My eBook, How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities is available now on Amazon and other online retailers. Get your copy of the essential guide to Skilled Worker class applications today!

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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fraser Institute report - Immigrant selection process should make better use of private-sector employment needs

The Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, released a report today, Canada’s Immigrant Selection Policies: Recent Record, Marginal Changes, and Needed Reforms, advocating that Canada's Immigrant selection process "should make better use of private-sector employment needs to ensure new immigrants can succeed economically."

While I believe this is an admirable position to take on behalf of Skilled Worker immigrants (who make up over 60% of all immigrants to Canada on a yearly basis), I also maintain the position that it is incredibly short-sighted.

The Institute notes that current Skilled Worker class immigrants have been largely unsuccessful, and their burden on Canada's various support system equals a heady $20 billion per year. "To fully eliminate the current fiscal burden, Grubel (the report's author) recommends abandoning the points system and replacing it with pre-arranged contracts for work in Canada as main selection criterion for economic immigrants."

Maybe in days gone by - days of big manufacturing - an immigration policy that was tuned in fully to the market needs of employers might have made sense. But modern employers currently seek highly specialized workers for specific economic opportunities. When those opportunities are gone, so is the job - there is no long term loyalty given, or frankly, expected. The no-longer-critical employee is released, and Canada is left with an immigrant with a very specific skill set who can't get another job in their area of expertise.

I believe Canada's immigration policy in the area of Skilled Workers should reward and fast track applicants with arranged employment. That makes a lot of sense. But it needs to be balanced with applicants who bring a range of expertise and adaptability as well.

I know in my own situation that the opportunities here are much different than the ones I had in the US - even putting the barriers to employment in Canada aside. But I have been able to carve out a living - because I adapted. Canada cannot afford to undervalue the worth of immigrants who are eager to build a life in this country, and able to adapt to its economic realities. These are the ones that start new businesses, innovate - because they have to.

Read the Fraser Institute news release and get the full report here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Super Visa popularity - a good thing for Canada?

According to the CIC, The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa program is an overwhelming success. More than 1,000 visas a month are now being granted under this program.

The Super Visa is a multiple entry visa that is valid for up to ten years, offering holders the option of staying in Canada for up to two years at a time. This reduces the need for frequent visitors to renew their status during an extended family visit.

But is this success a good thing? One thing the program does not offer is a path to permanent residence for parents and grandparents. Family reunification is one of the foundations of Canadian immigration programs, yet this category of immigrant has been cut off for over two years while a huge backlog of applications has been cut down. The program starts up again in 2014, but at that time, only 5,000 applications a year will be accepted.

The Super Visa demand illustrates that families want to be reunited in Canada, and provides the illusion that they are: however, these visitors, no matter if they are here a few months, or ten years, are still just visitors, with none of the rights of permanent residence, without the ability to work, without healthcare or any social support.

The Super Visa program puts a huge stress on sponsors, and robs Canada of motivated, mature individuals who could otherwise contribute to the growth of our nation.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life on The Esplanade

Looking west from a city park on The Esplanade
I had a quiet morning with work I needed to deliver for my clients in the States, so I decided to get some exercise and go shoot some basketball down the street from me. As I walked east down The Esplanade, it was hard not to recognize how good I've got it here in Canada.

Here's a little about my neighbourhood with some help from Wikipedia:

The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood I live in has been here since 1793 (though The Esplanade was underwater at that time - the shoreline of Lake Ontario being Front Street). The area was infilled to provide more land for port and industrial uses adjacent. St. Lawrence was the first industrial area of York. The first parliament buildings in Upper Canada in 1793 were constructed on the southwest corner of Parliament and Front Street.

A Saturday farmers' market began operation at Front and Jarvis in 1803. The current Market building, south of Front, is open daily, selling foods and other goods, while the Saturday farmers' market operates in the north building, on the north side of Front Street.

In 1834, Toronto's first city hall was built on the southwest corner of King St. East & Jarvis St. at the old 'Market' building from 1834 (the year of Toronto's incorporation from the former town of York) to 1844.

The former city hall was converted into and expanded into the market gallery or 'South Market'. The old council chamber is all that remains of the original city hall and is located on the gallery's second floor.

