Saturday, 28 April 2012

Immigration Isn't About Class Warfare Or Attacking Canadian Incomes Or Anything.

How could anybody think that?  From the Toronto Star:
In last month’s federal budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said employers would have to make every effort to hire unemployed Canadians before they’d be allowed to bring in temporary foreign workers.
But in reality, the federal Conservative government’s entire immigration policy is geared to just one goal: lowering wages.
On Wednesday, Finley journeyed to Alberta to announce that Ottawa will make it easier — not harder — for employers to hire temporary foreign skilled workers.
More importantly, she said Ottawa will allow employers to pay such foreign workers 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage.
Up to now, employers had to pay temporary foreign skilled workers the going rate. If comparable Canadian workers in an area received on average, say, $20 an hour, foreign workers would have to be paid the same.
You take two steps forward and one HUGE step back.

You can pretty much see where this is going to go.  The business community will do what it can to go with the immigrant option since it's in its interest to do so.  Why should you go local when you can go international at a 15% discount?  This lowers the bar for everyone since Canadians will be forced to accept a lowered income or face international competition.  This will then set a new lower wage level which in turn will be undermined further by legally allowing the paying of "temporary" foreign workers a lower wage.  The effect will be a race to the lowest of income brackets.

We are led to assume that there is a labour shortage in this country but I think for the most part that's an overstatement.  There may be labour shortages in some sectors of the economy but those are temporary because they are riding a wave of speculation.  Alberta and its one-horse-town economy is benefiting from a boom in oil prices made possible by deregulation in the futures market that has given speculative capital more power to influence the prices of commodities.  The same can be said for most of Canada's resource sector.  Canada's housing market is said to be in bubble territory and being so has fuelled a demand for skilled tradesmen needed to help pump air into it.  The many competing projects has created a labour shortage in this sector of employment that otherwise would not exist or has been exaggerated had it not been for speculative capital coming mostly from Asia.

In other cases it's deliberately manufactured.  There are tricks to accomplishing this.  One is a business will advertise a job opening, get responses, hire no one because it had no intention of doing so, and then whine to the government about how local labour can't be found compelling them to look abroad in order to hire someone who will work it and cheaper.  Another is to make the job so unattractive that no one will do it, not even immigrants at least in the long term.

Let's stop kidding ourselves and drop the "immigrants do jobs Canadians won't do" trope because it's sheer nonsense.  To lionize immigrants for this is and to shame Canadians in the process works against everyone's interests.  We know immigrants don't want to do these jobs either but they do them nonetheless to satisfy immigration requirements to land permanent residency.  Once that is assured they leave the job to compete for jobs Canadians want to do.  Why wouldn't they?  Besides, pay someone enough and they'll do any job but as long as immigrants are willing to work for the lowest legal wage possible (and even lower in some cases) then why bother offering someone a wage that will at least put him or her over the poverty level?

I can see other problems as well.  This will allow employers to circumvent minimum wage laws.  It also discourages employers from adhering to more than just the minimum health and safety regulations.  Indeed, they may shirk them altogether because an obsequious, largely immigrant workforce with undetermined residency status will be least likely to complain for fear of deportation.  It also discourages investing in innovation because it offers the cheap, imported, manual labour option.

There is a solution that has been offered time and time again:
Employers could solve their labour shortages by offering higher wages or — in the case of skilled trades — by training Canadians to do the job.
But, if government is willing, it’s easier and more profitable to import cheaper, trained labour from abroad.
 All in all, the majority of us lose but isn't that always the case?
And this government has shown that it’s willing. It says that if Canadians don’t want to see jobs going to foreigners, they should quit whining and accept lower wages.
Which is why Ottawa’s answer to complaints made about temporary foreign workers is to toughen Employment Insurance rules.
Kenney has warned that unemployed workers who refuse to take low-wage jobs will have their EI benefits cut off. If Canadians agree to work for less, he explains, Ottawa won’t have to bring in as many low-wage outsiders.
This is why I have an uncertain opinion regarding Jason Kenney's performance as Minister of Immigration.  On the one hand he is introducing much needed reforms to the immigration system but then goes ahead and does something stupid by explicitly allowing employers to use immigrants to attack the incomes of working Canadians as if they are not having a tough enough time making a living already.  But he has refused to decrease immigration levels in a recessed economy so should I be surprised?

