Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Trump’s coming restriction of visas for skilled workers

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

This week, the US tech companies were disturbed to learn that Donald Trump had won the presidential election. The fear is that Trump will carry out a promise to restrict H1-B visas, making it difficult for them to recruit skilled guest workers.

Hannah Kuchler, FT San Francisco correspondent, provides the full story. One paragraph, which is very optimistic (at least for actuaries and for Canada!), caught my attention.

If Mr Trump does restrict immigration in the industry, tech companies will find other ways to benefit from foreign expertise. Mr [Rob] Atkinson [president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think-tank] said some might expand in countries that make it easier to hire immigrants such as Canada, where Justin Trudeau’s administration is creating an innovation policy that will encourage companies to hire high-skilled software engineers, wherever they are from. Mr [Brian] Kropp [human resources leader at CEB] suggested companies could launch more extensive training programmes, for example, taking a group of actuaries and training them to be data scientists.

Hannah Kuchler, “Silicon Valley frets over foreign worker crackdown“, Financial Times, 13 November 2016 (metered paywall).

I also found the following charts interesting. Note the large percentage of Indian nationals among recipients of H1-B visas.

cartoon of the day

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Here is the cartoon published on the editorial page of today’s weekend edition of The Globe and Mail. It is not yet available online. I am able to show it to you thanks to the miracle of modern technology: a built-in camera on my mobile phone, and transfer of the photo to my computer over the internet. Click on the image for a better view of the cartoon.

The cartoon reflects the shock of Canadians who learned this week that a young offender has been held in solitary confinement continuously for nearly four years. This is torture. No-one in a civilised country should be subjected to torture, with or without trial, regardless of the crime that he or she may have committed.

 

tdj-solitary
Below is some information on the case, copied and pasted from a front-page article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail. For details, click on the link below. How many Adam Capays are in solitary confinement in Canada’s jails and prisons, out of sight and out of mind? No-one knows, but with this publicity, hopefully the conditions of their confinement will become less harsh.

The upper echelons of the Ontario government knew about the plight of a young inmate long held in solitary confinement at Thunder Bay Jail for at least nine months before taking action this week. ….

Mr. [Adam] Capay is the young aboriginal prisoner who has languished for upward of four years in solitary confinement awaiting trial for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 19. The circumstances of his incarceration – an acrylic-glass-encased cell bathed in 24-hour artificial light – only came to light last week after the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission spoke publicly about her first-hand encounter with Mr. Capay.

On Thursday, the current minister in charge of corrections, David Orazietti, vowed to do better for the inmate, saying he will remain in the new cell he’s been moved to – in solitary, but with access to a day room including a television and a shower – indefinitely.

Patrick White and Adrian Morrow, “Ontario knew about Capay’s solitary confinement plight for months“, The Globe and Mail, 28 October 2016.

Syrian refugees in Victoria, BC

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Canada last year made a commitment to bring 25,000 of Syria’s 4.5 million refugees to the country as immigrants. The 25,000 target was met in early 2016, and 30,862 Syrian refugees are now in Canada. This is a small number compared to the total number of refugees, but large compared to the 10,000 number of the USA, which attained this low target only in August of 2016. The US population is ten times larger than that of Canada, yet Canada has brought in three times as many refugees.

The small city of Victoria, BC (metropolitan population 345,000) has warmly welcomed 154 Syrian refugees (40 families). Some of the refugees are supported by Canada’s federal government, others by private sponsors such as churches, temples and mosques. There is no discrimination by religion. Jewish temples, for example, proudly sponsor Muslim refugees.

There has been little press coverage in Canada of this influx of Syrian refugees, a reflection of the fact that resettlement is taking place peacefully, without incidents. The initial flood of refugee support has unfortunately slowed, however, precisely because refugees rarely feature in the news. For this reason, I was pleased to see publication in a Victoria newspaper of a plea for more sponsors of refugees.

[Jean McRae, CEO of the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria] explained language is a significant issue for the newcomers.

