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102 migrant farmer workers to receive EI parental benefits worth between $3,000 and $8,000 per person

Ottawa will pay owed benefits to migrant farm workers

More than 100 migrant farm workers will eventually receive the EI parental benefits that Canada owed them for years by denying them access.

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Glendon Sanchez, 37, of Trinidad and Tobago, is among 102 migrant farm workers who are owed benefits by the federal government.

DAVE CHIDLEY FILE PHOTO

Glendon Sanchez, 37, of Trinidad and Tobago, is among 102 migrant farm workers who are owed benefits by the federal government.

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Thu Sep 18 2014

More than 100 migrant farm workers will receive the EI parental benefits that Canada owed them for years after Ottawa agreed not to challenge earlier decisions rendered by an independent tribunal.

“That migrant workers see this benefit as important to them is proved by the number of times every year we get calls from their homelands to find out the latest (news),” said Jennifer Pothier, executive director of the Niagara North Community Legal Assistances. “Now we can tell them of the victory.”

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Some 30,000 migrant workers from the Caribbean and Mexico have been coming to Canada under the federal Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program since 1966.

Collectively they contribute an estimated $3.4 million in premiums into the EI system, though they have never been eligible for full EI benefits because they leave Canada at the end of their seasonal employment.

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Migrant workers had been qualified for special benefits such as parental and compassionate compensations for up to 35 weeks even if they were outside Canada in the off-season. However, Ottawa changed the Employment Insurance Act in 2012 to impose residency requirement.

Pothier said a meeting with the EI Commission is set for Oct. 1 to iron out the details of the payouts. The 102 claims were worth between $3,000 and $8,000 per worker.

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http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/faq/faq_special.shtml#Who

3. How long can I receive maternity, parental and sickness benefits?

  • Maternity benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 15 weeks.
  • Parental benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 35 weeks.(N.B. 245 DAYS)
  • Sickness benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 15 weeks.

TORONTO: Sami Mediouni arrested for allegedly recruiting drug smugglers

Mounties arrest Toronto man for allegedly recruiting drug smugglers

The Canadian Press 

Published Friday, September 19, 2014 5:58PM EDT

TORONTO — The Mounties have arrested a Toronto man who they allege recruited drug traffickers into an international narcotics ring.

The arrest Wednesday of 35-year-old Sami Mediouni followed a nine-month investigation into what police allege was a criminal group that utilized Canadian travellers to export cocaine into the United Kingdom.

(…)

The RCMP alleges Mediouni has been an active recruiter of traffickers and was responsible for recruiting and introducing Simone to the international smuggling scheme.

He has been charged with the importation of a controlled substance as well as conspiracy and is due in court Sept. 25.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/mounties-arrest-toronto-man-for-allegedly-recruiting-drug-smugglers-1.2015812#ixzz3Dnp766Df

TORONTO: Syrian Kurd claims Canadian officials “don’t care about Syrians”

Canada missed the deadline to reunite a Syrian family, so Sweden stepped in

Mike Wise of North York sold his home to get his mother and younger sister close to Canada. But federal foot-dragging meant they ended up in Sweden.

By: Peter Goodspeed Special to the Star, Published on Fri Sep 19 2014

Mike Wise sold his Toronto home two years ago to rescue his mother in war-torn Syria. He thought he had bought her freedom when she and Wise’s younger sister arrived in Cuba, just a three and a half hour flight from Toronto.

What he didn’t count on was Canada’s reluctance to offer sanctuary to Syrian war refugees.

Despite Wise’s five months of intense lobbying and appeals to senior cabinet ministers, officials refused to expedite his request to have his ailing, widowed mother, Shazia Khail Rashid, 66, and his sister, Sivin, 30, join him and three other brothers in Canada.

Instead, officials with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had to call on Sweden to rescue Wise’s family.

Now, a once close family is scattered around the world.

In March 2012, Wise, a Syrian Kurd called Mustafa Arab before he legally changed his name last year, was chairman of the GTA branch of the newly formed Syrian Canadian Council. He regularly led protests in Toronto against the blood-stained regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

As similar protests in Syria descended into civil war, Wise regularly telephoned his mother and sister in the country’s largest city, Aleppo, to make sure they were safe.

During one call in April 2012, he knew he had to act quickly to rescue them.

(…)

At the time, Cuba had one of the few embassies still functioning in Syria, and Wise managed to find a go-between who arranged to get his mother and sister Cuban tourist visas — for a total of $12,000. Continue reading

EDMONTON: Refugees facing “unprecedented” challenges finding affordable places to rent

Low vacancy rates ramp up challenges for new refugees in Edmonton

By Andrea Huncar, CBC News Posted: Sep 19, 2014 7:00 AM MT Last Updated: Sep 19, 2014 7:00 AM MT

Refugees arriving in Edmonton are facing “unprecedented” challenges finding affordable places to rent, says an agency that works with newcomers.

