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Newsletter. Issue 2004-06. March. 20, 2004
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Newsline Canada

Since 1966, the 21st of March has been recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Canada was one of the first countries to support the UN declaration and, in 1989, the Department of Canadian Heritage launched its annual March 21 Campaign.

The March 21 Campaign
The March 21 Campaign was initiated in response to the need to heighten awareness of the harmful effects of racism on a national scale and to demonstrate clearly the commitment and leadership of the federal government to foster respect, equality and diversity. For more than ten years, the March 21 Campaign has mobilized youth across Canada to rise up and to take a stand against racism. Through their participation in the campaign, Canadian youth have spoken loudly and eloquently: there is no place for racism in their lives!
For details see: http://www.pch.gc.ca/march-21-mars/why-pourquoi/index_e.shtml

Diversity's drawbacks
Levels of trust and co-operation are highest in ethnically homogeneous communities and lowest in open ones
RICHARD GWYN in Toronto Star
Mar. 10, 2004. 01:00 AM
The more different people become, the less alike they are. That is a statement of the obvious; a banality, a tautology. It is also entirely true. And it has political and cultural consequences that are only now beginning to be looked at.
Because of immigration, the population of Canada, and of the United States and Australia, and, less so, of most European countries, is undergoing radical change.
Differences in cultures, ethnic origins, customs, and languages, are making the people in them ever more "diverse," in the favoured phrase of multiculturalists.
All these countries are also welfare states. They became welfare states about a half-century ago, at a time when their populations were much more homogeneous.
The political challenge that's now beginning to be looked at - cautiously, gingerly - is whether, as people change, the welfare state is also going to change. The specific issue is whether the majority of people are going to prove to be less willing to spend money on (or to have their tax money spent on) fellow citizens who are less and less like them.
In the current issue of the British policy magazine Prospects, editor David Goodhart raises what he calls "the progressives dilemma."
Progressives, or liberals, believe in redistribution, from the well-off to the poor. They believe, as strongly, in immigration and multiculturalism.
They may not be able to have both, Goodhart believes.
"A generous welfare state is not compatible with open borders," he writes.
"Too often, the language of liberal universalism that dominates public debate ignores the real affinities of people and place ... People will always favour their own families and communities ... In a world of stranger citizens, taxpayers need reassurance that their money is being spent on people for whose circumstances they have some sympathy."
Goodhart isn't alone. The British government has just invited Robert Putman, author of Bowling Alone - about peoples' withdrawal from community institutions, from churches to service clubs - to tell it about his most recent study. This reveals, disturbingly, that levels of trust and co-operation are highest in ethnically homogeneous communities and lowest in diverse ones.
But increasing ethnic diversity doesn't equate to increasing social mistrust; the phenomenon is not that easily explained away.
For one thing, mistrust existed in homogeneous societies, too. In Britain, the principal social division was class; in Canada it was region, or province. Once, religion was a major source of social division. And such societies were intolerant of different sexual orientations and life-styles.
For another, mistrust is rising within even homogeneous communities. Surveys done at Harvard University to follow up Putman's original research have found that charitable giving is down one-third since the 1960s, that inviting friends to the house is down 45 per cent in the past 25 years, and that even family dinners are down by one-third.
Goodhart, though, makes a worrying point by his phrase "stranger citizens."
Citizenship, he points out, isn't just a piece of paper. It's shared history, shared values, shared assumptions. Without these commonalities, mere official citizenship may not be enough.
Goodhart makes a couple of glancing references to Canada in his article - enough to show that he recognizes that circumstances here are significantly different from those in Britain or elsewhere in Europe where "stranger citizens" are much more difficult to accommodate because these countries are so overcrowded and so old, historically speaking.
We haven't been an "ethnic" society for a long time. We're a political society. Our binding social glue is values - like the belief in single-tier medicare.
There always has been, though, a fundamental contradiction in our multiculturalism policy. It proclaims that all cultures in Canada are different, and must be accepted and cherished. But it also proclaims that all Canadians have the same values.
This reduces multiculturalism to trivial differences, like tastes in food and songs.
In fact, peoples' cultural differences have a greater effect on their behaviour than we care to admit. And these differences can make some of our fellow-citizens seem like "strangers" to other Canadians.
The key question here - unique to Canada because it doesn't really apply to other "open" societies like the U.S. and Australia, let alone to Europe - is whether our differences are us.
Whether, this is to say, all the ever-multiplying differences among Canadians - cultural and ethnic and linguistic - are now what defines us as a people.
If so, difference, rather than threatening our homogeneity, is our common denominator, our homogeneity. In this case, difference doesn't threaten our liberalism, or our welfare state, even though these do face many challenges, such as the ever-rising cost of our health-care system.
Nevertheless, I must admit that I ended Goodhart's article with that phrase of his -"stranger citizens" - blinking in the back of my mind like a warning signal.

