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.

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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.

Children in the Asylum System, London, England courses

As posted on the NAME listserv:

Age assessment awareness and working with age-disputed young people

February 21, 2012 & March 15, 2012.  Ensuring the wellbeing of unaccompanied refugee children and young people is at the heart of this course, which aims to give delegates the confidence and information they need to challenge assessments, and the tools to ensure that the correct processes are in place in your organisation.

An introduction to working with unaccompanied children

February 28, 2012.  This course will provide an overview of the asylum and support systems for children and examine the interaction between the two. Focusing on procedures that the young people are required to participate in, delegates are assisted in exploring how best to respond to the difficulties they may be facing.

Emotional wellbeing of refugee children and young people

March 1, 2012. This course will examine the emotional impact of the experiences that refugee children and young people face as they flee from their home countries and settle in the UK.  It will provide participants with the tools to assess the organisation in which they work, to identify factors which are detrimental to emotional wellbeing and to devise strategies for providing appropriate care and support.

Working with refugee children in schools

March 1, 2012. This course will provide an opportunity to examine the specific needs of refugee pupils, including those new to schooling in the UK, and investigate positive strategies to support them in achieving their potential.  Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate their own practice, as well as that of the school in which they work.

All courses cost £109 for registered charities and £175 for all other attendees.  To book, email training@refugeecouncil.org.uk

Building strong refugee families & communities/BRYCS focus on refugee children and youth

February 2012 focus for US-based BRYCS (Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services) is Building Strong Refugee Families & Communities. From the BRYCS e-bulletin:

“Strong families and communities are essential to the long-term success of refugee children…. Having the support and guidance of parents and co-ethnic communities helps refugee children draw healthy values and a positive identity from their ethnic heritage, while both parents and children also adapt to their new lives in the … research-to-practice resources to learn about …child-rearing expectations, develop parent support groups, and to help service providers create effective strengths-based programming. Key BRYCS family strengthening resources include… (all PDFs):

Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook

Toolkit for Working with Newcomer Parents

The BRYCS Brief, Supporting Refugee Families: Adapting Family Strengthening Programs that Build on Assets

For more information, visit BRYCS Family Strengthening page.

Canadian Council for Refugees fall consultation ~ call to youth participants

The Canadian Council for Refugees Fall Consultation (to be held Nov 24-26, 2011) this year is on the theme of independence. Youth are being encouraged to participate.

An orientation for youth will be held Wed, Nov 23rd, 7:30-9pm to meet other youth and find out about the CCR, the CCR Youth Network and the fall consultation.

Workshops include sessions focusing on:

Youth-led projects to debunk myths about newcomer youth

Canada’s violation of migrant youth rights

Digital storytelling

Anti-oppression

Migrant youth in care.

Have a look at the provisional agenda.

A Youth Caucus has been/is being established to discuss refugee and immigrant youth across Canada to answer questions such as: What can we do locally to address issues faced by refugee and immigrant youth? What issues should the CCR Youth Network focus on? On Sun Nov 27 the CCR Youth Network will meet to debrief and create action plans to move forward within communities.

Special registration rates are available for all youth delegates between 18 and 25 years old. Register by Nov 4th to get early registration rates and the first 30 Montreal area youth to register by Nov 4th get in free!

For more information, please see the CCR Spring Consultation.

Head Start and National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness working together for refugee children

US-based BRYCS (Building Refugee Youth and Children’s Services) shares a policy brief and list of resources related to the collaborative work being done by Head Start and the National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness in increasing access to and creating culturally competent programs for newly arrived refugee children.

A bit about BRYCS (from their website): “Since 2001, BRYCS has emphasized ‘bridging refugee and children’s services’ to promote the well-being and successful integration of refugee children and their families as our newest Americans. For many reasons—including limited funding, different legislative mandates, and cultural and linguistic barriers—refugee resettlement and “mainstream” service systems often work in isolation from each other, resulting in barriers to culturally responsive services for refugees. In past years, BRYCS has addressed these gaps by developing and implementing a collaboration model in a number of communities”.

