Précarité des jeunes migrants: Ottawa et Québec se font rassurants

Interesting discussion regarding young refugees and the degree to which settlement and related services are adequately meeting their needs:

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au Canada.

Réunies vendredi à l’occasion d’une soirée-bénéfice pour l’organisme et son nouveau partenariat avec le Haut-commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), la ministre fédérale du Développement international, Marie-Claude Bibeau, et la ministre provinciale de l’Immigration, Kathleen Weil, ont surtout imputé ces cas «qui tombent entre les mailles du filet» à des traumatismes vécus par certains demandeurs d’asile dans leur pays d’origine.

La ministre Weil dresse un portrait élogieux de la prise en charge des nouveaux arrivants par le gouvernement, puis par le milieu communautaire et la société civile.

En entrevue avec La Presse canadienne, Marie-Claude Bibeau a pour sa part tenu à souligner qu’avec quelque 46 700 réfugiés réinstallés l’an dernier, le Canada n’en accueille qu’un nombre «relativement modeste».

«J’ai été au Liban et en Jordanie où, dans certaines villes, la population a doublé, a-t-elle illustré. Vous imaginez la pression que ça vient mettre sur les services publics?»

Au-delà de la compassion, l’aide humanitaire relève d’un «enjeu de paix et de sécurité mondiale», a avancé la ministre, dont les propres parents avaient accueilli une famille de Vietnamiens à l’époque de la vague de «boat people».

Mme Bibeau rétorque en outre à ceux qui remettent en question l’utilité de l’aide humanitaire que celle-ci permet d’éviter que des conflits prennent de l’ampleur et exacerbent la crise des migrants.

La ministre Weil renchérit qu’il s’agit d’un enjeu qu’il faut approcher «en amont comme en aval».

Quant aux sans-papiers – qu’elle aborde comme un dossier totalement distinct -, Mme Weil assure qu’on ne leur bloque pas totalement l’accès aux réseaux de la santé et de l’éducation.

«Mais c’est un peu normal qu’il y ait des gens qui tombent entre deux chaises», croit-elle.

«Arriver en tant que réfugié dans un nouveau pays est toujours une gageure», fait valoir Jean-Nicolas Beuze, de HCR Canada.

Si certains parviennent à tirer profit des services sociaux ou bénéficient déjà d’un réseau de proches, d’autres se heurtent à la barrière de la langue et parfois à un puissant choc culturel, a-t-il poursuivi.

M. Beuze souligne également la précarité économique de bon nombre de réfugiés, tandis que, globalement, la moitié d’entre eux sont en fait des mineurs.

«Les gens arrivent sans un sou en poche, surtout quand ils se sont déplacés à travers le monde. Ils ont souvent dépensé toutes leurs économies», a ajouté M. Beuze.

Le représentant de HCR au Canada félicite lui aussi le gouvernement québécois pour son système qu’il juge «très solidaire vis-à-vis les nouveaux arrivants».

Dans le cadre du partenariat avec Dans la rue, l’agence onusienne combinera son expertise au soutien psychosocial apporté par l’organisme qui vient en aide aux jeunes en situation d’itinérance ou de précarité. Cette association entre «un organisme qui oeuvre au coin de la rue et un autre, à l’autre bout du monde», dans les mots de Julien Nepveu-Villeneuve, de l’Association du jeune Montréal, vise à améliorer les interventions auprès des nouveaux arrivants, comme les cinquante jeunes qui ont fait appel à Dans la rue l’an dernier seulement.

La directrice générale de Dans la rue, Cécile Arbaud, fait état de la grande complexité des cas de certains jeunes qui ne parlent parfois ni français ni anglais, et qui ne sont pas dotés des papiers d’identité nécessaires pour avoir droit à l’aide sociale ou trouver un logement.

Impressions from Copenhagen and Malmö Integration Seminars

Last week’s integration seminars in Copenhagen and Malmö gave me a better appreciation of European debates on integration and multiculturalism (an updated version of my deck with 2016 citizenship numbers is Integration, Diversity and Inclusion – Copenhagen April 2017).

