New Canadian Media
Tuesday, 20 December 2016 15:26

Brockville, Look to GTA, not India

Commentary by Don Curry in North Bay

Municipal councils in Canada’s smaller centres do not appear to be at the forefront in analyzing demographic and diversity trends affecting their communities. They ought to be looking for immigrants closer to home, rather than overseas.

I see it in discussions with municipal politicians from my perch in Northern Ontario, and in a recent Brockville Recorder and Times news article about attracting immigrant entrepreneurs.  The municipality secured a provincial government grant to commission a study on the topic, one in which I am particularly interested.

The population of Canada is rising steadily and is more than 36 million people. Approximately 300,000 immigrants are now arriving annually.

Generally, newcomers to Canada do not emigrate to smaller centres, but to the larger ones, with Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver taking the majority. What is becoming more prevalent, however, is secondary migration to smaller centres.

Immigrant-owned businesses

In North Bay, population 54,000, where I live, there are more than 70 first generation immigrant-owned businesses. This is a relatively recent occurrence. Temiskaming Shores, population 10,500, is 90 minutes north of North Bay and it has more than 20 first generation immigrant-owned businesses. There, too, this is a recent occurrence.

The Brockville story that caught the attention of New Canadian Media noted the municipality of 22,000 people could attract immigrant entrepreneurs already in Canada. It was based on a study that contained a number of recommendations to make the municipality more receptive to immigrants.

I completed a study for the Far Northeast Training Board that will be released in January that covers some of the issues that Brockville council was discussing. I interviewed 36 immigrant business owners in 11 municipalities in Northeastern Ontario, the smallest with only 400 people and the largest the City of Timmins, population 43,000.

It supports the conclusion of the Brockville study that you don’t have to recruit internationally for immigrant entrepreneurs — they are already here. I expect to report on it in this space when it is officially released in January.

Moving within Canada

But for now, I can tell you that it shows two-thirds of the immigrant entrepreneurs in the study area were born in India, but did not come to Northern Ontario from there. They came from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Dissatisfied with the high cost of GTA home ownership, high cost to purchase a business, and the congestion of the big city, they looked for alternatives and found them in Northern Ontario. They are just as likely to find them in Brockville, just a few hours down Highway 401, and in other smaller Ontario centres.

For municipal councils and economic development organizations, this is terrific news.  Many smaller centre business owners want to sell their business and retire. Demographers have seen this coming for years, as more baby boomers retire.

In many cases their children have moved to a larger centre, or they are not interested in continuing the family business. In our region, we are seeing immigrant entrepreneurs moving north to fill the void.

Caught up in detail

The municipal council in Brockville, according to the newspaper report, was receptive to the study but reluctant to allocate funds in its budget to make Brockville a more welcoming community for immigrants. That is typical of what I hear in Northern Ontario as well.

Municipal councils, in my experience, spend far too much time on the mundane day-to-day issues that should be the purview of municipal staff members, and far too little time looking at the long-term future of their communities. The large cities in Canada, however, understand the value of putting policies, procedures, and people in place to ensure they are doing all they can to attract and retain immigrants.

Many of the smaller ones still haven’t figured it out. Studies such as the one presented this month in Brockville and next month in the Far Northeast Training Board catchment area of a large chunk of Northeastern Ontario should serve as a wakeup call.

While municipal councils in smaller centres spend months poring over budgets, their population may be in decline and they are doing little to reverse the trend. They are preoccupied with minutiae.

Now they know it is far easier to recruit people from the GTA than from India. But it will take municipal will to make things happen on a larger scale.

Don Curry is the president of Curry Consulting (www.curryconsulting.ca). He was the founding executive director the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre and the Timmins & District Multicultural Centre and is now the chair of the board of directors.

Published in Policy
Saturday, 23 April 2016 12:27

Ethnic Seniors Wait for Long-Term Care

Commentary by [             ] in Toronto

The wait to get a long-term care bed in Ontario has increased significantly in the last six years. An individual on a wait-list to transfer from a hospital bed to a long-term care facility waits just over two months, while those who have applied for long-term care while living at home wait 116 days for placement.
 
Yet, a report released last week by the Wellesley Institute has found that seniors from ethnic communities in Toronto have even more difficulty getting placed in ethnic long-term care homes.  Seniors waiting for an ethno-specific long-term care home wait for 18 months on average for placement into an ethno-specific long-term care home. The report noted that some of the longest waits for these high-demand services can be as high as eight years.  
 
Further, the report found that income is a factor. Basic accommodations provided in a long-term care home are in high demand. Yet, the report finds that for people able to pay for more expensive private accommodation, the wait time decreases by nearly three months.
 
Pricey care
 
Long-term care can be pricey. In 2012, Michel Grignon and Nicole Bernier priced the cost of long term care for “24/7 assistance in an institution costs around $60,000 per person per year.”
 
And the prices are only likely to go higher.
 
[T]hose who have applied for long-term care while living at home wait 116 days for placement.
 
People looking for long-term care services have high needs.  In addition to providing living support for individuals, staff care for people with physical limitations, helping them get up from a bed or chair, eating, and using the bathroom.  With higher than average rates of dementia, depression and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions and arthritis, these homes require highly skilled staff to give the medical attention needed by the elderly population using these homes. 
 
