The Drummond Commission recommendations on immigration (and the missed opportunities to address immigrant children/families)

There has been much examination and discussion of the recommendations of the recently released Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (struck by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan). immigrantchildren.ca notes that the Commission has lost the opportunity to highlight and promote the importance of addressing both the needs of immigrant families with young children – and the contribution that immigrant parents can make to the Ontario economy if these needs are supported.

In the introduction, “The Economic Importance of Immigration”, the Drummond report says:

“By attracting skilled workers from abroad, Ontario can better address potential labour-market shortages. Maintaining labour-force growth, aided by successful immigrants, can help sustain Ontario’s long-term economic growth”.

immigrantchildren.ca believes that immigrant parents may be able to contribute economically by participating in the labour force, but only if they are secure in their child care arrangements. Current federal initiatives for child care are almost absent. There is an opportunity for the federal government to partner with the provinces to ensure that culturally appropriate child care is made available to newcomers.

This introduction ends with the bold statement: “In short, future trends in immigration and the degree to which Ontario can successfully integrate new arrivals into the province’s labour market and social fabric will have a significant effect on Ontario’s fiscal fortunes”. The Drummond report makes a case for ensuring that social supports are in place for immigrants in order for them to contribute to the economy through labour force participation. Child care is one such social support. We wonder how it was overlooked.

In the Commission’s section on immigration, seven recommendations are made. With respect to each of the recommendations, immigrantchildren.ca has some initial thoughts. We invite more discussion, debate and comment. (Drummond report recommendations in bold, with comments in italics following).

Recommendation 10-1: Develop a position on immigration policies that is in the province’s best economic and social interests. Present this position to the federal government with the expectation that, as the largest recipient of immigrants in Canada, Ontario’s interest will be given considerable weight in federal policy development.

What is in the best interest is the development of fully funded culturally appropriate child care system that will support immigrant parents’ participation in the labour force. The federal government should, alongside, develop federal policy on child care for newcomer families that meets the needs not only of the national economy, but the social benefits of immigrant parents participation in the workforce if there is acceptable child care available, affordable and accessible to newcomers.

Recommendation 10-2: Catalyze national discussions on immigration policy as the successful integration of immigrants is critical for Canada’s and Ontario’s economic futures.

Few programs support integration better than community-based early learning and child care programs. Situated in public schools (as proposed in the full day kindergarten program of the McGuinty government), culturally appropriate child care for newcomer children – indeed, for all children – is a key catalyst to promotion of Canadian values and an optimal welcoming point for children and parents alike.

Recommendation 10-3: Advocate the federal government for a greater provincial role in immigrant selection to ensure that the level and mix of immigrants coming to Ontario is optimized to support economic prosperity and improve outcomes for immigrants. Barring success, advocate for an expanded Provincial Nominee Program.

The PNP might also explore age of the children of immigrants recruited through it. If Canada and Ontario are to thrive, the “level and mix” of immigrants must include children from birth to age eight and a PNP is well positioned to address this gap.

Recommendation 10-4: Press the federal government to be more transparent in its refugee policies and practices and to compensate Ontario for the costs of providing additional social supports to refugees and refugee claimants.

In our discussions and recommendations for ‘culturally appropriate child care’, it must be noted that refugee children have significantly different needs than children of immigrants who choose to emigrate. Services and supports for refugee children and youth must be developed with these specific needs in mind.

Recommendation 10-6: Streamline and integrate provincially delivered integration and settlement services for recent immigrants with Employment Ontario.

Within the discussion for recommendations 5 & 6 is found the statement “Two of the key drivers of labour-market success for immigrants are a working knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages and educational credentials that are accepted by regulatory bodies and potential employers”. While immigrantchildren.ca would agree that language and credentials are key, the Drummond report misses the mark by neglecting to consider the importance of child care for any working parent.

Recommendation 10-7: Advocate for devolving federal immigrant settlement and training programs to the province…

Again, we would argue that any settlement funding agreement with the federal government should include start-up and ongoing funds for child care.

~

The Commission cites a number of studies in its report including one by Mr Drummond himself that clearly articulates and recognizes the value of high quality child care. See D. Drummond, and F, Fong, “The Changing Canadian Workplace”, TD Economics, TD Bank Financial Group, 2010.

