Liberal Pink Book, Vol III: An action plan for Canadian women

The Liberal Party of Canada released yesterday their Pink Book, Volume III: An Action Plan for Canadian Women. I tweeted overall disappointment in not addressing immigration issues and specifically that there was no discussion or proposal for improving the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program that brings women to Canada as nannies to provide child care for Canadian women (often leaving behind their own children in the process).

The third volume in the Pink Book series does make commitments on child care and on a “national care-giving strategy” (p. 8) but doesn’t connect the dots. Here’s what they say about early learning and child care, under the general heading of Women in the Economy:

“The National Liberal Women’s Caucus recommends that a new federal Liberal government: Work with the provinces and territories to build a system of affordable, accessible and high-quality early learning and childcare spaces across the country, including programs to meet the unique needs of rural families” (p. 6).

Continuing in the same category, they propose to “Establish a ‘Bridging-to-Employment’ program covering the first 6 weeks of salary for new immigrant and visible minority women employees. Workplace educational programs should also be expanded to help break down existing racial and gender stereotypes” (p. 7).

The problem with these policy directions include not recognizing that much of the patchwork that is the child care system in Canada is provided by immigrant women in the informal, unlicensed sector.  Canada brings in TFWs/nannies to address labour shortages. The human resource issues in regulated child care are numerous and are being examined by a federal body, but again, there is no link made in this third volume of policies to improve life for women in Canada.

A truly comprehensive plan for women in Canada requires reconciling immigration policy that exploits migrant women workers, does not deliver ‘high-quality’ early learning, and furthers racial and gender stereotypes with the plans to create an affordable, accessible and high quality system. The overlaps and gaps are clear.

An interesting piece is the attention paid to language in legislation, including a commitment to change foreign policy wording of “children in armed conflict” to “child soldiers”. Curious.

Call for papers: Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS)

The Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario will host the 3rd annual conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) from May 6-8, 2010.

From the call, as posted on the forced migration discussion listserv*:

“In recent years, the idea of change has charged political debate in countries around the world and has, in some cases, catalyzed the election of new governments and the creation of innovative programs and policies. This period has also been one of significant change for the field of forced migration.  New policies and increasingly securitized perceptions of forced migration have created new practices such as interdiction, detention and expedited deportation that have changed the protection landscape in both the global North and South. At the same time as scholars have questioned the labelling and bureaucratic categorization of forced migrants, the United Nations has piloted new approaches to improve the protection and assistance available to members of traditionally marginalized categories, particularly internally displaced persons. Massive displacement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Nargis raised the profile of environmental refugees as an issue predicted to grow in importance as the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident. In Canada, the government has recently announced that it is preparing a package of changes to the refugee determination system, including the fast-tracking of claims from countries that are generally considered safe. As a precursor to more sweeping anticipated changes, the government has already imposed visa requirements on Mexico and the Czech Republic in an attempt to stem the flow of refugee claimants from those countries.

“The 2010 CARFMS Conference will bring together researchers, policymakers, displaced persons and advocates from diverse disciplinary and regional backgrounds to discuss the changes and challenges faced in the field of forced migration. We invite participants from a wide range of perspectives to explore the practical, experiential, policy-oriented, legal and theoretical questions raised by different processes of change affecting forced migrants at the local, national, regional and international levels.

“Proposals are being sought from the following broad sub-themes:

  • Asylum, protection and durable solutions: Needs, current practices and prospects for reform
  • Theorizing the changing field of forced migration
  • Experiencing displacement: Changes and challenges”.

250-word abstracts for proposed conference papers and panels are due by January 29, 2010 and must be submitted via the conference website. For more information, contact Heather Johnson –

* The Forced Migration Discussion List is moderated by the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), University of Oxford. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the RSC or the university.

ECE professional development conference, Toronto

Toronto Children’s Services and the School of Early Childhood Education at George Brown College are partnering to present Raising the Bar, Lifting the Field, a professional development event for early childhood practitioners on Dec 2/09 in Toronto at the BMO Institute for Learning.

Several sessions will be of interest to readers, including:

  • Inclusion and family support: Promoting diversity in your community. This session, led by Patricia Hunt, Family Supports Institute Ontario, will address LGBTQ issues.
  • Toronto childcare centres: A Language profile. Dr. Roma Chumak-Horbatsch, of, will present findings from a 2008 study conducted in collaboration with Toronto Children’s Services.
  • Developmentally inappropriate practice? The Role of reflective practice in supporting inclusion. Lisa Phyllis, Early Years Coordinator for Humber College will expand practitioners understanding of how to create and maintain inclusive environments.

Language matters: Metropolis seminar on language acquisition and newcomer integration

Metropolis Canada presents Language Matters: A Policy-Research Seminar on Language Acquisition and Newcomer Integration on Thurs Oct 22/09, 8am-4pm at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.

From the flyer at Metropolis Canada:

“It is widely believed that acquiring the language(s) of the host society is critical to all aspects of the integration of newcomers – economic, social, cultural and political. And while linguistic diversity has always been a hallmark of Canadian society, this diversity has deepened with recent waves of immigration. In cooperation with provincial governments and other partners, the Government of Canada offers a range of official language training and related programs across the country to youth and adult newcomers.

“Despite these initiatives, language remains a barrier to labour market success for many newcomers, including skilled workers. A mismatch exists between employers’ expectations and newcomers’ perceptions of requisite linguistic ability for many occupations. At the same time, newcomers’ linguistic integration also depends on the receptivity of those listening to them, especially native speakers of English and French.

“Maintenance of heritage languages and the existence of ethnic enclaves pose further complexities. Passing on the ancestral language to subsequent generations is an important way for linguistic minorities to maintain their cultural diversity. On the other hand, heavy dependence on the enclave may weaken linguistic and overall integration into mainstream society. In an era marked by increasing globalization and international trade, knowledge of languages other than English and French could also be an asset to Canadian institutions and individuals.

“This seminar will provide both national and international perspectives on the complex relationship between language acquisition and newcomer integration, with the twin objectives of informing policy discussions and identifying future research directions”. hopes that the seminar speaks to the (2nd, 3rd, and subsequent) language acquisition for newcomer children and has a comprehensive approach to addressing the disconnect that can occur between immigrant parents – who want their children to learn English or French as a 2nd language, in order to fit in to Canadian mainstream society – and the importance of retaining the home language to not only support 2nd (and more) language acquisition, but which speaks directly to the relationship (and attachment) between parents and their children. Particularly young children take on a 2nd language well and as a result may severe themselves from their first language/culture and create a separation from their families and countries of origin. See for information on the importance of retaining home languages. is heartened to hear that Prof Jim Cummins of OISE is on the panel for this seminar and know he will bring foward the notion of – and importance of – multiple literacies. hopes that the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is invited to attend the seminar. MinJK (as he’s known on twitter) has made a few public statements about immigrant children learning English or French as they integrate into Canada. Select examples:

Filipino Child-rearing: Method’s Cafe session at the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, UofT

The Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto is hosting a series of sessions to discuss innovative research methods. See the website for a full list of speakers. All sessions are held Fridays from 12 to 1:00 pm in the CDTS conference room, Jackman Humanities building, room 235 at the UofT. Refreshments.

Of interest to us at is the session scheduled for January 15, 2010 entitled “Archiving Intimacy: The Politics and Pragmatics of Investigating Colonial Interventions into Filipino Child-rearing Practices”, with guest speak Bonnie McElhinny.