Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Issue 19 - Evidence - February 9, 2011
OTTAWA, Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met
this day at 4:19 p.m. to study current issues pertaining to Canada's largest
cities. (topic: Social inclusion and cohesion)
Senator Art Eggleton (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology.
Today, we continue on the topic of social inclusion as it pertains to
Canada's largest cities, and the sub-theme for today is integration of
immigrants. We have three well-qualified people to talk to us on this theme.
They have written much on the subject. We will have a chance to hear from them
today and ask them questions.
John Reilly is from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, City of Edmonton.
As a senior diversity and inclusion consultant, he is actively engaged in
supporting the city administration as they develop and implement strategies for
greater inclusion within the workplace and the community in general. Mr. Reilly
provides guidance in the development and implementation of the city's
Immigration and Settlement Policy. He is also project manager for Racism Free
Edmonton, an initiative directed towards the elimination of racism at both the
institutional and community levels.
Zheng Wu is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Wu's
primary research interests are in the field of demography, particularly the
issue of changing patterns of family formation and dissolution, fertility and
contraception. He teaches demography survey research methods and statistics. He
is Director of the Population Research Group at the University of Victoria and
is a past president of the Canadian Population Society.
Stéphanie Gaudet is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and
Anthropology at the University of Ottawa. Professor Gaudet has developed two
complementary areas of analysis, including social ethics and the sociology of
the individual across life courses, generations and family relationships. Her
areas of interest currently include youth, social participation, identity, life
courses and generations. Together with colleagues, she established the Research
Group on Interaction, Life Paths and Social Choices.
They have all authored a number of documents and books. Welcome to all three
of you. Please take from five to seven minutes in terms of introductory comments
to get us all excited and worked up about the subject, and then we will take it
from there and ask you questions.
John Reilly, Senior Consultant, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, City of
Edmonton: Members of the committee, fellow guests and ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the committee for the opportunity to present to you today. I
particularly appreciate the opportunity to provide the perspective of a Canadian
For the past five years, as a senior consultant with the City of Edmonton, I
have supported the development and implementation of the city's Immigration and
Settlement Policy, the first of its kind in Canada. The policy draws on best
practices already in place in the City of Toronto, and has helped influence the
City of Calgary in their development of its Welcoming Community Policy.
This growing municipal interest in how immigration is managed in Canada is
driven by several factors: increased concerns for the social and economic
sustainability of their communities; increased need for municipalities to
attract and retain immigrants; the limitations of some of Canada's current
immigration policies to address effectively the diversity of labour needs in the
different regions of our country; significant changes to some federal programs,
such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and the potential long-term
impacts on our communities.
In 2005, during a period of unprecedented economic expansion in Edmonton and
Alberta, the City of Edmonton became concerned with the mounting labour
shortage. During the prior decade, immigration to the city of Calgary had
increased substantially, while Edmonton's numbers remained unchanged.
With the help of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the city engaged the
Prairie Metropolis Centre to undertake research on how the City of Edmonton
could better attract and retain immigrants. Using these research findings, the
city engaged in consultations with immigrant groups, and that spurred the
development and implementation of several programs to help promote Edmonton to
international immigrants and to support Edmonton's newly arrived immigrant
groups. The city has set policy goals that support the social, economic and
political integration of immigrants and improved intergovernmental relations in
the areas of immigration policy and planning.
The city created a ``Move to Edmonton'' website. This website was in
conjunction with our Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. That site
attracted over 100,000 visitors in its first year of operation. We worked with
the EEDC as well to create the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council,
ERIEC, an organization devoted to ensuring that immigrants are able to obtain
employment that is commensurate with their education and job experience.
The city recognizes the important role of settlement sector agencies as well
and works closely with them. However, it has also instituted other programs that
are within the municipal jurisdiction, including a grants program to help
support integration efforts of those emergent immigrant groups themselves. The
city hosts semi-annual Immigration and Settlement Community Gatherings that have
attracted over 150 participants. The gatherings are a consistent forum where
immigrants become familiar with the city's services, and they provide feedback
on how to improve and make our city services more available and accessible.
We publish a 32-page Newcomers Guide in nine different languages, with
information relevant to newcomers. We operate the Citizen and New Arrival
Information Centre right at City Hall. The centre and the city's 311 information
service provides a telephone-based language interpretation line that can provide
service in more than 170 different languages, and our libraries are emerging as
important hubs where newcomers seek information on their new homes.
At the same time, the city's community services workers continue to provide
direct support to immigrant groups in their efforts to integrate at the local
level. Our human resources branch operates immigrant internship and mentorship
programs that have helped increase the number of recent immigrants working for
the city, and they have helped newcomers find employment commensurate with their
education and work experience.
As the chair has noted, the City of Edmonton has also joined the Coalition of
Canadian Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination. Over 42 cities and
municipalities are currently members of the coalition.
We implemented the Racism Free Edmonton initiative, a partnership of 14
different institutions and organizations working towards the elimination of
racism and the creation of a more culturally diverse city, an inclusive city.
The city appreciates the continued federal support for this initiative through
Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The Racism Free Edmonton partners are
committed to creating a fully inclusive city, with all the city's multicultural
communities, and this initiative has helped stimulate an important dialogue
among immigrants, First Nations, Metis and Inuit and other non-status Aboriginal
people about the impacts of racism on their respective communities. We have seen
progress in that this initiative has already helped bridge the social distance
that exists between these communities within the city.
As you can see, some of this hard work is paying off. The number of
immigrants choosing Edmonton as their destination city is increasing, and
feedback from our immigrant communities shows that these communities have a deep
appreciation for the engagement that we are providing at the community level.
However, despite these improvements, the city knows that more can be done to
promote effective integration and immigration within our cities. Therefore, I
have a few observations to provide.
We believe there is an opportunity for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to
engage more meaningfully and include municipalities in regional and national
immigration policy and program development. Municipal governments and
administrations are generally the most accessible to everyday citizens.
Therefore, they can play a unique role in advancing integration and social
Greater flexibility of federal immigration policy will be helpful in
addressing differences in the regional economies and labour market needs across
Sustained federal support for research into immigrant integration will help
develop solutions for addressing the challenges of immigration and for
capitalizing on opportunities among those who are choosing Canada as their new
home. The elimination of the federally supported Metropolis research network
represents a significant loss of capacity in this area, and there is currently
no indication that there are plans to replace the program, which was fully
Discussions and planning related to immigration must take into consideration
equitable plans for meeting the needs of Canada's First Nations, Metis, Inuit
and other non-status Aboriginal people. A clear commitment to equitable
treatment will go a long way to promoting communities that are cohesive and
The impacts of the expanded use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
should be examined carefully. There is evidence in Edmonton that the widespread
use of the program has created negative perceptions among Aboriginal people and
our more recently arrived permanent resident groups. Both have expressed
concerns that more needs to be done to ensure their equitable inclusion at the
economic level takes place.
If the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continue to be used to address
emergent labour market needs, there should be more pathways to permanent
residency created within federal immigration policy. The City of Edmonton
requires permanent employees, both within our own work force and within the
regional work force, and we would like to see more efforts to create a sustained
work force for the future of our region.
Finally, support for the extension of the work of Canada's Action Plan
Against Racism, and efforts to eliminate racism at systemic and community
levels, will continue to promote and help create a cohesive society in Canada.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Ms. Gaudet, please go ahead.
Stéphanie Gaudet, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and
Anthropology, University of Ottawa, as an individual: Mr. Chair, I would
like to thank the committee for inviting me to appear today to present my
research findings. Today I am going to present part of my research, which
focuses on social participation in the Canadian population as a whole. I am
working on social participation; that is my specialty. I am not an immigration
specialist. To take an interest in social participation, you have to look at
immigration as it is an important part of our population.
Why am I interested in social participation? Between 1992 and 2005, we
witnessed a nearly five per cent decline in participation in Canada over 12
years. Social participation has two important functions in our society. Social
inclusion increases citizens' social capital, permits greater understanding of
socio-cultural standards in society and also enables democratic learning. Social
participation is an opportunity for citizens to take part in the issues and in
the decisions likely to affect them.
My initial approach was to gain an understanding of the new forms of social
participation and the ways of engaging in a changing society. The first
objective for me was to ascertain, through research, how to reanalyze social
participation using different indicators from those available to us which most
of the time are annual rates of participation in volunteer activities. I make
the assumption that it is preferable to use and analyze social participation as
an exchange of time because time, like money, is one of the most important
resources in our society and the one that gives the most structure to our lives.
Time is a scarce resource. Canadians' use of time is currently undergoing major
The research topic that I am presenting to you today is the social
participation of immigrants.
The purpose of my research is to rethink the concepts in order to understand
Canadians' social engagement and to understand both informal and formal types of
social participation. People engage with institutions and organizations to
varying degrees but give a lot of time to informal networks, that is to say
sporadically, spontaneously, through networks rather than institutions.
There are a number of major indicators of social participation in Canada,
including data from Statistics Canada. I have used the General Social Survey on
the Use of Time. That survey asked the question: have you done any volunteering
this year? A large percentage of Canadians did volunteer work during the year.
However, it may be seen from the use of time expressed in terms of minutes given
for organizations or individuals in their network that there has been a
significant decline in participation because people have less and less time to
offer others in general and to organizations.
The purpose of the research that I am presenting to you today was to compare
volunteering rates with social participation rates, my time-use-based indicator,
and to see whether they differ between Canadians born in Canada and immigrants.
In the findings, I will use the term ``Canadians'' rather than ``Canadians born
in Canada.'' However, it will be understood that I am talking about Canadians
born in Canada.
In my comparison, I make four major findings. The first chart that you have
before you concerns the rates of volunteering and social participation by age
group and by groups of the Canadians born in Canada and immigrants. A quite
fascinating phenomenon can be observed. There is a major distinction between the
immigrant population and that of individuals born in Canada when it comes to
formal volunteer activities. The top two curves show a large disparity, among
individuals between the ages of 35 and 44, between immigrants and Canadians born
in Canada. However, my social participation indicator based on informal and
formal engagement shows a smaller difference between immigrants and Canadians
born in Canada.
One interesting point is that the two bottom lines show that young immigrants
are very active in terms of social participation, contrary to what one might
think. In fact, young immigrants are engaged.
The second chart concerns volunteering and social participation by income.
The following assumption is often made: the more income you have, the more you
participate. That is the case for volunteering, but not for social
participation. We see that income does not have a major influence on social
participation, whereas it appears to have an impact on volunteering.
Third, in looking at the average of the participation rates in the sample as
a whole, we see two polarizations. The first shows that the people who volunteer
more in Canada are Canadians born in Canada who are between the ages of 35 and
44, whereas those who are less engaged in volunteering are immigrants in the
same age group. You can really see a polarization in these two groups. The most
engaged are Canadian women born in Canada and between the ages of 35 and 44, and
who have children. This fact confirms the assumption that the most engaged
individuals are parents of school-aged children because those people are
encouraged to participate. For example, they are invited to get involved as
coaches of hockey teams when they take part in activities with their children,
or they are asked to take part in school activities. However, immigrants do not
get involved in this kind of activity to the same degree. This phenomenon is
related in particular to structural causes: do they have the time, resources and
opportunity to do so? Because immigrants are solicited, just as Canadians born
in Canada are.
The second interesting finding is illustrated in the last chart, which shows
the average number of minutes Canadians devote to social engagement. One
fascinating point is that the people who, on average, devote the largest number
of minutes per week are immigrants between the ages of 35 and 44, that is the
people least represented in the population, based on groups in terms of
percentages, who are engaged. These people are thus not numerous but are very
much engaged. This trend can be seen in the Canadian population. Fewer and fewer
Canadians are participating. However, those who do, participate a lot, which has
a number of consequences that I will not be discussing.
It can also be seen that immigrant women with children give less time. Their
situation can be understood because they are no doubt very busy with their
domestic and employment-related tasks.
What do we understand from all these figures? Ultimately, it is true that we
can see major differences in volunteer engagement between immigrants and
Canadians born in Canada.
Except with respect to social participation, as I did with time indicators on
formal and informal engagement, the difference is not that great. And those
differences may be explained to a large degree as being based on sex, age and
children. So it is a mix of those factors. And it can be said that, in general,
immigrant women with children are excluded from social participation.
So what are the policy implications? I believe idea should be to include
these people in social participation, particularly because these women are the
most important socialization agents for their children, and if we exclude them,
we exclude very important citizens.
And at the policy level, I believe it is important to develop indicators to
understand social participation in the same way as participation in the working
world, for example, because our society is changing, and as the generations
change, fewer and fewer people have time to volunteer. One observation has to be
made, and without any nostalgic considerations: we have to wonder how we will
manage to cover this shortfall.
The Chair: You will probably be asked what you think the answer might
be, but we will hold on to that question for now and go to Zheng Wu.
Zheng Wu, Professor of Sociology, University of Victoria, as an
individual: I want to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology for the opportunity to present some of our work in the
area of immigrant integration in Canadian urban neighbourhoods.
This short presentation summarizes the key findings from three studies —
three separate studies I have co-authored with my colleagues, Chris Schimmele
and Feng Hou, at the University of Victoria. These studies focus on the
relationship between social diversity and social cohesion in Canadian society,
and on how the ethno-racial composition of Canadian neighbourhoods affects
social engagement and integration.
Here the ethno-racial composition of a neighbourhood refers to both levels of
ethnic diversity and concentrations of visible minorities. One primary question
we are asking is whether neighbourhood matters when it comes to social
integration and social cohesion.
Our main finding is that where a person lives can shape that person's
attitudes and behaviours. Our studies also demonstrate that the relationship
between neighbourhood environment and social engagement differs depending on who
a person is. In particular, it differs between Whites and visible minorities and
across generations of immigrants.
Social cohesion refers to the material and social conditions that connect
people and encourage solidarity between them. In plural societies, social
cohesion is a barometer of intergroup or race relations because it implies a
level of acceptance of ethnic diversity. In other words, it represents the
capacity of communities to integrate their members and avoid social isolation,
social exclusion and marginalization of minorities.