And he is part of a government that preaches austerity, toughens EI eligibility, and raises the age requirement for OAS.  Meanwhile it thinks the gold-plated pension plans of MPs that come into effect after six years of "service" and can be collected at age fifty-five starting at a minimum of $25,000 a year (increasing the more years you serve) is an issue that is best left untouched only to be discussed, if needed, at some unspecified later date preferably when Canadians have forgotten about it.  I can see why Jason Kenney would be interested in forcing unemployed workers into accepting low wage jobs that I'm almost certain he'd refuse were he in the same situation.  Someone needs to pay for his ballooning pension.  And when it comes to doling out the benefits don't you think Canada's MPs are more deserving of it than us?  Of course they do!  They work hard for the good of nation, God bless their souls.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Refugee 'Gold Plated' Health Care Benefits Set To Be Cut.

From the Toronto Sun:
Refugee claimants' access to what critics call gold-plated health care coverage will disappear by summer. 
QMI Agency has learned Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will announce Wednesday that by late June, claimants will get federal coverage for emergency care and conditions that are a risk to public health. 
Kenney's tough medicine for refugee claimants means they will no longer have eye, dental, or prescription drug expenses covered by taxpayers - benefits most Canadian citizens and permanent residents don't receive.{...}
Federal officials estimate Kenney's new prescription for refugee claimants' health benefits will save taxpayers about $100 million over five years.
Jason Kenney's on a roll.

You can expect bitching and moaning from the usual suspects but you will be hard pressed to find any Canadian who will object to this.  It is most likely that the majority of Canadians do not even know that refugees are getting these benefits and have been getting them for a long time.

But immigration consultants and lawyers did and that was part of their sales pitch as they coached "refugee" claimants on how to game the most lax and generous asylum system in the world.

These health care benefits are one pull factor among many that makes Canada the top spot for bogus refugee claims.  Scaling back these benefits is one way to make Canada a less desirable place for grifters of our asylum system and help address Canada's bogus refugee problem.

Legitimate refugees would not care.  If you truly are being persecuted and your life is in danger finding safety is the only thing on your mind at the moment and not what health care benefits await you when you find it.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cutting The Gordian Knot: Conservatives Announce Plans To Return All Skilled Worker Applications Received Before 2008.

From the Toronto Star.
The door to Canada will soon be shut for them with the Conservative government’s recent announcement it plans to return all skilled worker applications received before 2008 and wipe out the lengthy backlog.
“It is absolutely unfair,” said Songqiao’s mother Yan Xu, a high school English teacher in Suzhou, China. “What we lost is not only money, but our youth, our life and our dreams.”
The applicants, many from China, India and the Philippines, wonder why those who patiently followed the rules and queued up for their rightful turn to come to Canada are now being unfairly punished.
Ottawa says they can re-apply under the new skilled immigration program implemented after Feb. 27, 2008, where new regulations limit applications to a small number of occupations in need of highly skilled labour.
But the new qualifying job fields are so narrowly defined that many affected applicants, like Xu, will automatically be shut out.
I understand their complaint.  These are the ones trying to enter Canada in the most respectable manner, patiently waiting for the opportunity to do so only to see their application returned and told to reapply.  This, while watching less needed people enter Canada quickly and on taxpayer largesse as either "refugees", sponsored family members, nannies, or temporary and seasonal workers.