While the two seminars had different participants – Copenhagen included members of the diplomatic corps, officials involved in integration issues and academics from the Centre for Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen, Malmö had only academics, mainly Masters and PhD students – common themes and discussion points emerged. Both events were well attended: between 50-60 in Copenhagen and 25-30 in Malmö.

My pre-reading highlighted just how different Denmark and Sweden’s national policies on integration and multiculturalism are, one reflected in both the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) and the Multiculturalism Policy Index (MPI), with the two countries largely at opposite ends of the spectrum. At the municipal level, however, the differences are less clear-cut.

None of the participants in both locations could explain how and why this difference emerged, given that on most other issues both countries have broadly comparable policies and outlooks. Some possible factors mentioned Sweden’s self-perception as a large country compared to Denmark’s being small compared to its earlier history, and thus possible greater societal insecurity. Moreover, Sweden has more urban centres, where diversity is more a fact, whereas Denmark is largely rural save for Copenhagen. But these were cast more in the nature of possible hypotheses, and there appears to be sensitivity, at least among academics, to probe more deeply into the differences.

The Copenhagen event, hosted by the Embassy and the Centre for Migration Studies, was part of the government’s agenda of promoting the Canadian approach to diversity and inclusion (Malmo was in part a follow-on activity to the Governor General’s earlier visit but was self-funded).

As Global Affairs Canada looks at different approaches to meet this commitment, ranging from the symbolic (e.g., this resolution tabled at the UN’s Human Rights Council, The Power of Inclusion and the Benefits of Diversity), high level dialogue (e.g., more senior level engagement like the GG’s messaging in Sweden) or working level (which I would characterize this event as being), I think it is important to emphasize sharing experiences, not promoting models, with some humility in how we approach such discussions.

After all, as I emphasized in both seminars, each country’s geography, history, demographic mix is unique. While we can and should learn from each other,  models and approaches cannot be easily transplanted or applied.

Some of the more interesting comments and observations, at least to me, were:

Copenhagen

Immigration and related debates (integration, citizenship and multiculturalism) are largely only viewed through a refugee lens, with little public debate or discussion on what appears a need for skilled immigrants to meet labour shortages. Ironically, there is some recognition in rural areas regarding the contribution immigrants make to the sustainability of rural centres (examples of immigrants from Eastern Europe were cited). This recognition, however, did not translate into any nuance in Danish political debates, where neither rural or business community needs were generally raised, and where all nine political parties hold the same position and focus on refugee issues.

There was considerable discussion of values, which are the important ones and what are the friction points (gender equality being the one most signalled). Some participants were perplexed by Canadian use of the term visible minorities and how it is defined (Denmark does not systematically collect comparable data.)

Malmo

Some of the questions and comments of particular interest included:

How does private sponsorship of refugees work? What is the comparative evidence on how well private vs government sponsored refugees integrate, and over what period of time. Some noted that Sweden’s focus on equality made it difficult to discuss and implement what would be perceived as a “two-tier” system.

Participants noted that like Denmark, immigrants were welcomed in rural areas given their contribution to the local community’s sustainability.

There was an interesting exchange on possible tipping points on reasonable accommodation issues and how these are resolved – or not – through public discussion or, as more likely, through practical accommodations in the various public and private institutions.

An equally interesting question and exchange was with respect to definitions of social cohesion and social inclusion, where I noted that it was largely a question of emphasis: social cohesion stressed expections, social inclusion put more weight on accommodation, but both occurred within the same legal and general framework.

Also raised was the question of “disadvantages” of multiculturalism which led to some discussion about diaspora politics and how foreign policy becomes influenced by homeland concerns.

My observation that in many ways, the citizenship program was “broken” prompted a question (provoked but not planted!) asking for an explanation of how so (i.e., under-resourcing and under-management leading to periodic processing backlogs, recent changes that have resulted in a decline in applications, leading to a decline in the recent naturalization rate).

 

Integration Presentations in Denmark and Sweden

No blogging this week as speaking on the Canadian approach to integration at a seminar organized by the Canadian Embassy and the Centre for Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen Wednesday and the Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare Friday.