The overarching issue is whether the settlement patterns of immigrants pose a
challenge to maintaining social cohesion. To be sure, the foreign-born
population is increasing much faster than the rest of the Canadian population,
which is reshaping the social and demographic landscape of Canadian cities. For
example, growth scenarios from Statistics Canada project that by 2031, visible
minorities could comprise 63 per cent of the population in Toronto, 59 per cent
in Vancouver, and 31 per cent in Montreal. The ethno-racial diversification of
Canadian cities raises old questions about the integration of immigrants into
their host communities and the consequences of immigration for community
While acknowledging that ethnic diversity is an important social asset,
Robert Putnam, a prominent Harvard political scientist observes that
``immigration and ethnic diversity challenge social diversity and inhibit social
capital,'' at least in the short to medium term. To support this provocative
claim, Mr. Putnam demonstrates that diversity appears to foster social isolation
in numerous American cities.
Mr. Putnam is not alone in this conclusion. A growing literature supports the
hypothesis that people living in neighbourhoods with high levels of racial or
ethnic diversity have comparatively lower levels of social engagement and weaker
I have re-examined this hypothesis in three different respects to determine
whether this finding fits the Canadian context, considering the decades-long
commitment to multiculturalism in government policies.
First, I have addressed the effect of a neighbourhood environment on trust
among Canadians. Mr. Putnam's conclusions are based largely on how trusting
Americans are in general, and of their neighbours and co-ethnics. Trust is a
measure of belief in the honesty and co-operative behaviours of others, and it
is a predisposing factor leading to the creation of social capital.
Our trust study makes an important conceptual distinction between
neighbourhood racial diversity and the concentration of racial minorities within
a neighbourhood. This study shows that, regardless of racial diversity, a high
concentration of racial or visible minorities, such as Asians or Blacks, are
associated with lower levels of generalized trust among the local White
Yet ethnic diversity itself is not a bad thing. Our findings demonstrate that
exposure to diversity has a positive effect on trust among Whites, but this
effect is only in neighbourhoods where the White population remains predominant
and where the visible minority population is a fairly even mixture of several
different racial groups. In contrast, we did not observe similar results for
visible minorities, for whom trust does not associate with neighbourhood ethnic
The second study examines how ethnic diversity affects a sense of belonging
to Canada and a sense of in-group belonging. The findings from this study
contradict much about what has been said about the general consequences of
ethnic diversity, and suggest that the negative relationship between diversity
and trust could be misleading in terms of its relevance for social cohesion.
Rather than contributing to social atomization or balkanization, our findings
demonstrate that intergroup contact promotes the development of a possible
superordinate sense of belonging among Whites. That is, living in an ethnically
diverse neighbourhood increases their sense of belonging to Canada, while
decreasing their attachment to co-ethnics. Again, the effect of a
neighbourhood's diversity is not significant for visible minorities.
The final study looks at the social integration of immigrants and their
children in urban neighbourhoods. This study shows that there are significant
generational differences in the social integration of immigrants, but this
relationship is complex and not straightforward. The relationship depends on a
combination of factors that include life stage at immigration, ethno-racial
background and place of settlement.
The most notable findings are that all first generation immigrants tend to
face difficulties fitting into their host communities. This problem is greater
for visible minorities than it is for White immigrants, which suggests that
racial status or perceived discrimination is a possible barrier to successful
In addition, first generation immigrants, especially visible minorities
living in ethnic enclaves, report a lower sense of belonging to Canada than
immigrants living in different types of neighbourhoods.
The Chair: On the matter of questioning, let me start with Mr. Reilly.
Even though immigration has considerable federal and provincial involvement, a
lot of the on-the-ground issues are what local agencies and municipalities face.
Obviously Edmonton has decided to do something about those issues.
Mr. Reilly: Yes.
The Chair: I always look for promising practices or things that maybe
other cities might benefit from. Are there any things that particularly stand
out in your experience to this point in time as being successful, or potentially
successful as they are evolving?
Second, you mention that there needs to be a greater engagement with the
federal government, the provincial governments and municipalities. Are you
working on any federal programs? Do you take advantage of federal programs in
operating your program in Edmonton at all? Do you have any suggestions with
respect to those programs and how they can be improved?
Mr. Reilly: Regarding the first question, in terms of success, I would
say the most successful initiative has been our sustained engagement with the
communities. We made a clear commitment in the ethno-cultural and immigrant
groups we engaged with in the early going who asked for some kind of ongoing way
to connect with the city's administration and with our political leaders. That
is why we developed our Immigration and Settlement Community Gatherings. I would
say that initiative is our greatest success.
I have a great story. In December 2009, while other events were going on
throughout the city, there was a big snow storm on December 5. We had 150
newcomers come out to city hall to participate in our gathering. We thought our
numbers would be down to 20 or 30 people, but a huge number of people still came
out in the cold weather to engage and discuss.
We took away another position. It lends to something my academic colleagues
are sharing: Many of those groups are asking for more time to engage with one
another. They are actively looking to know each other and to get to know the
different groups settling in our city. There is an active interest, not only in
knowing about the city services, but knowing about the people who live in the
city that they share.
From my experience, the initiative has been successful in sending a message
to them that they are welcome and they are supported.
In terms of intergovernmental engagement, I have obviously made it my job to
get to know all the different people working in our region. I have always found
the administration at Citizenship and Immigration Canada to be receptive and
supportive, as are our provincial counterparts and Alberta Employment and
Immigration. I have been pleased with that support.
Although we do not have any specific programs working in Alberta right now, I
have heard good things about a pilot project called Local Immigration
Partnerships, LIP. I think there is an interest in Edmonton in seeing if there
will be an expansion of that program. It brings the levels of government and
also the settlement sector and ethno-cultural groups to the same table to
discuss the challenges we are seeing in the communities. The program also makes
commitments to finding solutions to some issues.
Immigration issues are regional. The problems and issues faced in Vancouver
are different from Toronto, Edmonton or Calgary. Creating those kinds of local
partnerships is a way not only to find solutions that will work, but also to
gather intelligence about what the issues and problems are within specific
The Chair: Are all your programs funded by the municipality?
Mr. Reilly: Right now, the Racism Free Edmonton project is a shared
project where we receive support through the Settlement Program and the
Multiculturalism Grants and Contribution Program of Citizenship and Immigration
Canada. The federal government is providing support there. I would encourage
continued use of those programs to meet the objectives.
The city was careful because most of the settlement funding goes to the
settlement sector, and that funding is delivered in the non-profit sector. The
city did not want to be seen as stepping into their role, so we have been
careful not to apply for money for settlement purposes, specifically. We work
with our partners in the community.
The Chair: Professor Gaudet, in your chart about the minutes per week,
the number of immigrant women with children is lower than Canadian-born women
with children, yet you focused on the women as being the agents of change. Do
you have an idea of things that can be done to improve their involvement?
Ms. Gaudet: I believe concrete measures could be taken to integrate
immigrant women with young children.
I will give you a concrete example of one Montreal neighbourhood, Mile-End,
for example, where there is a lot of immigration. The decision was made to open
the neighbourhood school on Saturday mornings, and the social stakeholders,
social workers groups take care of the children. That enables the children to
play, while the women cope with incredible obligations. The ones who work often
have jobs with unusual schedules and very heavy family responsibilities. First,
they have to be freed of their children and, second, offered a place where they
can receive services, and they also have to be helped to understand the
organizations in which they could get involved. That has to be done in their
daily lives. It has to be much more informal in the sense that they will not
necessarily go and get involved in political organizations or in the
municipalities and so on; they do not necessarily have the time to do that. But
I think this has to be done in actual life; opportunities have to be created
where they can be helped, but with their children. Ultimately, child care is the
barrier to engagement.