Still, it makes no sense to bring people in for whom no job is waiting especially in a less than hospitable labour market.  Many have immigrated to Canada only to quickly discover it was career suicide to do so.  With that said this just might be the best thing to happen to them.  And labour markets change over time.  What skills may have been in demand five years ago may be outdated or in surplus today.  Besides, immigrating to Canada is not a right.

Perhaps this is a sign the Conservative are working to return the immigration system to a tap-on/tap-off approach that worked reasonably well enough in the past.  Arbitrarily pegging immigrant intake quotas on a percentage of the current population (it being 1% of the population for some unexplained reason) ignores many factors that can determine the success of immigrants when they land in Canada as well as the effects mass immigration can have on Canadian society.  Immigration then just becomes a numbers game.

Of course we can expect lawsuits.
Some applicants said they are considering legal action against the government in a déjà vu of a 2002 class action lawsuit, which saw Ottawa lose after changing the immigration system to reduce the backlog.
I believe it is referring to the time when the Chretien Liberals increased the number of points an immigrant needed to immigrate to Canada as a way to reduce the backlog in one fell swoop by disqualifying an increased percentage of applicants.  Threatened legal action stopped that and the madness continued, the backlog kept growing, and we Canadians were basically told by non-citizens that we have no legal right to control our border.

So, colour me impressed.  I am surprised Jason Kenney and the Conservatives did something like this.  They have, after all, inherited a mess of an immigration system that has wound itself into a Gordian Knot and someone has to wield that sword sooner or later.  While I applaud this move it still does not address the main problems of too many immigrants coming to Canada and too many coming from too few source countries.  If reforms are to be made it is not only in cutting the numbers we accept each year in total but also the mix as well.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Canada Is Just One Shopping Mall Among Many.

What makes Canada the most desirable is that it is the easiest one to get into.
Anyone who thinks people choose Canada because of multiculturalism or bicycle lanes in big cities would do well to remember our last municipal election, when Rob Ford received over 50 per cent of the votes of Torontonians born outside Canada. I can tell you my own tale — a couple of summers ago I taught ESL in a Toronto suburb. My students were teenagers new to Canada. I asked them why their parents came here. Almost down to a kid they said, “Because we couldn’t get into the States.” They did not say, “Because Canada is diverse and signed the Kyoto Protocol.” They did not have a Panglossian view of this country. They saw it as they saw the United States — free and fair — though not as powerful a draw. 
Let us abandon all self-fellating Trudeaupian platitudes and just accept the fact that what draws most immigrants to Canada is the perception of it being nothing more than an ATM and a shopping mall.  We are just America-lite minus the world wide hate.

I know, I know, they come here for a "better life" which often results in a worse life for us but the "better life" can be defined as such: an ATM and a shopping mall.

I know, I know, you are going to tell me that it can be difficult to immigrate to Canada but comparatively speaking, when it comes to immigration systems Canada is as easy as it comes.

They certainly do not come here for the climate.  It cannot be because of our Canadian values because those values are not particularly unique to Canada and can be had through all the western world.  They do not come here for the food nor our culture since even we Canadians have a hard time trying to figure out what that is.  Besides, were they so committed to fully integrating into the Canadian mainstream then one has to wonder why they exert so much effort at preserving their non-Euro-American identities in North America resulting in an explosion of ethnic enclaves in Canada's largest cities.

It is clear to me that materialism is what draws them to Canada.  I cannot fault them for this impulse since it is a natural human trait that drives one's actions albeit not a very noble one.  And since the majority come from the underdeveloped, poor nations of the world anywhere is likely to be a step up.  But it is tantamount to having someone admit to you that they only love you for your money.  This reveals the person to be selfish and shallow and you lose all respect for them as a human being.

