Douglas Todd: Canada struggling to ‘absorb’ immigrants, report says

Good account by Douglas Todd on one of the more thoughtful CIC policy decks  (possibly part of pre-2015 election transition planning given the date of June 2014). Lexbase was kind enough to provide me with a copy.

While some of the issues identified – housing, healthcare, public transit – affect both immigrants and non-immigrants, the deck provides a good overview of the main issues, identifies data gaps particularly at the local and municipal level and proposes an absorptive capacity index to help inform future levels planning (unclear whether this is being pursued):

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials are digesting a significant report that defines absorptive capacity as “a two-way process that encourages adjustment on the part of both the newcomer and the receiving society.”

Indeed, the internal report, obtained under an access to information request, shows that immigration analysts are worried that the “absorptive capacity” of Canada is going down.

“Declining outcomes of recent immigrants have shown that integration is not automatic,” says the report, which surveys emerging problems with immigration flows and the pressure it’s putting on Canadian sectors.

While some Canadians behave as if it’s xenophobic to question immigration policy, immigration rates and their results, the sweeping in-house government report, titled Evidence-Based Levels and Mix: Absorptive Capacity, does exactly that.

The report, obtained by Vancouver lawyer Richard Kurland, shows integration of immigrants into Canada, despite relative success here compared to most countries, is faltering ­– in regards to housing, jobs, health care, education, religious tensions, ethnic enclaves and transit.

With Canada now accepting 300,000 immigrants a year, in addition to accommodating 700,000 international students and temporary foreign workers, the 2014 report, which has no listed author, recognizes real problems. It wants policy makers to adapt.

Assimilation has been largely superseded by the word “integration” [always has been integration].And now Canadian government immigration officials are talking about a new concept: “absorptive capacity.”

Some pivotal points:

Immigrants are struggling with housing
Like millions of Canadian-born residents, immigrants are battling to afford adequate housing, especially in major cities. They face particular barriers because of their larger household sizes.

Many immigrants, however, do well in housing after a decade, though with risk.

Immigrant “home ownership rates rise significantly with time spent in Canada and surpass that of the native-born after 10 years in Canada, (but) newcomers tend to risk more capital and spend more of their income on housing costs, making them more vulnerable to market fluctuations.”

Language gaps are expanding

Despite language requirements for immigrants and the availability of free language classes in Canada, many may not be learning English or French nor passing it onto their young children.

The study found that in one large school district in Metro Toronto [Peel], three out of 10 children needing ESL training were born in Canada.

Language limitations also create obstacles in Canadian workplaces. “Skilled immigrants face labor market integration challenges such as limited language proficiency.”

Immigrants have difficulties getting health care

“Waiting for care is the number one barrier to access, although this problem is not specific to the immigrant community, as Canadians also mention long wait times as a critical problem,” says the report.

Immigrants are not dispersing across the country

Two out of three immigrants move to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.

That means immigrants are almost 2.5 times more concentrated in Canada’s three largest cities than is the total population (only 27 per cent of whom live in these cities).

Despite a phrase often heard in discussion of immigration — “Canada is a large country” — the study makes clear “absorptive capacity” is being tested almost entirely in our large cities. And virtually no city-by-city data exists on how that’s working out.

Ethnic enclaves are expanding

There is a strong tendency for newcomers to settle with members of their own ethnicity in the core of cities and, more recently, their suburbs.

“Residential concentrations of newcomers is a growing concern,” the report says, suggesting self-chosen ethnic isolation can create further barriers to full integration. [Todd somewhat overstates the deck’s observations as the analysis is more nuanced.]

Tensions exist over religious differences

Religious and cultural accommodation continues to be an issue regarding practices that are deemed in conflict with Canada’s institutions,” the report says, naming “forced marriages” and “family violence issues.” [may reflect the then Conservative government focus as these are not accommodation but criminal issues – more common ones being related to religious accommodation such as worship space, food requirements etc].

Transit hassles abound for immigrants

With Metro Vancouver residents debating whether to build a bridge or tunnel on the south arm of the Fraser River, the report shows public transit is a much bigger worry for Canada’s urban and suburban immigrants.

Although transit hassles are significant for all residents of cities such as Metro Vancouver, they’re worse in the suburbs, where many immigrants are moving.

“Recent immigrants are twice as likely to use public transit as their Canadian-born counterparts.”

What’s the way forward?

Despite trying to be frank about Canada’s immigration difficulties, the report notes the country is recognized as “a world leader in creating an environment than enables newcomers to settle and become active, productive and connected citizens.”

Canada is ranked third out of the 31 countries that welcome immigrants. The Migration Integration Policy Index rates only Sweden and Portugal as doing better at absorbing newcomers.