But this is not a problem among Canadian women. On the contrary, for
Canadian-born women, children drive their social participation.
The Chair: I had a question for Professor Wu, but I ran out of time,
so we will continue.
Senator Merchant: I listened to all your presentations with great
interest. I happen to be an immigrant myself; I came to this country as a young
girl. I was fortunate in that I was able to go to school immediately, and I came
with my family. I came to Regina and there was a small Greek community. They
were supportive because we were the only ones to come as a family — everyone
else came as individuals. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my Greek community
and my parents, but also to my teachers and neighbours because they were very
accepting. This was a long time ago, of course.
I will ask my question about immigrant women. I will ask about their
situation in 2011 because my experience was a long time ago. I want you all to
elaborate a little more on the special challenges that immigrant women face and
their ability to integrate.
You mentioned children. You can perhaps help me with this, but sometimes the
immigrants who come to Canada now perhaps have more children than Canadian-born
women, and they do not have the support of parents or other siblings in looking
after their children. They also face language barriers. Can you elaborate a
little more on why immigrant women are not able to participate in the life as
much as Canadian-born women, please?
The Chair: I will start with Professor Gaudet, but anyone else may
Ms. Gaudet: I am not an immigration expert, but what I can see, based
on other more qualitative research, is that immigrant women do indeed have more
children and perhaps my colleague Mr. Wu can confirm that.
They are very isolated because these immigrants come more from the Arab
world, from the Middle East or from African than from Europe. So, depending on
their spoken language, this does indeed become a barrier.
Dependent children, I believe, are a major barrier. The resources offered to
these women are not necessarily adapted to their daily lives. For example, in
the Ottawa neighbourhood of Vanier, a lot of immigrants live in low-cost housing
or crowd into small apartments. These women have to take care of children in
several age groups. It is one thing to have two or three pre-school-aged
children and another to have children between the ages of 2 and 18. The task is
enormous. Canadian society is designed on the basis of two children two and a
half years apart. So it all has to be organized. However, the community is not
organized to meet these needs. Consider travel. It is not easy to travel by
public transit with a baby of two or three, with four children. Consequently,
they stay at home in their neighbourhood.
So there are a number of examples of that kind.
Perhaps Mr. Wu has specific information on immigrant women.
Mr. Wu: This question is beyond what any of the studies have done. I
am speaking based on my readings of the literature, so I could be wrong.
My sense is that women immigrants are different from the women immigrants at
the time that you immigrated to this country. More likely, these women belong to
one of the minority groups and tend not to speak either official language. More
likely they are coming as a dependent family member, as opposed to independent
immigrants, and also they are more likely coming with young children.
Anecdotally, I have known, based on personal experience, not a small number but
a significant number of women coming with their children for the sole purpose of
having their children attend Canadian schools, with their husbands still working
in their home countries and sort of commuting while the wives are here with the
children. These women are fairly isolated, as Professor Gaudet mentioned, and
have a special set of challenges to integrate into this society.
I cannot think much about solutions. They have a special set of challenges.
Ms. Gaudet: I think schools or community groups could be solutions for
There should be more people in the schools to make the connection between
families and schools because the schools are overcrowded. The only contact with
Canadian institutions is made through school.
Mr. Reilly: I concur. I would say our community gatherings are
experiences of social participation, and the three things that come up all the
time are the time people have to contribute, the need for child care, which we
provide at our gathering, and transportation, which also comes up repeatedly.
One unique program we have in Edmonton is called a cultural brokers program.
A non-profit organization provides the supports that Ms. Gaudet is talking
about. It is crucial to the support of those kinds of families. The program was
originally designed to help support immigrant access to the health sector, but
they now provide supportive access to all kinds of different projects and
The other thing I will emphasize is that immigration statistics show that of
the primary immigrants to our country, 49 per have a university education, and
51 per cent of their spouses, which I suspect are mostly women, are university
educated as well. We are also talking about a high functioning and well-educated
group of women. In my work in this area in the last five years, I have not seen
a lot of discussion or emphasis put on their lives, and I would be interested to
see research done to help share their story with us more fully in Canada.
Senator Eaton: You have all raised interesting points. I want to turn
the subject around a little bit. You are all either studying or offering
programs for inclusion. I guess this question relates to what you are saying,
Mr. Wu. We have people coming to our country so their children can go to our
schools, but the father is living in another country and the women are isolated.
Should we demand more, or ask things, of immigrants? Would it help women to
participate more? For instance, in Holland, to become a landed immigrant or a
landed resident, immigrants need to have a good knowledge of Dutch in five
years. The requirement almost forces the woman to go into a school situation, as
you are saying, professor, on a Saturday morning, to learn either French or
English. It forces them almost to interact with their neighbours or to go to
school things. Is that something we should ask of immigrants? Sometimes if we
have to do something to gain something, we prize it more.
Mr. Reilly in Edmonton, do you have programs that help new immigrants to this
country understand our values? I am thinking specifically of gender equality,
which I think is the elephant in the room in keeping many women isolated and at
home. Do you talk about things like that?
Mr. Reilly: I am cautious because the city does not provide specific
programs to immigrants. We have grants and funding programs that provide
supports to families and to some of the emergent groups.
Senator Eaton: Have you found it would be good if something enticed
people to learn one of the official languages?
Mr. Reilly: What I hear from our colleagues and counterparts in the
community that are delivering language programs is that they are inadequate, and
I also hear that from the immigrant groups themselves. The amount of time
programs are given to try to develop the skills to participate fully in one of
the official languages of Canada is inadequate right now, and there needs to be
improved funding and a longer term. Language training needs to be delivered over
a longer term to help immigrants develop the acquisition skills they need. My
understanding is that the programs receive only a year, or potentially two
years, of support. That is what I have heard.
Our gatherings try to promote engagement among different groups so that they
come out into the public and are able to engage in the official languages,
while, at our end, trying to provide engagement with them in their own home
languages. That engagement goes a long way to show respect and interest in their
language, but also part of it is not being able to provide forums through which
they can try to communicate in one of the official languages. The more we can do
to create spaces where people come together in a broad forum and are able to
engage and talk, and use their language skills as they are developing, the
better. I understand that if they are not given opportunities to be out in
public and use those skills, the skills can fade quickly.
Senator Eaton: That is good to know. The language issue is important.
Senator Eaton: Are we doing enough to promote our values and gender
Ms. Gaudet: Good question. If you put that question to a Quebec woman,
with regard to French and her understanding of the situation, I believe the
language issue is important.
Let us go back to gender equity. In my opinion, that is an important issue in
learning. When learning about citizenship, this aspect is very important. Can we
require people to learn this? I do not know. The second generation will go
through the school system.
I have some students, I see them, and I see the difference. They have to be
given a chance to be with a number of groups and especially workers who can
provide information. Because it is fine to talk about values such as equity, but
what does that mean in concrete terms in the lives of these women? It means that
they can sign a lease themselves; they can sign documents themselves to register
their children at school; they can divorce. But are we giving them the
information? I do not think that is necessarily the case, because if they remain
isolated, they definitely will not get the information. So this is a citizenship
learning issue that must be dealt with by associating with organizations and a
diverse range of other people. I do not know whether that should be imposed;
that is a big question, but the idea should at least be supported as much as
Senator Eaton: Perhaps a little preliminary education before they
arrive in the country.