The Esplanade, a 100 feet (30 m)-wide road, was proposed, just south of Front Street, with new water lots made from cribbing and filling of the shore to the south. The waterfront was extended to a survey line from the point of the Gooderham windmill west to a point due east of the old Fort Rouille. In exchange for 40 feet (12 m) of the Esplanade, the railways underwrote the infilling of the harbour. The Esplanade (my street) and infill project was complete by 1865.

Walking along the street today and the most prominent features are the blocks of parks and social housing. The parks stretch for six city blocks, and the housing is so well integrated into the neighbourhood that you'd never realize what is private and what is public. This mix of incomes makes my home diverse and exciting. I meet people of all ages and races when I'm out and about - not something that occurs in the more tawny neighbourhoods of Toronto.

Near Parliament Street is a basketball court I play at. There are usually a few kids shooting hoops too, but they don't seem to mind an old man joining them.

I love my home, if you can't tell. If you're coming to visit Toronto, be sure and come to our part of town, You'll love it here too.

Monday, August 19, 2013

South Asia Mail - Canada welcomes first immigrants under new Federal Skilled Trades Program

Toronto, ON, August 16, 2013 — Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today officially welcomed one of the first permanent residents under the new Federal Skilled Trades Program: Eric Byrne, originally from Ireland. 

“Our Government remains focused on job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Alexander. “The new Federal Skilled Trades Program enables us to attract and retain skilled workers—like Eric—so we can address regional labour shortages and strengthen Canada’s economy. It gives me great pleasure to personally welcome one of Canada’s first successful immigrants through our Skilled Trades stream.” 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago today, I landed as a permanent resident of Canada at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, and my life changed forever. As I noted in my last post, I am so grateful to be here in the country I love, with the woman I love.

So how am I spending my anniversary? Like a lot of other Canadians, I'm painting the condo!

I hope you treasure your landing day the same way I will always remember and celebrate mine. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Two years in Canada and counting

Toronto - my home of two years now!

In a few days, I will complete two years as a Permanent Resident in Canada. I've said it before - time flies. So am I happy with my choice to leave the US to live here? The answer, with some caveats, is "yes."

Because I moved here for love, not for work, I think its easier for me to be content with my situation here. My love and I share a beautiful home in a fantastic city, and between us we do very well by anybody's measure.

Toronto is a fantastic city, full of culture and diversity, and I take full advantage of it, getting around as much as possible, enjoying free events, site-seeing like a tourist, and creating a routine and memories each day. In the mornings, I walk my love to her office, then I return home where I work (and write my books and this blog). I get out an exercise at some point most days: skating at Harbourfront Centre in the winter, playing hoop at the playgrounds on The Esplanade in the nice weather. Weekends are for chores, grocery shopping at the St. Lawrence Market, catching up on reading, or adventuring around Ontario.

If I had come here for work, I know after two years, I would have a different view of Canada. Frankly, its been hard to find any work in my former field of expertise. I had my share of interviews where the dreaded "how much Canadian experience do you have?" question was raised. Once that comes up, you pretty much know you wont get the gig. But I have continued to find whatever short term opportunities I can here, and have strung them together into a living. I'm sure many immigrants have the same experience. Maybe because I didn't expect the opportunities here to be the same as I had in the US, I'm more accepting of the reality that they are very different.

One area that exceeds expectation is the health care that is available to me. While the facilities are nowhere near the modern level I experienced in Seattle (mind you, a very wealthy US city), they are very good, and best of all, I have access to them when I really need them. This was not the case in the US. I take better care of myself here because its not always an economic decision to do so. That's quite a change for the better.

As I've said before, and this doesn't change - I miss family and friends I've left behind. Being an immigrant can be lonely many days. And there's no counting that phenomenon of change that occurs at home which causes it to become more and more unfamiliar, coupled with the fact that you are in a long process of learning about your new country. Feeling lost between two worlds happens more frequently the longer you are away.

I love Canada. I love Toronto. I love my life here with my love. I am a year away from applying for citizenship, the next step in my immigration journey. Yes, in spite of the challenges, life in Canada is the best life I have had.