“People are paying regularly 50 to 85 and sometimes even up to 90 per cent of their income going towards rent,” said Kathryn Friesen, program manager with Catholic Social Services.

Refugee families receive a monthly allowance from Ottawa for up to a year after moving to Canada. If they have children, they also qualify for the Child Tax Benefit.

But high rents exacerbate an already challenging situation, said Friesen.

She said refugees eager to succeed are instead forced to leave important English language and skill training to take on two or three jobs in order to make ends meet, while some of their children even drop out to work.

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It’s a financial struggle that can also lead to health problems or re-traumatize those who have endured war or torture, she said.

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“We don’t want people to arrive and be crushed by challenges that seem insurmountable.”

‘A good place to stay’

Abdurashid Osman Adan, his wife and four children moved to Edmonton from South Africa in April.

“It’s a good place to stay,” said Adan, who is excited to be upgrading his skills and English so he can get to work.

“And we are glad for Canada to give us a resettlement. Everything’s alright.”

Adan is unwaveringly upbeat, despite the hardships he has faced. For the first three months after he arrived, he had just 138 dollars left over for food and necessities after he paid rent.

“It was very difficult – the life. But you know, I’ve got some friends here in Edmonton so that I just borrow some stuff from them so that when I receive the tax … I’m going to pay back them. ”

Even now that his Child Tax Benefits have kicked in, rent still gobbles up more than half of his total income.

Adan’s friends continue to help him out by supplying halal meat from their shop, as well as rides and clothing. He also still relies on the Edmonton Food Bank.

Low vacancy rate creates additional challenges

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At 1.4 per cent, Edmonton’s vacancy rate is one of the lowest in the country.

High rents continue to be driven up by an influx of newcomers, with fewer units existing today than 15 years ago, said Jay Freeman, executive director of Housing and Homelessness with the City of Edmonton.

More than 50 new affordable housing units, currently under construction at 127th Street and 144th Avenue, will become available next month, said Freeman.

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Christie Blatchford deplores lack of “kindness” in Canadian immigration policy

Christie Blatchford is a Canadian newspaper columnist, journalist and broadcaster.

Christie Blatchford: Canada shows lack of kindness in deporting harmless Pakistani woman

Republish Reprint

 | September 16, 2014 7:57 PM ET
More from Christie Blatchford

Jamila Bibi was whisked away by two Canadian Border Services Agency officers early Tuesday morning at the Saskatoon airport, set for deportation to her native Pakistan.

Evan Radford/Postmedia NewsJamila Bibi was whisked away by two Canadian Border Services Agency officers early Tuesday morning at the Saskatoon airport, set for deportation to her native Pakistan.

When I saw the picture of a weeping Jamila Bibi in the Saskatoon Star PhoenixTuesday, I thought of only one thing, and that is, how Canada looks from the air.

I’ve flown across this country probably more than the average bear, most recently this summer from Prince George, B.C., to Moncton, N.B., when the shooting of four Mounties overtook the trial I was covering.

Lucky me, in the course of doing my job, I’ve seen Canada in all four seasons from the air. The only constant is how marvelously empty the country is, most of it.

Yet Canada couldn’t wait to deport Ms. Bibi, an unsophisticated woman from a village in Pakistan, Tuesday morning from the airport in Saskatoon. She and her friend and ally, Sahana Yeasmin, at whose restaurant Ms. Bibi had been working, said a tearful goodbye.

Ms. Bibi had been faithfully checking in weekly for the past 22 months, just as she had been ordered to do, and it was at one of these recent check-ins that authorities abruptly decided to remove her, despite a United Nations order to put the proceeding on hold until it was properly investigated.

Evan Radford/Postmedia NewsEvan Radford/Postmedia News

Jamila Bibi and Sahana Yeasmin, her friend and employer, cry at the Saskatoon airport as Bibi awaits deportation to Pakistan.

Her lawyer, Bashir Khan of Winnipeg, says she doesn’t know when she was born, but guesses she’s probably in her early 60s. He is enraged by her treatment, and so am I.

Ms. Bibi was sent back to a country where generally, women and girls are treated appallingly, where as the most recent report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women notes, child and forced marriage, “karo-kari” (a local term that covers a wide variety of allegedly immoral female behaviour and which empowers family members to commit an honour killing), stove-burning and acid throwing, marriage to the Koran, and polygamy all persist.

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Canadian Muslims condemn ISIS savagery in Iraq, Syria

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

Canadian Muslims – living in a country where race, religion or ethnicity do not produce discrimination or oppression, the law is supreme, freedom of expression is enjoyed by all and the people are friendly and receptive to diversity – are horrified by the barbarity in Syria and Iraq.