It has been fun to put together this deck, updated with 2016 citizenship data, which tries to show how the various elements – immigration, settlement, citizenship and multiculturalism – work together to facilitate integration.

Given some difficulties I had reconciling data sets, Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program data is only up to 2015.

The pdf version can be found here: Integration – Copenhagen April 2017.

ICYMI: Les allophones fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec: From 15 percent in 1971 to 89 percent

A dramatic shift:

La très grande majorité des élèves dont la langue maternelle est autre que le français ou l’anglais fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec: au primaire et au secondaire, ils sont passés de 15 à 89 % entre 1971 et 2015, rapporte l’Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

«Une progression très marquée», soit six fois plus d’élèves, note l’Office, qui a publié deux rapports vendredi, soit un sur l’enseignement collégial et un autre sur les établissements préscolaires, primaires et secondaires.

L’OQLF relève aussi une hausse importante de près de 20 points de pourcentage depuis 1976 du nombre d’anglophones qui fréquentent l’école en français, cette proportion atteignant même 28 % en 2015.

D’ailleurs, cette année-là, la très grande majorité des élèves du Québec – toutes langues maternelles confondues – apprenaient leur alphabet à l’école en français, soit 90 % de ceux du préscolaire, primaire et secondaire.

Mais cette fréquentation accrue de l’école française n’est pas toujours un choix: ces chiffres s’expliquent en partie par l’adoption par le gouvernement du Québec en 1977 de la Charte de la langue française qui oblige certaines catégories d’enfants à fréquenter l’école en français au primaire et au secondaire. Au niveau collégial toutefois, ils ont la liberté de choisir.

«C’est sûr que le fait que la Charte a été adoptée, et les nouvelles normes pour l’inscription à l’école de la langue française, cela peut être un des facteurs qui a joué», a souligné en entrevue le porte-parole de l’OQLF, Jean-Pierre Le Blanc.

Il est ainsi à noter qu’entre 1986 et 2015, la proportion d’élèves admissibles à l’école anglaise a chuté chez les anglophones et les allophones, respectivement de 12 et de 26 %.

Chez ceux ayant une langue maternelle tierce, la plus grande portion de la hausse de fréquentation de l’école en français est survenue dans les années suivant l’adoption de la Charte, entre 1976 et 1991, est-il noté dans le rapport.

Source: Les allophones fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec | Stéphanie Marin | Éducation

Horace M. Kallen: Democracy Versus the Melting Pot

Mort Weinfeld, during our Metropolis workshop on integration metaphors, drew my attention to this 1915 essay by Kallen and his use of the orchestra metaphor (highlighted in the extract below). While the examples he cites and the descriptions he uses are dated, the overall metaphor and analysis generally holds up well (as does his question, particularly relevant today):

The reason lies, I think, in the fact that in Switzerland the conception of “natural rights” operates, consciously or unconsciously, as a generalization from the unalterable data of human nature. What is inalienable in the life of mankind is its intrinsic positive quality, its psychophysical inheritance. Men may change their clothes, their politics, their wives, their religions, their philosophies, to a greater or lesser extent: they cannot change their grandfathers. Jews or Poles or Anglo-Saxons, would have to cease to be. The selfhood which is inalienable in them, and for the realization of which they require “inalienable” liberty, is ancestrally determined, and the happiness which they pursue has its form implied in ancestral endowment. This is what, actually, democracy in operation assumes. There are human capacities which it is the function of the state to liberate and to protect; and the failure of the state as a government means its abolition. Government, the state, under the democratic conception, is merely an instrument, not an end. That it is often an abused instrument, that it is often seized by the powers that prey, that it makes frequent mistakes and considers only secondary ends, surface needs, which vary from moment to moment, is, of course, obvious; hence our social and political chaos. But that it is an instrument, flexibly adjustable to changing life, changing opinion, and needs, our whole electoral organization and party system declare. And as intelligence and wisdom prevail over “politics” and special interests, as the steady and continuous pressure of the inalienable qualities and purposes of human groups more and more dominate the confusion of our common life, the outlines of a possible great and truly democratic commonwealth become discernible.