For obvious reasons, the index doesn’t bother comparing Canada to the majority of the world’s countries, like most of those in Africa and Asia, which either deny entry to any immigrants or allow in a trivial number.

Despite Canada’s strong ranking, the Immigration department’s report notes another disturbing finding, which could have long-term repercussions.

Second-generation visible minority immigrants, compared to first-generation immigrants, are more likely to “perceive” they’ve been subject to discrimination.

Poll results suggesting 43 per cent of Canada’s second-generation visible minority citizens are convinced they’re being treated unfairly may point to an expanding crack in the dream of cultural integration.

As for coming up with better policies, the report makes it clear Immigration officials are often in a fog about the overall effects of large-scale immigration on Canada, not to mention the impact of international students and temporary foreign workers.

There is “no comprehensive stock-taking on how Canadian institutions and cities are adapting” to immigrants and other foreign nationals, says the report. The knowledge vacuum exists across housing, health care, the regional job market, transit and more.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canada struggling to ‘absorb’ immigrants, report says | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Why Canadians need to debate immigration economics

A more nuanced critique of immigration levels and policies than most, raising some valid concerns regarding increased housing and congestion issues in our major cities, and the possible impact on per capita income:

Simon Fraser University political scientist Sanjay Jeram is bravely going where few Canadian scholars — and virtually no politicians — dare to go.

In the face of an unspoken taboo against seriously debating immigration policy in Canada, Jeram says the time has come for Canadians to start openly discussing the migration issues they’ve been avoiding.

Housing, employment, urban congestion, the welfare state and training are all affected by Canada’s immigration policies, says Jeram, who has a PhD from the University of Toronto, the city in which he was born and raised.

Instead of Canadians and the media getting worked up about race-related migration issues that Jeram thinks are largely irrelevant — such as the short-lived “barbaric cultural practices” hotline — he astutely urges discussion of the influence of immigration on economics.

‘’The hidden consensus in Canada is we don’t talk critically about immigration. The taboo against discussing it is very real,” said Jeram, who understandably believes Canadians are almost alone in this regard.

“(Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau campaigned on openness to immigrationwithout limits. I have never heard him talk about the potential consequences that immigration has for overcrowding, housing, opportunities for domestic workers or the welfare state.”

Housing is on the top of Jeram’s immigration-issues list, since Metro Vancouver, Toronto and other cities are experiencing an affordability crisis.

The rental and housing markets in Canada’s cities are increasingly shaped, he said, by federal immigration policies, which have tended to bring to Canada two financially opposite groups of newcomers: the wealthy and those with low incomes.

Strong offshore in-migration into Metro Vancouver, including an influx of international students, Jeram said, has “created competition for low-end rental spaces in the city,” which is struggling with a shortage and exorbitant fees.

“There is also pressure on the higher end of the housing market” because of the arrival of many well-off immigrants and foreign investors, he said. “Money from the outside has turned middle-income properties into high-end properties.”

As a result, said Jeram, most of Metro’s millennial generation is being required to financially “stretch beyond the breaking point.” Most do not have pockets deep enough to buy detached homes or even condominiums.

“As a country, we don’t want to discourage foreign investment, but foreign investment in housing is not going to be productive or benefit us in the long run.”

He recommended new housing policies that restrict the “amount of foreign income, which is not produced in Canada, that can be used to purchase properties” in the country.

Since more than four out of five immigrants to Canada move to its major cities, added pressure is not only on housing, but on infrastructure, traffic and transit.

It contravenes human rights law to restrict the mobility rights of anyone in Canada, so Jeram thinks politicians should follow the lead of European nations and create incentives for immigrants and others to settle outside the Toronto and Vancouver metropolitan areas.

The job market is also being affected by immigration, said Jeram, 35, who admires the work of noted Oxford migration economist Paul Collier, a leader in migration, refugee and developing world studies.

Even though a majority of Canadians tell pollsters “immigration is good for the economy,” Jeram said some don’t realize their per capita financial well-being may be shrinking as corporations bring in immigrants to make up for skill shortages.

“Instead of offering internship programs or on-the-job training, they just import new workers from elsewhere. That leads to a smaller piece of the economic pie for host-society workers.”

It should be no surprise, he said, that corporations advocate more immigrants and temporary foreign workers.

“They have no skin in the game in regards to income levels at the low end of the scale. High immigration has no negative impact on them. Only positive.”

Canada’s federal politicians have to be forced to think more carefully, he added, about whether immigration policies are reducing public support for the country’s social safety net.

“The welfare state requires we all pay into it. And some will be worse off to sustain it. There may come a time when the Canadian consensus to support a high-tax society will fray.”