Family poor at $25,230
A family of three living in Toronto would be considered poor if their income fell below $25,230, according to Statistic Canada's new low-income cut-off figures.
According to figures released yesterday, a single person living in Toronto, or any city in Canada with a population of more than 500P00, would be poor if they made less than $16,348.
In 1994, the same family of three needed $21,043 not to be considered poor, while the single person needed $13,635.
That-'s almost a 20 per cent rise, about the same as cost-of-living increases in Canada between 1994 and 2003, according to charts in the research paper.
The same three-person family living in either a rural area, or a city or town with less than 30,000 people, would need $16,542 to be above the poverty line and a single person would have to earn $10,718. All of these figures are after tax.
The cut-offs, treated as the poverty line by many experts, measure the proportion of income devoted to essentials, like food, shelter and clothing.

Ethnic neighbourhoods in Canada's three biggest cities
Toronto Star
Mar. 10, 2004. 06:50 AM
Ethnic mini-cities on rise: StatsCan
Immigrants settle in enclaves
Concerns raised about isolation
Recent immigrants are increasingly likely to settle in ethnic neighbourhoods in Canada's three biggest cities, raising concerns that they are becoming isolated from the rest of the community.
Statistics Canada reported yesterday that the number of ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - where more than 30 percent of the population is from a particular ethnic group - jumped from six in 1981 to 254 in 2001.
The study maps out an "isolation index" showing where immigrants are least likely to meet people from outside their own visible-minority group.
"Residential concentration of minority groups may result in social isolation and reduce minorities' incentives to acquire the host-country language or to gain work experience and educational qualifications," the study warned.
In 2001, 73 per cent of Canada's 4 million visible minorities lived in the three cities. About one-third of them came here during the 1990s, one-third arrived before 1991 and the rest were born in this country.
According to the study, there were only six ethnic enclaves in Canada's three largest metropolitan cities in 1981, but the number jumped to 77 in 1991 and 254 in 2001. Statistics Canada defines a visible-minority neighbourhood as one where more than 30 per cent of the population is from a particular ethnic group.
Among the 254 enclaves identified in 2001, 157 were Chinese, 83 were South Asian and 13 were black.
Toronto and Vancouver have many more visible-minority neighbourhoods, with 135 and 111, respectively, than Montreal, with eight. The StatsCan study used an isolation index to measure the "probability that a member of a visible-minority group will meet only members of the same group in a particular neighbourhood."
It found that Chinese immigrants in Greater Toronto had an isolation index of 25 per cent in 2001, more than double that of 10 per cent in 1981. The index for their counterparts in Vancouver also increased, from 18 per cent to 33 per cent, during the same period.
The same trend was evident for Greater Toronto's South Asian community, whose isolation index rose from 6 per cent to 20 per cent in the last two decades.
In Vancouver, the group's index went from 7 per cent to 25 percent in the same period.
Teresa Cheung, a Toronto litigation lawyer, said she moved out of North York to Markham four years ago in part because most of her family and relatives had moved to the area.
But it wasn't an easy decision, she said.
"I understand the issues (of ethnic concentration) and I weighed those issues.
``There are always concerns that it would perpetuate racial stereotypes," said the 33-year-old, who came to Canada with her family when she was 5 years old.
"There are impressions that (people living in enclaves) do not integrate as quickly, but the convenience for newcomers to live in those neighbourhoods actually outweighs the disadvantages.
``It's just easier for them to adapt."
In the Toronto area, most of the Chinese neighbourhoods are found in Scarborough, Markham and Richmond Hill, and less than 10 per cent of Chinese enclaves are in the old Chinatowns east and west of the downtown core.