“…the higher incidence of part-time employment is caused, in part, by the cultural notion that women remain the primary caretaker of a family. As such, full-time employment is most likely not an option for many women as this would imply foregoing time to tend to household responsibilities. This also speaks to the poor state of childcare options available to many Canadians. Among comparative advanced nations in the OECD, Canada spends the smallest share of its GDP on early childhood education and care (ECEC) for those aged 0-6. At just 0.25% of GDP, this is extremely distant from the 1.5%-2% range spent by the Scandinavian countries. And since ECEC spending falls under provincial jurisdiction, the 0.25% figure is an aver- age across the provinces and is likely skewed by the heavy subsidization in Quebec where, for example, the $7 per day childcare provides for many lower income parents. Hence, regardless of the fact that Canada has one of the highest female participation rates in the world, participation in childcare services for children under the age of 3 is only in the middle of the pack among the OECD”.

Another report cited by the Commission is Fernando Mata, “The Non-Accreditation of Immigrant Professionals in Canada: Societal Dimensions of the Problem”, Department of Canadian Heritage, 1999:

“A recent example is a survey of the accreditation problems faced by immigrant women in the nursing, teaching and social work professions in partnership with the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Canada (NOIVMWC). The report coming out from the survey revealed that immigrant women with professional degrees, in addition to the common problems faced by male counterparts, were more negatively affected by “lack of services and resources in the areas of childcare and language training”.

The Commission rightfully relied on a careful examination of the literature in addition to its consultations. The literature findings, including Mr. Drummond’s own work, clearly sees the value of a system of high quality early learning and child care as an employment support and a support to integration of newcomers, but it failed to include child care as a recommendation to the people of Ontario. As such, it has failed immigrant families.

Good child care is a barrier identified in Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) report

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has released a report today on the barriers to immigrant integration. A brief quote from the report/website:

“Municipalities are the front-line, first-responders for many immigrants´ needs, yet we collect just eight cents of every tax-dollar paid in Canada and have been given no formal role in developing federal immigration policies and programs,” said FCM vice-president Claude Dauphin. “The federal government must recognize municipalities as key partners in immigrant settlement and work with us to tailor solutions to local needs.”

“FCM called on the federal government to protect long-term investments in communities, including more than $500 million in annual housing investments scheduled to expire during the next decade; protect and build on recent investments in Canada’s infrastructure and public transit; work with municipalities, provinces and territories to design longer-term settlement programs that respond better to changing local needs; and collect data on immigrants´ needs and report back to Canadians on the results”.

Among the main findings of the FCM report is the need to provide more and better ESL clasess for parents, alongside afffordable, accessible child care.

Read the full report here.

Interculturalism is the new multiculturalism

Here’s one of my tweets made during the first (and only) English language debate between the four main party leaders on April 12, 2011:

ZS Worotynec @immigranttalk ZS Worotynec
Harper doesn’t understand difference between #multiculturalism and Quebec’s #interculturalism & Duceppe not good at explaining #exln41 #db8
12 Apr via web Favorite Reply Delete

Which is odd: Harper’s own Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, The Honourable Jason Kenney, has been advocating for interculturalism over multiculturalism his entire time in the portfolio, I think.

In any case, it got me thinking: Do I know enough about the difference between interculturalism and multiculturaism? So, I looked for and found some useful resources.

immigrantchildren.ca visitors may already know about an upcoming conference exploring this issue: The International Symposium on Interculturalism/Symposium international sur l’interculturalisme ~ Dialogue Québéc Europe will be held May 25-27 in  Québéc. A description of the symposium:

Under the aegis of Gérard Bouchard, Professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and with the support of an array of Québec organizations, and the special contribution from experts of the Council of Europe, this Symposium will be an important forum for participants from Québec and Europe. The main purpose will be to report progress on interculturalism as a model for integration, and specifically for managing ethno-cultural diversity in democratic societies. The interculturalist model already has a long history in Québec, and it attracts growing interest in Europe. Thus, the Symposium will be a dialogue between Québec and Europe on the situation and future of interculturalism.

On the conference website, you’ll find the following – all PDFs:

  1. Bouchard, Gérard & Charles Taylor (2008). Building the Future. A Time for Reconciliation. Report. Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles.
  2. Council Of Europe (2008). White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue. “Living together as equals in dignity”.
  3. Council Of Europe & European Commission (2010). Intercultural cities – Towards a model for intercultural integration.

The steering paper, which provides rationale for the symposium discusses the term “interculturalism” and introduces a new term “integrationism” to avoid having integration (good) associated with assimilation (bad). Fascinating stuff! If anyone goes, please share thoughts, etc.