Its form is that of the Federal republic; its substance a democracy of nationalities, cooperating voluntarily and autonomously in the enterprise of self-realization through the perfection of men according to their kind. The common language of the commonwealth, the language of it great political tradition, is English, but each nationality expresses its emotional and voluntary life in its own language, in its own inevitable aesthetic and intellectual forms. The common life of the commonwealth is politico-economic, and serves as the foundation and background for the realization of the distinctive individuality of each nation that composes it. Thus “American civilization” may come to mean the perfection of the cooperative harmonies of “European civilization,” the waste, the squalor, and the distress of Europe being eliminated, a multiplicity in a unity, an orchestration of mankind. As in an orchestra, every type of instrument has its specific timbre and tonality, founded in its substance and form; as every type has its appropriate theme and melody in the whole symphony, so in society each ethnic group is the natural instrument, its spirit and culture are its theme and melody, and the harmony and dissonances and discords of them all make the symphony of civilization, with this difference: a musical symphony is written before it is played; in the symphony of civilization the playing is the writing, so that there is nothing so fixed and inevitable about its progressions as in music, so that within the limits set by nature they may vary at will, and the range and variety of the harmonies may become wider and richer and more beautiful.

But the question is, do the dominant classes in America want such a society?

Douglas Todd: The narrow view from the migration sector bubble

Todd on his experience at Metropolis (I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with him, as I always find his columns of interest).

His critique about the Metropolis bubble could of course be repeated with respect to most conferences. As could his critique of attendees being dependent of government cheques. Being dependent on private sector funding doesn’t make one more objective.

However, all that being said, it is a valid critique that Metropolis does not include a wide range of perspectives in both the plenaries and workshops, something that the conference organizers, as well as individuals like me who organize workshops, should keep in mind.

As well as the general point that one should be mindful of one’s bubble, and make efforts to get outside it, whether as Todd did by coming to Metropolis or ensuring that one’s media includes a range of perspectives (the main lesson that I learnt working under former Minister Jason Kenney as recounted in Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism):

I just spent a few days with Canadians who work with immigrants, refugees, international students and other migrants.

The almost 1,000 people at the 2017 Metropolis Conference in Montreal are on the front lines of an effort central to a country with arguably the world’s highest per capita in-migration.

Each year, Canada spends roughly $1.2 billion on the so-called “settlement sector.” Its mission is to assist more than 300,000 new immigrants and refugees a year while supporting 325,000 foreign students and more than 300,000 temporary foreign workers.

Migration is a mass phenomenon in Canada, unlike in most nations. Many settlement workers live in the cities that draw most migrants: Foreign-born people make up 23 per cent of Montreal’s population, 45 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s and half of Greater Toronto.

Workers in the settlement-sector form an influential Canadian subculture. One person at Metropolis affectionately referred to them as “activists with pensions.” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen spoke twice and told them they greatly influence public policy.

I began wondering, however, how much these upstanding people represent the Canadian population. Do their values correspond at all to opinion poll results or with the issues Canadians follow through the media?

The vast majority at the taxpayer-funded Metropolis conferences live on government paycheques or grants. They are in the Immigration Department, the Heritage Department, public research universities and taxpayer-financed non-profit organizations.

Their theme is humanitarianism. Metropolis participants repeatedly said Canada should bring in more immigrants, refugees and foreign students, migrants are a “vulnerable population” and taxpayers should spend more on them.

Borrowing from Canadian scholars Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka, it’s fair to say almost all at the 19th national Metropolis event would be among the one-third of Canadians who unconditionally support multicultural, refugee and immigration policy. I did not hear disapproval.

They would definitely not be among the slightly smaller proportion of people that Banting and Kymlicka found at the opposite end; those opposed to Canadian-style immigration and multiculturalism.

It’s also not likely many attendees would be in the middle group of Canadians — the roughly 40 per cent (domestic and foreign-born) who generally support official multiculturalism, but with conditions.

Given what I witnessed, and the titles of hundreds of Metropolis presentations, critical discussion was muted. Orthodoxy seemed to reign.

It’s understandable. A lot of livelihoods, research grants and vested interests are at stake.

And, anyways, most attendees seemed keen on what they do. A few, indeed, seemed boastful.