Ms. Gaudet: Indeed, because the issue is very prominent.
Mr. Reilly: I want to add that, in our gatherings, when the groups
come out, a number of them are African, Middle Eastern and from a number ot
countries where the assumption might be that there is repression of women. The
women are coming out from those communities and are joining us at those public
forums, and the men do not seem to be concerned or worried about their full
participation in those events.
It seems to me there is an interest and appetite for that kind of engagement,
and certainly not a fear of the women of the community participating fully. I do
not know if that helps address some of the questions around concerns about
Senator Eaton: Perhaps it is different in different parts of the
Mr. Reilly: It could be as well. I agree.
Mr. Wu: I absolutely agree with what has been said about this subject.
The women you are referring to are mainly women who come in as family class.
Senator Eaton: I would not know that.
Mr. Wu: Most likely, that is the case based on research. Otherwise,
they would not be able to come in as independent immigrants based on the point
system. I am not sure whether it is a good idea to impose a point system for the
spouses and other people coming in as a family class as well. Imposing that
system might not be a good idea.
Senator Eaton: You raise an interesting point.
Mr. Wu: It could be debated, I guess.
After they arrive, whether we should demand that they do something, I am not
sure that is a good idea either.
Senator Eaton: When they choose a country to come to, surely they want
to go to a country where they feel comfortable, where they think they can
flourish, where they can educate their children and where they can feel safe.
What is wrong with the country saying, if they have the privilege to become a
Canadian citizen we have two official languages, we believe in gender equality,
we believe in the rule of law and if we go to war, we expect them to step up and
defend us. What is wrong with saying that? I am asking all of you if we are
being too polite.
Mr. Wu: We are polite people.
Research has shown that most immigrants, dependents included, want to be
acculturated, they want to learn about the cultural traditions of the host
societies, and, particularly, they want to learn the language in the host
societies. I agree with Mr. Reilly and Ms. Gaudet. It is important that we
provide opportunities for them to learn and that is something we can do. I think
the priorities should be focusing on providing the opportunities.
Senator Champagne: I would like to address two points briefly. Mr.
Reilly, you obviously know very well what is going on in Edmonton, and you told
us you had seen and studied what is going on in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.
You have not gone to see what is being done in Winnipeg, and yet something
absolutely extraordinary is being done there. I spent a week there in August
last year, and I was thrilled. In the region, you realize that the francophone
population of St. Boniface seems to be an aging one. So they are making
superhuman efforts to attract a francophone population to join the group that is
already there. They are working with the Government of Canada, the Government of
Manitoba and the cities of Winnipeg and St. Boniface. What I was told is that,
when these people arrive, business people welcome them to see whether they are
people who want to invest, where they can be directed, where they have the
greatest chance for success. They will form groups, for example — you were
talking about volunteering — among themselves to take these people to their
first doctor's visit and to register their children for school so that a
francophone who speaks English can accompany them. I thought that was an
extraordinary program. We could no doubt find a way to adapt that to other
regions of the country.
That is why I wanted to talk about it. I lived with those people in Winnipeg
for a week, and I was thrilled by their enthusiasm. I realized that there is one
wheel that is turning. People who arrived three years ago and did not speak a
word of English — because they came from a francophone country, whether it be
Africa, France or Belgium — were now able to speak enough English to accompany
newcomers on their first visit to the doctor or to the school for registration.
That is an experience I wanted to share with you.
Now I would like to address the subject of temporary foreign workers. I live
in an urban rural region where, if it were not for those workers, it would be
very hard to grow and harvest a lot of the fruit that is eaten in Quebec.
Obviously, we want to attract them; we want to retain them. Mr. Reilly, I am
convinced that those who arrive in April to do the planting want to leave in
October and that it would be very hard to convince them to spend winter here
since we ourselves go to Mexico and South America to be in the sun.
In my community, however, a lot of stores registered one or two employees at
a language school and, when the workers arrive in April, those employees were
able to serve them in Spanish. Obviously, when the Mexicans and Nicaraguans
arrived, they all went to that store because it was easier for them to be
That is part of what we can do as Canadians to help these people adjust. They
fight to get their permits year after year because they are treated well by the
farmers who take them in, who offer them a good quality of life.
Attracting and retaining immigrants is definitely the theme, but when you
. . . there should be more pathways to permanent residency created within
federal immigration policy.
Allow me to say that I do not think I can retain my Mexicans for the winter
in Canada, but I hope you have comments on the two stories that I shared with
Mr. Reilly: I did not mention Winnipeg, and forgive me, but I work and
live in Edmonton and most of my focus is there. I have heard good things about
Winnipeg, and about Manitoba in general, in terms of excellent efforts at full
integration of immigrants. Perhaps it is more congruent working between the
temporary programs and the permanent residency programs that are leading to
pathways to permanency for temporary visa holders in Manitoba.
Some of the reasons for that are policy-driven, which are very positive. I
commend our colleagues in Manitoba and in Winnipeg for the good work they do.
The labour demands in Alberta were more intense and the temporary program was
used for everything from high level professional positions right down to the
lower scale industries. I can give you an idea of the numbers in Alberta. In
2009, 65,000 temporary visas were approved as of December. We had about 6,000 to
7,000 provincial nominee program positions, so the matchup is poor. We do not
have enough positions to help stream all the numbers of temporary workers that
might be interested in permanent work in Canada. We were filling ostensibly many
permanent positions through temporary workers. We need to see a better matchup
between them. Negotiations and discussions must happen between our provincial
and federal counterparts.
The city ends up hearing about these difficulties and challenges, especially
among temporary workers who want to stay. We hear from our contacts in the
community that a substantial number of them want to stay permanently in Canada.
My suggestion is that we need to examine that program. I cannot draw any
conclusions or make any suggestions except to say, let us examine it more
closely to try to gain a sense of the story and what is happening.
Senator Champagne: When I was in Winnipeg, we met with a group of
francophone parliamentarians. We were from all the Americas — from Louisiana to
all the provinces of Canada. Minister Kenney spoke to us, and was joined by the
people from the Manitoba government. They explained the program and all they are
doing to increase their francophone population in St. Boniface. The idea is
fantastic. There are many Africans whose first language is French, and they
settle in St. Boniface. The idea is a good one. You touched on both the
temporary workers and immigration.
Mr. Reilly: I will add that there is a desire on the part of the City
of Edmonton and other cities in Canada to be involved fully in discussions with
our federal and provincial counterparts on planning work and sharing that kind
of information. It could be helpful to promote that kind of integration.
Ms. Gaudet: There is a consensus on the fact that, in a number of
immigrant sponsorship programs, community organizations could do more educating
about gender equity and all that, except that in actual fact there are fewer and
fewer volunteers to do the sponsoring because, one, people no longer have any
time and, two, there are constant cuts to community organizations.
I make my students get involved in community engagement with the University
of Ottawa, and now we have trouble finding spaces in the community organizations
as a result of cuts, because they no longer have the money to hire anyone on a
full-time basis to manage the volunteers.