“In accordance with North American tradition, the concept of integration is used to refer to those mechanisms and processes (of articulation or insertion) through which social bonds are created, including their symbolic and functional foundations. Such mechanisms and processes are of concern to all citizens (whether new or old), and they operate at various levels (individual, community, institutional and State) and on many dimensions (economic, social, cultural, etc.). In terms of culture, it should be noted that the concept of integration, thus defined, is exempt from any assimilationist overtone. In order to avoid confusion, the term integrationism will be used here, when referring to those forms of integration that are not respectful of diversity”.

Census information in multiple languages

Statistics Canada has produced a number of promotional materials (posters, bookmarks, fact sheets) about the May 2011 Census including information in several languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Creole, Dari, English, French, Hindi, Japanese, Koren, Laotian, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Vietnamese.

The Census 2011 site provides concise information about why people should complete the Census.

Other useful resources developed include articles specific to business associations, organizations, groups such as immigrants, seniors, youth, university/college students and Aboriginal peoples. These articles can be posted on websites, included in newsletters, e-bulletins or emails to contacts.

About 4 weeks after the Census, Statistics Canada will conduct the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). Around 4.5 million households across Canada will receive the NHS questionnaire. The NHS is needed to plan family services, housing, roads, public transportation, and skills training for employment.

With the demise of the long-form Census, it’s important to get the message out on why the Census is important for planning for the future of Canada. immigrantchildren.ca is pleased to see the outreach to the diverse linguistic communities in Canada with this multilingual information being made available. Let’s all do our duty and promote it!

2011-Census-E-leading-(403x120)

Childminding program CMAS launches new website

CMAS – Childminding Monitoring and Advisory Support – is the organization funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to monitor the child care component of the LINC program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada). CMAS has launched a revamped website, with a new tag line

CMAS is committed to being a leader in the care of newcomer children through ongoing support and promotion of high quality newcomer child care services”.

House of Commons report: Best practices in settlement services

In March, 2010, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration released their report “Best Practices in Settlement Services“. It includes six recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop a proposal for an interactive website on best practices in settlement services. The aim of the proposal should be to have an operational website in fiscal year 2011-2012.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, judge joint proposals for settlement funding favourably and indicate this clearly on the application form.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to support and expand Local Immigration Partnerships in Ontario and explore the potential of local immigration partnership pilot projects in other interested provinces.

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that, subject to provincial jurisdiction, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Modernized Approach to Settlement Programming should be flexible such that business and self-employment support programs can be included in the theme of “labour market participation;” and mental health and family counselling can be included in the theme of “support services”.

Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada permit greater flexibility in determining the length of time individuals are eligible for particular settlement services.

Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends, subject to provincial jurisdiction, that the Government of Canada include trauma counselling and school support as eligible activities under the Resettlement Assistance Program.

Children were mentioned a few times in the report.

One of the witnesses to the committee spoke about the value of child-minding services being available alongside the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. While safe and adequate ‘care’ for children of LINC participants is important, the government of Canada is missing an opportunity to support newcomer children in their own settlement and integration process. Beyond the current child-minding and ostensibly custodial care service, a comprehensive early learning and child care program that meets the specific settlement and integration needs of newcomer children – with consideration to the child’s age, developmental level and an understanding of the child’s migration journey – would well serve Canada and Canada’s youngest citizens-to-be.

Indeed, other witnesses spoke of the success of programs for school-age children. In BC. Langley Community Services Society provides “intensive early childhood development support as well as orientation and assistance in settlement”. I applaud this program, but the government of Canada is missing the optimal window for learning if it only funds such programs for children of school-age. We know that the early years (birth to age six) set the foundation for the child’s lifelong health, behaviour and learning.

Under Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s new Modernization Approach, funding is available in six areas: 1.Information and orientation, 2. Language and skills development, 3. Labour market participation, 4. Community connections, 5. Needs assessments and referrals, and 6. Support services.

Currently, child-minding lands in the “support services” theme, but I’d argue that quality early learning and child care, with particular attention to the settlement and integration needs of even the youngest of newcomer children fits in all of the six areas and warrants more investment from the federal government.

1. Information and orientation.  Children and parents alike need information and orientation to their new community. Even the youngest child benefits from a deliberate orientation to Canadian customs, expectations and values. The trick is to deliver such programming in developmentally appropriate ways. Luckily, Canada has trained Early Childhood Educators who can (and do) provide this. Parents require information and orientation about the same things, but at a higher level. In order to support their child’s growth and development and learning, they also need to learn about the range of services and supports available for young children in their community.

2. Language and skills development. An obvious area for both children and adults with the important  stipulation that the child’s home language(s) be supported and promoted while learning English and/or French.