Ethno-specific long-term care homes are in high demand. They offer care in the same language as their residents, provide ethnic- and religion-sensitive food options and conduct social activities and entertainment specific to the community they serve.   
 
The ethnic familiarity provided by these homes are important.
 
Happier and healthier
 
The report notes that elderly individuals in ethno-specific long-term care homes are happier and healthier, “feeling less social isolation, lower rates of depression, and fewer falls and hospitalizations.”
 
Unfortunately, the limited access to these homes is only getting worse.  
 
While, the ethnic population has grown due to increased immigration in the Greater Toronto Area, there hasn’t been a similar increase in bed numbers in ethno-specific long-term care homes.  People in Canada are generally living longer than ever before, increasing overall demand for long-term care. This is good news overall, but those who would have normally stayed at home in their old age are now requiring more specialized medical attention.
 
Cultural acceptance
 
Finally, there is more cultural acceptance in immigrant communities for long-term care.  In some ethnic communities, there is an expectation that children will take care of their elders into old age.  Yet, attitudes within the community have shifted amongst second and third generation immigrants.  And the evidence that people have an improved quality of life in long-term care has resulted in less stigma and increased demand.
 
[A]ttitudes within the community have shifted amongst second and third generation immigrants.
 
There are a few ways that immigrant families can prepare for long-term care needs in the future.  One option is long-term care insurance, which could help offset future costs for families. Further, governments could consider supporting a universal insurance program for long-term care that could share costs amongst Canadians. 
 
Finally, investments in long-term care would be key to ensuring the future of our seniors. Even more than governments, entrepreneurs could be encouraged to consider investments into the development of long-term care, especially for immigrant communities that do not currently have a place to go in their old age. While there are homes specific to the Chinese, Italian, Greek, Polish and Ukrainian communities, other immigrant groups will inevitably require these services.

[            ] is a contributor who has chosen to remain anonymous and has worked in the the health care industry for the last five years.
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

Canada has spoken and its ethnic minority electorate has made it clear that they are on the same wavelength as the rest of the country. The “905” belt around Toronto city, that famously shored up the Conservative party in the 2011 federal elections, has now helped in ensuring its defeat.  

Large numbers of minority voters in this belt voted just like their “416” city neighbours as if to prove that the telephone code monikers that differentiate them are superficial. And that 905 can no longer be used as shorthand to describe the purported small “c” values that made them support the Conservatives.

While statisticians and academics will trawl through voting data to come up with plausible reasons for the vote shift, anecdotal evidence points to the generational shift taking place in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) suburbs.

As newer immigrant communities mature, the second and third generations are thinking and voting like their downtown Toronto counterparts.

As newer immigrant communities mature, the second and third generations are thinking and voting like their downtown Toronto counterparts. Many of them are professionals who work and even live in the city, visiting their suburban parents on weekends. This has led to the gradual erosion of the cultural boundaries that existed between Toronto and its surroundings.

“Plenty of the young condo dwellers in my riding of Spadina-Fort York are children of parents who live in Brampton and Mississauga. So here I am, trying to influence these parents for their children’s votes,” Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan told New Canadian Media at a campaign stop in Brampton.  

Vaughan is among his party’s winners who have painted the whole of the GTA into a solid patch of red spreading north from the shores of Lake Ontario.

Intergenerational conversations

What has been happening is that the older and younger generations interact over the weekends and seem to influence each other. Not very unlike this skit from the Anybody But the Conservatives camp that captures the essence of generational differences amongst South Asian families.

This cross-pollination of ideas is likely to be one of the several factors that helped the Liberals regain ground from the Conservatives in the suburbs and edge out the NDP in the city. 

To their credit, the Liberals had started cultivating the younger generation of minority professionals, way before the elections were called.

To their credit, the Liberals had started cultivating the younger generation of minority professionals, way before the elections were called. It was evident at events like the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of Toronto’s awards gala where Justin Trudeau was the keynote speaker.

At this event a year ago, the Prime Minister-designate was visibly proud to present his young team of candidates, many of them lawyers. They now are part of the 150-odd neophyte MPs who will be entering parliament.

Meet the Brampton, Mississauga cohort

A quick look at this 905 cohort will give an idea about the candidates the Liberals were able to attract compared to the mostly self-made business people who flocked to the Conservatives.

Sven Spengemann (Mississauga-Lakeshore) completed his doctorate in political and constitutional theory at Harvard Law in June 2006.

Gagan Sikand (Mississauga-Streetsville) is a lawyer who has worked for the Attorney General of Ontario, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

Overall, the median age of these 905 Liberal MPs reflect that of their party leader. And they come with matching attitudes.

Iqra Khalid (Mississauga-Erin Mills) studied law and is now an articling student with the legal department at The City of Mississauga. She expects to be called to the bar soon.

Ruby Sahota (Brampton North) is an attorney who has practised for five years in the areas of criminal law, litigation, and dispute resolution in both the public and private sectors.

Raj Grewal (Brampton East) practised law at a prominent Bay Street firm and was also a financial analyst for a fortune 500 company.

The oldest MP among this crop of legal professionals is Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre), who jumped into the fray after a career in law.

And if they are not lawyers, the other MPs are health-care professionals. Kamal Khera (Brampton West) is a registered oncology nurse and Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South) is a cardiology technologist.