We can talk forever about the importance of community, except that, if there
are no more volunteers to carry out the programs, because there are a lot of
very successful programs in various Canadian cities, and if the community
organizations no longer have grants to offer the services and train their
volunteers, this is all a speech that falls on deaf ears.
Senator Champagne: These are programs that come from the provincial
governments and concern community groups.
Ms. Gaudet: Yes.
Senator Champagne: We have nothing to say.
Senator Martin: Mr. Wu, my question is for clarification of your
categorization of first-generation immigrants. You talked about the difficulties
they face. In many Asian cultures, a child is considered to be one year old
because the time in the womb is counted. When we talk about first generation, it
means Canadian-born; but Asians refer to first generation as the first
immigrants in Canada.
When you say that first generations tend to face difficulties fitting into
their host communities, are you referring to Canadian-born first-generation
immigrant children or are you referring to the first ones who come to Canada
that were born elsewhere?
Mr. Wu: You are referring to the third study at page four. For the
immigrant generation, we have three categories: A first generation,
one-and-a-half generation and a second generation. The first generation are
foreign-born immigrants. They are immigrants and the one-and-a-half are also
Senator Martin: I was born in Seoul, Korea, but raised in Canada. I
consider myself one-and-a-half. I know that in Canadian standards, first
generation means born in Canada.
Mr. Wu: We are referring to foreign-born immigrants as first
Senator Martin: I want to know whether other members of the committee
reading that information understood it in the same way.
Many Asian communities say that first generation refers to those born and
raised in the country of origin; that one- and-a-half generation refers to those
born elsewhere and raised in Canada; and that second generation refers to those
born in Canada.
You talked about the challenges of the new immigrants of the 20th century and
the past. The same challenges of survival remain but I notice one difference.
The first wave of immigrants from the 1960s and 1970s for some immigrant
communities came with the intent to settle and live in Canada together. For my
father there was an exodus for various reasons. Many of them were scholars but
they came here as families.
Today, I see a wave of new immigrants who will come to Canada and then,
within a year or five years, the father or mother may return or maintain a
business in the countries they have come from. That is a clear difference in the
attitude toward life in Canada.
Is that one of the clear differences between the immigrants of the first wave
and recent immigrants? Does that difference pose other challenges?
Mr. Wu: I do not think we have data on that area. We probably need to
have a study on it in terms of the intention to immigrate. On the surface, the
assumption is that they all want to come and settle. They would not receive
permanent residency or landed immigrant status if they did not intend to live
Whether their real intention is to come and settle is unknown. Some come here
solely for the purpose of their children's education. They want their kids to
grow up and attend colleges after which they tend to return. The kids stay and
they return to their own country. They care less about whether they can retain
permanent residency status.
Immigrants today are different from the immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s. It
is more likely that immigrants today belong to a visible minority. At the time
when your parents immigrated, there was a small number of visible minorities,
and people tended to come and stay. These are the consequences of the different
waves of immigration and government policies.
The question on intention an interesting one that is worthy of a study.
Senator Martin: It speaks to the global opportunities. It is not that
they come here intending to return or leave, but rather there are opportunities
here as well as where they are coming from — for some, not all.
Regarding immigrants coming to Canada, what kind of preparatory work can they
do prior to coming to Canada? Some language acquisition and an understanding of
Canadian culture and values would be helpful. Have you come across immigrants
who say that their success in Canada, sense of inclusion, or heightened sense of
inclusion is because they did some preparatory work before they came?
We spoke to officials, and there are programs like that. Is that area worth
investing in? It would help immigrants who come here to settle in more easily.
Mr. Wu: If they are coming as an immigrant in the independent class,
the primary applicant is judged based on language proficiency as one of the
criteria, so they need some language proficiency, but that is not required for
family members, dependants and so on. I do not believe Citizenship and
Immigration Canada insists on English proficiency if immigrants come as
investors or entrepreneurs. I do not think that is the case. Maybe it is a good
idea for them to do some kind of preparatory work before they come.
Mr. Reilly: The City of Edmonton developed our Newcomers Guide
and the movetoEdmonton.com website specifically to educate an international
audience about what Edmonton had to offer. Our work aligns with what you suggest
we would like people to know so they can make a more informed choice about
moving to Edmonton.
Senator Martin: These interesting statistics, not official, but
semi-official, speak to some of the challenges unique to Quebec. For instance,
with the Korean Canadian community, Vancouver has seen a steady growth, with
about 80,000 Korean Canadians in the Vancouver region. Toronto has seen a steady
growth, 150,000 and growing. Montreal, which is a major city, has been steady
for the past 10 to 15 years at about 5,000. What I hear from community leaders
is that people come, but, within one to five years, they move to Vancouver or
Toronto. What are the unique challenges in Quebec?
Ms. Gaudet, I know you are at the University of Ottawa, but regarding those
challenges, are you aware, based on your studies, of what we can do for
immigrants going to Quebec? There are great incentives, but retaining immigrants
is another set of challenges.
Ms. Gaudet: As I said, I am not an expert on immigration, but I know
the city of Montreal. I have lived there all my life to date. I would say
language is the first barrier. Some francophones stay in Montreal, but they come
from countries where they have some knowledge of French. I do not know the
culture of Koreans well, but it might be more difficult to learn French than
English. I do not know, but it could be a challenge for this specific group of
I know that the province of Quebec is working on giving French lessons, but
it is difficult to be a minority group in the province of Quebec with a minority
language when they know that English is the language of power, in a sense, or
money or business. I think that situation explains a lot. I am not an expert,
but it explains a lot of the difficulty in staying in Montreal, for example.
Senator Martin: Those who stay absolutely love it.
Ms. Gaudet: It is a wonderful city.
Senator Martin: They have to survive that first barrier of language,
as you say. The situation is an interesting one.
Senator Cordy: These presentations have all been interesting. Mr.
Reilly, Senator Champagne talked about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. I
know we use it at harvest time in the fall in Nova Scotia, and I know that
Alberta uses it. You made reference to the fact that it is a Temporary Foreign
Worker Program, but indeed many of these workers are filling full-time jobs in
Alberta because of the shortage of workers.
Are there changes we should make to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from
the federal perspective?
Mr. Reilly: My suggestion is that we work together to look at it, and
the federal government perhaps needs to look at it. Human Resources and Skills
Development Canada runs the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and Citizenship
and Immigration Canada runs the permanent residency and other programs. I do not
think I have any specific suggestions because it is not my area of expertise,
except that we know there is a mismatch in Alberta in terms of the number of
temporary workers coming in and, potentially, the number who want to seek
permanent status. The area needs thoughtful research and thoughtful engagement
with those temporary workers coming in, and discussions with them about their
I understand there are challenges to that engagement, in that one of the
prerequisites for a temporary visa is expressing a clear understanding that one
is a temporary worker. Anyone expressing an interest in long-term residency in
Canada would be ill-advised to share that information in applying for a
temporary visa, so there is a challenge in obtaining the kinds of information we
might need. That comes from my colleagues in the research areas in the
Metropolis networks who say there are real issues in terms of asking those kinds
It is an area that requires examination first. I do not have any specific
policy recommendations because I do not fully understand how it all operates. It
is up to our federal counterparts to work on that area, and the city can support
it by providing any information we can that can help in identifying those kinds
of issues and solutions.