Most Canadians tell pollsters that bringing in more young and middle-aged immigrants who pay taxes will advance the welfare state.

“But it just doesn’t add up, because a working immigrant comes with dependants. And with rising immigration rates, that can become expensive and unsustainable. It’s nothing to do with race. It’s just economics.”

Contrary to conventional North American wisdom, Jeram said, “bigger is not necessarily better” for creating equitable financial well-being. “Most wealthy societies are very small.”

Will Canadians ever again be able to have a fair debate about immigration policy?

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Jeram says. “Politically it’s become too much of a hot potato.”

Canada is unusual in the way every major federal political party treads cautiously on immigration, Jeram said. All go out of their way to “placate” immigrant voters that dominate in many electoral ridings in major cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

But if Canadians don’t soon start having rational discussions about the economics of immigration, Jeram said, working-class nativist movements bent on opposing globalization and reducing immigrant flows could quickly rise to the surface, as they have in Europe and the U.S.

Source: Douglas Todd: Why Canadians need to debate immigration economics | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Forgotten struggle for Canadian ‘unity’ leads to ‘silos’

The language-related tensions in Richmond have been simmering for some time, whether over Chinese-language signage only or this disturbing example of condo board proceedings (even if private bodies are not required to use English or French).

In terms of how widespread these kinds of issues are, Dan Hiebert’s various studies indicate Canada’s ethnic enclaves more diverse than you think, study finds. And overall, I don’t find the government’s message only being about diversity given the common values language that it also uses.

This may be more of an issue in Richmond (that should be taken seriously) than widespread, which is, accordingly to the 2011 NHS, 53 percent of East and Southeast Asian origin:

Andreas Kargut moved out of Richmond forever on the weekend that Canada marked its 150th anniversary.

The effort that Kargut, his immigrant wife and others put into fighting for the right to have their strata council meetings conducted in English, not Mandarin, had caused too much grief.

Kargut and six others filed a complaint last year with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal because they couldn’t participate in the Mandarin-only meetings in their 54-unit complex.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh lamented how the strata council’s discrimination against Kargut illustrated the rise of ethnic and language “silos” in Canada. But Kargut said local politicians ignored their plight.

The language battle in Richmond, where half of residents are ethnic Chinese, is one of many challenges to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many small-l liberals who proclaim that diversity can only be celebrated.

While creativity definitely can emerge within the many manifestations of diversity, liberal platitudes censor questions about the real tensions that can also be provoked by diversity, a word that means difference.

Trudeau is among those heading into dangerous territory because he is not following the example of his prime minister father, Pierre, in standing up for English and French — and for the ideal of unity.

“When my parents immigrated from Germany, they knew there was an expectation for them to learn English so they could join the workforce and earn a living to provide for their family,” Kargut said in a posting on a Facebook page called Richmond’s Changing Neighbourhoods.

“Why is it then if a person immigrates from China they don’t need to learn English and can discriminate against English-speaking Canadians to the point of causing financial hardship?”

Many Canadians are asking similar questions. The Pew Foundation discovered only 21 per cent of Canadians believe place of birth is important to whether one is an authentic citizen (one of the lowest rates in the world).

But Canadians do care about English and French. Three in five Canadians agreed “being able to speak our national language(s) is very important for being truly Canadian.”

The dispute over language barriers is not only worrying whites. Longtime resident Ken Tin Lok Wong told Richmond News many of the city’s controversial Chinese-only signs are in a dialect known mainly to newcomers from the People’s Republic of China, which Wong says signals many are not willing to integrate.

Yet it’s Kargus’s departure from Metro Vancouver that is one of the more stark illustrations of self-segregation in this city, in Toronto and in Montreal, which are becoming increasingly defined by ethnic and language enclaves, whether South Asian, Chinese or European.

The kind of frustration felt by Kargut is something liberals in the U.S. are finally starting to note — as they try to come to terms with why the diversity-celebrating Democrats are constantly losing election campaigns.

Atlantic magazine has two articles in this month’s edition exploring why Hillary Clinton alienated former supporters among the white suburban and working classes, while methodically wooing Hispanic and black voters.

In “How the Democrats’ Lost Their Way on Immigration,” Peter Beinart notes one of Clinton’s prominent campaign images showed her surrounded by Spanish-language signs.

“Americans know that liberals celebrate diversity. They’re less sure that liberals celebrate unity,” says Peter Beinart, who credits Barack Obama with the ability to do both. Justin Trudeau doesn’t perform the balancing act, but his father stood up for ‘national unity.”

Barack Obama would not have done that, Beinart says. The former president once said he felt frustration when he’s “forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car.”

