Missing piece of poverty picture
Sep 25, 2007 04:30 AM
Another challenge, particularly in the GTA, is immigrant poverty. Although most newcomers are well-educated, Toronto has some ethnic neighbourhoods with twice as many university graduates as the national average yet double the poverty.
Accreditation issues and many employers' insistence on Canadian experience are the most publicized hurdles immigrants face when they look for work, but language barriers round out the dreary list. I've heard it all from the newcomers who attend my adult ESL class.
Note - Canadian employers are right to be suspicious of foreign credentials. It is well known that in India a University degree can be purchased instead of earning it. Many immigrants with legitimate foreign credentials fail to pass Canadian standards tests particularly in the medical fields; a fact the Toronto Star doesn't care to acknowledge.
However discrimination does exist among Canada's professional classes. They, like the rest of us, are in danger of falling income levels due to the mass importation of skilled labour. To prevent this they practice a catch-22 for immigrants to Canada to prevent them from getting licensed and thus restrict the labour supply. They expect immigrants to have "Canadian experience" in order to be fully employed in their field yet to get that Canadian experience they need Canadian experience. But what is Canadian experience anyway? Why does an immigrant's engineering work in a western country get discounted when he or she arrives in Canada? It's a ridiculous expectation when you think about it.
These students come from all over the world, but share a common conviction that lifelong learning is the key to their success.
And for many of them, success is all about their children. Parents want to understand what's going on at school, talk to their children's teachers, and make enough money so they can support their further education.
But my students can't do that unless they learn more English to get work, job training or further education themselves.
Note - Canadians are told that immigrants must perform language proficiency tests in order to get into Canada yet apparently many are arriving here with little knowledge of French of English. Why is that? The most likely explanation is that many immigrants, if not most, enter Canada as sponsored immigrants via the family reunification act. These immigrants do not need to display a command of either French or English. These immigrants do not even need to posses marketable job skills. This is a major reason why poverty rates are higher among immigrants. Canada is importing too many immigrants that should not be here.
Four years ago one of them, Linda Zhai, summed up the value of adult education in a deputation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance:
"In China, I was a regional sales manager of an international pharmaceutical company. But I immigrated from Shanghai to Toronto with my husband and 9-month-old daughter, because we wanted a life of freedom in a multicultural, tolerant society.
Note - I can assure you that the Chinese do not care about multiculturalism. Like many ethnic groups they cluster together and socialize with their own. Don't believe me? Visit the University of Toronto anytime of the school year and see for yourself. Still not satisfied? Then visit one of Toronto's three Chinatowns. That's right, I said three. Dundas and Spadina, Gerrard St. East, and the Richmond Hill and Markham areas that are roughly 30% ethnic Chinese and growing. Agincourt in Scarborough is sometimes referred to as "Asiancourt" because of the large concentration of Chinese immigrants there. Multiculturalism is important to the Chinese outside of China because it allows them to remain Chinese while enjoying the benefits of living in Canada without the hassle of fully committing to the country.
I can also assure you that the Chinese are some of the most intolerant and racist people living in the Toronto Area. Don’t believe me? Go to one of their shopping areas. See how multicultural and diverse their staff is at their restaurants and businesses. Try and order something on a menu at one of their restaurants. See how rare English is at a Chinese shopping mall in Toronto. Non Chinese among Chinese social groups are as common as a black man at a KKK rally. Tolerance in Canada is a one way street. Canadians are expected to be tolerant of everyone else but rarely is that tolerance returned. Don't believe me? When was the last time a cultural minority group made concessions to accommodate Canadians?
It is also interesting to note that she and her husband have a nine month old daughter. If she and her husband fit the par with many Chinese "Canadians" it is most likely she will have the only child. Chinese in Canada have a lower birth rate than the national average, with 1.3 births vs. the national rate of 1.5. So Chinese immigrants in general do little to help the birth rate but of course most immigrants do not either. However, if they import their parents then they will help worsen Canada's aging demographic. This is why Canada should severely limit the family reunification scheme to just the nuclear family.
"In Canada, we faced cultural and language barriers. We struggled to make a living. I became a cashier at Pizza Pizza. I worked there for two years until I had a chance to upgrade my English at an advanced ESL class funded by the Ontario government.
This woman worked as a regional sales manager for a pharmaceutical company in China yet she and her husband came to Canada for "a better life"? This story is more common than you might think. Many immigrants already live a "better life" in their respective home countries so why do they come to Canada?
The poverty problem in Canada is augmented by mass immigration. Canada imports too many immigrants it doesn't need. I know. I've heard it many times too. Canada has a red hot economy but according to a recent McLean’s magazine article the Canadian economy is not as red hot as we believe when compared to other countries. Compared to them it is underperforming. For instance Spain is on its way to unseating Canada at the G8 that is if Australia doesn't get there first. But most importantly we are importing immigrants for which a job in their field is not waiting for them and it probably does not exist. The job shortages Canada is experiencing are predominately in the low wage retail and hospitality sectors. That’s why immigrants with PhDs are driving taxis.
Another factor compounding the problem is the sponsored relatives of landed immigrants. When Canada accepts one skilled landed immigrant you are actually getting the whole family, nuclear and extended. This includes the parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, etc. who do not need language skills or job skills but need to work nonetheless. Further compounding this problem are economic migrants abusing Canada’s lax refugee system. They, too, do not need to posses any language skills or job skills to enter Canada as a refugee and they, too, can sponsor relatives. And it is also all too common for these sponsorship agreements to break down and the relative becomes a client of the tax payer. (Actually they don’t really break down. It is just another scam to get relatives into the country).
Compounding the poverty problem even further is that these immigrants compete for jobs that many poor Canadians depend on thus maintaining low income levels if not depreciating them outright. Mass immigration adds to Canada’s poverty levels. It does not alleviate them.
What is most disheartening about this is that Canada continues to entice immigrants to come here only to sidetrack their lives and possibly ruin their careers. This is predominately the fault of immigration lawyers who need the steady flow of clients and politicians who pander to ethnic voters to get reelected. How are we being compassionate to immigrants when we continue to deceive them about their job prospects here in Canada? It is time to speak out.
Read the whole commentary here.