Child Trafficking digital library updates

Ten new documents on children on the move and migration have been added to the digital library of the Childtrafficking.com website. Here are just two, as described in a posting on the Childtrafficking listserv:

Global Movement for Children. (2010). Leaving Home: Voices of Children on the Move. 15 p. The report denounces the invisibility of children within international debates and immigration policies on the issue as well as the lack of adequate policies to address their specific needs. It voices their experiences on having left their homes and it analyses the wide array of causes and consequences that migration has for children beyond those who have been victims of criminal activities.”

Global Movement for Children. (2010). Protecting and Supporting Children on the Move. 37 p. The International Conference on Protecting and Supporting Children on the Move was held in Barcelona on 5-7 October 2010. It aimed at analysing and debating the current status of the issue of children on the move and presenting some key recommendations on the way forward to initiating the revision of policy and programmatic responses to the protection and support of these children. The Conference Report is expected to be a road map for topics of debate initiated at the Barcelona meetingwith a view to building national and international work agendas”.

Childtrafficking.com welcomes comments and suggestions and are interested to receive documents and research from the field. Contact childtrafficking.com@gmail.com.

ANCIE Sept bulletin on international students

Home

AMSSA – The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services of BC also manages the AMSSA Newcomer Information Exchange (ANCIE) and releases a quarterly e-Bulletin on a number of topics related to newcomer children.

The September 2011 bulletin is on international students; students who are in Canada on a visa or as a refugee claimant. The bulletin examines why international students come to Canada, shares perspectives from business and teachers, and provides information on how to support international students as they navigate their way through the BC school system. (Information is relevant and applicable across jurisdictions).

Visit the ANCIE page to learn how to subscribe.

Call for papers: Restructuring refuge and settlement: Responding to the global dynamics of displacement

The Centre for Refugee Studies at York University hosts the 2012 Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) conference May 16-18th at York U, Toronto.

From the call for papers: “The 2012 CARFMS conference will bring together researchers, policymakers, displaced persons and advocates from diverse disciplinary and regional backgrounds to discuss the issue of restructuring refuge and settlement witha view to better understanding how migration policies, processes andstructures responds to the global dynamics of displacement. We inviteparticipants from a wide range of perspectives to explore the practical,experiential, policy-oriented, legal and theoretical questions raised byrefuge and settlement at the local, national, regional and internationallevels. The conference will feature keynote and plenary speeches fromleaders in the field, and we welcome proposals for individual papers andorganized panels structured around the following broad subthemes:

Restructuring settlement: Local, national, comparative and international issues and concerns

States utilitarian approach towards migration challenges the balancebetween the objective of economic development, on the one hand, and integration and equal treatment of migrants, on the other. Recent changes inthe selection of migrant workers have negative consequences on social cohesion. Settlement, adaptation and integration policies play an importantrole at local, national and international levels to address this situationand prevent exclusion: What are the strengths and the weaknesses ofsettlement policies? How should these policies be adapted to meet the needsof increasing numbers of temporary workers? How can actors promote a process of integration that fosters social cohesion? What is the role played by local and national authorities, employers and members of civil society? How to ensure coherence and coordination between various actors dealing with issues such as health, education, social welfare, employment and law enforcement? What are particular legal, social, economic needs of different groups of migrants? How does gender, age, ability, race and other factors affect settlement? What are the best settlement practices?

Restructuring refuge: Local, national, comparative and international issues and concerns

The recent reform of the Canadian asylum system aims at accelerating the refugee status determination process and reducing the number of asylum claims by making the system less attractive. In North America, the United States and Canada cooperate to stem ‘unwanted’ migration. Similar developments can be observed in other parts of the world. Critical analysis of recent trends and developments contributes to a better understanding of current challenges: How do local, regional and international mechanisms and logics transform political and media discourse, norms, policies and practices related to forced migrants? What are the changes in institutional and procedural arrangements to deal with refugee and asylum claims? How do these changes affect protection norms and policies at the local, national and international level? How do international and local actors, institutions and agencies promote the legal, economic and social inclusion of forced migrants?