With the National Academies of Sciences recently reporting new immigrants to the U.S. are learning English more slowly than their predecessors, Beinart maintains Democrats should put teaching immigrants English at the centre of their immigration agenda.

“Americans know that liberals celebrate diversity. They’re less sure that liberals celebrate unity. And Obama’s ability to effectively do the latter probably contributed to the fact he — a black man with a Muslim-sounding name — twice won a higher percentage of the white vote than did Hillary Clinton.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Forgotten struggle for Canadian ‘unity’ leads to ‘silos’ | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track permanent residency for migrants

Hard to know full extent of problem compared to overall numbers of Permanent Residents but number of anecdotes and some high profile convictions indicate is an issue:

Canadian employers are creating fake jobs so would-be immigrants can quickly get citizenship.

Immigration “consultants” often arrange the illicit deals, which frequently result in Canadian business owners being paid to fabricate non-existent jobs.

Other times, the immigrants perform actual work, while themselves handing cash to the employer under the table to top up their own salary.

The employers, for their part, devise fraudulent pay stubs so the foreign nationals can “prove” to immigration officials they have needed skills to go to the front of the queue to become a permanent resident of Canada.

“It’s very widespread. I have met a lot of clients who tell me how this is being done underground,” says George Lee, a veteran Burnaby-based lawyer who specializes in immigration law.

Immigration department officials, lawyers, employers, prosecutors and migrants are increasingly providing accounts of how immigration consultants and companies fabricate bogus records so foreign nationals can obtain permanent resident status.

Migrants are handing company owners anywhere from $15,000 to more than $150,000 to create the counterfeit jobs, with immigration consultants pocketing large fees in the bargain.

One immigrant department report said fraud is “commonly associated” with such jobs, called “arranged employment offers.”

“There are lots of cases like this and they’ve been going on for a long time,” said Lee. “In most cases, jobs are needed to become a permanent resident, yet in many cases they are just jobs on paper.”

Both Lee and Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland have been informed by clients, who range from young international students to professionals with degrees, about different deals would-be immigrants strike with employers.

In one standard example, Lee said, a foreign student who received paycheques worth $30,000 a year for part-time work was paid $15,000 by the employer, but also secretly handed over another $15,000 in cash to his boss to prop up his declared salary.

It’s a violation of the law, say Lee and Kurland, to offer cash in exchange for a job.

CBC TV in Saskatchewan last month secretly recorded Bill Sui, of the Vancouver-based immigrant consulting company Vstar International, offering cash to a Prairie retail employer to create jobs for his clients from Mainland China.

Since the news story came out about how Vstar International promised the owner of a Fabricland outlet $15,000 to produce a false job, plus enough to pay the migrant’s salary, people in three other Saskatchewan communities have come forward with similar accounts.

Kurland provided documents in which people complain to the Immigration department about such practices.

In one redacted letter obtained under an access to information request, a Canadian provided details about how her colleague was “getting her cheques and returning cash money to her employer just to show fake employment.”

Kurland, who publishes the newsletter Lexbase, said: “My research uncovers allegations of fake jobs, examples of fake jobs, and complaints by visa officers about fake jobs. It shows that some people who can’t qualify under our rules will pay big money to get their visa illicitly.”

An Iranian-Canadian businessman in Metro Vancouver told Postmedia that each month offshore professionals offer to pay him large sums to cook up artificial jobs in Canada.

“I get this on a regular basis. I’m offered fees from $10,000 to $50,000, plus they will pay their own salaries. So I could bring employees here and have them work for free,” said the businessman, who asked to not be identified.

In a related case, he cited how three years ago an Iranian couple ago went public about paying a B.C. film company $15,000 to come to Canada for jobs that turned out to be non-existent.

The businessman, who said he does not engage in such practices, said any Canadian company with more than six employees can offer a job to a foreign national.

Many job descriptions, which are either bogus or exaggerated to make them seem more “skilled,” are facilitated through immigration consultants, some of whom are not registered, even though registration is supposed to be a requirement in Canada.

Richmond immigration consultant Xun (Sunny) Wang hauled in $10 millionover eight years by producing phoney paycheques and other documents for up to 1,200 clients in arguably the largest immigration fraud case in Canadian history.

Wang’s employees counterfeited thousands of employment documents for clients, most of whom had no real jobs in Canada.

In 2015 Wang, who was not registered as a consultant, was sentenced to seven years in jail.

Source: Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track citizenship for migrants | Vancouver Sun

International students in B.C. could be in fake marriage schemes: Douglas Todd

The ingenuity of persons wanting to come to Canada knows no bounds. No hard numbers but widespread anecdotes indicate that there is an issue (India sends the second largest number of students to Canada after China: 77,000 in 2016):

The newspaper ads in India are the visible tip of a booming underground industry in fake marriages involving would-be international students.