There were basically only two things attendees would criticize.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told Metropolis delegates they greatly influence public policy. But to what extent do they reflect a cross-section of Canadians?

One was the alleged shortage of funding for settlement organizations, refugee agencies and foreign students. As a keynote speaker said, “We always have to do more.”

The second thing subject to criticism was the “media” and, by extension, Canadians themselves. Each was occasionally referred to as “tolerant” but more often chastised for being xenophobic.

Source: Douglas Todd: The narrow view from the migration sector bubble | Vancouver Sun

Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

Anxious about immigration? Here’s some food for thought – Geddes

Another good piece by John Geddes, with this excellent summary of the data and evidence from the latest OECD immigrant indicators report.

I am a great fan of these reports (used it for the above summary table in Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote) and am using it to prepare for an upcoming seminar in Copenhagen.

I generally find these data based comparisons more informative than the policy comparison indexes like MIPEX or the Multiculturalism Policy Index although both, of course, are helpful to understanding and discussion.

As with previous and other studies, the sharp contrast between immigration-based countries, particularly Canada, Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser extent, the USA, is striking:

All those images of border-crossing migrants, and swaggering tough talk about what to do about them from some federal Conservative leadership aspirants, have prompted a lot of discussion about how Canada absorbs newcomers, and if we do it differently, maybe better, than other countries.

My colleague Scott Gilmore warned here that we should brace for anti-immigrant populism to rise in Canada, as it has in other countries after the immigrant portion of their populations reached a certain level. I reported here on research that suggests that where immigrants tend to live in Canada, and how they vote, makes the path to political power steeper for right-leaning populists in this country than in the U.S. and Europe.

No matter how you see the issue, understanding how immigrants fare in Canada suddenly seems essential—if the debate is going to be about more than hunches. If you’re really gripped by the subject, you might want to take a look at “Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015: Settling In,” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.” Here’s some of what jumped out at me from that study of the OECD’s 35 member countries [I have only listed the titles, the article has charts and narrative – well worth reviewing]:

  1. The Big Picture

  2. Recent Change and Stability

  3. Points of Origin Vary

  4. A Gender Gap

  5. Credentialed Newcomers

  6. Second-Generation Acceleration

  7. But Catching Up Isn’t Easy

  8. … And Some Will Stall

Source: Anxious about immigration? Here’s some food for thought – Macleans.ca

Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR

US example of how schools facilitate the integration process:

For many immigrant students, the trauma of crossing the border follows them into the classroom — affecting their performance and ability to learn. And that’s where Michelle’s school comes in.

At Langley Park, in Prince George’s County, Md., 87 percent of students are Spanish-speaking. Out of 176 students, 24 countries are represented and 15 languages are spoken at home, not including English.

The school started last fall. So far, the school sits in temporary buildings, but the kids don’t mind it too much — unless it’s raining.
Her school is part of a larger network across the country called Internationals Network For Public Schools. It serves English language learners, or ELLs, and recent immigrants.

For students like Michelle, the problem is two-fold: Not only are they dealing with trauma, but they also belong to one of the most marginalized student populations.

According to a recent Stanford study, the achievement gap between ELL-Hispanic and white students is the largest in the context of race and ethnicity. And, the average high school graduation rate of ELLs is 19 percentage points lower than the national rate, 63 percent compared to 82.

In 1985, the network opened its first school to address that long-standing disparity. Since then, it has grown to 27 schools in seven states, including Washington, D.C.

And, it seems to be working. Last year, ELLs who attended the network’s high schools in New York City graduated at a rate 16 percentage points higher than ELL students in the city’s public schools, the nation’s largest school district.

As for Langley Park, it hasn’t had a graduating class, yet — it opened last fall — but results so far look promising. In the first class of students, 98 percent showed improvement in their English language skills.

Two talented young artists — Stefany Novoa (left), 16, and Frishta Wassl, 14 — work on self-portraits in Christine Wilkin’s art class.

LA Johnson/NPR

How does the network do it when so many other schools struggle to educate ELLs? It seems to boil down to three simple things:

Every teacher is a language teacher. Tammy Tatro, who teaches technology, says implementing English-language instruction into her class curriculum is “really hard.” But she does it by repeating herself and using visual aids to get concepts across to students.

