Category Archives: Demographic shift

Ratna Omidvar: “The people who sit in boardrooms and hold corporate power look like Old Canada; they don’t look like New Canada.”

Ratna Omidvar on growth through diversity: ‘The people who … hold corporate power look like Old Canada’

ELIZABETH PINNINGTON

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

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In a six-week series of interviews, Canadians with a variety of experiences discuss the major challenges our country is facing and how best to address them. This instalment deals with increasing the innovativeness of our economy.

Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, was interviewed on Oct. 16 by Elizabeth Pinnington, a consultant with Reos Partners. Continue reading

Yuen Pau Woo: Within 10 years, Vancouver will be a majority “Asian” city

Yuen Pau Woo.

Yuen Pau Woo on Canada’s connection to Asia: ‘We have to figure out our energy relationship’

MONICA POHLMANN

Special to The Globe and Mail

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In a six-week series of interviews, Canadians with a variety of experiences discuss the major challenges our country is facing and how best to address them. This instalment deals with taking our place in the world.

Yuen Pau Woo, former president and chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, was interviewed Sept. 4 by Monica Pohlmann, a consultant with Reos Partners.

POSSIBLE CANADAS ON TAKING OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD

Pohlmann: What keeps you up at night about what’s going on in Canada?

Woo: Complacency. Canada has been blessed with numerous natural endowments and political and institutional assets. But we are slipping on many indices and our position in the world could deteriorate sharply. The usual story for why Canada didn’t fall into a more severe recession in 2008 is that we have strong banks and a good financial regulatory system – for example, that we didn’t have a subprime mortgage problem like the U.S. That’s all true. But we overlook the fact that China saved Canada from a more severe recession. If you look at what kept growth from falling even further between 2008 and 2011, the answer is Chinese demand. Exports from Canada to China doubled between 2008 and 2013. Exports from Canada to the rest of the world, including to the U.S., still have not caught up to the levels they were in 2007. Continue reading

TORONTO: Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), wants to “saturate Canada’s powerful industry networks with diaspora leaders”

Diaspora Leadership

November 2nd, 2014

Ratna OmidvarAt a recent academic panel discussion in Toronto on “The Power of the Diaspora Networks in Canada” at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX) chose to focus her remarks on diaspora leadership.

Focus on diaspora leadership

Ratna Omidvar: I want to focus my remarks on diaspora leadership, because I think a discussion on the rise and influence of immigrants in the areas of trade and investment must be about the rise and influence of political and business leaders who are immigrants.

In other words, it’s not the size of the diaspora communities in Canada that makes them influential, it’s the success of individuals within those communities. For example, how does a Canadian bank expand in Latin America? A successful business model aside, they will be better able to attract those markets by employing people who understand Latin America, and just as important, who have business connections in Peru, Columbia, Mexico, and Chile.

The good news is that diverse talent is a Canadian strength. We boast some of the world’s most diverse cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Toronto is Canada’s most diverse city, with more than half its residents not born in Canada. Close to half (47%) are visible minorities. Together, we comprise more than 200 distinct ethnicities and there are over 140 languages and dialects spoken. Continue reading

FORT MCMURRAY: Over 10,000 Muslims have settled in the city so far

A day in Fort McMurray: Upgraded trucks, million-dollar homes and bitumen paintings

PHOTOS BY IAN WILLMS FOR ROB MAGAZINE

Special to The Globe and Mail

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Canada has staked its future on the oil sands. In November, Report on Business magazine together with Thomson Reuters examine what that means both at home and abroad. Read more from the issue at tgam.ca/oil.

A typical day in Fort McMurray — the city of 77,000 where the median age is 31 years old. Life revolves around work, family, religion and blowing off steam at the end of a long day. Continue reading

RICHMOND, B.C.: Mayoral contender Lifeng Wei wants to implement Chinese-style city policies

ELECTION 2014: Civic pay, Chinese signs focus of Richmond mayoral debate

Richmond mayoral candidates Malcolm Brodie, Richard Lee and Cliff Lifeng Wei.  - Matthew Hoekstra

Richmond mayoral candidates Malcolm Brodie, Richard Lee andCliff Lifeng Wei.

— Image Credit: Matthew Hoekstra

In the wake of a report documenting a rapid rise in municipal compensation, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie defended city workers’ salaries in a Thursday mayoral debate.

