ranked as having the freest economy in North America, thirteen places ahead of the United States, the historic symbol of economic freedom in the world (NASA/GSFC)

Canada tied Australia for fifth freest economy in the world in the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, released yesterday. Canada improved its position by one spot while the US saw its ranking drop by ten spots from last year’s index.

The Fraser Institute’s economic freedom index scores countries’ degree of economic freedom by five criteria:

  1. Size of Government- a measure of how much government spends as a percentage of GDP, how much of the economy is directed by government-managed firms rather than the private sector, and income and payroll tax rates.
  2. Legal System and Property Rights- the extent to which private property ownership rights are protected and contracts are enforced by an independent judiciary and impartial court system.
  3. Sound Money- how well a country’s central bank maintains a low and stable inflation rate, and the freedom of people in a country to user alternative currencies and foreign bank accounts.
  4. Freedom to Trade Internationally- the degree of freedom people in a country enjoy from international trade barriers set up by their governments.
  5. Regulation- the extent of freedom from government restrictions on mutually voluntary activities. Countries with fewer regulations like minimum wage restrictions, dismissal regulations, and mandatory acceptance of collective bargaining requests score higher in this area.

The economic data used in the index is from 2010, as that is the most recent comprehensive data available, and comes from external sources like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

For the sixteenth year in a row, Hong Kong and Singapore ranked first and second place in the index. The two East Asian economies have the lowest levels of government spending in the industrialized world, at approximately half that of Canada as a percentage of GDP, and the fewest restrictions on trade, labour and business activities of any of the 144 countries and territories included in the index.

Like most industrialized countries, Canada received a low score in the Size of Government component, ranking 73rd in the world, due to high levels of government spending and high marginal tax rates, but ranked near the top of the index in the areas of Legal System and Property Rights (12th), and Regulation (6th), thanks to a strong rule of law providing secure rights to property, and few regulatory barriers in credit markets and on labour and business activities.

The US’s overall ranking suffered due to an increase in government spending, and a reduction in its scores in the areas of Rule of Law and Freedom to Trade Internationally.

Edmonton and Calgary to Have Fastest Economic Growth in Canada

Suncor Energy Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Edmonton and Calgary are expected to have the fastest economic growth in Canada according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012 (Chuck Szmurlo)

The Albertan metropolises, Calgary and Edmonton, will have the fastest economic growth in Canada this year, followed closely by Regina, Saskatchewan, according to a forecast by the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012, released today.

Alberta is expected to benefit from high levels of energy-industry-related investment for the next four years, which will help fund economic growth of 3.8 percent in Calgary and 4.6 percent in Edmonton in 2012.

Saskatchewan’s cities, also enjoying a resource-sector-led boom thanks to the province’s large oil and gas, potash, uranium, and lumber resources, will see strong growth over the next four years according to the report. The provincial capital, Regina, is expected to lead the province with economic growth of 3.6 percent in 2012.

Perhaps surprisingly given the city’s real estate slowdown, Vancouver is expected to have one of the best performing economies in Canada in the coming years, with economic growth of 3.1 percent in 2012, and average annual economic growth of 3.3 percent forecast for the next four years.