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Newsletter. Issue 2008-17. August 16, 2008

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A New Program Aimed At Helping Foreign Students And Other Temporary Residents Working In Canada Become Permanent Residents
Last update: 10:48 a.m. EDT Aug. 12, 2008

WATERLOO, ONTARIO, Aug 12, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced the details of the Canadian Experience Class, a proposed new avenue for immigration for certain temporary foreign workers and foreign student graduates with Canadian work experience. Unlike other existing programs, this proposal will allow an applicant's Canadian experience to be considered a key selection factor when immigrating to Canada.

The Canadian Experience Class will allow certain temporary foreign workers and certain foreign student graduates with managerial, professional, or technical or trade work experience to apply to become permanent residents, and eventually Canadian citizens. All applicants, depending on their occupational skill level, will be required to demonstrate either basic or moderate language skills. Proposed regulatory changes have been pre-published in the Canada Gazette for a 15-day comment period. Final regulatory changes will be published following this comment period.

"The Canadian Experience Class is one more measure this government is proposing to make our immigration system more attractive and accessible to individuals with diverse skills from around the world, and more responsive to Canada's labour market needs," said Minister Finley. "This new proposed avenue for immigration would also go further to spread the benefits of immigration into smaller centres across Canada."

Temporary foreign workers and foreign students are generally spread out across the country and contribute to the growth of smaller communities as well as metropolitan areas. Individuals applying for permanent residence through this new avenue could apply from within Canada while continuing to work and continuing to contribute to their local communities.

The Canadian Experience Class comes after a number of recent initiatives the government has undertaken to help newcomers succeed and to help make Canada a more attractive destination for skilled individuals from around the world. These initiatives include changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program; the establishment of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office; increased investments in language training and other programs and services aimed at helping newcomers successfully settle and integrate into their new communities; and, most recently, changes to the immigration system that would allow for priority processing of certain skilled applicants and reduced wait times for those wanting to immigrate to Canada.

Through the Canadian Experience Class, newcomers will be more likely to make the most of their abilities while undergoing a more seamless social and economic transition to Canada. And, in turn, their cultural and economic contributions will enrich Canada.

"Choosing newcomers based on knowledge of our labour market and experience within Canadian society would make Canada a more attractive destination for skilled individuals from around the world," added Minister Finley. "International students and skilled workers would be more likely to choose Canada if they knew their time in Canada and contribution to Canadian society would assist in their eligibility to apply to stay permanently."

Canada's housing market cools in face of sharply slower economic growth

TORONTO Canada's housing market lost some steam in July as the fevered pace of new home and condo construction cooled, especially in Ontario, after prices rose at their slowest pace in over six years in June in the face of sharply slower economic growth. Canada's national economy "is flat on its back" after two straight monthly declines in employment, Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said Monday. As a result, he said, people are "anxious and worried about the economic outlook," (and) "are not inclined to make big-ticket purchases like homes."

He also said the housing slowdown comes as a kind of payback after "unsustainably strong" building activity in past years and prices being "overly high for too long." Helene Begin, senior economist with Desjardins Securities, said "it is possible that poor weather conditions, particularly in central and eastern Canada, magnified the decline in construction." Both regions have experienced record amounts of rain and severe storms over the past couple of months.

The Canadian economy has been hurt by the slowdown in the United States, brought on by the worldwide credit crunch, which has savaged Canada's export-sensitive forestry and automotive industries, leading to thousands of layoff announcements. Softening commodity prices, especially for oil, are also creating uncertainty in the marketplace. The national economy lost 55,000 jobs in July, with Ontario and Quebec, the country's two most populous provinces and the centre of the manufacturing sector, the hardest hit. Statistics Canada said Friday the national unemployment rate improved slightly to 6.1 per cent in July, from 6.2 per cent in June, but only because many people - especially the young - left the workforce.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Monday that July's annual rate of housing starts was 186,500 units, down from 215,900 units in June. "It was the second consecutive monthly decline, and the most significant since December last year," said TD economist Pascal Gauthier in a note to clients. He said "the overall level of new residential construction activity recorded in July fell significantly short of expectations for a total of 210,000 starts." While Alberta and British Columbia sidestepped the national trend in construction activity, up 23 per cent and five per cent respectively, "every other province recorded significant reductions in housing starts," said Gauthier. Saskatchewan fell the most with a 56 per cent decline, "but it was Ontario's 28 per cent pullback in starts that weighed the most on national figures," he said.

The volatile multiple unit segment, including housing such as condos, "took the largest hit, mostly in Ontario as well," said Gauthier. Urban single-unit starts posted a seven per cent decline in July, continuing their gradual downward trend, he said. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Western Canada's softening market slowed housing prices to their slowest pace in over six years in June.
Nationally, contractors' selling prices rose 3.5 per cent between June 2007 and June 2008, compared with the 4.1 per cent year-over-year increase in May.