The prize for the “spouse” whose family buys an instant marriage with a foreign student is back-door access to a full-time job in Canada and a fast-track to citizenship.

The matrimonial ads normally promise that the foreign students’ sham marriage, plus all travel and study expenses, will be paid for by the Indian families who are determined to have their son or daughter emigrate.

The type of Indian student the ads seek is usually a teenage girl, who must have passed an English-language test and therefore be in line to be accepted as an international student.

Media outlets in India, such as the Hindustan Times, report there is a “booming matrimony market for ‘brides’ who can earn the ‘groom’” coveted status as a migrant to a Western country.

Canada is among the most sought-after destinations for Indian foreign students, say migration specialists, because it is the most generous toward foreign students and their spouses. Australia has also been popular, but recently tightened its rules.

Here is a typical recent ad from one Punjabi-language newspaper in India, Ajit:

“Jatt Sikh, boy, 24 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, needs girl with IELTS band 7. Marriage real or fake. Boy’s side will pay all expenses.”

The ad is listed by a high-caste “Jatt” Sikh male, or more likely his parents. It seeks a contractual marriage with a young woman who has scored well (“band 7”) on an international exam called “IELTS,” the International English Language Testing System. Almost three million IELTS exams are conducted each year.

Here is another ad, from the newspaper Jagbani:

“Barbar Sikh, 24, 5 feet 8 inches. Finished Grade 12. Looking for BSc or IELTS pass girl. Boy’s side will pay all expenses to go to Canada.”

In this ad the family of a lower-caste “Barbar Sikh” is seeking to have their son marry an Indian female with a bachelors of science degree, or a passing mark on the IELTS test, so their son can be allowed into Canada as her spouse.

As these kinds of ads illustrate, the parents of the male “spouse” typically offer to cover all expenses for the international student, who often end up attending one of the scores of private colleges in Canada with low to non-existent standards.

B.C. is home to 130,000 international students, the vast majority of whom are in Metro Vancouver, which has the highest concentration of foreign students in Canada.

In exchange for financing the foreign student, the phony spouse gets to live in Canada and legally work up to 40 hours a week, plus receive medical coverage and other benefits. That puts them in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada.

The foreign-student marriage rackets are gaining attention in newspapers in India.

Indian media are reporting angry fallout when students financed by other families either fail to get into a Western college or university, or try to break up with their spouses of convenience.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal, a former Canadian citizenship court judge, says Punjabi- and Hindi-language newspapers in India run dozens of such ads each week.

“Families are looking for matches to get their sons or daughters abroad. And the most successful route to Canada is through international-student channels. It’s an easy way to get immigration,” said Purewal.

Source: International students in B.C. could be in fake marriage schemes | Vancouver Sun

Almost 7 in 10 Metro residents will be non-white in two decades: Todd

From the Statistics Canada 2036 projections:

Canada is experiencing the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world, say international demographers.

Almost seven of 10 Metro Vancouver residents will be visible minorities, or non-whites, in less than two decades, says Eric Kaufmann, a professor at University of London, Birkbeck, citing Statistics Canada projections.

In addition, Kaufmann said, University of Laval professor Patrice Dion has worked with Statistics Canada officials to develop projections that suggest Canada as a whole, at the current rate of immigration, will be almost 80 per cent non-white in less than a century.

While the rapid pace of change likely will not  hurt Canada’s economy, Kaufmann said, it will continue to have great effect on the ethnic make-up of cities such as Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

These two Canadian cities and others will, in just a few years, become “majority minority,” a term describing places in which one or more ethnic minority (relative to the country’s population) make up a majority of the local population.

 A 2017 Statistics Canada report, titled Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections, forecasts the number of Canadians with visible minority status will “increase more rapidly than the rest of the population” and “could more than double by 2036 to between 12.8 million and 16.3 million.”

The cities that will have the highest levels of visible minorities by 2036 will be Greater Toronto, Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Abbotsford-Mission, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Non-whites already make up almost half the residents of Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

…Meanwhile, Canada is undergoing “the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world,” Kaufmann said, describing how 300,000 immigrants are arriving each year in a country of 35 million people, with four in five of those immigrants being visible minorities.

“The United States’ per capita immigration rate is only one-third to one-half as fast as Canada’s. … At the same time (U.S. President Donald) Trump has promised to reduce America’s inflows by half,” Kaufmann said.

“Europe is also generally tightening inflows and only 300,000 non-Europeans enter the European Union, population 510 million, each year. Most immigrant-receiving Western European states will be at least three-quarters European origin in 2050.”