Second, one of the network’s vital principles is collaboration. That’s why the classes are a mix of students with varying English language skills.

“They all want to lift each other up,” Tatro says. “When one fails, especially if they’re working on a team project, then they all kind of fail. So, they have to help each other.”

A third key principle, Principal Carlos Beato says: the school’s partnerships.

Christine Gilliard, a phys ed teacher, used to teach at a large high school where she had “a two-story gym and two storage closets.” Now she teaches out of a trailer-sized temporary building. “We may not have the best of everything, but we have each other,” she says.

LA Johnson/NPR

CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy organization, is one of Langley Park’s partners. The organization offers legal advice for students and their families. Students can also take a social justice class from CASA to learn about advocacy and their rights, depending on their immigration status.

Partnerships like this are crucial, given the extra challenges many of these students face — homelessness, separation from their parents and, of course, the language barrier. Without tending to all of their social and emotional needs, Beato explains, “we wouldn’t be getting any of the academics done.”

Most of the network’s schools employ a full-time social worker. At Langley Park, that’s Lesly Lemus. Her job is to support students any way she can as they cope with life outside school, whether it’s connecting them to community resources or just listening.

Source: Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR Ed : NPR

Liberals look at making skilled immigrant loans pilot project permanent

Always good to see some of the better initiatives of the previous government continued by the current government:

A pilot Conservative project to loan money to help skilled immigrants land jobs in their field could be revived as a permanent program under the Liberal government.

One of the biggest barriers for newly arrived doctors, dentists, engineers and high-tech professionals is coming up with the cash to pay for the required licensing fees, exams and training upgrades.

Proponents say micro loans speed up the process and pay off big time for the federal treasury, yet they can’t keep up with a demand that will likely grow with the Liberal government’s plan to welcome more economic immigrants to the country in 2017.

Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, spokesperson for Patty Hajdu, the minister of employment, workforce development and labour, said a three-year pilot that was launched in 2011 under the Conservatives demonstrated that loans sped up the credential recognition process, led to a 47-per-cent increase in full-time employment and eased reliance on government income assistance.

“We were very pleased with the results of the pilot, and we’re working hard on a framework for a more permanent policy,” he told CBC News.

A spokesperson for Finance Minister Bill Morneau would not say if a new foreign credentials loan program would be included in this year’s budget.

“Can’t tip our hand here either way,” the official said. “Stay tuned.”

The Conservative government earmarked $35 million over five years to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans program permanent in the 2015 budget, but it was never implemented due to the election. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper had also promised to more than double that figure during the 2015 campaign by adding an extra $40 million over five years.

Herb Emery, a labour market economist at the University of New Brunswick, said loans to help immigrants overcome the up-front financial hurdle have a big net payoff in federal revenue.

‘Huge’ impact on federal treasury

“When these immigrants are taken out of low-skill jobs and converted into high-paying ones, the impact on the federal treasury is huge,” he said. “They recoup any costs they put into it in the first year alone, and from then on it’s basically pure profit for the treasury.”

Emery said immigrants often have no access to credit or bank loans — what he calls a “pervasive market failure.” That leaves newcomers unemployed or working in low-paid jobs just scraping to get by.

Man hunts job board

Many skilled immigrants wind up unemployed or working in low-paying jobs because of the financial barrier to earning their foreign recognition credentials. (CBC)

“We’re doing a horrible job in that we bring very high human capital individuals to Canada, then we throw away their potential by not letting them work in what they are trained and educated to do,” he said.

There are several programs in Canada offering micro loans between $5,000 and $15,000, with some receiving operating funding contributions from the federal government and the provinces.

One of the programs Emery has reviewed favourably is the Calgary-based Immigrant Access Fund (IAF), which grants loans to immigrants across the country. Dianne Fehr, vice-president of stakeholder relations, said it needs millions more in federal funding to keep up with a growing demand.

“It’s a very clear way to support immigrants toward labour market integration,” she said.

Source: Liberals look at making skilled immigrant loans pilot project permanent – Politics – CBC News