South Asian neighbourhoods are scattered over East York, North York, Scarborough, Mississauga and Brampton, while blacks are concentrated in Etobicoke and North York.
Cheung said many immigrants choose to settle where the jobs are, and a lot of highly educated Chinese immigrants relocated to Markham and Richmond Hill because of the high concentration of high-tech jobs in those communities.
Usha George, director of Canada's Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement, said ethnic minorities congregate in enclaves for reasons that include family ties and community bonds. New immigrants could also be restricted to poor neighbourhoods with affordable housing since they are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder in their new community, she said.
"For a lot of them, the congregations in certain neighbourhoods are not by choice. Most of them are forced to do it," said George, who is also a professor in the University of Toronto's social work department.
"It should raise some concerns to our policy-makers. The society would be further segmented if the gap between these communities keeps widening." Lucia Lo, a York University professor in economic and demographic geography, said the settlement pattern reflects the changes in Canada's immigration policy in the past two decades.
"Today, our immigrants are very different from those we used to get in the old days. They are much better educated. When they move to Canada, they don't restrain themselves to the dirty, filthy and crowded downtown ghettos," Lo said.
"They want to live in a house with a full backyard in the suburbs.
``They may still congregate in certain areas, but they do spread outside of the city core.
``And with the massive number of people coming to the country, we are seeing more ethnic neighbourhoods everywhere."
Lo said the isolation index is only one way to look at the integration level of different ethnic groups, but it is not necessarily the best indicator.
Most people, she added, do interact with people outside their ethnic community, whether it's at work or in school.
"Looking at the residential concentration by itself doesn't really give you the complete picture of how well someone is integrated (in) and assimilated with the general community."
Dr. Joseph Wong, a founder of the Harmony Movement, a not-for-profit group that promotes racial tolerance and respect, called the isolation index a "misnomer."
The high concentration of certain ethnic groups in a neighbourhood is primarily due to the significant influx of immigrants overall into Canada rather than the increased concentration of a group, he said.
Ethnic enclaves have often been frowned upon and raised fear among those in the "mainstream" community of a takeover by visible minorities, Wong said.
In the early 1980s, the development plan of the first Chinese shopping mall in Scarborough raised concerns among local residents, he said, and it was just about eight years ago that former Markham councillor Carol Bell created an uproar by criticizing the proliferation of Chinese malls in the town.
"It is actually a good thing when you have an increase in a group's share in the city population, so it becomes a fact of life to learn to deal with people from all backgrounds with respect and tolerance," Wong said.
The Statistics Canada report also found that visible-minority neighbourhoods are more likely to experience higher unemployment and lower income levels than other neighbourhoods.
In Toronto, the unemployment rate rises from 5.7 per cent in neighbourhoods where less than one-tenth of the population is Chinese to 7.1 per cent where the Chinese account for at least half of the community.

Canada - Proportion of foreign-born population highest in 70 years
The proportion of Canada's population who were born outside the country has reached its highest level in 70 years, according to new data from the 2001 Census.

As of May 15, 2001, 5.4 million people, or 18.4% of the total population, were born outside the country. This was the highest proportion since 1931 when foreign-born people made up 22.2% of the population. In 1996, the proportion was 17.4%.

For the first 60 years of the past century, European nations such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the United States, were the primary sources of immigrants to Canada. Today, immigrants are most likely to be from Asian countries.