The few among the cohort with previous legislative experience are Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton) who has been MP for Mississauga—Brampton South from 2004 to 2011; Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre) who was an MP from 2006 to 2008 and Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East-Cooksville) who is a former Ontario provincial cabinet minister.

Overall, the median age of these 905 Liberal MPs reflect that of their party leader. And they come with matching attitudes.

Khalid, possibly the youngest among them, had set her mind on sitting in Parliament while in university. “Why wait until I’m older, for another 20 or 30 years. The time is now.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

by Shan Qiao in Scarborough, Ontario       

It is usual for different Chinese organizations to gather candidates from the community and hear them out in places like shopping malls at election time. They also invite candidates, regardless of ethnicity, to speak at community events in ridings with large Chinese populations.

Last week, the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations (CTCCO) held a media event at its head office in Scarborough, Ont. to present candidates of Chinese heritage contesting for the federal elections from ridings in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The invited politicians were Liberal incumbent Arnold Chan (Scarborough-Agincourt) and candidates Shaun Chen (Scarborough-North), Bang-Gu Jiang (Markham-Unionville) and Geng Tan (Don Valley North); Conservative incumbent Chungsen Leung (Willowdale) and candidate Bin Chang (Scarborough-Agincourt); NDP candidate Olivia Chow (Spadina-Fort York); and the Green’s Elvin Kao (Markham-Unionville).

“I think it’s particularly important that we celebrate the fact that we have so many Chinese Canadian candidates who are running for all political parties across the political spectrum,” said Arnold Chan at the event. “I think it’s a reflection of maturity of our community that we can have such a diversity of candidates.”

Criticisms from within community

But the lack of ethnic diversity among those invited had its share of critics in the Chinese community. They contend that asking ethnic Chinese to vote for their own people is different from merely 'getting out their vote'.

“Not including candidates from other races is somehow dangerous. It makes mainstream and other cultural communities trust these [Chinese] candidates less.”

“I don’t think it’s fair to other opponents who were not Chinese and excluded from the event,” said Jane Ng, an independent political commentator. “Not including candidates from other races is somehow dangerous. It makes mainstream and other cultural communities trust these [Chinese] candidates less.”

“I used to think such promotions helped Chinese voters. But what I see now is unfairness and irrationality,” said Tony Ku, former Editor-in-Chief of Singtao Daily, the largest Chinese newspaper in North America. “I also doubt the intention of a particular community organization behind such an event if it’s not to promote itself or a particular political ideology.”

Pointing out the CTCCO media event as an example, Ku said the organization claimed it represented the Chinese community’s sentiment when it publicly denounced Globe and Mail’s story on Ontario minister Michael Chan this summer. 

“I can’t agree with their position and I don’t think they can represent me. They can only represent their members,” Ku argues.

Chengyi Wei, CTCCO’s president, said his organization is not affiliated with any party and “neither am I a supporter of any. However, I’m very happy to see Chinese candidates running for office and working for our country.”
 
Liberal dominance

The four Liberal candidates at the media event demonstrated the increasing clout of the Chinese Canadian community in the suburbs around Toronto. 

“I came to Canada in 1998 from China as a visa student. I am as same as all of you around,” candidate Tan Geng told the audience. “I have experienced what you’ve experienced and that’s why I can understand your issues.”

Tan, a scientist and rising star in the Liberal party, has publicly criticized the Globe and Mail’s story on Michael Chan, saying the newspaper chose to publish it before the federal election to discourage Mandarin-speaking immigrants from taking part in Canadian politics.

“We need to have Chinese Canadians come out to vote. We need better participation in the political arena.”

Bang-Gu Jiang, another candidate who also emigrated from the Mainland, said her party’s principles of “fairness, inclusiveness, respect and diversity are Canadian values.” 

Jiang said, “If I can work for you, I want to make our society fairer. I want you to have a better future no matter what your background was before you immigrated to Canada.”

Shaun Chen, who has served as a school trustee since 2006 and was elected as Toronto District School Board chair in 2014, said he hopes events like the one organized by CTCCO would result in better engagement within the community. 

“We need to have Chinese Canadians come out to vote. We need better participation in the political arena,” Chen said.

The Conservatives at the event highlighted their government’s achievements in improving relations with China. Chungsen Leung, who was unable to attend, said in a pre-recorded video: “Our government highly values China-Canada relations. I hope it will raise to a new level in the future.”

Bin Chang, an immigrant from the Mainland and an university professor, also promoted the government’s fiscal discipline, stressing it has held the tax rates low since being elected in 2006.

[A B.C.-based] association said that although more and more Chinese Canadians are taking part in the political process, their total number in Parliament is still quite low compared to their population.

Olivia Chow, who quit her federal seat to fight the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, had the highest profile of any politician at the CTCCO event.

“Our health-care system is very precious,” said Chow, the lone NDP representative there. “Rich or poor, no matter how urgent is your sickness, you will benefit from our free health-care system.”

The other lone party representative at the event was the Green Party of Canada’s Elvin Kao. A university graduate, he has been involved with the Markham Greens since 2011. 

Getting more Chinese Canadians involved

The outgoing House of Commons had eight MPs of Chinese heritage, including Chow. Half of them were Conservatives. The other half was equally split between the NDP and Liberals. 