In Canada, whites currently make up about 80 per cent of the population.

Kaufmann, however, drew attention to a study led by the University of Laval’s Patrice Dion and Statistics Canada official Eric Caron-Malenfant that projects that by 2106, the vast majority of Canada’s population will be descendants of immigrants who arrived after 2006.

Assuming that four in five immigrants during that time period will continue to be non-white, Kaufmann projected that by 2106 whites will account for between 12 to 38 per cent of the population.

“I think a reasonable middle conclusion is that Canada will be 20 per cent white, 65 per cent non-white and 15 per cent mixed race by 2106,” he said.

“Canada will probably become a ‘majority-minority’ country around 2060.”

Source: Almost 7 in 10 Metro residents will be non-white in two decades | Vancouver Sun

StatCan report: Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036 (91-551-X2017001)

Douglas Todd: Some immigrants’s values contrast with ‘Canadian’ values

The fallacy in Todd’s article and related analysis is his assumption that values are static, not dynamic. Values can and do change  over time and over generations.

The Canadian benchmark in the World Values Survey includes the 20 percent of the population which is foreign-born as well as the 17 percent who are second generation immigrants. In other words, the Canadian baseline is not “old-stock” white Canadians but a mix of “old” and “new” stock.

So what he presents as a duality is actually a more complex mix that emerges through the Hegelian integration dynamic between immigrants (first and second generation) and the increasingly diverse “host” society.

Todd’s analysis also assumes that first generation immigrants have completely identical values than the population of their country of origin, which may or may not be true given that Canada tends to select more highly educated immigrants.

That is not to say that there are no value differences among groups on any range of issues, but just caution against overly simplistic depictions and assumptions:

In his unscientific yet credible book, McGoogan considers how the nine million Canadians who claim Scottish or Irish heritage have strengthened certain values in Canada — such as “independence” (exemplified by rebel Michael Collins), pluralism (exemplified by gay writer Oscar Wilde and mixed-race B.C. governor Sir James Douglas) and “democracy” (exemplified by egalitarian poet Robbie Burns and prime minister Sir John A. McDonald).

“Did the ancestors of more than one-quarter of our population arrive (in Canada) without cultural baggage? No history, no values, no visions?” McGoogan asks. “Surely the idea is ridiculous.”

Indeed, it’s absurd many Canadians assume people arrive from Ireland, Egypt or China without both individual and ethno-cultural traits.

So it’s especially worthwhile to learn about values widely held in Canada’s biggest immigrant-source countries.

The top sources of immigrants to Canada include China, India, South Korea, Iran and the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East, all of which have had their values measured by the WVS.

How do the values emphasized in these countries play out in Canada’s major cities, where the potential for inter-cultural exchange is high in schools, businesses and neighbourhoods?

We’ll start with Montreal, where one of five residents is foreign born, many from Arabic-speaking countries.

A particularly valuable question the WVS asks parents is: “What qualities would you most like to see in your children?”

As The Vancouver Sun and Province’s online interactive chart shows, it turns out more than 65 per cent of parents from Arabic-speaking countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, strongly stress “obedience.”

However, only 30 per cent of Canadian parents name “obedience” as an important quality, suggesting the contrast could make for intriguing interactions in Montreal schools.

What do we discover when we turn to Metro Vancouver and Toronto, where foreign-born people make up almost half the population and two of the largest immigrant-source countries are China and India?

It turns out only 16 per cent of parents in China strongly emphasize obedience. But the stress on obedience rises to 56 per cent among mothers and fathers in India.

What about “hard work?” It can determine success in the competitive fields of education and business, not to mention in whether a potential friend goes skiing?

The WVS found 90 per cent of parents in China say hard work is a crucial value. That emphasis declines slightly among the parents of India. Meanwhile, the proportion of all Canadian parents who want their children to work hard is only 54 per cent.

However, Canadian parents are not too different from the parents of China and India in regards to “unselfishness.” While 47 per cent of Canadian parents emphasize unselfishness, so do 35 per cent of Chinese and Indian parents. That’s unlike South Korean parents, only 12 per cent of whom stress the virtue of self-sacrifice.

The lesson of the WVS is that values are all over the map, literally.

And it’s especially true when it comes to religion.

More than nine of 10 parents in the Muslim-majority countries of Egypt and Iraq, for instance, strongly emphasize “religious faith.”

But fewer than one in 10 parents in Germany and China — and just three in 10 in Canada ­— care if their children believe in God.

The World Values Survey, like all polls, is imperfect, missing subtleties and regional variations. But it’s a reminder the sooner we take ethnocultural differences seriously, the sooner we become knowledgeable about why people are the way they are.