So is this a problem then?  If we are nothing more than just consumers living in a consumer society, if we are nothing more than just shoppers living in shopping mall Canada, then it is a problem if it inhibits one's ability to consume and thus participate as a citizen and be happy.  If happiness can be derived by consumption then the immigration system is adversely affecting Canadian's levels of happiness by driving up the cost of living by inflating the cost of housing; by increasing commute times created by urban sprawl and traffic congestion resulting in fuel costs eating up more disposable income; by contributing to inflation by over supplying the labour market leading to a stagnation of incomes and chronic under-employment; by reallocating public monies (money we pay in taxes to deliver services such as health-care and education) to an under-performing immigration system that could otherwise be invested in programs to increase the standard of living of all Canadians.  Ultimately it increases competition for resources that can determine present and future earning potential (and level of happiness) by increasing demand for coveted spots in school, for retraining programs, and through preferential hiring policies.

If you identify more with Canadian culture, history, and the country's world renowned natural beauty instead of being a consumer in shopping mall Canada then the picture is not any better.  Encouraged by official multiculturalism and the view that Canada is, indeed, just a shopping mall we have created an immigrant population, and growing, who have no interest to preserve Canadian culture nor remember the nation's history and it's accomplishments without reimagining it some self-serving fashion.  In fact a Canadian cultural identity is hobbled by multiculturalism because it is still relies on foreign sources for it's definition much like Canadian culture has been criticised by being too heavily influenced by first the British and then the Americans resulting in a poverty of uniquely Canadian content.  Immigration driven urban sprawl is eating up valuable farmland, threatens green spaces, and places stress on our natural habitat that over the long term is just as environmentally ruinous as the Alberta tar sands if you think about it.

Greater importance needs to be placed on selecting immigrants who actually want to come here and appreciate Canada for the country that it is and who want to fully integrate without making as much of a cultural impact as possible.  I do not know how this can be accomplished.  Perhaps dramatically cutting back on intake numbers and allowing for more to be personally interviewed would do the trick.  We already have a population who think this country is nothing but a shopping mall.  We do not need to add onto that by  bringing people in from abroad who think the same way as well.  What kind of nation building is that?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

As We Celebrate The Charter Let's Mourn Over One Of Its Children: The Singh Decision.

The Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was enacted in 1982.

The Singh Decision was passed in 1985.

Didn't take lawyers long did it?  And it's been downhill ever since.

Five Feet of Fury is hosting a couple of SunTV news clips about the Charter that should be watched.  Ezra Levant is really on the money with his commentary (he briefly mentions the Singh decision at the eight minute mark).

Perhaps conceived with the best of intentions the Charter has, in effect, been a big windfall for the parasitic legal profession.  Since it now allows the bestowing of cash rewards to those who suffer the slightest offence to one's hurt feelings what the Charter has ultimately accomplished was to add a whole new layer to personal injury law turning constitutional lawyers into a new breed of ambulance chasers.   It is nothing more than a document written by lawyers for lawyers.

Are we freer as a people because of it?  That's debatable.  What does the Charter provide that the British North America Act didn't to grant us more freedoms?

It did transfer legislative powers away from elected officials to an unaccountable judiciary.  In essence Canada is governed by courtroom judges who tend to rule based on what's politically fashionable and whatever ideological biases they happen to fancy that day.  It's foolish to assume judges are creatures of objectivity.

It also, it seems, allows for the restricting of the most fundamental right one can have in a democracy: the right to free speech.  If it didn't then why have some Canadians been brought before a kangaroo court system over the crime of having an opinion?

I guess this is why those on the "progressive" left love the Charter so much.  Forget democracy, all you have to do is keep challenging a law until you get a ruling you like and then, TA-DAH, it becomes the law of the land irrespective of what the majority of Canadians want or what Parliament decrees.  It also compels you to agree with them on any issue through the threat of a "hate crime" offence or a human rights complaint.  It allows the left to govern all the time as a kind of shadow government imposing their will onto the Canadian populace through the court system no matter what party is in power in Ottawa.