Senator Cordy: Perhaps it is something that a committee should look at
in the Senate or the House of Commons. I agree that workers have to sign that
they will not stay, and then how do we work around this requirement. If they are
coming in as a temporary foreign worker, then even though they might want to
stay, they are unlikely to form attachments to the community they are in.
I will go back also to Senator Eaton's question about adult immigrant women
who seem to have the greatest obstacles for social engagement or social
inclusion. Some of my best friends now are people I met when my kids were young
because we had kids the same age and we were at the same events, or volunteering
at the same events. One meets a lot of people who have kids the same age as
their own kids.
Ms. Gaudet, in your paper, you talked about how some immigrants may feel that
volunteering is only for those who are well off, but you also said that
volunteerism can be restricted by religion, or encouraged by religion. You
talked also about work-life balance with time, child care and all those things.
How do we look at encouraging — that is not the right word — accommodating these
women so they become truer partners in the Canadian society when they have
chosen to come to Canada? You see the challenges. The mother is often the one
who is left home, so language becomes a barrier.
On top of that challenge, one of you also mentioned, and it goes along with
the language barrier, the settlement programs that we have, which can be good,
tend to be short-term programs. Should we look at medium- or long-range
programs? I am not sure if they keep the same name — settlement programs — for
immigrants rather than having a settlement program for six or twelve months and
then they are on their own, which is not necessarily long enough?
Ms. Gaudet: I will answer in French because the question is complex
and I want to be certain in my answer.
The question of religious groups is important because participation in
volunteer groups is especially linked to the practice of religion. Most of the
places where people volunteer are linked either to religion or to places of
worship, whether the people are practising members or not. It may be, for
example, a community group in a church basement. Then all those who do not
belong to that religion are excluded. This phenomenon is linked to a
generational factor. Generations are changing and there are fewer and fewer
church-goers, depending on the province or city where you find various religions
related to immigration. In this case, it is important in a way to secularize
engagement. To be really inclusive, the activity should not be linked to
religion. This recommendation especially applies to women. Gender equity must be
achieved in the community and through groups outside religious assemblies. That
is why we see a statistical relationship between religion and volunteering.
It is important for women to have programs or opportunities over the medium
and long terms. If you look at Maslow's pyramid, first you have to survive, find
a job and feed your children. First you have to satisfy all the basic needs,
which represents the short term. Then you can move on to the medium and long
terms through participation and social inclusion.
Senator Cordy: We cannot bring in legislation to tell someone that
they have to volunteer.
Ms. Gaudet: Exactly: It is difficult because volunteering is based on
a free decision.
Senator Cordy: It is voluntary, yes.
Ms. Gaudet: Exactly: However, solicitation can work. For example,
Canadian-born people volunteer because they are asked to volunteer. This is why
volunteering is so Canadian-born-based because it is based on networks. If
people are well educated and have a big network, everyone will ask them to
volunteer. Everyone asks them to volunteer on a board or something because they
have huge networks.
It is the same for immigrants. If they have a small network, nobody will ask
them. If they have a homogeneous network, especially, people will not ask them
to volunteer. We need to create the opportunity for volunteering or use more
informal forms of social participation. Volunteering nowadays is a huge
challenge because people do not have time to engage with one organization for
long hours. They want to give time, but more sporadically. They want to give
here and there, and it gives them a lot of social capital. I do not know if
organizations are responding to these changes.
Many volunteer organizations are controlled in a way by older people because
they have the time. There is that tradition, also. I think that there is a
little generation gap at play.
Mr. Reilly: I also think it is incumbent on organizations to help
extend their networks. For instance, the City of Edmonton performed a review of
our own voluntary boards and commissions and we recognized that we want to do a
better job of connecting with groups that are not necessarily represented on
those boards and commission groups.
I think it is up to organizations like ours to try to build our capacity to
reach out, establish and connect with our networks. That is where these health
broker groups that are connected with immigrant groups can help in a big way. If
there are ways of supporting those kinds of brokering groups — coming out of
those immigrant groups — to connect with major institutions like cities, major
government organization, health organizations, schools, et cetera, I think we
will see greater success. We must develop our capacity as well.
Mr. Wu: I want to add a quick observation. Volunteerism is a function
of time, social and economic status, religion and so on. It is part of a
Canadian tradition — it is part of ``Canadianness.'' Immigrants come from
different places. They are not integrated into this society; they have not
developed a broader sense of ``we.'' If we have a broader sense of ``we,'' then
volunteerism, civic participation and engagement are part of this sense.
This sense relates to long-term settlement programs. If we have those
programs, we can use them to develop and promote a broader sense of belonging,
shared identity or ``Canadianness'' — a sense of ``we.'' If we have that,
volunteering will come along as part of it.
Senator Callbeck: Thank you very much for your presentations. There is
one thing we hear a lot. I am sure we all know immigrants who have come to this
country and cannot find work in their respective fields. Mr. Reilly, you
mentioned the Edmonton Regional Immigrant Employment Council that is set up for
that purpose, specifically. Can you would talk a little bit about that council?
How exactly does it work?
Mr. Reilly: It comes out of learning from Toronto, where it started.
The Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council was probably the first of its
kind in the country. It helps develop relationships amongst major corporate
leaders and public institutions where there is a need for highly educated and
highly skilled workers. Then it begins to develop intelligence and research work
on the kinds of labour force opportunities we have, in terms of the people
living in the city.
The council works with community groups themselves and brings the settlement
sector agencies together at the same table. The council is focused specifically
on the issue of employment of what we consider to be highly skilled and highly
The council tries to help create connections both within the community to
identify where the labour force opportunities are, and then also with the
businesses to identify where the need is in terms of employers who need people.
A couple of successful ways the council has been able to do this is through
what they call, ``internationally experienced professionals conferences.''
Toronto put one on recently and I think they are trying to export that kind of
experience to other parts of the country. ERIEC and our affiliates in Calgary
are looking at putting on a provincial conference that brings employers and
highly-skilled immigrants to the same place.
The council has developed mentorship programs where an individual in a highly
skilled professional position takes on a protégé of a similar educational
background. It is precisely to do what we have been talking about here: Helping
them become connected to the kind of networks they need to find those kinds of
Therefore, mentorship programs are important. We also have internship
programs, as well.
The city has established its own internship program in Edmonton, where we
have a multicultural consultant, and through ERIEC, can connect to the kinds of
people we want to attract into our workforce. ERIEC therefore becomes an asset
to the city in that it can help us find the kinds of people we are looking for.
The city then hosts an internship where we help an immigrant obtain that
essential Canadian experience that is often asked for by the professional
These are the ways we can work together. These regional councils can also
bring together the different orders of government around employment issues, so
they can bring together CIC, Alberta Employment and Immigration and community
sector organizations to help examine some of those barriers and find solutions
together. That is the way they work best.
Senator Callbeck: You had observations. Number one was for Citizenship
and Immigration Canada to have meaningful dialogue with the municipalities. I
want to hear from all of you about the programs that CIC has right now to foster
integration. How are those programs working? Are they successful? Are there
programs that we should enhance or improve in some way?