Brodie, campaigning for a seventh term in the Nov. 15 vote, said unionized workers’ pay is governed by negotiated agreements. As for management—who are paid too much according to an Ernst and Young report made public last month—Brodie said “it’s all relative.”

“If we don’t pay our management enough, then they go somewhere else,” he said in front of a Minoru Place Activity Centre crowd of approximately 250 people. “That’s a huge cost, when you lose a longtime employee and that person goes elsewhere. So you have to pay market rate to your employees, and it’s also a matter of fairness.”

To probe municipal pay, the province hired consultants Ernst and Young, whose report criticized cities for allowing pay levels to climb by 38 per cent—twice the rate of the provincial public service—from 2001-12. The report also suggested municipal managers are paid too much and recommended the province take strong action to curb the trend.

Richard Lee, who is making a second run at the mayor’s job and running with Richmond Reform, said staff are entitled to their current deals, but suggested there’s room for wage scrutiny.

“I believe in the free market, we could have and in the future we will under my leadership, to hire somebody at a reasonable rate, not at the alarming rate that was shared with us in that study…”

Richmond City Hall’s payroll has grown by $15 million in five years. The city’s top earner is chief administrative officer George Duncan, who made $291,250 last year. Department heads also score high on the pay scale, as five of six general managers topped the $200,000 mark in 2013.

Thursday’s short debate, organized by the Richmond Centre for Disability, served as a prelude to a much larger forum featuring 28 candidates running for councillor.

Mayoral candidates also waded into the contentious waters of Chinese-only signs. Lee said they’re “not a good thing.” Some will argue for freedom of expression, he said, but added “all rights are conditional.” Continue reading

VANCOUVER: City’s real estate market invaded by millionaire Chinese immigrants

Vancouver’s real estate boom: The rising price of ‘heaven’

IAIN MARLOW AND BRENT JANG

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

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 Qiqi Hong walks past her sleek, blue-tiled hot tub and an infinity pool that seems to disappear like a waterfall into the chilly air above West Vancouver. She leans on the patio railing and breathes in the majestic ocean view that takes in the towering Douglas firs of Stanley Park, the skyscrapers of Vancouver, the Asia-bound freighters anchored in English Bay and – way off in the misty distance – the faint, rugged outline of Gabriola Island.

“We’re in heaven,” says Ms. Hong. “I can’t find any house that can compare to my house.”

The serene West Coast lifestyle did not come cheaply: Ms. Hong’s home cost $6-million. But it is an investment she can easily afford. The irrepressible businesswoman founded a successful lighting-design business in Beijing that thrived in China’s building boom. It now has more than 100 employees. But tired of Beijing’s hectic pace and foul air, she decided to come to Vancouver – after looking in Switzerland, Germany and the United States – on the Canadian government’s immigrant investor program in 2011. She now also owns three other houses on Vancouver’s west side, each valued in excess of $1.3-million, as well as a downtown condo she uses on weekends and lends to visiting friends.

Demand from wealthy migrants from mainland China such as Ms. Hong has helped make the Vancouver area the most expensive real estate market in Canada. The average price of a single-family detached home is $1.26-million, higher than any other Canadian city. The rising flow of foreign capital – stemming from a long tradition of transpacific migration and investment – has turned Vancouver into a truly global real estate market. One large real estate firm calculated that roughly one-third of the detached homes it sold within the City of Vancouver last year went to buyers from China. Vancouver developers and real estate firms have hit the jackpot, and some have rushed to set up offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Some now say Vancouver is a bedroom community for the world.

The upscale Point Grey neighbourhood is on Vancouver’s west side, where benchmark prices for detached homes have soared. DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

But Vancouver real estate prices have also become increasingly unhinged from local incomes, prompting concerns about affordability. It has led to middle– and even upper-middle class Vancouverites renting permanently or fleeing for cheaper suburbs such as Burnaby. There is a search for better data on foreign buyers, which is only haphazardly tracked. There is now a heated debate – that includes accusations of racism – about whether anything should be done to curb foreign buying, or if what is happening is simply an inevitable, and welcome, facet of globalization in a free market.

After all, the ebullient Ms. Hong hasn’t just bought houses here. She founded a charity with other wealthy migrants from China; the group just held a Thanksgiving lunch for 1,000 seniors and recently collected $250,000 for a local hospital and pet shelter. She has founded several businesses in Vancouver, including one in real estate, and drives to ESL classes. She’s learning English, and has even joined a protest, hitting the streets during the recent B.C. teachers’ strike. While she stays busy in Vancouver, her husband frequently flies to China to manage the firm.