The implications can be significant. We may start to recognize, for instance, why people with roots in China tend to vote for certain Canadian political parties, while those linked to India are inclined to vote for others.

And — unless we’re utter moral relativists — the sooner we understand ethnocultural differences, the sooner we might take seriously the values we ourselves are ready to stand for, reject or tolerate.

Source: Douglas Todd: Some immigrants’s values contrast with ‘Canadian’ values | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: New approaches to the ‘astronaut’ phenomenon | Vancouver Sun

Todd covers the views of David Lesperance, a tax and immigration lawyer, on how best to ensure that ‘astronauts’ contribute their fair share in income taxes (they pay property tax and GST).

Although I agree on the need for measures to curb the abuse and “free-loading”, his ideas do not strike me as particularly realistic in terms of implementation if they are not resident in Canada:

It’s clear astronaut families have brought cultural diversity, international connections and foreign currency to Canada: They’ve fuelled not only real estate development, but also automobile sales and private schools.

While many astronaut families exhibit as much integrity as others, some taxation and immigration specialists believe Canada needs new ways to counter the downsides of circular migrants — particularly unaffordable housing and uncollected taxes.

An anti-corruption agency, Transparency International, recently released a report calling Metro Vancouver one of the hot spots for a globalized “corrupt elite” intent on making their dirty wealth look clean by laundering it through real estate; exploiting gaping tax loopholes.

What can be done? The short answer is better taxation and immigration policy — and rigorous enforcement.

David Lesperance, a tax and immigration lawyer with offices in Toronto and Europe, has striking ideas for reform.

They would bring fewer “ghost immigrants” to Canada, he said, and more of what he calls “Golden Geese,” well-off migrants who intend to pay their fair share of taxes.

“The problem is there is large-scale immigration of relatively wealthy people to Canada who are not contributing significantly, if at all, to the Canadian tax base,” says Lesperance.

“They have bid up the local housing market in Vancouver and Toronto. In addition, they are receiving the benefits of Canadian permanent residence, such as cheap and excellent schooling, free medical care and security.”

Unfortunately, Lesperance says, Canada is not obtaining its full measure of property or income taxes from these newcomers. There is both a real and perceived lack of enforcement of Canada’s tax laws.

“Theoretically, each of these wealthy immigrants should be paying Canadian tax on their worldwide income and capital gains. But the reality is the Canada Revenue Agency has not been enforcing this regime and this news has spread through the immigrant community,” Lesperance says.

“Astronaut families are those who were granted permanent residence status for their families and, after buying homes and installing children in schools, the principal breadwinner then tries to claim no Canadian tax liability — often by relinquishing their immigration status (or by) claiming they’re non-residents of Canada for tax purposes.”

To change the global perception that it’s easy to get away with not paying taxes in Canada, Lesperance says there is a need for well-publicized tax audits of such “ghost” immigrants.

It wouldn’t be hard to catch cheaters, said Lesperance.

The first group to audit, Lesperance said, is the 40,000 would-be immigrants who have, in the past two years, renounced their permanent residence status in Canada, often to avoid taxes.

Renouncers and others should be subjected to “lifestyle audits,” Lesperance said. Tax auditors should dig into whether astronaut fathers, but also their spouses and children, continue to own Canadian properties and spend lavishly on cars and private schools.

Those who are caught evading taxes should be publicly exposed, he said.

“The impact of news of such an effort will resonate like a thunderbolt within the immigrant communities. The fallout will be that each family will have to determine whether (staying in Canada) is valuable enough for them to pay the proper (taxes).”

Lesperance offers another idea, which is more unorthodox.

There is nothing wrong with creative rich people travelling the world to work, invest and run businesses, argues Lesperance. Many are his clients, whom he calls the “Golden Geese.”

They would be satisfied, he says, holding two passports while still paying their share of income taxes to Canada, in return for “a stable and safe place for their global operations.”

Canada is losing out on these entrepreneurial newcomers, he says, because its “antiquated” immigration policy focuses on migrants proving a sustained “physical presence” in the country.

Lesperance turns things around by suggesting we not worry so much about whether such wealthy would-be immigrants are physically present in Canada.

Instead, Lesperance recommends rating them on whether they pay significant income taxes in Canada — regardless of which country they spend most of their time in.

It’s a counter-intuitive way to think about immigration policy, which has traditionally expected newcomers to show a physical loyalty to their new land. I’m not saying I necessarily endorse it. There are other ways to tax the properties of astronaut families.

But at least a new “tax-residence” approach to business immigrants would help Canada become less of a haven for those circular migrants who are determined to avoid or evade taxes the rest of us are expected to pay.