Mr. Reilly: My connections are with people in the settlement sector,
and from what I understand, I think they would tell me yes, the programs are
successful, absolutely. I mentioned earlier that there are indications that
perhaps some programs could go on for a longer duration. There are innovations
that have been successful. We are seeing more workplace-based language programs,
which I believe meets both the immigrants' needs in learning the language, and
also integration into the workforce, which is important. I hear positive things
about those kinds of programs in our city.
I think, especially since the City of Edmonton has come into the picture and
we are providing small grants to community organizations and immigrant groups
themselves, we want to see a sharing of information among the provincial,
federal and municipal governments so we do not duplicate efforts and we each
carve out a niche in terms of the kinds of things we can support.
I have not heard any widespread criticism of immigration programs and I have
a sense that people are doing their best, and that the settlement agencies
themselves are working hard in support of the people who arrive.
I think the sector agencies are best to answer that question. I hope they
will have a chance to meet with you.
The Chair: They will.
Mr. Reilly: They will be better able to answer those questions.
Senator Callbeck: You talked about the municipalities, or CIC having
meaningful dialogue with the municipalities. Recently, we had Deborah Tunis here
from CIC, who said she had been invited to meet with the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities. Should the federal government be taking the initiative here, or
should they wait for the municipalities to invite them?
Mr. Reilly: I do not know a lot about them, but I have heard about
this innovation of these local immigration partnerships that I think have been
piloted in Ontario. I believe that instead of expecting one or the other to
start, it is about each coming to the table and beginning these discussions.
In Edmonton, we started talking about this area when I received an invitation
from someone in Ontario to attend a conference around the local immigration
partnership programs that were taking place so I could learn about them. I then
picked up the phone and called my counterparts in both the federal and
provincial ministries in Edmonton and asked whether they heard about these
programs. They said yes, maybe they could bring one of the people who has been
working in that area to Alberta and we could have a conference to learn about
them. In that way they can develop.
What I have from both my provincial and federal counterparts is a lot of
support and a lot of interest in working together so when I pick up the phone
and call the regional director there, he is supportive and encouraging. It
depends on who is has the idea. We can create a spirit of openness amongst the
three orders of government to work together effectively and work with the sector
as well. Working with those sector organizations is absolutely vitally
Senator Callbeck: Are you saying that CIC should be more aggressive in
Mr. Reilly: I am saying we would like to learn more about these local
immigration partnerships, and I believe an effort is developing to introduce
them more broadly across the country. We would be open to that.
I think too there is a need to engage at the regional level, but also at the
level of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, our national organization.
There are opportunities there because they are developing their expertise in the
area. There are probably opportunities to build relationships with our
Senator Merchant: I commend you, Mr. Reilly, because you have also
highlighted a different consideration that we must keep in mind in Western
Canada, especially. It is your observation that discussions and planning related
to immigration must take into consideration equitable plans for meeting the
needs of Canada's First Nations, Metis, Inuit and non-status Aboriginal people
to have a clear commitment to equitable treatment, which would go a long way to
promoting communities that are cohesive and mutually supportive.
Can you tell us more about that area? I come from Saskatchewan, and we also
have the same challenges. It is important for our communities to get along and
appreciate each other.
Mr. Reilly: Last year we held a summit in the city looking at issues
related to racism. We consulted with an expert who had long-standing experience
in working around racism. When she consulted with us and we started talking
about the full inclusion of different racialized groups, as we call them, she
asked about the relationship between our immigrant groups and our First Nations,
Metis, Inuit and non-status Aboriginal people. We said we do not know the status
of those relationships. She suggested, not that we have a major summit that
included significant political and institutional leaders and the community, but
that we would be best advised to bring together representatives or individuals
from those communities themselves to start to tell their stories to one another.
The event was really successful. It was the first time, most people described
to us, that people of Aboriginal descent, our First Peoples, and people that had
come from other places that perhaps had been colonized before, to be able to
talk about their experiences not only in their countries of origin but when they
came here, and they found that some of their experiences were similar. They
developed some mutual understanding. What we were trying to do perhaps was to
prevent the two communities beginning to see each other as competitors for
programs or supports from various orders of government to help them achieve
their economic goals.
A positive sense is growing amongst these groups that, first, the
municipality is listening, and we can work with other orders of government to
achieve some of those economic aspirations that they have especially for their
young people, which is what I hear mostly. They want to see their people fully
included to achieve the education they would like to see for their kids, and the
kind of jobs they want, to be successful. That sense goes a long way in helping
prevent communities from seeing each other as competitors or enemies, and to
seeing each other as potential allies working with the broader community and
with its institutions to achieve those goals.
Senator Champagne: When my colleague, Senator Martin, talked about the
Korean community, she said that in Montreal, the community was small, and you
put out the possibility of the language problem. One of the communities that
settled in Montreal was the Lebanese community; in many cases probably because
French was a second language in Lebanon. Suddenly, there was war in Lebanon. I
do not know how many thousands of Canadians of Lebanese descent are there. The
Government of Canada spent a fortune on planes and ship to repatriate them.
Then, six months later, half of those we brought back to Canada had returned to
Are those people Canadians? Are they still mostly Lebanese? How do you
explain that situation? They are there praying that there is not another war.
The Chair: Can you think of a social inclusion relationship here?
Senator Champagne: Okay, I tried.
The Chair: Professor Wu, you talked about how ethnic enclaves slow
down the pace of integration. Ethnic enclaves are not new, although there are a
lot more of them now than ever before. It is natural for people to want to be
with family and friends, people who speak the same language and have the same
culture. We cannot stop them from living together, and it obviously gives them a
great deal of comfort to be in these enclaves.
How can we help them integrate better with the rest of the community? How do
we overcome that additional obstacle, as you have called it?
Mr. Wu: Enclaves are a barrier to integration, and they are not
desirable, despite the good things you said about them. Immigrants are new to
the country; they may have a language problem. Life is tough in a new country.
However, research has shown that sometimes in less than one generation they
settle in, become established and move out of the enclaves. Research has shown
that enclaves are not desirable for all new immigrants, although enclaves play a
protective role in helping new immigrants to settle in.
The Chair: How can we counter those enclaves if they slow down the
pace of integration?
Mr. Wu: I can say only that with outreach programs and services such
as language training they will move out of the enclaves at some stage and
integrate into the community.
Ms. Gaudet: In some neighbourhoods in Montreal, for example, there is
low-cost housing where Canadian-born people used to live, but those
neighbourhoods are changing and different communities now live there. Affordable
housing is a major issue.
We are talking about access to housing outside those enclaves. Living
downtown with public transit is too expensive.
Mr. Reilly: I find that an interesting topic. We recently reviewed our
immigration data to see what neighbourhoods different groups settled in across
the city. I want the committee to keep in mind that there is a great diversity
of experience in terms of where immigrants choose to settle in our city. For
instance, South Asian communities are compact and concentrated in a specific
area of the city, whereas Southeast Asians are more dispersed, as are African
groups. Middle Eastern groups are living more in the northern part of the city.
They are not concentrated in one or a few neighbourhoods.
Dispersion is taking place and there is diversity within the different areas.
I encourage you to recognize that all these groups are unique, as we are
learning in Edmonton. We must not think of all immigrants as enclaving, because
some are not.
The Chair: That is, and has always been, true. That is a subject we
can spend more time on, but we have run out of time for now.
Thank you all for being here. You have provided valuable information for our