By: Laura Bisaillon in Toronto
It’s World AIDS Day and this year, I am moving beyond remembering loved ones. I am shifting to a forward position and a distinct political hopefulness.
My wish on this World AIDS Day is for Canada to change how HIV is dealt with in its immigration system. Specifically, I would like to see the nation change how it makes inadmissibility decisions about people with HIV who apply to live in Canada.
This would be done through the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. It would involve changing specific institutional practices, including the collection and circulation of HIV-related data from prospective immigrants.
The imperative for my research is to demystify social institutions like immigration so that we can explore and understand how things happen. As an interdisciplinary professor in health and social justice, and as a former social worker in a woman’s sexual health communities, I work to detect institutionally arising inequities.
For the past 15 years, I have been involved in AIDS work. I have worked in the Horn of Africa and parts of Canada in direct support. My life and lives of people I care about, some of whom cannot immigrate to Canada because of their HIV status, are deeply affected by this infection and its unfortunate pernicious social standing. I work with teams to use creativity and critique in equal measure to produce do-able ideas for remedying some of these inequities.
Using creativity and critique
This is precisely what I have done for Canada’s mandatory immigration HIV testing policy. The policy was enacted in 2002, but not ever reviewed until my work.
The policy acts as a filter. It screens for HIV and sorts people with HIV out (with some exceptions). HIV is discovered in the medical examination that all applicants for permanent residency must undergo at regular intervals. Most of these exams happen outside of Canada in contexts that Canada cannot monitor.
My motivation for assessing how this policy functions in everyday lives was because of the disconnect between immigrant people’s everyday social experiences through Canada’s imposed HIV testing, and the official representations of these experiences.
I formed alliances with racialized women with HIV from the Global South coming through the Canadian refugee ajudication system. Through them, I learned of the contrast between what actually happened in their lives with immigration medical processes and what is officially understood to have happened as documented in national government reports.
I set out to understand how this dissonance was happening. All persons aged 15 years and older who request Canadian permanent residence, such as refugees and immigrants, are required to undergo HIV testing. Tuberculosis and syphilis are the two other conditions for which people receive mandatory screening.
I produced the first social science exploration and critique of the medical, legal and administrative context governing the immigration to Canada for people with HIV. I identified both inequities and levers for change by using a feminist ethnographic policy analysis.
An immigration HIV test catalyzes the state’s collection of medical data about an applicant. These are entered into state decision-making about the person’s inadmissibility to Canada.
The good news on HIV policy
As it turns out, the HIV policy and mandatory screening ushers in a set of institutional practices that are highly problematic for prospective immigrants with HIV infection, the Canadian state and what is means to be Canadian more broadly. Avoidable inequities have been happening for 16 years, and they are ongoing.
The good news is that policies can be adjusted.
People with disease and disability, and their advocates, recently met with Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to discuss and plan a future course of action.
And we have recently learned that Hussen has said current medical inadmissibility rules do not align with Canadian values and need to be reformed.
Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says current medical inadmissibility rules for newcomers are out of touch with Canadian values and need to be reformed. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
It was acknowledged that the ways in which medical inadmissibility decision-making is informed and practised are outdated. This certainly applies to HIV/AIDS, a chronic and manageable disease and an episodic disability, in the Canadian context.
We see that HIV infection is scrutinized more and differently than any other health condition through the immigration process, where we see layers of institutional directives, guidelines and practices in place governing HIV/AIDS. A core problem with the HIV testing policy is that it’s not informed by or reliant upon the most up-to-date scientific knowledge..
Democracy depends on how we talk to each other. Research on the social determinants of health shows us that we all live better lives in egalitarian societies. Part of how to achieve such societies is how we talk and listen to each other.
What sort of public spaces can we create to hear and be heard on matters related to the Canadian immigration system and medical inadmissibility decision-making? Opportunities are preciously few.
A roundtable on immigration and disease is needed
I propose a roundtable on immigration, disease and disability in which I bring to the table the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about immigration and HIV. We could invite Harvard’s Professor Michael Sandel to join, because he also asks critically important questions about immigration (and sparks debate to collectively contemplate answers), as well as my colleagues at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. When can we meet to discuss immigration and HIV?
The World AIDS Day flag flies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 1 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)
Together in class, students and I have used the research record to examine the human rights implications of mandatory immigration HIV testing in Canada. We have done the same regarding the ethical and material consequences of medical doctors being asked to work in ethical problematic ways within Canada’s immigration system.