Neil Killips, an economist with Statistics Canada, said "the price softening housing market is mostly due to Western Canada." "Calgary... about two years ago... was at almost 60 per cent increases, but now it's at 0.1 per cent in July," he said. "That's really been the drive in the last two years, is what's happening in Alberta." The housing market, said Guatieri "is downshifting from the elevated rates of activity of recent years." Sales volumes fell sharply around the start of 2008, then price growth downshifted and now homebuilders are scaling back, he said. Brent Weimer, a senior economist at CMHC, said that "after a strong first half of the year, the volatile multiple segment is now readjusting itself."

The figures bring the year's activity more in line with the agency's 2008 forecast of about 200,000 housing starts for the seventh consecutive year, he said. Will this forecast hold? "As an average for this year, it's possible just given how high starts were in the first half of the year," said Guatieri.
But "in the second half of this year, housing starts will be far lower, quite likely under 200,000." The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts fell 14.8 per cent in July from June. The June price increase was the slowest rate of growth since March 2002 when year-over-year prices increased by 3.4 per cent. Prices edged up 0.1 per cent between May and June this year. Regina homebuyers suffered the largest gains in new home prices, at 28.5 per cent over June 2007, while St. John's, N.L., had the second largest increase, at 22.2 per cent. Going forward, said Gauthier, "one should not read too much into an oversized drop in multiple starts in a single month. The month-to-month volatility in this market segment is remarkably high on both the upside and downside."

A better indicator of the market going forward, he said, is the trend in single starts. For the remainder of the year, this segment "should experience a cooling after running too hot for too long." BMO's Guatieri also predicted that the construction trend in single family starts for the rest of the year "will be downward." House prices, he said, "will continue to moderate. In some cities, we will see outright declines as we're already seeing in Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria."

"Housing will no longer act as a tailwind for our economy at an unfortunate time because trade still presents a pretty stiff headwind and we won't get the offset from housing that we saw in the last year."

Economists Say Drop in Canadian Housing Starts Overstated, but Trend Is Clear
Mon Aug 11, 2008 09:28am

(CEP News) Ottawa - Housing starts fell much more than expected in July due to a disproportionate decline in Ontario, but economists say the report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is likely overstated, possibly from weather-related reasons. Canada's annual rate of housing starts fell to 186,500 in July, falling from a downwardly revised 215,900 in the previous month. Single-unit housing starts dropped 6.6% to 69,800, while multi-unit starts fell sharply by 20.2% to a pace of 91,600.

TD Securities economics strategist Millan Mulraine called the decline in starts "massive," noting it was the biggest decline since last December and "much worse than the drop to 210k expected by the markets." Starts have now fallen 15.8% from their level one year ago, compared with a 4.3% annual decline in the previous month. Despite how bad the report is, Mulraine said the data is "in no way comparable" to the prolonged correction in the U.S. housing sector. "Going forward, we expect a bit of a bounce back in starts, as we believe that the long-run trend for starts remains somewhere in the 200K to 220K region," he added. Commenting on the trading floor reaction, strategist Stewart Hall from HSBC Securities said the market barely budged. "CAD largely unchanged, and very little activity in the front-end of the curve. Not out of context given the rather significant repricing of the front-end on the back of Friday's dismal Canadian payroll number," he added.

Regionally, the decline was mostly centred in Ontario, which saw a substantial decline to 47,800, down from 78,100 in the June report. "A drop of that magnitude tends to suggest something other than economics at work," Hall said. "Ontario has experienced its rainiest summer in decades (July was particularly soggy) which tends to support the idea that the magnitude of the construction decline may have more to do with weather than entirely economic related." Brent Weimer, senior economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre, said the first half of the year was strong but the volatile multi-unit segment is now readjusting itself. "This brings activity since the start of the year closer in line with our 2008 forecast of more than 200,000 housing starts for the seventh consecutive year," he said.

British Columbia starts saw an advance to a pace of 33,100, up from 31,500, while other regional data was largely unchanged. The Atlantic region saw a minor boost to 8,700 from 8,500, Quebec saw a gain to 41,200 from 40,300, and the pace in the Prairie regions fell to 30,600 from 31,500. Assistant chief economist Paul Ferley from RBC Capital Markets added the decline was probably overstated, but noted the general trend is certainly downward. He said new residential construction remains under pressure, which will likely keep the Bank of Canada "wary about ratcheting up the still relatively stimulative 3.00% overnight rate."

By Patrick McGee, ,
Edited by Nancy Girgis,

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati's new Decree on Child Protection
Archdiocese: Pat a child's back, but no kisses
By Dan Horn - August 11, 2008

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati's new Decree on Child Protection includes the most detailed rules yet for how priests, employees and volunteers should interact with children. The latest version of the decree, which is updated every five years, lists for the first time examples of physical contact that would be appropriate or inappropriate under church rules.