About 1.8 million people living in Canada in 2001 were immigrants who arrived during the previous 10 years, between 1991 and May 15, 2001. These individuals accounted for 6.2% of the total population in 2001.

Of those who immigrated in the 1990s, 58% were born in Asia, including the Middle East; 20% in Europe; 11% in the Caribbean, and Central and South America; 8% in Africa; and 3% in the United States.

The People's Republic of China was the leading country of birth among individuals who immigrated to Canada in the 1990s.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the immigrants who came in the 1990s lived in three census metropolitan areas: Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal. In contrast, just over one-third of Canada's total population lived in these three areas. In 1991, 66% of all immigrants who arrived in the 1980s lived in these three metropolitan areas.

Canada - Threefold increase in proportion of visible minority population since 1981
Canada was home to almost 4 million individuals who identified themselves as members of visible minority groups in 2001, accounting for 13.4% of the total population. Visible minorities are defined by the Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour."

This proportion has increased steadily over the past 20 years. In 1981, 1.1 million members of visible minority groups accounted for 4.7% of the total population; by 1996, 3.2 million accounted for 11.2%.

Combined, the three largest visible minority groups in 2001 - Chinese, South Asians and Blacks - accounted for two-thirds of the visible minority population. They were followed by Filipinos, Arabs and West Asians, Latin Americans, Southeast Asians, Koreans and Japanese.

Chinese, the largest visible minority group, surpassed one million for the first time. A total of 1,029,400 individuals identified themselves as Chinese in 2001, up from 860,100 in 1996. They accounted for 3.5% of the total national population and 26% of the visible minority population.

Asians yank most new jobs in US
Times News Network [ Tuesday, March 09, 2004 02:35:43 AM ]
With Asians being better qualified than the rest, it seems they are being increasingly preferred for the new jobs being created from the US economic upturn. A reduction in the unemployment rates indicates, to a large extent, that unemployed Asians are getting back their jobs. With the US economy showing good growth numbers, it is logical to see US companies opening up their recruitment windows again. But, then it seems the benefits of such an economic upturn is favouring Asians more than Whites, Blacks or even Latinos or Hispanics (again ethnic classification used by> the US department of labour).
A word of caution. Asians is a very broad, sweeping description. Also, many Asians at the head of the recruitment queue are probably American citizens as well.

OTTAWA, March 16, 2004 - Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced changes to the appointment process for the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to eliminate political patronage, strengthen the criteria for the Board and increase parliamentary review.

"We are professionalizing the process by which IRB appointments are made. The result will be a more transparent and effective IRB, one in which Canadians can have even greater confidence," said Minister Sgro. "The Prime Minister spoke of a reformed IRB appointment process last December and the government is now delivering on its commitment. The changes will be effective within 90 days."

Changes to the process include:
Candidates will be screened against strengthened merit-based criteria.
Candidates' applications will be screened by an advisory panel of lawyers, academics, members of organizations that assist newcomers to Canada and human resources experts. Selected candidates will be interviewed by a selection board, chaired by the IRB chairperson and made up of experts with an in-depth understanding of the IRB and its decision-making processes.
The final selection of appointees by the Minister will be based on the recommendations of the IRB chairperson.
The selection and appointment of future IRB chairpersons will be based on a public competition process and the recommendation of the Minister, and reviewed by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
"Refugee determination is one of the most difficult forms of decision making," said IRB Chairperson Jean-Guy Fleury. "These decisions are made in an increasingly complex and changing global environment. As IRB Chairperson, I will ensure that the Board, on behalf of Canadians, pursues its commitment to making well-reasoned decisions that are both efficient and fair to individuals who appear before our tribunal."

Created in 1989, the IRB is an independent administrative tribunal that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Board has three divisions-the Refugee Protection Division, the Immigration Appeal Division and the Immigration Division. The IRB hears refugee protection claims made in Canada, considers immigration appeals, holds admissibility hearings and conducts detention reviews.

The appointment process will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration within the next year to ensure that the goals of this reform are being met.

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