3. Labour market participation. If the federal government, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, is serious about supporting the labour market participation of newcomers, they must see the value in child care. Not the custodial, child-minding model, but a high quality early learning model that will support newcomer children’s entry to and success in the formal school system.

4. Community connections. An extension of the information and orientation theme, we know that social support is a health determinant indicator. Newcomer children and parents need welcoming communities. It’s an important aspect of integration.

5. Needs assessments and referrals. One of the best places to get accurate, responsive referrals is within a welcoming community that knows the family. Pulling together all of the above areas, it seems reasonable to conclude that the best referrals and clearest needs assessments would come out of a collaborative approach to settlement – and a comprehensive one that acknowledges the importance of serving children, parents, the entire newcomer family.

The committee has requested that the government table a response. When they do, I hope they add and implement a seventh recommendation: that the Government of Canada address the specific integration, settlement and language needs of newcomer children and strive to provide funding across all themes. That would be thoroughly modern.

Call for proposals: CIC & Multiculturalism

Inter-Action is the new Multiculturalism Grants program, administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

From the latest funding call:

“The Program supports CIC’s mandate and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by assisting the socio-economic integration of individuals and communities and their contributions to building an integrated and socially cohesive society”.

“Priority areas under consideration for this call are: Youth, including youth at risk; Faith communities and organizations; Immigrants. Themes focus on: Citizenship rights and responsibilities; Facilitating positive interaction among different cultural, ethnic and religious communities in Canada”.

For more information, including application forms and details on applying, see the CIC site and the Settlement At Work site.

Deadline for applications is Oct 15, 2010.

A little bird told me: My top 10 tweeps on immigration, multiculturalism, citizenship, diversity, & inclusion

Starting today, immigrantchildren.ca is running a series of top ten twitter accounts – those that I follow to keep up with news, information and resources on immigration, multiculturalism, citizenship, diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. The twitter URL will be listed, along with any official description provided by the tweeter(s), or my own synopsis, if there isn’t an official bio. Let me know who I’m missing!

This week:

Top 10 Canadian organizations

  1. http://twitter.com/maytree_canada ~ Maytree Canada. “Promoting equity and prosperity with a focus on immigration, integration and diversity”.
  2. http://twitter.com/ICCICC ~ The Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Putting the culture in multiculturalism.
  3. http://twitter.com/canimmigrant ~ Canadian Immigrant magazine. Lots of info.
  4. http://twitter.com/cdnexperience ~ “News & info for unique civic literacy project – 52-week Canadian series for all Canadians. Launching May 2010″. Fun, interesting and useful.
  5. http://twitter.com/ccrweb ~ Canadian Council for Refugees. “The Canadian Council for Refugees is committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world”. Not just refugees, the CCR also tweets on immigration generally.
  6. http://twitter.com/imminewscda ~ “Offering a wide range of current news articles about immigration issues in Canada”. Not a lot of followers yet, but promising.
  7. http://twitter.com/issbc ~ Immigrant Services Society of BC. “Helping immigrants build a future in Canada with ESL, settlement and career services”. Good info for newcomers, and those who work with them.
  8. http://twitter.com/LoonLounge ~ The Loon Lounge: “LoonLounge is a place to meet people and learn about life in Canada and the Canadian immigration experience”. Good tweets for newcomers.
  9. http://twitter.com/rdrpeel ~ Regional Diversity Roundtable, Region of Peel. “A network of organizations and institutions committed to building inclusion and diversity competence that results in the institutionalization of equity in their core values, structures, workforce, policies and services”.
  10. http://twitter.com/MosaicInstitute ~ The Mosaic Institute: “Harnessing Diverse Resources for International Peace and Development”. New-ish, not a lot of tweets, but potentially very interesting.

Next in this series, the top ten individuals I follow. Could you be one of them?

Welcoming newcomers to Canada: How to, by Metropolis Canada

Metropolis Canada held a national forum in January asking presenters to answer the question “How could communities be more welcoming” to immigrants. Several presentations are now available on their website.

Interesting note: One of the presentations by CIC defines “integration” as “the ability to contribute, free of barriers, to every dimension of Canadian life – economic, social, cultural and political”. (Source: Metropolis Canada Welcoming Communities presentation by CIC staff member Deborah Tunis).

Senate report on early childhood education and care ~ a follow-up

In April 2009, the Senate released a report on early childhood education and care, calling for – among other things – a collaborative effort among federal government departments to address the early learning and child care needs of newcomer children. (See the May 3, 2009 post on immigrantchildren.ca for full details).