In terms of Chinese candidates in the 2015 election, there are 22 so far, with the Conservatives fielding nine, Liberals seven, and NDP and Greens three each. In 2011 there were 23 and in 2008 election 18.

The CTCCO is not alone in promoting politicians of Chinese ethnicity. 

The Richmond, B.C., based Canada China Chamber of Industry and Commerce Association (CCCICA) has been pro-active in getting out ethnic Chinese votes.

In a recent press release, the association said that although more and more Chinese Canadians are taking part in the political process, their total number in Parliament is still quite low compared to their population.

In last year’s B.C. provincial elections, CCCICA’s mobilization efforts included organizing a volunteer fleet of 60 vehicles to help Chinese Canadians cast their votes. 

Additional reporting by Ranjit Bhaskar

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Politics
Friday, 03 July 2015 15:19

Chan and Confucius

by Simon Li in Hong Kong

You've probably never realized that Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan is a highly polarizing figure within the Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) Chinese communities until the Globe and Mail's recent coverage.

That's the case at least for my non-Chinese friends in the city, perhaps because the 64-year-old gentleman's appearance seems rather gentle; not the controversial type. During his eight years in Cabinet, opinions about Chan among Chinese Ontarians have remained sharply divided.
 
Three Little Surprises
 
Three little things have actually surprised me since the Globe ran the story on the only Chinese Canadian in Premier Kathleen Wynne's cabinet. (The minister threatened on the eve of Canada Day to take further legal action against the Globe if the paper does not apologize and immediately retract the story within 72 hours.) 
 
The Confederation of Toronto Chinese-Canadian Organizations, making a similar demand on Canada Day, has just asked the Globe to apologize not only to them but to the Chinese community and Chan. Apologizing to the Chinese community? This sounds like the whole community of Chinese Ontarians are homogenous while sharing a single view on the Globe story.
 
This is the very first thing which surprises me as a scholar of Chinese Canadian history. Time after time, the Chinese-Canadian community is intentionally being misrepresented by some (and hence mistakenly seen by the mainstream society and governments) as a homogeneous group, while it certainly is not. It is much more heterogeneous than one can imagine.
 
Even if you don't pay close attention to security matters, you may still have noticed that Canada's spy agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has been paying awfully close attention to one country in particular these days: China.
 
Although some associations’ names may sound like they are sole spokespeople for Chinese Canadian society, the reality is that there is not a single group that can speak on behalf of the whole Chinese community on the Michael Chan matter or any other issue.
 
Second, while it would not be difficult to hear polarizing views about Chan in the community, a good number of the province's Chinese-language media have strangely selected interviewees from just a particular side since day one -- that is, views that simply side with Chan -- instead of professionally reporting multiple views, including those that are other than pro-Chan's. Why? 
 
The third surprise has to do with the controversy surrounding Chan and Confucius — an unexpected pairing and the focus of this commentary.
 
The Background
 
Even if you don't pay close attention to security matters, you may still have noticed that Canada's spy agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has been paying awfully close attention to one country in particular these days: China.

Apart from the Globe's coverage of the CSIS revelations that Chan may have been under the influence of a foreign government and had "unusually close ties to Chinese officials," what catches some community members' attention is actually facet of the paper's reporting.
 
The Globe story suggested that Chan once lobbied for a deal between the Toronto District School Board and the Confucius Institute (CI), named after the ancient Chinese philosopher. This Institute has now been banned from a number of universities and school boards across Canada amid concerns about interfering with academic freedoms. Those which officially cut ties with the Confucius Institute include McMaster University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Sherbrooke.

Let's zoom out a bit here: What are Confucius Institutes? And why would the Liberal minister, as the Globe report disclosed, lobby the controversial Institute to make a deal with Canada's largest school board? 

Many wonder.
 
Digging deeper, these are the legitimate questions a journalist should ask. While the Chinese press has also been following the Chan story in the past two weeks, none of these questions have really been put forward to the minister.
 
The Chinese government says the Confucius Institutes, the brainchild of Beijing's Ministry of Education, are simply promoting Chinese culture and business ties. However, according to a declassified CSIS brief which was obtained earlier by media under the Access to Information Act, Canada's spy service believes China has enlisted the institutes to advance China's power behind the scenes. The secret intelligence report, portions of which were blacked out, states, "In other words, China wants the world to have positive feelings toward China and things Chinese."

"Soft power" is the keyword here. CSIS warns that Confucius Institutes are not as benign as they pretend to be because they are a part of -- albeit a relatively small part -- of China's strategy of "soft power".
 
Chinese "soft power"

While Chan’s spokesperson replied to the Globe that the minister only “wrote one letter offering his personal support to the TDSB in pursuing a dialogue to establish a Confucius Institute in Toronto,” there is still a puzzling question: Why would then-TDSB chair Chris Bolton actually deem Chan’s support of the establishment of the Confucius Institute in Toronto as crucial?

As Bolton publicly disclosed during last summer's gala to celebrate the CI-TDSB arrangement, "I'd like to take a moment to thank the people who were directly involved in the establishment of the CI. Right from the beginning, an MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) by the name of Michael Chan has supported the establishment" -- it keeps one wondering: what precise role did the Ontario cabinet minister play in this whole deal involving a CI establishment which the CSIS refers in its report as a calculated part of China's "soft power" campaign?