“Without a working knowledge of English, it’s hard for them to find employment, and the children, who have already had significant disruptions in their education, find it difficult to catch up in a new language,” said McRae, adding the stellar work of the school system and volunteers in providing help with English education has helped to address the situation.

“We also run workshops on the Canadian workplace, teaching the refugees how to look for work, prepare a resume, reply to online job offerings and even how to handle interviews. It’s a completely different culture, and we know that getting them here was just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.” ….

The commitment of the government and private sponsors has been to provide housing and support for one year, noted McRae, adding that, for some, it may not be reasonable to expect full self sufficiency at the end of that time.

“Of course, we’ll stay in touch with them beyond the first year and help where we can. But I can tell you these people are quite amazing and I have no doubt they’ll soon find their way to becoming self sufficient and contributing residents to Victoria.”

Tim Collins, “Sponsors still needed for many more Syrian refugees“, Victoria News, 7 October 2016.

medicare in Canada

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Medical care in Canada is widely praised, and is indeed excellent, especially compared to the costly medical care system of its southern neighbour. Slowly and illegally, though, in some provinces the system is becoming less universal. If this trend continues, access to basic health care in Canada will depend more and more on price (ability to pay) rather than need.

Dr Ryan Meili, a Saskatchewan physician, appeals for the federal government to restore the universality of medicare by enforcing existing legislation (the Canada Health Act).

Extra-billing in Ontario, private MRIs in Saskatchewan and user fees in Quebec: violations of the Canada Health Act are on the rise across the country. Canadian doctors are concerned about the impact of this trend not only on their patients, but on our public health care system as well.

…. Provinces that are not in compliance [with the conditions for payment under the Canada Health Act] are to be penalized with a reduced Canada Health Transfer (CHT) payment.

This year’s report showed that in 2014-15, the only province that received such a penalty was British Columbia. Their CHT payment was docked $241,637 ….

In Ontario alone, the frequency of such charges has grown at an alarming rate …. [I]ndependent health facilities (e.g. eye surgery, colonoscopy, diagnostic and executive health clinics) charged extra fees for medical consultations, examinations, diagnostic testing and other manners of “upgraded services.” These fees are for services that are covered by the health system. This is otherwise known as extra-billing, a practice that is against federal and provincial law.

Despite these contraventions, … Ontario has never been penalized. ….

User fees, access charges, extra billing all come down to the same thing — inequitable access to Canadian health care.

Charging patients at the point of care for medically necessary services strikes at the heart of the principle that access to health care should be based on need rather than ability to pay. It undermines equity, increases system costs and reduces public commitment to universal coverage. ….

It is time … to ensure medicare will be there for all Canadians in their time of need.

Ryan Meili, “It’s Time For The Federal Government To Enforce The Canada Health Act“, The Blog, Huffington Post, 4 April 2016.

Dr Meili (born 1975) is a family physician. He teaches at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine, where he heads its Division of Social Accountability.

HT Chris Willmore.

Syrian refugees in Canada

Friday, July 1st, 2016

There is a nice article (with photos) in today’s New York Times that reports the warm welcome that Canadians are providing refugees from Syria. Everything has gone very smoothly so far.  Here is a brief excerpt:

SnapShot

Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn, “Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome“, New York Times, 30 June 2016.

treating refugees in the Emergency Room

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa (Canada) has a blog that might be of general interest. The latest post is on treatment of refugees.

In our current political and social climate, refugee health is undoubtedly going to become an increasingly prevalent Emergency Department (ED) issue. In the past few years, Canada has been accepting an average of 25 000 refugees from all over the world each year; now we have taken the same number of refugees from Syria alone in a span of just a few months. So the need right now is huge! Yet, as ER physicians, we get almost no formal training on the subject, and most available resources are targeted at primary care providers, and don’t apply to our practice setting.