On December 15, 2009, a follow-up statement was made by Senator The Honourable Art Eggleton. It is repeated here, fyi.

Hon. Art Eggleton: “Honourable senators, I rise today to make a statement on the government’s response to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology report, Early Childhood Education and Care: Next Steps, which was adopted by the Senate on June 22, 2009.

“Honourable senators, I am disappointed that the government did not implement the recommendations in our report. The government does not want to appoint a minister of state for children and youth, even though we have a Minister of State for Seniors and even though it would send a clear signal that Canada understands the importance of young people to its future.

“The government does not want to have a permanent national advisory council on children to draw on the best minds from across the country on how best to support parents and children.

“The consultation process they cite in their letter happened over two years ago, and many from the early childhood education and care community tell me that consultations are no longer happening.

“The government does not want to develop a pan-Canadian framework with the provinces and territories that would recognize and respect federal, provincial and territorial leadership as essential elements of developing early childhood education. Instead, they are content with the patchwork of provincial programs that exist today.

“Instead of becoming a champion for the 21st century family, the government has essentially abdicated that role to others. This is disappointing because national leadership is crucial at this time. Now more than ever, our children need the right skills and knowledge to ensure that they will manage the many challenges they are facing in school, in society and in the workforce.

“In addition, as our report pointed out overwhelmingly, scientific research shows that the early years are vital to this development because that period sets the foundation for confidence and skill development, which help children to become highly literate and mathematically competent later in life.

“Honourable senators, based on the government’s response, I am not sure that the government understands that early learning is about much more than simply the transferring of care giving responsibility from a parent to someone else. It is about shaping our future by investing in our children and by creating a system that will help every child succeed.

“In those areas where the federal government has direct responsibility, such as for Aboriginal children, the response from the government is practically silent. Sadly, the record in this area continues to be discouraging. Incidents of behavioural challenges, as well as cognitive and language delays, are more prevalent in Aboriginal communities than in other Canadian communities, and could be aided by providing quality early childhood education and care.

“In closing, honourable senators, as the Honourable Margaret McCain said before the committee, “The best single investment Canada can make for social justice and the optimal development of our children is to get them off to a good early start by building a high-quality evidence-based early childhood development system.”

Metropolis conference: Immigration and diversity. Crossroads of culture, engine of economic development

The 12th annual Metropolis conference will be held March 18-20, 2010 in Montreal. The theme this year is Immigration and Diversity: Crossroads of Culture, Engine of Economic Development. immigrantchildren.ca is pleased to see so many workshops and roundtables addressing issues related to newcomer families and young children, including:

Transnational Families: Where race, culture and adoption intersect, by Susan Crawford, lead for the Halton Multicultural Council project “Transracial Parenting Initiative”. From the abstract: “This workshop presents research on transracial and transnational families created through adoption across Canada. Presentations examine cultural enrichment through adoption, gaps in delivering pre- and post-adoption services and the needsof transracial familites; and adult adoptees’ complex experiences and understandings of ethno-racial identity”.

Conflict and Violence in Immigrant Families, by Madine VanderPlaat, St. Mary’s University. From the abstract: “This workshop will examine issues related to gender, conflict and violence within immigrant families. Participants will discuss the factors that contribute to stressors as well as the challenges and opportunities for culturally competent social responses”.

Health and Access to it for Migrants after Birth, by Anita Gagnon, Denise Bradshaw, Marlo Turner-Ritchie. From the abstract: “Tri-city (Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal) data on the health and service needs of refugee, asylum-seeking, non-refugee immigrant and Canadian-born women and their infants during pregnancy, at birth and during the first four months after birth will be presented in conjunction with potential policy responses to these date”.

School, Community and Collaborative Practice: Fostering the Integration of Immigrant and Refguee Youth in the Canadian School Context, by Sophie Yohani, N. Ernest Khalema. From the abstract: “Creating welcoming communities in educational settings is vital for newcomer students who may have a history that hinders adaptation. This workshop brings together academic researchers, non-profit practitioners, a government program officer, and a graduate student who share expertise in community-based collaborative practice to address the adaptation of refugee and immigrant students in the Canadian school context”.

Taking Care into Consideration: Local and Transnational Implications for Families, Children and Youth, by Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Evangelia Tastsoglou. From the abstract: “Familial networks, local and transnational, are critical to immigrants’ decision-making processes. The accommodation of care concerns (care of children, elderly parents, etc). also becomes a key consideration for migrants, especially for women. This workshop explores the repercussions of familial networks, and the complex negotiation of care concerns vis-a-vis attraction and retention”.

For more details on the above, see the conference program page.