Another essential question would be: what motivated him to be so "directly involved" (using the ex-TDSB chair's choice of words) in supporting the Beijing-sponsored institute which would be in charge of the curriculum and the hiring of teachers instead of the public-secular school board for Toronto? Chan represents Markham-Unionville, which does not fall under the Toronto school board, and his portfolio in Cabinet has nothing to do with education. 

In the wake of the high-profile CI crisis to date, why did the minister say earlier that he had "not paid attention at all, in terms of the curriculum” during the lobbying process? As a matter of fact, different concerns surrounding these controversial Confucius institutes and their curriculum have been extensively reported in Canada in as early as 2007.
 
Legitimate questions
 
Digging deeper, these are the legitimate questions a journalist should ask. While the Chinese press has also been following the Chan story in the past two weeks, none of these questions have really been put forward to the minister.

So at this point, only Chan knows the true answers.

Confucius too, maybe?  

The Chinese master of enduring wisdom once counselled, "Study the past if you would define the future."  And while our country's spy service believes China has enlisted its ancient politician-philosopher in its quest for power, don't be surprised by the fact the Communist Party of China has never quite been supportive of Confucian ideals (there was even a "Criticize Confucius" campaign in the People's Republic in the mid-1970s).

The past is ironic. 

So is the controversy surrounding the cabinet minister and the Chinese master.  

The clock is ticking. Let's see what happens when Chan’s 72-hour ultimatum expires. 
Simon Li, a former Canadian political journalist, currently teaches political science and investigative journalism in Hong Kong. Before entering an academic career, he was a political host on AM 1540 in Toronto and guest hosted The Current on CBC Radio. He previously researched Canada-China relations and Chinese Canadian history at Queen’s University.
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by Maria Assaf (@MariaAssaf) in Mississauga

Looking back on the mayoral and municipal elections in Ontario, it is clear that the only immigrant-related issue that gained some traction was the one relating to the “under-employment” of newcomers and the resulting loss to the provincial and national economies.

A quick survey of coverage from the races in the three most immigrant-rich cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Ottawa showed that immigrant-centered issues did not receive much interest. However, on Oct. 14, the Toronto mayoral candidates did debate economic and immigration issues. The incoming mayor John Tory was applauded when he suggested that intending immigrants should receive English/French training before arrival.

The new mayor of Canada’s largest city and the capital of multiculturalism, Toronto, is also on record saying, “[W]hile we celebrate the cultural diversity that comes from being the destination for new immigrants, we do not capitalize on what this means for our economy. Our diversity should be the recipe for business collaboration, idea generation and an unmatched inventory of relationships around the world.”

In Mississauga, where half the population is immigrant, the candidate whose platform included a specific promise to better integrate newcomers into the Canadian economy did not do well. Steve Mahoney had proposed low-interest loans and appointing an “ambassador” to help immigrants obtain accreditation, but the new mayor Bonnie Crombie is on record as saying the solutions are not that easy.

Main issue: under-employment

One of the biggest problems Crombie will be facing in terms of new immigrants will be underemployment, said Fauzia Khan, settlement manager at the Mississauga office of the Afghan Women’s Organization.

“Their credentials are not recognized, so they don’t find jobs,” said Khan. “They are suffering from that. They don’t find good jobs and then they go for like security jobs. And, of course, if they are coming from very white collar jobs, then it’s very hard for them.”

Gurpreet Malhotra, executive director of India Rainbow Community Services of Peel, agrees with her. “Canadian experience,” he said when asked to mention the principal issue affecting newcomers.

“Sometimes the degrees and the diplomas are not accepted over here and a lot of them have to re-qualify, re-train, go back to school and start all over again. That is a really big problem,” said Malhotra.

"I want us [Mississauga] to become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. And focus on the knowledge economy, because that’s where the growth is.”

Obtaining accreditation for fields such as medicine, dentistry or engineering takes time and money – money many immigrants lack when they arrive in Canada. This means that quite often professionals in Canada’s sixth largest city often end up driving cabs, delivering pizza or doing clerical jobs out of immediate necessity. 

Food on the table

“They would like to use their skills, but they often cannot use them. They just need anything that puts food on the table for their family,” said Lynn Petrushak, executive director of the Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre.

 “We’ve been trying to do that for decades. Unfortunately, the issue of professional accreditation is a provincial matter and it resides with the colleges that give oversight to those disciplines,” Crombie said during her campaign.

As mayor, she would try to channel the channel her energies into advocacy. “The only thing we can do is provide advocacy,” said Crombie. “The provincial government has to work with the colleges that provide certification. That takes leadership from the mayor’s office to work with the premier to help get the colleges on board.”

Marina Rosas, a settlement employment councillor working in Mississauga thinks the government should do more. “There could be more programs where they could provide more financial assistance or more flexibility to help the newcomer getting a boost so they can achieve their goals,” she said. 

According to many immigrant organizations in Mississauga, even pizza delivery jobs are hard to find for newcomers. “Many, many of the people coming are highly-skilled and they are struggling to even get a taxi-driver job, and if I could say one thing about newcomers, they want to work,” said Petrushak.  

