Living in Canada

Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for newcomers to Canada

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When we first landed in Toronto, I was surprised how many things I had to relearn;  I’m not just talking about driving on the wrong side of the road, light switches that needed to be flipped upwards to put the light on or keeping track of daylight saving time.

There were some points I wish I had been told, when I was a new Canadian, fresh ‘off the boat’ as they like to say. Some I knew already,  but I feel all 5 points will help newcomers to Canada more than you can imagine.

Here are my top 5 things to watch out for, as you head to Canada’s shores.

  1. Don’t ask anyone ‘where are you from?’ Many newcomers do this when they are eager to make friends and want to find common ground, but some people feel offended. Its just not a cool thing to do. Remember: Everyone you see is Canadian regardless of their skin color or accent until they tell you otherwise.
  2. If someone asks you how are you? Don’t tell them. It’s just a greeting like ‘hello’ The accepted answer is ‘ I’m good, how are you?’ Anything more than that will probably receive an eye roll when you are safely out of sight.
  3. This one I have been careful to avoid ( Wouldn’t tell you if I did either, would I?) Don’t ever lie ( even a little, white lie) while getting an insurance quote, making an insurance claim, or talking to anyone from the government. I know a few individuals who have tried and had their financial reputation marred. Canada is very well connected so there are databases where companies can check for fraud, credit scores and even insurance claims.  A new immigrant might be tempted to use a better postal code or marital status or group affiliation while trying to get a better insurance rate and beat the system. I get the reasons why someone might do it. However fraud is viewed very seriously in Canada and it can have very major impacts. Insurance could be cancelled and impact the client for up to 6 years not to mention criminal charges.
  4. Do help others as much as you can. Buy someone a coffee, volunteer or even mow your neighbor’s lawn. This is the very soul of being Canadian. Read all about it here.
  5. Do thank everyone that helps you with anything at all. The person who holds the door open for you as you pass, the customer service rep that gives you a quote for a new phone service ( even if you didn’t like the offer) and most definitely the Uber or bus driver as you exit the vehicle. It is the polite and civil nature of ( mostly) everyone around that have earned Canadians the well deserved moniker of the most polite country in the world. Follow suit and enjoy living in such a cordial atmosphere.

These are the top 5 things that newcomers to Canada should keep in mind.  I’m sure there are several others that you will learn as you go along. Please do share.

Canada needs skilled workers: Where are the Electricity Engineers?

Skills Shortages: A Big Problem

Electricity Human Resource Canada has forecast an immediate skills shortage of 20,000 jobs by 2020. The future doesn’t look too bright either as less than 5% of electricity employees are under the age of 25.

These statistics are echoed in other sectors as well:

Tourism: Forecasting a shortage of almost 115,000 unfilled jobs by 2020

Supply chain: 100,000 employees needed by 2020

Food Processing: 50,000 workers needed by 2020

Other sectors where major shortages are looming include Agriculture, Insurance, Mining, Environmental workers, Petroleum, Printing and Trucking. In a nutshell almost every other skilled sector will face a skills crunch soon.

Will immigration help to fill this gap?

Canada has been very aggressive with respect to immigration. Over the last 10 years Canada has boosted almost 5% of it’s population through immigration programs. Immigrants play a key role in filling these job vacancies. However, international credentials need to be assessed. Also internationally trained professionals need to obtain licenses and accreditation in order to practice. Very often immigrant engineers, lawyers and healthcare professionals prefer to switch careers to avoid having to wait. The government is already working hard with industry consultants to reduce this delay, but yes it’s still a major issue.

Here are some resources for foreign trained professionals to help this process.

Can students help fill the gap?

Yes employers are working closely with educational institutions. Co-op programs ensure that students and employers get to know one another even before graduation. Over 90% of co-op students are hired by the company they interned with. Most undergraduate and graduate schools have close to a 100% placement rate for successful students. However there are not enough students to fill the emerging jobs. We need more.

Here are some resources for foreign students to understand the process.

This is a difficult time for employers but an amazing time to live, study and work in Canada. Opportunities and options abound. Become an Electrical engineer maybe? We do need to ensure the lights stay on.

*This blog was based on Industry feedback which was compiled in a report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on Canada’s skills crisis.

Canadian Students – Work Permits

What’s not to love about the changes in the Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP)? Last month, the Government of Canada made some welcome changes to the application process. You now have  twice as much time to apply for a work permit that is not dependent on being sponsored by an employer. Amazing!

International students who want to stay and work in Canada after successfully graduating now have 180 days to apply for an open work permit once they finish. This will help them get valuable Canadian experience to help them to ultimately apply for Permanent Residency (PR) under the Canadian Experience Class. Students should note however, that all work experience will not be considered as valid work experience and should be in occupations with NOC codes O, A or B.

The validity period of the post-graduation work permit may not go beyond the applicant’s passport validity date. If the applicant’s passport expires before the validity period of the post-graduation work permit,  the applicant then has to apply for a work permit extension. This can be done upon the renewal of their passport to receive the full validity of their post-graduation work permit.

What is the validity of the PGWP?

  • If the program of study is at least 8 months and less than 2 years : The length of the work permit will coincide with the length of the program. For instance if you study for 18 months, you can work for 18 months.
  • The program of study is 2 years or longer: The length of the work permit will be for 3 years

Note: Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months in length.

Black History Month- News

Canadians just completed another successful Black History Month all across the country. This is a testimony to the contribution of black Canadians to Canada’s history and culture. Starting in 1995, Canada’s government recognized the month of February to honor this vibrant and hardworking community.  If you live here in Toronto, you might have planned road trips to these locations to learn more about African history and culture.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum

The Buxton National Historic Site and Museum in Chatham

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site in Dresden

There are other famous sites all over the country like The Black Cultural Center in Nova Scotia

As February draws to a close, spare a thought not only for black Canadians but also for the rich multicultural fabric of Canada. People of all races and cultures gather here and live in peace and harmony, unlike anywhere in the world.

2 new avenues for Caregivers to move to Canada- News

The caregiver program in Canada has undergone several revisions so far.

In the past caregivers did not have much flexibility to change jobs quickly . There were several barriers that prevented family members from coming to Canada. These will be removed in the new pilot program announced by immigration minister Ahmed Hussen on 23rd February 2019

Caregivers will soon have access to 2 new 5-year caregiver immigration pilots. These will replace expiring programs.

Under the new pilots, applicants will be assessed for permanent residence criteria before they begin working in Canada. The caregiver just needs their work permit and 2 years of work experience.  They will then have access to a direct pathway to become a permanent resident.

The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs pilots will be phased out.

The new plans will include

  • Occupation-specific work permits for caregivers. This will provide them the freedom to change jobs quickly when necessary.
  • Open work permits for spouses/common-law partners and study permits for dependent children. This will permit the caregiver’s family to accompany them to Canada.

The Interim Pathway for Caregivers will be open from March 4, 2019, until June 4, 2019. This will allow caregivers already in Canada to apply for PR.

The current government has some impressive numbers to show off regarding caregivers. They have reduced 94% of the backlog and reduced the processing time to 12 months.

Quotes

“Caregivers provide care to families in Canada that need it, and it’s time for Canada to care for them in return. We are providing them with both the opportunity to bring their family members here and access permanent residency to demonstrate our commitment.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship