May 16, 2021

Will tighter family reunification rules actually save taxpayers money?

While some would argue that Canada has gone to great lengths to unite families in the past, those day are gone, it seems. 

The federal government is making it harder for Canadian families to bring their parents and grandparents from abroad. Those seeking to bring older family members to settle in Canada will need to have higher incomes and agree to financially support their extended families for much longer.

The new rules will increase the minimum income requirement for sponsoring a parent or grandparent by 30%, double the sponsorship undertaking period from ten to twenty years, and reduce the maximum age of a dependent to 18. 

They'll also have to agree to cover any welfare or health-care costs not covered by medicare for parents or grandparents for 20 years, instead of the current 10-year committment.

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March 28, 2021

Americans top list of illegals working in Canada: report

Following the lead of several U.S. cities, the City of Toronto recently passed a controversial 'access without fear' motion that would provide undocumented migrants access to municipal services such as food banks and homeless shelters.

The move sparked howls of protest from groups like The Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, who argue that by failing to uphold the law, Canada´s largest city has sent a message that the law doesn´t matter.

Dissenting councillor Minnan-Wong doesn't agree with the decision either, suggesting that illegals don't deserve access to government services.

“We shouldn’t encourage them. We shouldn’t help them. We should not facilitate them. They are an insult to every immigrant who plays by the rule to get into the country. They are an insult to every immigrant who is waiting to enter this country legally,” Minnan-Wong told the Toroto Star.

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November 01, 2021

Is Canada's new "English or French" immigration policy on the right track?

It's no secret that Canada is steadily becoming a nation of many languages, as recent waves of immigration reshape the country’s main cities. Results from the 2011 Census found that one in five people spoke a language other than French or English in their homes.

The number of people who can conduct a conversation in both English and French jumped by nearly 350,000 to 5.8 million in recent years, but that hike is largely due to people in Quebec speaking both languages.

Overall, the bilingualism rate of the Canadian population at large is essentially unchanged.

And, it appears, that's not likely to change in the future either.

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September 11, 2021

Should Canada cut back on its immigration targets?

Although not a popular move in certain quarters and viewed as nothing short of a betrayal in others, Canada still accepts more immigrants per capita than any other developed country.

But can we afford to continue this longstanding practice? Not really, maintains Herbert Grubel, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. At least not the way we've been doing it up to now.

Immigrants who've arrived over the past two decades make significantly less money, pay fewer taxes, use more government services and impose a fiscal burden on taxpayers of something like $6,000 a year per recent arrival, he estimates.

Increasing their number further will only lead to higher infrastucture costs for schools and hospitals and a lower standard of living for native-born Canadians. 

That's why we have to make it much tougher to get in, he argues.

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June 14, 2021

Do temporary foreign workers steal jobs and depress wages?

Despite the Conservative government's new employment insurance rules that aim to fill vacant jobs with unemployed Canadians instead, the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has never been higher.

Canadian companies hire thousands of foreign workers each year to fill jobs that locals simply won't or can't afford to do. But is that really a solution? 

"Employers will always be ready to find workers overseas who are eager to come to Canada and willing to work long hours for low pay. And under the Conservatives, boosting economic growth will always eclipse protecting workers’ rights," notes the Toronto Star.

"Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper assumed power in 2006, the number of foreign temporary workers admitted into Canada has grown by 40 per cent. The temporary worker stream is now larger than the stream of permanent workers intending to set down roots and become citizens," the Star maintains

And that labour tsunami could have a dramatic impact on wages for Canadians, particularly if you look beyond Ontario's agricultural sector. 

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April 18, 2021

How much should it take to buy your way into the country?

Immigration is a touchy subject at the best of times, which is odd when you think that just about everyone, or at least their families, who lives here came from somewhere else. The difference to many though is how they crossed the border.

The federal government wants to make wealthy investors pay more for the privilege of immigrating to Canada. Canada lets in about 3,000 immigrant investors each year, the vast majority of whom come from Hong Kong.

Right now, applicants through this country's immigrant investor program contribute an $800,000 repayable loan to the government in exchange for immediate permanent residence. Canada also requires a net worth of $1.6 million, which has to have been obtained legally.

The plan is to at least double that amount. But is that enough? And should wealthy would-be immigrants be able to jump the line this way in the first place?

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February 28, 2022

Diversity programs for new Canadians still lacking: report

With a declining birth rate, Canada will need immigrants to help drive economic growth. But does our system reward the immigrants most likely to create that growth?

While 71% of employers believe they have successful programs to integrate foreign-trained professionals into their workplaces, only 34% of such professionals feel the places they have worked have policies that welcome new Canadians, a new study says.

“While employers recognize the value of hiring new Canadians in our global economy, we’re finding workplace diversity and recruitment policies lack the bite needed to really make a difference,” says Silma Roddau, president of the Progress Career Planning Institute, a not-for-profit counselling service that tracks diversity programs.

The survey questioned 560 professionals who earned their degrees in another country and have been in Canada for between six and 15 years. Of the total, 238 were currently employed and 322 were not. 

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January 26, 2022

Is it right to deny asylum seekers access to legal aid?

Mimicking a similar exodus from the Czech Republic a couple of years ago, Canada has been witnessing a sharp spike in applications for refugee status from Hungarian Roma families visiting Canada.

Until recently, legal aid used to regularly approve funding of around $3,000 to Roma claimants to hire lawyers to argue their cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

But, according to one immigration lawyer, that’s no longer the case. And he thinks that’s more than unfair.

The issue of Roma asylum seekers has become contentious in recent years, particularly after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney chose to label many of the claims "bogus", leading to a threat of class action suit from various Roma asylum seekers.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...