The reasons for this, she said, are “racism, language, opportunity. There aren’t a lot of jobs and it’s hard for newcomers to even get an interview or have a proper resume, because in a lot of countries, a resume is not something that is required.” 

Unfortunately, the issue of professional accreditation is a provincial matter and it resides with the colleges that give oversight to those disciplines,” Crombie said during her campaign.

Multicultural workforce

Official statistics show there are now 417, 585 people employed within the municipality out of a population of close to 750, 000 residents.

Mississauga has a vastly multicultural workforce, with over 90 languages spoken. According to the 2011 census, 47 per cent of the people have a mother tongue other than English. The top ten languages spoken include Punjabi, Urdu, Polish, Spanish, Tamil and Arabic.

In her campaign, Crombie talked about fostering foreign investment in Mississauga to increase revenue. She, as well as Mahoney, planned to use the city’s multiculturalism to achieve this. 

“I would create an international investment advisory council to leverage foreign investment from abroad,” she said. “They would sit here and give us recommendations on how we attract foreign investment from abroad. I want us to become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. And focus on the knowledge economy, because that’s where the growth is.”    

According to many immigrant organizations in Mississauga, even pizza delivery jobs are hard to find for newcomers.

Under the previous Hazel McCallion administration, Mississauga received significant development revenue which helped finance services, create jobs and keep taxes low. But the city is now facing a widening infrastructure deficit which is expected to hit $1.5 billion in the next 20 years.

McCallion, who had ran the city for 36 years with little and sometimes no opposition at all, initially said she would stay out of the mayoral race. However, on Thanksgiving weekend, she endorsed Crombie. 

Affordable housing

Another issue is affordable housing. Mississauga has one of the longest wait-lists for subsidized housing in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It can take someone up to nine years to get affordable housing there. “It’s really important because if they don’t have housing, then they don’t have an address and their kids can’t go to school. And it’s expensive,” said Petrushak.

Crombie has vowed that she would require developers to make a certain percentage of the homes they build to be subsidized.

But she also said it’s time to change the idea of what a home is. “Housing is going to look different. We are not building single family homes, large homes anymore. We’re building stack townhomes, townhomes, condominiums. We are intensifying,” she said.

Another service immigrants are in great need of is childcare. “The childcare is a problem too, because right now they have to wait on a long list to get childcare-subsidy,” said Nicole Mak, a centre supervisor at the Cross-Cultural Community Services Association.

Mak said she would like the government to speed up the wait for subsidized childcare so that parents and elders can have time for language learning, community involvement or work.

In the meantime, newcomer and settlement agencies throughout the city continue to welcome immigrants on a daily basis and are eager to work with the municipality to help alleviate the problems ailing these residents the most. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

by Robert Liwang

Toronto-area ethnic newspapers tended to cover the Conservatives more extensively than other political parties during the 2011 election, concludes a new study by Ryerson University journalism professor April Lindgren (also a member of New Canadian Media's Editorial Advisory Board).

“The newspapers we looked at for this research tended to give the Conservatives more coverage than the other parties, and I think that had a lot to do with the efficient and effective campaign that the Conservatives ran,” said Lindgren, who is the lead investigator for the Local News Research Project. “It’s also important to note that for the most part, the coverage was either neutral or positive so overall the Tories were getting their message out to readers of these ethnocultural publications in a way that worked well for them.”

Lindgren said the Tories benefited from the effects of incumbency but they also made a point of courting ethnic journalists by giving them special access to interviews and briefings by the prime minister and cabinet ministers. She suggested that smaller news organizations may have been more vulnerable to what she called the Conservative “charm offensive” because limited newsroom budgets made them more reliant on photos and other content supplied by the party. In some cases, party advertising may also have had an effect: The majority of political advertisements in the Canadian Punjabi Post, for instance, were purchased by the Tories, prompting questions about the influence this may have had on coverage decisions.

Analysis of the election coverage also suggested that individual newspaper’s commitment to election coverage seemed to be influenced by the number of candidates from the publication’s readership community.

Lindgren’s research, which will be published in the December 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Political Science, focused on coverage of the 2011 federal election in five ethnocultural publications in the Greater Toronto Area – the Russian ExpressKorea Times DailyCanadian Punjabi PostPunjabi Daily and Ming Pao. All are daily publications except for the weekly Russian Express. The study concluded that while there was no overwhelming pattern of stories or photos skewed explicitly in favour of the Conservatives, the party did benefit in that more of its politicians were featured in photographs, it was the sole focus of more stories and photos than its competitors, and it was mentioned first most frequently in news coverage.

“The degree to which a candidate or party can consistently earn first mentions in stories…is a measure of campaign effectiveness in that it means party strategists are choosing the topic and framing the discussion, leaving the competition to react in later paragraphs,” Lindgren observed in the paper, entitled “Toronto-area ethnic newspapers and Canada’s 2011 federal election: An investigation of content, focus and partisanship.”

Lindgren said she was interested in investigating election coverage in the ethnic media because language barriers have limited the amount of research done in this area. During the 2011 election, the Conservative Party, in particular, also launched a media strategy that targeted ethnic communities, because a “growing number of ridings in and around major Canadian cities were home to concentrations of potential supporters from single ethnic groups,” Lindgren wrote.