And of course, there's the Singh decision.  Because of a flaw in its wording the Charter has effectively erased the Canadian border by allowing anyone to enter Canada and stay indefinitely as a guest with all the inherent rights of a Canadian citizen - except the right to vote (and how many and often do Canadians exercise that right?) - if they say the magic "r word."  This weakens Canada as a sovereign nation and poses a threat to the country's citizens and national security by undermining the ability to control the inflow of people.  And it came to be this way because a single silly person, a single judge, agreed with the Charter backed arguments of an opportunistic lawyer and his scheming Sikh clients.  One person and her opinion and a multi-billion dollar boondoggle near thirty years on.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, thanks for nothing!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Recent Study Questions Wisdom Of Importing High Number of Immigrants During Economic Downturn.

File this one under DUH!!!
A new report on immigration outcomes questions Ottawa’s insistence on maintaining Canada’s high immigration levels despite a recession.
Bringing in a huge number of immigrants during an economic downturn could create an underclass of new Canadians caught up in adversity, said the study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
We do not learn anything new from this report as it reiterates what immigration critics have been saying years but it is a welcome one nonetheless since it helps bring attention to an immigration system that may end up doing more harm to Canadian society than good.

And there is ample evidence to suggest the caution the report encourages is warranted.

The Toronto Star gives us this report on the dramatic upswing in the number of Toronto's working poor.
The legions of Toronto area workers pouring coffee, cleaning toilets and otherwise toiling for low wages in office towers and factories is growing dramatically.
Between 2000 and 2005, the area’s working poor grew by 42 per cent, to 113,000 people, according to a groundbreaking report based on Statistics Canada labour and income data.
Across the region, they accounted for 6.4 per cent of the working-age population. But inside the city of Toronto, they surged to 8.2 per cent of the workforce, or 70,700 people, says the study by the Metcalf Foundation, released on Saturday.
“Working many hours and holding full-time, year-round employment is no longer a guarantee of escaping poverty,” says the report, entitled: “The ‘Working Poor’ in the Toronto Region; Who they are, where they live, and how trends are changing.”
And here's the kicker:
Almost three out of four are immigrants, and almost half are single or lone parents. More than half have some post-secondary education, about the same as the average Canadian worker. 
Almost 60 per cent are renters, and more than 60 per cent are between the ages of 18 and 44. 
Bear in mind that this was the picture during the region’s boom times.
Although StatsCan income data for 2011 isn’t yet available, the situation has likely worsened, says economist Armine Yalnizyan of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The Toronto Star also gives us this report on immigrants being the "new homeless."
But a new study on immigrant housing warns that thousands of newcomers continue to live in “hidden homelessness” — in shared, overcrowded housing — an issue that has grown more acute, especially in Toronto, where affordable rental units are in short supply.
The national study by Metropolis, an international network of researchers in immigration policy, found most newcomers reported spending more than 50 per cent of income on housing, with 15 per cent spending 75 per cent or more. 
What is to be expected when unemployment rates for immigrants have typically been higher than the national average?  Here StatsCan informs us that back in 2006 the unemployment rate for recent immigrants was 12.3%, nearly double the national average at the time of 6.3%.  Should we assume the gap has shrunk since then?  I doubt it.  And let us not forget that the official rates characteristically understate the severity of unemployment in the country since it does not take into account the underemployed, seasonal and other temporary work, part time work, and those who have become so discouraged they have withdrawn from the labour market altogether.  It is quite likely then that the current unemployment rate for recent immigrants is near 15%.

There is no wisdom in allowing over 260,000 permanent residents into Canada this year, along with an additional 200,000+ temporary workers.  But has it been wise to allow so many into the country over the past two decades?  This is a question raises and the report never addresses.  The answer is no, it has not been wise to do so and every excuse used to justify such high numbers fails upon closer examination.

With an apparent immigrant underclass already established in Canada's major urban centres importing record numbers of more immigrants into the country will make matters worse.  Marry this to youth unemployment and what you have is a disaster in the making.