They find the so-called Islamic caliphate particularly repulsive because its actions, particularly violent persecution of Shias, Christians, Yazidis, women and moderate Sunnis, violate the basic teachings of Islam that command justice, tolerance, compassion and respect for people of other beliefs. Its brutality goes against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whose life clearly illustrated that his mission was to be a mercy for all mankind.

Canadian Muslims worry about ISIS’s brutality for three other reasons. One is that while violence and brutality are common throughout the world and are committed by people of different faiths and also by those who profess no beliefs, the so-called caliphate says it is acting in accordance with Islamic teachings – a monstrous lie. Continue reading

CALGARY: HIV positive Sudanese man withheld his health condition from woman he married

Sudan: HIV/AIDS prevalence was 2.6 percent in 2012

KEVIN MARTIN | QMI AGENCY

CALGARY – Passing his HIV virus to his unsuspecting new bride was a criminal act, a judge ruled Friday in finding a Calgary man guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

Provincial court Judge Gord Wong said the man, who can’t be named to protect his victim’s identity, withheld his health condition from the woman.

As a result, Wong said the woman’s consent to sexual contact with him was gained through fraud, making it a crime.

Because the offender put the woman’s life at risk, the offence constituted an aggravated sexual assault – a crime that carries a maximum punishment of 14 years.

The 30-year-old Sudanese native met the victim at a party in May 2011.

Within days of their first contact he began talking to her about marriage and they wed in July, Wong noted.

By October, the woman suspected she was with child and went for a pregnancy test.

“Tests were conducted, which confirmed she was pregnant,” Wong noted.

“Unfortunately, those same tests showed that she had been infected by the HIV virus,” he said.

The offender became infected with the life-threatening illness before coming to Canada in 2004 and learned of his condition a year earlier.

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VANCOUVER: Chinese buyers fuelling seismic spike in Vancouver’s luxury housing market, realtors say

A wealthy Chinese immigrant family inspect a villa in the high-class neighboorhood of West Vancouver. Realtors say Asian buyers accounted for roughly 90% of sales of properties costing $5 million and more. Getty Images

 

 

Foreign buyers are fuelling a seismic spike in Vancouver’s luxury housing market, realtors say

 | September 11, 2014 | Last Updated: Sep 11 12:56 PM ET
More from Reuters

VANCOUVER — Chinese investors’ global hunt for prime real estate is helping drive Vancouver home prices to record highs and the city, long among top destinations for wealthy mainland buyers, is feeling the bonanza’s unwelcome side-effects.

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The latest wave of Chinese money, linked in part to Beijing’s anti-graft crackdown, is flowing into luxury hot spots. But it has also started driving up housing costs elsewhere in a city which already ranks as North America’s least affordable urban market.

Happiness is arriving in Vancouver

For decades Vancouver, along with Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore and more recently New York and London has been attracting Chinese and other Asian buyers.

(…)

“In the last year there’s been the corruption crackdown in China and a lot of people have seen their wealth evaporate over there because of that,” said Dan Scarrow, a vice president at MacDonald Realty.
“So they want to put it somewhere they perceive as safe and there’s nowhere safer than the west.”

My market, the luxury real estate market, is primarily Asian buyers — mostly from mainland China

Andy Yan of Bing Thom Architects found that values for detached homes in the $2-5 million range have risen by 49% since 2009, making it the fastest growing segment in Vancouver’s housing market. Home values in a handful of luxury enclaves in Vancouver’s west climbed more than 50% over  that period, driving city-wide values up more than 35%.

Realtors are saying that more than half of buyers in prime markets are mainland Chinese.

“My market, the luxury real estate market, is primarily Asian buyers — mostly from mainland China,” said realtor Malcolm Hasman, a partner at Angell Hasman and Associates. Hasman said Asian buyers accounted for roughly 90% of sales of properties costing $5 million and more.

The impact of the latest inflow of foreign cash is particularly acute for Vancouver, its market already tight because of limited building space and a decade-long nationwide property bull run fuelled by low borrowing costs.

Condo towers are now built without a fourth floor, as that number is unlucky in Asian cultures, and wok kitchens are standard in most new homes Continue reading

OTTAWA: Deepan Budlakoti fighting for Canadian citizenship

Ottawa man born in Canada loses round in fight for citizenship

 

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 10, 2014 11:06AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 10, 2014 2:42PM EDT

OTTAWA — An Ottawa man says he will appeal after losing a round in his court battle for Canadian citizenship.

Deepan Budlakoti was suddenly told by federal officials four years ago that he is not a citizen — even though he was born in Canada and had been issued a birth certificate and a Canadian passport.

The government argues Budlakoti did not automatically become a Canadian at birth in October 1989, as his parents were employed by a foreign diplomat, the Indian high commissioner.

Budlakoti, 24, was ordered out of Canada three years ago due to drug and firearms convictions. He unsuccessfully tried to challenge the order in court.

In December 2012 he completed his sentence and was released into custody of the Canada Border Services Agency. Continue reading