In almost all cases the ethnic papers filled in gaps left by mainstream media by providing more extensive coverage of the local races of interest to their readers.

Most Canadian voters do not participate directly in political events and therefore depend on the news media to help them make informed decisions, Lindgren noted. In addition to examining whether the Conservative party’s courtship of ethnic media paid off in terms of coverage, the research also examined how much election-related news the ethnocultural publications carried, the subject matter dealt with in the coverage and the geographic focus of the reporting (local campaigns versus national campaigns).

The results showed that interest in the election varied by publication. The Punjabi Daily carried the most election-related coverage – a total of 123 stories and photos, or 32 per cent of all news items the paper published during the study period. The Russian Express, on the other hand, published just 19 election-related stories and photos, which made up a mere 5.9 per cent of their total news items. The study also observed that both the Punjabi Daily and the Punjabi Post were more similar to mainstream news coverage in that both publications ran more stories about election strategy and poll results than issue-related articles.

Analysis of the election coverage also suggested that individual newspaper’s commitment to election coverage seemed to be influenced by the number of candidates from the publication’s readership community. The Punjabi newspapers, which carried the most election news, also had the most in-group candidates to cover.

In almost all cases the ethnic papers filled in gaps left by mainstream media by providing more extensive coverage of the local races of interest to their readers. Compared to the Toronto Star, for instance, the Punjabi papers published much more extensive coverage of the ridings of Brampton-Springdale and Brampton-Gore-Malton, where all three main federal parties ran candidates of Punjabi background.

Since 2011, other parties have followed the Conservative lead in terms of targeting ethnic media. British Columbia’s Liberal party, for instance, established an ethnic outreach strategy in the spring of 2013. Among other initiatives, the strategy called for hiring more people with language skills to deal with media requests and establishing a group of supporters to champion the Liberals in non-English media by writing letters to newspaper editors and calling in to open-line shows.

This article was originally published by the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre.

Published in Top Stories
Sunday, 09 February 2014 10:17

Tamils emerge from the shadows

by Toronto Editor Ranjit Bhaskar
 
If an immigrant community’s coming-of-age needs to be gauged in Canada, the way it is courted by politicians is a good indicator. Leaders of all hues, from the federal to the municipal level, put on an unabashed display last month at the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) gala held in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) city of Markham to celebrate Pongal, the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving Day.
 
Those present to woo the 300,000-strong community concentrated mostly in the GTA included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Ontario PC and Official Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.  The pride of place at the event, however, went to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Heralded as the “future prime minister,” the gathering gave him a standing ovation. Seemingly carried away by the adulation, Mr Trudeau briefly showed off his Bollywood dance moves and regretted not coming dressed in a traditional South Asian outfit.
 
“Thirty years ago, there were a handful of Tamils in Canada, but today this country is home to tens of thousands of them who have established themselves with their values of hard work and determination,” he said. “These are not Tamil values; these are Canadian values,’’ he said amid rounds of applause.
 
Seeking international investigations into human rights violations by Sri Lanka in the last phases of the ethnic war in 2009, the Liberal leader said Canada would stand by the Tamil community in seeking justice on global platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month. This sentiment was echoed by Mr Alexander, who said “Canada will be at the forefront to ensure that accountability comes.”
 
Both the federal politicians were on cue as the session in Geneva is of huge importance to the community. The Canadian Tamil Congress, as part of its advocacy work, will be sending a delegation to Geneva and wants the UN to take decisive action against the Sri Lankan government for violating human rights.
 
Poll calculations
 
While Ms. Wynne said the strides made by the Tamils are “a great Canadian story,” Mr. Alexander said the community has been “a huge success for the Canada’s immigration program.”  That’s a big shift in stance by the Conservative Party, which has been trying hard to undo the harm done by its anti-Tamil rhetoric during the 2011 federal election after two ship loads of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka came ashore on the B.C. coast. Canada’s recent boycott of the Commonwealth summit hosted by Colombo was seen by many as an attempt by the ruling party to curry favour with the Tamils.  
 
Its need to garner support of the community along with that of other immigrant groups in the GTA has grown in importance as the 2015 election nears. The area, dubbed as the “905” after the telephone code that sets it apart from Toronto city, is expected to be a major battleground for votes.  The 905 is believed to have helped the Conservatives form a majority government despite the party doing badly in Québec. Significantly, both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) have also stepped up their efforts in the area.
 
A recent opinion poll has suggested that the going will not be easy for the eight Conservative MPs from the area if an election were held right now. The poll, conducted by Mainstreet Technologies and released exclusively to iPolitics, said three could lose their seats and the five others could find themselves in tough battles.
 
“It’s not surprising that given the national popularity of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party currently that these numbers are showing this, that there is a Liberal resurgence for sure,” Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Technologies, was quoted as saying. “On the other side, it doesn’t show a complete Conservative collapse as well. The Conservative base is alive and well in Peel region [consisting of Brampton and Mississauga].”
 
Tamil Heritage Month
 
At the CTC gala, almost all the leaders competed to promote Tamil culture. Mr. Hudak said he would be reintroducing a bill in the Ontario legislature to declare January as Tamil Heritage Month. Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the NDP MP for Scarborough—Rouge River riding, said she would be pressing ahead with her private bill, C-471, to designate the month as such across Canada. She said this month is celebrated throughout the country by Canadians of Tamil heritage, “as we recognize the cultural, political and economic contributions of Tamil Canadians in our communities.”
 
Ms Sitsabaiesan made no mention of her alleged intimidation by Sri Lankan authorities during her recent visit to the island. Her fellow NDP MP from the Toronto area, Prof. Craig Scott, was honoured with the “Leaders for Change” award at the event for his role as the founding member of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.
 
 
Apart from this gesture, the Tamil community has been trying hard to reach out to the mainstream. As in the past four years, the CTC once again raised money through its annual walk-a-thon for a Canadian charity. With the cheque for $65,000 presented to the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, the organization has raised over a quarter-million dollars for five charities in the past five years. Only time will tell whether this is yet another sign of an immigrant group emerging from the shadows to gain the “good immigrants” moniker as suggested by Premier Wynne and Minister Alexander or a cynical attempt to gain political clout.
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in South Asia
Saturday, 08 February 2014 22:50

Tamils emerge from the shadows

by Toronto Editor Ranjit Bhaskar
 
If an immigrant community’s coming-of-age needs to be gauged in Canada, the way it is courted by politicians is a good indicator. Leaders of all hues, from the federal to the municipal level, put on an unabashed display last month at the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) gala held in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) city of Markham to celebrate Pongal, the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving Day.
 
Those present to woo the 300,000-strong community concentrated mostly in the GTA included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Ontario PC and Official Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.  The pride of place at the event, however, went to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Heralded as the “future prime minister,” the gathering gave him a standing ovation. Seemingly carried away by the adulation, Mr Trudeau briefly showed off his Bollywood dance moves and regretted not coming dressed in a traditional South Asian outfit.
 
“Thirty years ago, there were a handful of Tamils in Canada, but today this country is home to tens of thousands of them who have established themselves with their values of hard work and determination,” he said. “These are not Tamil values; these are Canadian values,’’ he said amid rounds of applause.
 
Seeking international investigations into human rights violations by Sri Lanka in the last phases of the ethnic war in 2009, the Liberal leader said Canada would stand by the Tamil community in seeking justice on global platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month. This sentiment was echoed by Mr Alexander, who said “Canada will be at the forefront to ensure that accountability comes.”
 
Both the federal politicians were on cue as the session in Geneva is of huge importance to the community. The Canadian Tamil Congress, as part of its advocacy work, will be sending a delegation to Geneva and wants the UN to take decisive action against the Sri Lankan government for violating human rights.
 
Poll calculations
 
While Ms. Wynne said the strides made by the Tamils are “a great Canadian story,” Mr. Alexander said the community has been “a huge success for the Canada’s immigration program.”  That’s a big shift in stance by the Conservative Party, which has been trying hard to undo the harm done by its anti-Tamil rhetoric during the 2011 federal election after two ship loads of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka came ashore on the B.C. coast. Canada’s recent boycott of the Commonwealth summit hosted by Colombo was seen by many as an attempt by the ruling party to curry favour with the Tamils.  
 
Its need to garner support of the community along with that of other immigrant groups in the GTA has grown in importance as the 2015 election nears. The area, dubbed as the “905” after the telephone code that sets it apart from Toronto city, is expected to be a major battleground for votes.  The 905 is believed to have helped the Conservatives form a majority government despite the party doing badly in Québec. Significantly, both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) have also stepped up their efforts in the area.
 
A recent opinion poll has suggested that the going will not be easy for the eight Conservative MPs from the area if an election were held right now. The poll, conducted by Mainstreet Technologies and released exclusively to iPolitics, said three could lose their seats and the five others could find themselves in tough battles.
 
“It’s not surprising that given the national popularity of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party currently that these numbers are showing this, that there is a Liberal resurgence for sure,” Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Technologies, was quoted as saying. “On the other side, it doesn’t show a complete Conservative collapse as well. The Conservative base is alive and well in Peel region [consisting of Brampton and Mississauga].”
 
Tamil Heritage Month
 
At the CTC gala, almost all the leaders competed to promote Tamil culture. Mr. Hudak said he would be reintroducing a bill in the Ontario legislature to declare January as Tamil Heritage Month. Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the NDP MP for Scarborough—Rouge River riding, said she would be pressing ahead with her private bill, C-471, to designate the month as such across Canada. She said this month is celebrated throughout the country by Canadians of Tamil heritage, “as we recognize the cultural, political and economic contributions of Tamil Canadians in our communities.”
 
Ms Sitsabaiesan made no mention of her alleged intimidation by Sri Lankan authorities during her recent visit to the island. Her fellow NDP MP from the Toronto area, Prof. Craig Scott, was honoured with the “Leaders for Change” award at the event for his role as the founding member of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.
 
 
Apart from this gesture, the Tamil community has been trying hard to reach out to the mainstream. As in the past four years, the CTC once again raised money through its annual walk-a-thon for a Canadian charity. With the cheque for $65,000 presented to the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, the organization has raised over a quarter-million dollars for five charities in the past five years. Only time will tell whether this is yet another sign of an immigrant group emerging from the shadows to gain the “good immigrants” moniker as suggested by Premier Wynne and Minister Alexander or a cynical attempt to gain political clout.
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

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