Handshakes, pats on the back, high-fives, side hugs or shoulder-to-shoulder hugs all are acceptable. But bear hugs, lengthy embraces, lap-sitting, kisses, wrestling, tickling, massages or piggy-back rides are off limits. Church officials say the list should help eliminate any confusion staff members or volunteers might have about contact with kids.

The latest revision of the decree was released last week with about eight more pages of new or expanded rules. "We try to make it better all the time," said archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco. Other changes include a requirement that contractors who have contact with kids get background checks, and a policy that urges staff and volunteers to avoid using "suggestive or inappropriate" communications with children. The decree also would bar people from entering the seminary or becoming deacons if their names appear on a new civil registry that lists anyone with a declaratory judgment - not necessarily a criminal conviction - for assault or battery.

The registry, created last year, allows Ohio judges to use a declaratory judgment to put someone accused of abuse on the registry if they believe the allegations have merit, but the case is too old to prosecute. So far, no one has been placed on the registry. The changes to the decree came after months of consultation with a team of lay and clerical people, as well as from reviewing decrees in other dioceses. Victims' advocates have criticized the archdiocese for its handling of past abuse cases, but they support the rules in the decree. "Any change that moves toward protecting children is great," said Christy Miller, co-director of the Cincinnati chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Miller said no rule, however, can protect children from abusers who never were prosecuted and appear on no registry. Since publication of the first decree in 1993, church officials say, 81,000 staff, volunteers and clergy have been trained in its provisions. At least 59,000 people who work with children have been fingerprinted and undergone background checks. Andriacco said 266 people have been barred from working with kids because of criminal convictions or misconduct.

The full decree is on the archdiocese's site. To read the decree Click here

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper apologizes in B.C. for 1914 Komagata Maru incident
August 3, 2008 | CBC News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized Sunday for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in which hundreds of Indians seeking a better life in Canada were turned away. Harper was speaking to a crowd of about 8,000 people in Surrey, B.C., which has a large Indian community. But as soon as he left the stage members of the Sikh community rushed to the podium denouncing the apology and said they wanted it made on the floor of the House of Commons.

"The apology was unacceptable," said Jaswinder Singh Toor, president of The Descendants of Komagatamaru Society. "We were expecting the prime minister of Canada to do the right thing. The right thing was like the Chinese Head Tax," said Toor, referring to Harper's full apology to the Chinese-Canadian community in 2006 for the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants who came to Canada between 1885 and 1923.

The Komagata Maru sailed into Vancouver harbour with 376 people on May 23, 1914. The dominion government would not allow the passengers to disembark and the vessel sat in the harbour for two months. Eventually, the boat sailed back to Calcutta where it was met by police, and 20 people were killed as they disembarked while others were jailed.

Last May, the B.C. government issued an apology for the incident. Many of those aboard the Komagata Maru were Sikhs. Sikh community leaders want apology in Parliament Following Harper's speech, Sikh community leaders asked the crowd for a show of hands on whether or not to accept the apology. Then they announced that the gathering had rejected it.

"The apology has been given and it won't be repeated," said Secretary of State Jason Kenney, who was accompanying Harper during the visit. The apology marks the third such reconciliation Harper has made with embarrassing parts of Canada's past. On June 11, Harper apologized to aboriginals who suffered abuse decades ago at Canadian residential schools, calling it "an important evolution in Canada's relationship with our first peoples."

In 2006, Harper issued a full apology to the Chinese-Canadian community for the head tax. He offered compensation to surviving Chinese-Canadians who paid the tax, as well as to widows and their children. And, it is not without symbolism that Sunday's apology should be delivered in Surrey's Bear Creek Park. Two teenage boys were found guilty of manslaughter in November 2006 for attacks one fatal on two elderly Indo-Canadian men in the park a year earlier.

The boys, who cannot be identified because they were 13 and 15 at the time of the attacks, had been charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 76-year-old Shingara Singh Thandi of Surrey. Thandi was beaten with baseball bats and robbed in a washroom in July 2005. He died in hospital three weeks later. The youths were also found guilty of aggravated assault and robbery of Mewa Singh Bains, 83. The Komagata Maru incident highlighted inconsistencies in Canadian immigration policy at the time.

A 1910 order-in-council was passed requiring immigrants to come to Canada by continuous journey from their homeland. So, Gurdit Singh chartered the Japanese ship Komagata Maru and sold tickets for a continuous journey from the Punjab state to Canada. However, a 1908 order-in-council required all "Asiatic" immigrants to be in possession of $200. The Indians argued the provision did not apply to them as they were British subjects. India was still a colony. That July, the ship was ordered to sail but the Indians took over the ship and refused to leave.

On July 19, 125 Vancouver police officers and 35 special immigration agents attempted to board the vessel and were beaten back. Thirty were injured. However, on July 23, under the guns of the naval cruiser S.S. Rainbow, the Komagata Maru was escorted out to sea and returned to India.

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