Just as other immigrants to Canada do, those with HIV will contribute to our society in myriad ways. Having interacted with thousands upon thousands of people with HIV over time and across space and place, they are among the most resilient and hard-working people I have met, which I attribute to the experience of personal suffering and knowledge of the larger social and political history of HIV/AIDS, not to mention their place within it.
This is precisely the sort of immigrant that Canada wants and indeed welcomes.
I am committed to a process in which we can talk with and listen to each other on matters of immigration and disease as they relate to HIV/AIDS. The moment is upon us to work with the most up-to-date scientific evidence to produce a medical inadmissibility decision-making system unfettered by inducing harm.
By: Beatrice Britneff in Ottawa, ON
Canada’s oldest media union is renewing calls on the federal government to intervene and help the country’s struggling news media outlets, after Postmedia Network Inc. and Torstar Corp. announced today they will collectively shutter more than 30 community and daily newspapers and eliminate 291 jobs.
In response to the closures – which came about through a publication swap between the two companies – CWA Canada is urging the Liberal government to inject more money into local news coverage; to “beef up” the federal Competition Act “to prevent concentration of ownership” in the news industry; and to allow non-profit news organizations to qualify as charities so they can be supported by philanthropic funding.
In a statement, the union – which represents approximately 6,000 media workers cross Canada – called the Postmedia-Torstar deal a “deathblow to local newspaper coverage.”
“It’s a dark day for local journalism and for local democracy,” Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, wrote in a statement. “This means fewer journalists reporting on the stories that matter to communities – and leaves almost no one to hold local politicians and powerful interests to account in many places.”
Last year, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly conducted consultations on how to revamp Canada’s cultural policies and strategies. During that time, many groups suggested a variety of lifelines the government could throw to ailing media outlets – particularly newspapers, which are struggling with steep declines in print circulation and advertising revenues.
In a major speech in September outlining Canada’s revamped cultural strategies, Joly said the government does not intend to to provide that level of assistance to the news industry. Joly said the government will not “bail out industry models that are no longer viable” but will instead support “innovation, experimentation and transition to digital.”
The minister said Monday afternoon she is “sorry” to hear about the Postmedia and Torstar closures and that the government “values the importance of journalism.” When asked whether the Postmedia-Torstar deal has caused her to rethink her largely hands-off approach to the news industry’s fate, Joly reiterated that the government is “looking to support local media while they transition to the internet.”
But Pierre Nantel, the NDP’s culture and heritage critic, argued the government is not doing that.
“It’s absolutely terrible… (Minister Joly) has been asked by so many stakeholders, so many interveners… she didn’t pay attention at all, and this is what you get,” Nantel said. “You get job losses and you get a voice diversity situation that’s going to be lacking.”
Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, who serves as the Tories’ Canadian heritage critic, called the Postmedia-Torstar deal “disappointing” but contrary to Nantel, argued that the government has no place in giving newspapers a leg up. He said he also does not support philanthropic financing of journalism because he believes “journalism has to be truly independent.”
The closures announced today – many of which are effective immediately – will largely affect communities in eastern and southern Ontario.
Through the deal, Postmedia acquired 22 local newspapers and two Metro dailies from two Torstar subsidiaries. Postmedia said in a press release it plans to close all of those publications, except the Exeter Times-Advocate and the Exeter Weekender, by mid-January. The local papers that Postmedia will fold include Metro Ottawa, Metro Winnipeg, Belleville News, Kingston Heritage, St. Mary’s Journal-Argus as well as a number of Ottawa-area publications.
Meanwhile, Torstar acquired a total of 17 publications from Postmedia: seven daily Ontario newspapers, eight community newspapers and free dailies 24Hours Toronto and 24Hours Vancouver. The two dailies and the eight community papers are being shut down immediately, as well as three of the daily newspapers – the Barrie Examiner, Orillia Packet & Times andNorthumberland Today.
Torstar will continue to operate and publish the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and Peterborough Examiner.
Four free dailies and 32 daily and community papers are being shuttered in total. The Postmedia closures will result in 244 layoffs, while Torstar’s will eliminate 47 full-time and part-time employees.
Postmedia and Torstar both claim the papers they are folding are located in communities that are served by other publications.
“We were not creating any news deserts,” Bob Hepburn, the Toronto Star’s director of community relations and communications, said of Torstar’s 13 closures. “(The communities affected) will continue to be served by Metroland publications.”
In a company statement, Torstar’s President and CEO John Boynton said the deal will allow the company to “operate more efficiently through increased geographic synergies in a number of our primary regions.”
Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey acknowledged in his company’s press release that closures involve letting go of “many dedicated newspaper people.”
“However, the continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations no longer have viable business models,” Godfrey wrote.
