Friday, October 24, 2008


Another Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has come under scrutiny, this time the small Province of Prince Edward Island's effort to attract immigrants is under the gun. This follows on the heels of the suspension of the Nova Scotia entrepreneur PNP, which closed after a scandal. I have always opposed PNPs as useless for the economy,. costly to the immigrants, and attracting the wrong type of people, who do not make a decision based on sound economics but rather on the basis of just tyring to get a visa, while they have no intention to follow through on their commitment to invest in the designated province. It would be much better to fix the entire federal system, abolish the PNPs, and allow applicants to set p businesses wherever they feel it would make economic sense.

Island auditor gives legislature committee OK to probe immigration program


CHARLOTTETOWN — The public accounts committee on P.E.I. has been given the green light by the province’s auditor general to conduct its own probe of a controversial immigration program.
The program, which ended Sept. 2, offered expedited Canadian visas for immigrants willing to invest money in Island companies.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the province through the so-called nominee program.
Auditor general Colin Younker decided to launch an investigation after a number of discrepancies with the administration of the program came to light.
Several members of the public accounts committee had expressed concern about launching an examination while Younker was conducting his own probe.
But the committee received word this week from Younker that it is free to proceed

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Migrants' bid to unionize contested

B.C. labour board certifies unions at two farms - but employers say labour code does not give them that right


October 23, 2008

VANCOUVER -- The union movement among migrant workers in British Columbia is growing, with the first two farms granted certification by the labour board.

Floralia Plant Growers Ltd. became the second farm to unionize on Oct. 10. Workers on 20 more farms are now interested in joining the United Food and Commercial Workers, according to the union. However, a recent move by employers might put the relationship between migrant workers and the union in jeopardy.

The British Columbia Agriculture Council, which represents the interests of the agriculture industry, questions the right of migrant workers to unionize under the B.C. Labour Relations Code.

The council argues that the code does not constitutionally apply to migrant workers, who come to Canada as part of a federal program that operates under the terms of agreements negotiated by Ottawa with the workers' home countries.

BCAC executive director Steve Tompson said that means the provincial labour board cannot legally grant the workers' requests to join a union. "We feel there is a very legitimate question related to the jurisdiction and applicability in this situation and with respect to this particular program," he said.

Such arguments are far removed from the B.C. farm fields, where workers like Rogelio Larios are employed. Mr. Larios worked on an Abbotsford blueberry farm this season. He's saving money to help finance a handmade jewellery business to support his two daughters in Mexico. The living and working conditions on the blueberry farm are good, but he would like his farm to unionize, he said.

"He wants to have a better future for his daughters," said Jamie Block, translating for Mr. Larios. "In Mexico, where he currently lives, there is no work."

Ms. Block works at a support centre in Abbotsford for migrant workers funded by the union, which has been in close contact with migrant workers in Canada since the 1990s. Stan Raper is UFCW national co-ordinator of the Agricultural Workers Alliance, which operates seven migrant-worker support centres across Canada, including two in B.C.

"A number of workers from throughout British Columbia either call or drop in to our centres, Kelowna or Abbottsford, in order to get translation services [for] income tax, parental benefits, workers compensation cases," he said.

Nearly all of B.C.'s migrant workers are from Mexico, and few speak English. When they come to a support centre to find someone to translate Canadian bureaucracy and file their paperwork for them, they are educated about their right to unionize.

The BCAC filed its application to the B.C. Labour Relations Board on Sept. 29, asking the board to reverse the union certifications already granted. The union rejects the BCAC's argument that the right to unionize does not apply to migrant workers.

Human Resources and Social Development Canada, which administers the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, is responsible for bringing the foreign workers to Canada but has played no role in union disputes.

"The unionization of workers has no impact on the SAWP; it is a matter between the employer and the union," media-relations officer Jason Bouzanis said in an e-mail. "If the foreign workers are unionized, they must be offered the agreed union wage or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the region, whichever is higher."

The union and the BCAC disagree on whether the migrant workers would benefit from union representation. Lucy Luna, who runs the union's migrant workers centre in Abbotsford, said many of the farms provide poor housing conditions, and some have dangerous environments where workers are not properly trained or provided with safety equipment.

"But basically the complaint No. 1 is they want to be treated with respect, and that's why they came and they signed cards," she said.

Marcus Janzen owns Calais Farm in Abbotsford and said he doesn't think unionizing would change the basic principles the farm operates on today.

"I haven't thought about it much more than that. It's a free country, the workers can do what they want," he said.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Australia Anounces eVisitor visa for 35 European countries from 27 October 2008

The Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, and the Minister for Tourism, have issued a joint media release announcing that an eVisitor Visa for tourists and business people from all E uropean Union countries and eight other European countries will be available from 27 October 2008.

Tourists and business people will be able to apply on the internet, free of charge.
The Eu countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

eVisitor will also be available to citizens from: Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City (Holy See).

eVisitor visa holders will able to visit for up to three months at time for tourist or business purposes as many times as they like over a 12-month period.

Posted by Michael Thornton, Thornton Immigration
Dandenong, Australia

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Power of the immigrant vote

Vancouver Sun

Friday, October 03, 2008

As Canada moves closer to election day, our most topical issues are being debated with increasing intensity. The subject of immigration isn't among them. Given its relevance in modern Canadian society, this seems curious.

Perhaps some answers can be found in the Sept. 29 Issues & Ideas article by James Bissett, former executive director of the Canadian Immigration Service. In it, he wrote that "there is only one reason why our political parties push for high immigration intake, and that is they see every new immigrant as a potential vote for their party."

A rather bold statement, but perhaps he's on to something.

The fact is, our mainstream political parties have been buying immigrant votes for decades. The Liberals have been most successful in using immigration to their electoral advantage. A 2005 poll found that 44 per cent of minority community members identified most closely with the Liberals, compared to six per cent identifying with the Conservatives. In the 15 ridings in Canada with the largest immigrant populations, the Liberals claimed victory in every one.

Economically speaking, there has yet to be a study produced showing a positive economic contribution from Canada's immigration policies. There does exist, however, a 2005 study by a Simon Fraser University economics professor pointing out that the 2.5 million immigrants who came to Canada between 1990 and 2002 received $18.3 billion more in government services and benefits in 2002 than they paid in taxes. All major parties advocate an increase in annual immigration numbers. The New Democrats are calling for an annual increase from 237,000 to 333,000. The Conservative party numbers are more modest, while the Liberal party recommendation is 490,000 immigrants annually by 2016.

A 2004 government-sponsored study, Counting and Courting the Immigrant Vote, states that "at no other time in our country's history has the foreign-born elector been so fundamental to whether there will be a majority or minority government in Canada." Perhaps it's time for immigration to take its rightful place among Canada's primary political issues.

Brad Saltzberg

North Vancouver