Source: Douglas Todd: New approaches to the ‘astronaut’ phenomenon | Vancouver Sun

Doug Todd: “Techno-immigrants” fuel Vancouver’s high-tech sector

Interesting study, which recalls an earlier Globe article, Microsoft reminds us that Canada is still a branch-plant economy, on how Microsoft (and likely others) strategically use Canadian immigration as a way to bring talent to their US headquarters:

In light of the political manoeuvring in B.C. over local high-tech jobs and training, the study by Froschauer and Wong quotes the president of a large B.C. high-tech association who says a key reason “Microsoft chose to open a Vancouver office was because of the easier immigration rules.”

The unidentified high-tech CEO told the researchers there’s a crucial reason Microsoft did not simply open its computer development “campus” in Redmond, Washington, which is headquarters for the global tech giant.

“It’s like two hours away, so why would they open up this campus in Vancouver?” said the CEO.

“It’s much easier to bring in (migrants from India) and others, and that’s the reason they came. And their intention is not to recruit people away from other companies in the Lower Mainland but to bring fresh people in, and that’s what the larger companies do. Small ones don’t have the means.”

High-tech companies in B.C. and Alberta also often cross the U.S. border to recruit Chinese and other foreign students, say the authors, because international students in the U.S. are generally not allowed to remain in the country after they graduate, whereas they can stay after graduation in Canada.

The sociologists do not estimate the proportion of Metro Vancouver’s high-tech sector that is made up of immigrants, international students or temporary foreign workers, but they quote the CEO in confirming migrants are “very, very useful. I don’t think we could evolve our sector without” them.

Many of the techno-migrants interviewed in the study say it’s often an advantage to be a migrant in Canada’s high-tech sector.

But others said being born outside the country can be a disadvantage, particularly because of difficulties with language.

Some people from China told the researchers that migrants from India don’t have as many problems with language, since many in the former British colony were educated in English from their childhoods.

Some high-tech executives in Metro Vancouver and Calgary favour temporary foreign workers over immigrants, add Froschauer and Wong, whose article appears in the new book, Trans-Pacific Mobilities: The Chinese and Canada(UBC Press), edited by Wong.

The sociologists learned some corporations prefer “to bring employees to British Columbia on a temporary work permit” because they can be retained longer than immigrants, who have more freedom regarding where to work.

Provincial and federal immigration programs “do not tie employees to the company, whereas the temporary work permit does,” the authors say.

The number of high-tech migrants to Canada, especially from China, is likely to continue to grow in the future, say the authors.

Source: Doug Todd: “Techno-immigrants” fuel Vancouver’s high-tech sector | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy

While polling data is important, I find blind cv tests (Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options) and hate crime stats (StatsCan police reported as per the above charts) to be better indicators of racism and discrimination.

Under-estimating racism and discrimination is as much a risk as over-estimating:

It’s virtually impossible in a lifetime to avoid interaction with an extremist — including the activist that Hiebert says regularly shows up at Vancouver anti-racism events, where he eagerly hands out xenophobic leaflets.

When Hiebert conducted a survey years ago that tried to identify Canadians hostile to others, he found only two to three per cent fit the bill as out-and-out racists.

Even though the Vancity report tries to go further and advise British Columbians to “combat” their own “subconscious bias,” the credit union’s officials seem unaware the concept of “unconscious racism” has been criticized even by psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, who invented the term.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is among those worried about the exaggeration of racism. Even though B.C. was home to some racism decades ago, Dosanjh said many now trot out the label to make themselves look good or to stifle debate.

Ethnic Chinese leaders in B.C., including Albert Lo, Justin Fung and Clarence Cheng, have also warned about the divisiveness of inaccurately claiming racism, particularly in a province struggling with unaffordable housing, foreign capital and unequal wealth.

Could the world really be so wrong about Canada and B. C.? A Gallup poll conducted in more than 50 countries discovered 84 per cent believe Canadians are “tolerant of others who are different,” the highest ranking of any country.

China, Russia and India were at the bottom of the list. Fewer than 34 per cent of global respondents rated residents of those major immigrant-source countries as tolerant.

Indeed, discrimination cuts unpredictably across cultures. A 2016 Angus Reid survey found recent immigrants to Canada were slightly less likely than native-born people to accept homosexuals, or approve of “marrying someone from a different cultural or religious background.”

So, are British Columbians accepting of diversity?

There is no simple answer. It appears the vast majority are highly respectful of difference, while a relative few are not.

Environics Institute pollster Keith Neuman answers the question about a region’s acceptance levels by quoting the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has become known for warning of the “danger of a single story.”

And it’s hard to think of a more treacherous single story about B.C. than the one alleging racism is alive and well.

Source: Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy | Vancouver Sun