Postmedia and Torstar said their deal is “effectively a non-cash transaction” as the publications exchanged have “approximately similar fair values.” Their statements also noted the exchange is “not subject to the merger notification provisions of the Competition Act” and no regulatory clearance from the Competition Bureau was required.
In an email to iPolitics Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Competition Bureau said the Bureau is aware of the Postmedia-Torstar transaction and will be “undertaking a review” of the deal.
“While I cannot speak to the specifics of a Bureau review for reasons of confidentiality, under the Competition Act transactions of all sizes and in all sectors of the economy are subject to review by the Commissioner of Competition to determine whether they will likely result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition in any market in Canada,” Jayme Albert, senior communications advisor, wrote in an email – adding that the commissioner has up to one year after a transaction has taken place to challenge it in the Competition Tribunal.
Here is a list of the publications Postmedia acquired from Torstar and has decided to close:
Here is a list of the publications Torstar acquired from Postmedia and has decided to close:
Republished under arrangement with iPolitics.
By: Ted Alciutas in Vancouver, BC
Died in Columbia of Apparent Heart Attack
The first and only Filipino-Canadian senator died today (November 16, 2017) in Medellin, Columbia where he was attending a parliamentary meeting.
The Ontario senator was in the South American country for the ParlAmericas Annual Plenary Assembly, along with Liberal MPs Robert Nault and Randy Boissonnault, NDP MP Richard Cannings and Conservative MP Bev Shipley.
Tobias ‘Jun’ Enverga, Jr. was 61. His wife Rosemer Enverga was with him when he died according to his senate office.
“I offer my condolences to the family who is obviously in mourning and in grief right now,” says Dr. Rey Pagtakhan when reached from his home in Winnipeg.
“The community suffered a loss,” adds the retired parliamentarian, the first Filipino-Canadian elected to the House of Commons. The two never met each other.
Enverga was appointed to the senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012 for the province of Ontario. He was first elected as a school trustee for the Toronto Catholic School Board.
The former banker’s appointment was hailed by the Filipino community but he became a lightning rod for a vicious campaign by his criics.
Among the fiercest criticism came from Toronto’s Balita newspaper who constantly ridiculed the senator for his alleged incompentency for the job.
He was labelled the ‘karaoke senator’ by Balita’s Romeo P.Marquez for his first speech in the senate where he alluded to Filipinos as good karaoke singers.
Balita followed his every activity in Toronto and suburbs and hammered on his alleged failure to account for monies raised by the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) a charitable organization that he was involved with before being appointed to the senate.
Senator Enverga with Toronto Mayor Tory and Councillor Pasternak in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Eventually Enverga filed a libel suit against the paper, its publisher Tess Cuispag and Romeo P. Marquez for defaming him. Last year, Enverga won a judgement against the defendants and as awarded $350,00 in damages, one of the largest award in Canada.
Cusipag went to prison
Cusipag was also sentenced to 31 days in jail for contempt of court for violating the injunction imposed in connection with the libel case. She served 13 days of her sentence and released.
It is not known if the award has already been already paid as of this writing. Queries to Enverga’s senate office and his lawyer were not answered.
Enverga emigrated to Canada in the early 1980s after earning a bachelor of arts degree in the Philippines. He was 28 years old.
He took an MA at York University and his tenure at the Bank of Montreal lasted for three decades.
Enverga, who hails from Lucena, Quezon province, is survived by his wife Rosemer and three daughters Rystle, Reeza and Rocel.
Published under arrangement with the Philippine Canadian News.
Canada’s new plan to welcome nearly one million immigrants over the next three years, has been hailed and flailed around the world despite the Liberal government assurances that it will help offset an aging demographic.
“This historic multi-year immigration levels plan will benefit all Canadians because immigrants will contribute their talents to support our economic growth and innovation, helping to keep our country at the forefront of the global economy, said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
The new plan aims to build upon the current projections for 300,000 permanent residents in 2017 by increasing the number of new permanent residents welcomed to Canada over a three-year period, beginning with an increase to 310,000 immigrants in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020.
“This is an important step in the right direction, which reaffirms Canada’s belief in immigration and citizenship as a principle which has helped to build, and which will continue to build, the country,” said the Institute for Canadian Citizenship
“We, probably in the world, have one of the best immigration programs not only in terms of our selection processes but also in terms of our settlement and integration programs where we work with immigrants,” said Debbie Douglas, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
But not everyone shares the optimism.
The federal government's own Advisory Council on Economic Growth had recommended upping levels to reach 450,000 newcomers annually by 2021. Hussen said the government is taking a more gradual approach to ensure successful integration.
Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel was critical of the plan, suggesting the government needs to do a better job of integrating newcomers.
"It is not enough for this government to table the number of people that they are bringing to this country. Frankly the Liberals need to stop using numbers of refugees, amount of money spent, feel-good tweets and photo ops for metrics of success in Canada's immigration system."
She said the Liberals need to bring Canada's immigration system "back to order" by closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that has seen migrants cross into Canada at unofficial border crossings only to claim refugee status.
She also said the immigration system should focus on helping immigrants integrate through language efficiency and through mental health support plans for people who are victims of trauma.
Dory Jade, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, welcomed the news although he suggested the numbers should be higher.
"Canada will greatly prosper and grow once the 350,000 threshold has been crossed," he said. "Nevertheless, we are witnessing a very positive trend."
The Canadian Council of Refugees also welcomed the news, but wanted more, saying the share for refugees was only increased slightly from 13 per cent this year to 14 per cent in each of the next three years.
During the government's consultation period, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance presented "Vision 2020," what it called a "bold" three-year plan to address growing demographic shifts underway in the country, calling for increased numbers in the economic, family and refugee categories.
Chris Friesen, the organization's director of settlement services, said it's time for a white paper or royal commission on immigration to develop a comprehensive approach to future immigration.
"Nothing is going to impact this country [more] besides increased automation and technology than immigration will and this impact will grow in response to [the] declining birth rate, aging population and accelerated retirements," he told CBC News.
Last month, Statistics Canada reported that based on 2016 census data, 21.9 per cent of Canada's population is now foreign-born, reflecting the highest percentage of immigrant population in nearly a century.
Kareem El-Assal, a senior research manager specializing in immigration for the Conference Board of Canada, said it is "absolutely imperative" that Canada ups its intake in order to meet future labour needs.
But the system must become more adept at matching newcomers with local and provincial needs, he said, improving outcomes by selecting more people with pre-arranged jobs, recruiting more international students and giving provinces a greater say in who comes to the country.
Coming to Canada
• Immigration has had an immeasurable effect on Canada. In 2017, Canada stands as a country of 36.5 million people and a world leader on various scales. In fact, one in five Canadians is foreign-born, the highest among the G7.
• The aging of our population and a declining fertility rate will continue to have a significant impact on Canada’s economy. In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. By 2012, the worker-to-retiree ratio had dropped to 4.2 to 1, and projections put the ratio at 2 to 1 by 2036, at which time five million Canadians are set to retire. In recent years, more than 80 per cent of the immigrants we admit have been under 45 years of age.
• Immigration also helps to spur innovation domestically. For example, while immigrants account for approximately 20 percent of Canada’s population, they are a major source of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, representing around 50 percent of all STEM degree-holders in Canada at the bachelor’s level and above. These skills are important in a knowledge economy. Immigrants also have a higher rate of entrepreneurship than their Canadian-born counterparts.
• Canada is unique among immigrant-receiving countries in placing great emphasis on providing assistance to recently arrived immigrants to weather their migration transition period. Settlement services, such as language training, employment services and newcomer orientation are linked to immigrant success. In 2016-17, more than 412,000 permanent residents accessed at least one settlement service in Canada. When surveyed, 91 percent of Settlement Program clients reported being able to make informed decisions on a wide variety of subjects, including education, health care and housing. And 87 percent of clients who were in Canada for one year or more reported being able to use an official language to function and participate in Canadian society
Republished under arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post.
By: Alpha Abebe in Toronto, ON
Statistics Canada recently released a series of reports analyzing key results from the 2016 Census, including figures on immigration and ethnocultural diversity. The data paints a familiar picture of the Canadian social landscape – a landscape that is increasingly defined by culturally diverse peoples and communities.
The census brief on “Children with an immigrant background: Bridging cultures” captures important data that should prompt us to think critically about the live experiences of this large population segment, as well as its implications for Canadian social, political and economic life.
There were many interesting trends and figures highlighted in the report, including the number of people with foreign born parents, shifts in origin country demographics, family and household dynamics, and linguistic and cultural practices.
For example, in 2016, close to 2.2 million children under the age of 15, or 37.5 percent of the total population of children, had at least one foreign-born parent. The report also notes that children with an immigrant background could represent between 39 percent and 49 percent of the total population of children by 2036.
Further, most people with an immigrant ancestry that were younger in age (under 30s) had origins in Asia and Africa, whereas the older cohort of Canadians with immigrant ancestry (over 30s) tended to trace their origins to Europe and the Americas. This a reflection of shifting immigration trends in Canada over the years.