Here we will attempt to filter the existing information into a practical framework that is actually applicable to your ER practice. This is intended for refugees in the ED in general, but includes some specific recommendations for the Syrian refugee population.

refugees-are-human-beings

Thara Kumar, “Refugee Health: A Framework for Emergency Physicians“, EMOttawa, 24 March 2016.

The blog continues at the link above. Dr. Thara Kumar is a 3rd year Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Ottawa.

cultural genocide and Aboriginal health

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Large-scale immigration can have profound effects on the physical and mental health of natives. Canada’s Aboriginals are painfully aware of this. (more…)

sex crimes and sex ratios

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

FT columnist Roula Khalaf wonders if the preponderance of young males among Europe’s newest Muslim refugees might account for the horrific crimes committed recently against women in Cologne and other cities of northern Europe.

There were reasons men sought refuge first: the arduous journeys, the pressing need for work before applying for family reunification and, above all, escape from recruitment by the army or militias. ….

Yet the impact of this gender imbalance was a largely overlooked aspect of the migration crisis. ….

Much has been made of the demeaning attitude towards women that some of Europe’s newest Muslim migrants may have grown up with. But Valerie Hudson, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University who has researched migrant issues in Asia, says the sex ratio is far more important than different interpretations of female modesty.

“The literature I’ve contributed to shows a pattern: the higher the sex ratio, the higher the crime rate and crimes against women,” she tells me. “When you get a surplus of young men in a society — and they are marginalised, disadvantaged, and they live together and socialise together — you have the beginnings of collective activity in which they take what society has denied them. And they are, collectively, willing to take risks.” ….

The one country that has taken gender into account is Canada, where the government said last year that it would take only Syrian women, children and families. The policy was probably prompted by concerns over terrorism — and it drew its share of critics who warned that young men faced the greatest risk in Syria. [Emphasis added.]

There are no easy answers to the mass migration dilemma …. But taking into account the long-term implications for the host society should be an integral part of any policy. As Prof Hudson says: “A normal sex ratio is a public good.”

Roula Khalaf, “Cologne and the immigration sex-ratio dilemma“, Financial Times, 14 January 2016 (metered paywall).

Justin Trudeau’s remarkable victory

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Ravi Mattu, deputy editor of the Financial Times Weekend Magazine, writes that Justin Trudeau’s “success was built on two things: being able to come out of the shadow of his father, the former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, and good timing.”

The new prime minister wisely came to politics late. As the son of Canada’s most influential premier, that was understandable. Not only was Pierre Trudeau the country’s defining political figure but he bequeathed a complicated legacy. He was the architect of some of the country’s most important institutions, but in his native Quebec he was despised by many for opposing special constitutional status for the majority francophone province.

Yet when Mr Trudeau first ran for parliament in 2007, later than some had expected, he did it the hard way. Instead of being parachuted into an easy seat, he chose a Montreal riding that was far from a shoo-in for a Liberal federalist.

Ravi Mattu, “Justin Trudeau won thanks to good timing and Canadians’ dislike for Stephen Harper“, FT blog, 22 October 2015.

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a call for universal pensions in Canada

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Canadian Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren (born 1955) would like to see the federal government introduce a universal pension of CA$24,000 (US$19,000) a year for every Canadian from age 65.

Very simply, it means that everybody is going to get the same pension,” he said.

The MP said 65% of Canadians rely solely on CPP [contributory public pension] payments of approximately $12,000 a year.

He noted that a universal system would be more fair than the current system, which he believes is unsustainable.

Blair Andrews, “Local MP suggesting $24,000 pension for every Canadian“, Chatham This Week, 10 April 2015.

Mr Van Kesteren failed to mention that Canada had a universal pension from 1951 until 1989, when benefits were suddenly ‘clawed back’ – at the rate of 15% – from older residents with substantial income from other sources. If the MP did mention this in his talk, the journalist who wrote this report failed to mention it.

TdJ has covered the history of social pensions in Canada in earlier posts. Of particular relevance are three posts from 2011. They can be viewed here, here and here.