Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Canada May Expect More Chinese Students

It always makes me feel home once I land in Shanghai. Because of its attractiveness in terms of economic environment, business opportunities, fashion attitude and convenient lifestyle, Shanghai has become destination for non-Shanghainese and even non-Chinese. Not surprised to hear that population in Shanghai has exceeded 22 Million. I can tell from crowdedness in each subway line in non-rush hours.
I met a lot of friends during my 4-week stay in Shanghai in April. Most of them are middle-class and some of them are in higher status. The common concern for them is the future of China. Given the problems of pollution, government corruption, political system, unsafe food and social unrest, they are concerned about their future and their next generation’s.
As most of you may be aware, education is top priority for every Chinese family. Especially, “one child policy” makes parents put 100% hope on the only child. Some of them decide to go to US to give birth for their kids. It costs more than C$30,000 but they think it worthwhile as their kids obtain US passport.
On one hand, most Chinese save more than spend; on the other hand, when it turns to education for kids, they spare every effort to support. The mentality for Chinese in consumption is price equals to quality; therefore, they prepare for paying premium for better school environment, more experienced teachers and more advanced methodology. The private school in Shanghai charges more than C$12,000 per year (from kindergarten), which is almost the same tuition in Canada.
North America is always the first choice for overseas study. Canada stands out due to its favorable policy (3-year open work visa after graduation), neutral political standing and its diversity. Chinese families have realized the earlier children accept overseas education, the better. As immigration raised the bar, those parents may not get chance to come to Canada as immigrants and they don’t feel comfortable to leave children when they are too little. The line draws at the age of 15 (Grade 9 or 10). And that’s why they prefer boarding schools.
I came back with the request from my friends (children age between 1 and 12): to find out how to apply for private schools in Toronto/Canada. I suppose Canada may expect more Chinese students in the coming years.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Immigration Key to Canada's Future


Globe and Mail ongoing series and discussions on issues that matter most to Canadians has chosen the topic of immigration and explores into its importance to Canadian future. Well for starters, here are a few key "facts and figures" (derived from throughout various articles from the ongoing series):

  • Between now and 2021, a million jobs are expected to go unfilled across Canada
  • When immigrants arrive, they not only fill gaps in the work force but pay taxes and spend money on housing, transport and consumer goods
  • Studies show that their offspring tend to be among the country's best-educated and initiative-taking young people
  • Today, there are 4.2 working-aged Canadians for every senior citizen, making contributions to cover retirees' pensions and health care. By 2031, that ratio will be cut in half. The tax base will shrink, growth will slow and labour shortages will become even more dire
  • Within two decades, barring an improbable baby boom, immigration will account for all population growth
  • With 34 million people, this country remains highly underpopulated, for all its vast geography
  • Recent immigrants earn only about 60 per cent as much as the Canadian-born
  • Among those in their prime working years, immigrants are nearly 60 per cent more likely to have a university degree than those born here (37 per cent compared with 22)

Since launching the focus series just yesterday, there has been a multitude of the comments from the general public. Not surprisingly, the question is placed on the keyword: multiculturalism - is it good or bad for Canada?

As a new breed multicultural marketer myself, how can I possibly not share my views as I stick glued to my screen on all the latest comments that are coming in. But there is one thing that is really pestering me. As a second generation Chinese Canadian, I never really understood why there is a concept that insists on the importance for immigrants/visible minorities to fully assimilate into Canadian culture. The article nails it spot on when they say that our nation's greatest challenge is to understand and embrace the ways immigrants will reshape this country. Integration and not assimilation is the key to social harmony to land of multicultural ethnicities - no one should have to be coerced into giving up their home country culture in order to have the rights to be fully entitled to to enjoy the beauty of being a part of Canada. 

For crying out loud, I was born here and I really, most genuinely do not know how to answer what "Canadian culture" means. I've been saying this since I've had the intellectual capacity to think on my own, "Being Canadian is great, because the people here embrace me for who I am" There is no greater place in the world to be a Chinese person than in Canada, and I mean that sincerely from the bottom of my heart. It is due to this very reason that drives my passion for multicultural marketing, particular with the focus on the Chinese segment. 

Unfortunately, my appreciation for Canadian diversity on the social front is not always consistently reflected in our workplace and Corporate setting. To raise an example, today I was at a corporate networking event for a prestige book launch in Downtown Toronto, I just really can't help but notice that I, along with the my group, were among the only Chinese face in the crowd of senior level executives. So...in the face of a "looming labour shortage and improbable baby boom", is this how our Canadian businesses respond? 

Perhaps I shall end this blog post with on slightly more positive and hopeful note:

“We're losing the idea of building the country.” Prof. Studin argues that the country should set its sights on swelling to as many as 100 million people. This new Canada would become a far more influential consumer market, a more diverse and imaginative producer and a much more robust and self-sustaining culture. Its voice would become more prominent in international affairs.

Cheers to Canada's future!