There were other insights capturing immigration dynamics at the household level. Children born in Canada to at least one foreign-born parent were most likely to live in a multigenerational household, with grandparents, parents, and children under the same roof. In the report, they were interested in how this might affect and drive the transmission of origin-country language and culture.
As with all census data, the information gathered here is limited. While it provides a helpful snapshot and indication of how global migration trends intersect with changes in Canadian demographics, it also leads to some deeper questions that emerge that require further inquiry and debate among practitioners, policymakers, academics, immigrant communities, and young people alike.
How much do we really understand about the social and cultural practices of children of immigrants and their families? Do we account for these lived experiences in how we design programs and services, frame public discourse, and plan for the political and economic future of the country? Are we adequately leveraging the opportunities and addressing the issues presented by these transnational social landscapes?
How do immigration trends and demographic changes intersect with social inequalities in Canada and around the world? Do young Canadians with an immigrant background feel that they belong? How do race, class, and gender further segment immigrants and their children in Canada?
These are complex questions that don’t lend themselves well to simple answers; however, they are worth asking and continuing to ask as we work towards a future where equity aligns with diversity.
The future of Canada is more diversity and it is characterized by social, political, and economic connections to places around the world. Therefore, it is time we move beyond a multiculturalism framework that accommodates and celebrates diversity, and towards an inclusionary framework that acknowledges and works to address the social inequalities embedded within this diversity.
Yes, children with an immigrant background can tell us a lot about their international influences, tastes, and practices. However, they can also tell us a lot about Canada – both what it is today and where it should be headed in the future.
A version of this piece was first published on the Wellesley Institute blog on November 7, 2017, and can be accessed via this link
By: Avi Benlolo in Peterborough
The City of Peterborough has advised that it will grant a permit to a white supremacist group for the use of Confederation Park this weekend.
It appears civil society and particularly municipalities granting permits for rallies have lost sight of the meaning of a "permit". A permit is a recognized legal document provided by authorities to allow for example, a rally or demonstration to proceed. The root word for "permit" is "permission" and in this case, it implies that the City of Peterborough is giving authorization or consenting to a potential hate rally that will take place in its city.
In this case, the Peterborough Examiner reports that the group in question is the Canadian Nationalist Front, described as a racist, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi group promoting white nationalism. In an email to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Mayor Daryl Bennet has stated "We must stand together against racism and hate. While our Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects freedom of expression, it also seeks to preserve and enhance our multi-cultural heritage".
It is true that our Charter protects our freedom of expression, but there are limits to that in Canadian law. In fact, freedom of speech is not absolute in Canada. In Section 1 of the Charter, the government can pass laws that limit free expression – as long as they are reasonable and justified. As significantly, the Criminal Code of Canada's sections 318, 319 and 320 forbid hate speech, propaganda and the promotion of genocide. Nor is freedom of assembly absolute in Canada. In fact only “peaceful” assembly is guaranteed and then only “to such reasonable limits prescribed by law” as can be justified under section 1 of the Charter.
A city need not necessarily grant permission for a rally – especially if there is wide condemnation by the community at large including some 100 organizations who have joined together in protest of this activity. The decision to allow the rally to proceed is especially disconcerting given the rising significance of "white power" and Nazism is this country. In the course of this very heated summer, not a week has passed when several antisemitic and racist incidents have taken place somewhere in this country. There were at least three major antisemitic and hateful incidents this week alone and Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned.
This week's inauguration of a monument to the Holocaust in Ottawa was a significant milestone in our nation's history. It gives voice to the six million Jewish children, women and men who were murdered by Nazis as a consequence of antisemitism. It serves as an eternal reminder that hate and intolerance should never ever be "permitted" by anyone, especially not by leaders.
The Holocaust happened because people failed to stand up to hate, even when the smallest of incidents. Some even excused the rise of Nazism citing German laws upholding freedom of expression, democracy and civil society at the time. Given this critical historical lesson, can we afford to look the other way and even tacitly grant "permission" to groups who undermine inclusivity? White supremacists have no place in modern society. They are the remnants of humanity's dark ages – responsible for the death of 60 million people including 44,000 Canadian soldiers who fought overseas to liberate Europe from the Nazis.
It is an absolute travesty for any municipality to grant permission to white supremacists to use the public sphere. As Jewish communities begin observing the beginning of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar, it is also a time of reflection in the wake of rising antisemitism and recent hateful incidents. And while this heightens our level of anxiety, it also reinforces our commitment to fight for human rights and Canadian values of inclusivity, diversity and pluralism. Never again shall we allow hate and intolerance to come in the way of this great nation, Canada.
Avi Benlolo is a Canadian human rights activist, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit