Four years ago, Statistics Canada launched a new program tracking the successes, challenges and attitudes of new immigrants to Canada over a number of years. The first crop of results are in, and recent immigrants are giving the thumbs-up to their newly adopted nation.

The Canadian permanent resident (PR) card was first introduced in June 2002 in order to heighten Canada’s border security and provide immigrants with secure and convenient proof of their status in Canada. Valid for a five year period, the cards that were first issued in 2002 will begin expiring in the coming months.

For a group of people living in refugee camps in Southern Bangladesh, the late arrival of the Canadian spring will mean a true fresh start in the spirit of the season. Canada is taking the initiative of opening its doors to a first group of Rohingya refugees living in UN camps in the southern tip of Bangladesh.

This week Canada marks the 25th anniversary of a defining moment in its history. It was at this time in 1982 that the Canadian constitution was repatriated and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect.

The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration recently introduced a new division of its Provincial Nominee Program. The International Graduate stream was launched in response to the immigration strategy consultations that the Office of Immigration has been conducting with employers around the province.

The Government of Saskatchewan has recently announced an $8.5 million infusion of funds into immigration and settlement services for the 2007-2008 fiscal year. This budget represents a 40 per cent increase over 2006-2007.

In an effort to shed light on the important contributions made across Canada by immigrants, an innovative program is bringing their stories throughout the country. The Passages to Canada program brings first hand accounts of immigrant experiences and contributions to Canadian society to a variety of different audiences.

In mid-February of this year, it was announced that the Canadian Immigration Visa Office in Dhaka would offer a full range of immigration services by July 2007 (see original news release). It was recently confirmed that this start date, released by the Immigration Law Consultancy Bureau (ILCB), is incorrect. The High Commission of Canada has confirmed that the full-service office in Dhaka will not be operational until 2008.

While an unseasonable cold burst means that the arrival of spring has not yet brought much improvement in the weather, the spirit of growth and renewal of the season may be seen in the Canadian economy. In the month of March, job growth in Canada exceeded expectations by 500 percent, capping off a record first quarter.

The British Columbia and Yukon Hotel Association (BCYHA) is actively recruiting Filipino workers through Canadian recruitment agencies. Of its 580 member organizations, 79 per cent will be hiring this year. Given that many BCYHA members have spent thousands of dollars this year on unsuccessful attempts at hiring Canadians, the bulk of their new employees will likely be foreign workers.

In an international study conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the city of Calgary has ranked at the top of its Health and Sanitation index. Canadian cities also ranked very high for indicators of quality of life.

In Brampton, Ontario, a fast-growing suburb of Toronto, a new centre has opened its doors to offer a broad range of services aimed to help immigrants navigate the Canadian job market. The Brampton Employment Resource Centre is an initiative funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to provide information and services to help newcomers build bridges into employment.

Both rural and urban communities in the province of Saskatchewan saw significant increases in immigration in the past year. The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) attracted over one thousand nominations in 2006, the largest number to date, which added to the 26 per cent rise in the annual number of immigrants landing in the province. With 2,658 landed immigrants in 2006, the government of Saskatchewan is continuing to implement its “bold strategy to attract 5,000 newcomers annually by 2008.”

While recent Canadian census told of the importance of immigration for Canadian growth, cities and provinces across Canada are devising strategies to attract newcomers to their region. The mayors of Atlantic Canada are confident that the quality of life in their cities will be the key to attracting immigrants to work, live and stay in their cities and towns.