In my opinion, I think it’s good for the economy,” Ms. Hong says, noting that the number of Chinese residents on her street has soared in recent years and that the local businessman she bought her house from made a cool $1.5-million more than he originally paid. “In Vancouver,” Ms. Hong says, “the house prices are perfect.”

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Former diplomat Scott Gilmore wants more immigrants into Canada

Why it’s time for Canada to grow up

The Canadian model works, so let’s boost immigration and triple our population

Scott Gilmore

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

According to newly released data, Canada’s population growth is slow and getting slower. This is bad news. Great nations are not made from fewer workers, fewer youth and more retirees. If Canada wants to thrive, if we want to influence the world, we will have to change this. We need immigrants and we need lots of them.

Canada is doing well. As we approach our 150th birthday, we are rated among the world’s most peaceful, prosperous and admired nations. The Canadian experiment is, objectively, a success.

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The Canadian model works, but we are simply too small to ensure that this will continue to be the case 50 or 100 years from now. It is time we began to scale it up.

While Canada is ranked second in the world by reputation, we are 37th by population. Statistics Canada’s newly released report “Population Projections for Canada” shows our growth is now stunted. Our birth rate continues to fall and the 258,000 immigrants we accepted last year are not enough to meet our labour shortages or significantly expand our size. Unhappily, as our growth slows, our aging accelerates. The number of retired Canadians is now predicted to increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent over the next 15 years. Simultaneously, our working-age population will shrink from 69 per cent to 60 per cent—fewer hands feeding more mouths.

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail has, in the past, convincingly argued that Canada should embrace prime minister Wilfrid Laurier’s dream of a significantly larger and more muscular nation. Saunders proposes we set a target of 100 million by the end of the century. Put more simply, let’s triple the size of Canada.

It would not be hard. Now at 34 million people, we would only need an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent to reach that target. Assuming our fertility rates remain low, this means an additional 186,000 migrants annually, bringing our total immigration numbers to 444,000 per year. This may sound like a lot, but we could absorb them easily. By comparison to most cities around the world, Canadian urban areas are sprawling and empty. Even if we doubled our immigration numbers, the lineup at Tim Hortons would stay the same. It would only increase our workforce by one per cent per year, a number that our economy could easily engage, especially if we continue to recruit and favour skilled and educated migrants.

More immigrants mean more minds, more hands and more tax dollars. There is a misconception that new arrivals are a net drain on our economy. In fact, they are more entrepreneurial and work longer hours than average Canadians. The added muscle would make us smarter, stronger and louder.

As of this month, Ontario university enrolment has begun to decline due to our changing demographics. An influx of immigrants would turn this around and help grow our campuses into academic centres that matter globally. 

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VANCOUVER: City’s ghostly Punjabi market reflects demographic shift

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 | Posted by admin

Vancouver’s Fast Eroding Punjabi Market An Election Issue In Vancouver?

Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe said if elected his NPA Vancouver government would help revitalize shuttered stretch of Main Street that has declined under mayor Gregor Robertson.

VANCOUVER  - Although there aren’t many Indo-Canadians left in Vancouver and thus the decline of the once thriving Punjabi market in Vancouver but the upstart NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe is making the South Vancouver market which has become a ghost town of shuttered businesses, a key election issue, hoping to win whatever Indo-Canadian-South Asian votes left in Vancouver.

“The Vision Vancouver machine has failed this area,” LaPointe said last week while touring the area.

Jay Jagpal, NPA Park Board Commissioner candidate, lives in the Punjabi Market area. His family’s South Vancouver roots extend to 1971.

Speaking in Punjabi in a video release, Jagpal said: “this neighbourhood needs a government that is directly connected to it and cares about it, and that’s the change the NPA is offering.”

The stretch of Main Street between 48th and 51st Avenue once boasted a variety of retail outlets, restaurants and other South Asian cultural offerings. It is now a strip of empty stores, their windows papered over and displaying “Closed” signs.

An example of the City’s neglect of the struggling community is the India Gate that was to be finished for the 2010 Olympics. The City supported the construction of the project. It was never built.

Mayor Robertson has done nothing to develop plans that would market the area and help restore it to its former vibrancy, says LaPointe.

“When neighbourhoods face tough times, their civic government must step in, build a new plan to support them and help resolve the issue,” says LaPointe. “Mayor Robertson has not done this. But I will.”

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