Restructuring settlement and refuge:  New approaches and theories

Innovative approaches and theories developed within traditional disciplines or in interdisciplinary lines foster knowledge on current norms, policies and practices linked to questions of settlement and refuge. New theoretical, conceptual, methodological issues from diverse critical and institutional perspectives highlight these questions, including: the link between refuge and security in an era of globalization; the impact of restrictive regulation of the freedom of movement of forced migrants; the need to redefine policies of resettlement, adaptation, and integration of immigrants and refugees in a context of changing migration figures; the adaptation of settlement policies to promote social inclusion of low-skilled temporary workers, asylum seekers and irregular migrants; settlement and citizenship.

Individuals wishing to present a paper at the conference must submit a250-word abstract and 100-word biography by December 30, 2011. The conference organizers welcome submissions of both individual papers and proposals for panels. Please submit your abstract via the conference website. For more information, please contact Michele Millard at mmillard@yorku.ca”.

Children on the move: The impact of voluntary and involuntary migration on the lives of children

A special issue of Global Studies of Childhood (Vol 1, No 2, 2011) on the impact of migration on the lives of children has been released. Edited by Ada Lai and Rupert MacLean, the issue includes the following articles:

Ravinder Sidhu, Sandra Taylor & Pam Christie. Schooling and Refugees: Engaging with the complex trajectories of globalisation.

Su-Ann Oh. Rice, Slippers, Bananas and Caneball: Children’s narratives of internal displacement and forced migration from Burma.

Rajeshwari Asokaraj. Resisting Bare Life: Children’s reproduction of quotidian culture in a Sri Lankan camp.

Antonina Tereshchenko & Helena C. Araujo. Stories of Belonging: Ukrainian immigrant children’s experiences of Portugal.

Celeste Y.M. Yuen & Rosalind Wu. New Schooling and New Identities: Chinese immigrant students’ perspectives.

For information on the journal, see the Global Studies of Childhood website.

Canadian Council for Refugees spring consultation

The Canadian Council for Refugees spring consultation will be held from May 26-28, 2011 in Hamilton, Ontario.

2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the internationally recognized legal document that defines who a refugee is, what their rights are and the legal obligations of states parties to the Convention.

This consultation includes (so far) at least two sessions directly related to children/youth/family issues, including:

The impact of lost or mistaken identity documents for youth

Lost identity documents (ID) or misinformation can have serious impacts on the lives of refugee and immigrant youth in Canada. This workshop will look at the problems associated with trying to replace lost or mistaken identity documents for newcomer youth, and some possible solutions and actions.

Convention compliance for refugee children

The purpose of this workshop will be to explore the extent of Canada’s compliance with the Refugee Convention in the  areas of refoulement, detention and family reunification. Participants will review CCR activities relative to each area and brainstorm about potential activities the CCR could undertake to promote greater compliance.

For more information, visit the Canadian Council for Refugees website.

AMSSA Newcomer Child Information Exchange e-Bulletin: Family Dynamics

The latest edition of the ANCIE (AMSSA Newcomer Child Information Exchange) looks at the issues, challenges and experiences of refugee families, their children and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the complexities of family dynamics. The e-Bulletin includes a case study, lists useful resources and offers strategies for working with refugee children.

ANCIE has produced 5 e-Bulletins now, including this latest:

March, 2010 ~ Trends in migration of children in BC

May, 2010 ~ English Language Learners

July, 2010 ~ Health and Wellness of Newcomer Children

Nov, 2010 ~ Refugee Children

April, 2011 ~ Family Dynamics

Downnload the PDF e-Bulletins from the ANCIE website or get on their email list by emailing:newcomerchildren@amssa.org.

AMSSA Newcomer Child Information Exchange e-Bulletin: Focus on refugee children

The October 2010 ANCIE (AMSSA Newcomer Child Information Exchange) is devoted to refugee children. The e-Bulletin examines types of refugees in Canada, the challenges faced by refugee families, and refugee children and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The e-Bulletin contains a case study, suggests some useful resources and offers strategies for working with refugee children.

ANCIE has produced 4 e-Bulletins now, including the October issue:

March ~ Trends in migration of children in BC

May ~ English Language Learners

July ~ Health and Wellness of Newcomer Children

Downnload the PDF e-Bulletins from the ANCIE website.