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Refugee advocates say Canada must step up resettlement efforts despite pandemic



Advocates for refugees say the federal government must step up its efforts to help people fleeing conflict and persecution abroad — even as the pandemic continues to suppress cross-border movement around the world.

The federal government says that, despite lockdowns and travel restrictions, Canada is now resettling about 250 refugees per week after admissions slowed to a trickle due to the global pandemic, and has welcomed nearly 6,000 refugees since January.

That’s still substantially lower than the government’s 2020 target of nearly 32,000 refugees.

Alex Cohen, spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, said Canada is working to identify the most urgent refugee cases as international partners begin to resume operations abroad. Cases are prioritized based on vulnerability, partner capacity, travel availability and travel restrictions, he said.

“It’s important to note that conditions to facilitate departure vary by country, and departures may not be possible due to domestic movement restrictions, the ability to obtain exit permits, airport closures and flight availability in some countries,” Cohen said in a media statement to CBC News.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)


The roughly 250 refugees Canada is admitting each week are coming through a coordinated effort with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration and other partners, he added.

Mendicino recently announced Canada’s three-year immigration plan, which calls for the admission of about 36,000 refugees next year.

Refugee advocates said they welcome the targeted intake boost — but warn that it will be tough to meet without significant policy changes.

Deal with the backlog, say advocates

The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, which represents 118 organizations that privately sponsor refugees, is urging the government to exempt all refugees from travel restrictions regardless of when they were approved as permanent residents. Right now, only those approved before March 18 are exempted.

“That would help meet the government’s immigration levels and manage the rapidly growing backlog of applications in the process,” the group said in a media statement.

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said Canada’s continued efforts to resettle refugees are critical because many have recently lost the modest incomes they needed to survive and feed their families.

“A lot of those opportunities to earn a little bit of money have disappeared, so there are really devastating impacts for many people as a result of the pandemic, which is just adding to the precarity that people were suffering before the pandemic,” she said.

Private sponsors typically cover expenses such as housing, furniture and food during a refugee’s first year in Canada. Since the pandemic began, they also have been making arrangements for the 14-day quarantine period required of every person entering Canada.

Dench said that’s an extra challenge, given the added costs and potential health risks.

“It’s not just a question of how fast is the government bringing them in. It’s also what measures do we have in place to make it feasible for the people arriving to be meeting the requirements of isolation,” she said.

MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s caucus critic for immigration, said she’s confident that Canada can lift travel restrictions for refugees while still protecting public health and safety. She said it’s critical to continue resettlement efforts despite the pandemic.

“Persecution does not stop just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Those who are fleeing to get to safety continue to need to get to safety,” she said.

“In fact, if anything — in the face of a pandemic, in the face of COVID-19 — their situations are even worse.”

Cohen from Mendicino’s office said the United Nations has consistently recognized Canada’s leading role on refugee resettlement, and that Canada continues to welcome people despite a reduced capacity of the “entire resettlement ecosystem” and increased demands related to safe quarantine requirements.

“While many counties have closed their doors to refugees, we continue our work to welcome the world’s most vulnerable, recognizing these constraints,” he said.

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10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2



Last week I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:


  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media


I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:


  1. Customize your URL


Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters ( Customizing your profile URL ( makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:


  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).


James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”


To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.


  1. Make connections


The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’


At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn.


As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)


  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements


This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.


When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.


Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.


TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.


  1. Keep your profile active


LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.


Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.


  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength


It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.


The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally.


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at

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India’s coronavirus tally surpasses 24 million as mutant spreads across globe



India’s tally of coronavirus infections climbed past 24 million on Friday, amid reports that the highly transmissible variant first detected in the South Asian nation was spreading across the globe.

The Indian B.1.617 variant has been found in eight nations in the Americas, including Canada and the United States, said Jairo Mendez, an infectious diseases expert with the World Health Organization (WHO).

“These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences,” Mendez said. “The only worry is that they spread faster.”

Among the infected were travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe, while in the Caribbean, the variant was found in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.

It has spread to the Himalayan nation of Nepal and also been detected in Britain and tiny Singapore.

Public Health England said the total number of infections due to the variant had more than doubled in the past week, to 1,313 across Britain.

“We are anxious about it – it has been spreading,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding that meetings would be held to discuss measures. “We’re ruling nothing out.”

Singapore said it was limiting social gatherings to two people and putting a halt to dining in restaurants.

About half of the nearly 150 passengers booked to return on Australia’s first repatriation flight from India were denied boarding because of positive test results, an Australian government official said.

“The human catastrophe that is unfolding in India and Nepal should be a warning to other countries in the region to invest heavily in surge capacity for an emergency response,” said Yamini Mishra, of rights group Amnesty International.

“The virus is spreading and transcending borders at a frightening speed and will continue to hit the region’s most marginalized populations hardest of all,” the group’s Asia-Pacific director said in a statement.

Indian health ministry data show 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections over the last 24 hours. It was the third consecutive day of 4,000 deaths, or more, but daily infections have kept below last week’s peak of 414,188.

While the tally of infections crossed 24 million, the death toll stood at 262,317, since the pandemic first struck India more than a year ago.

But a lack of testing in many places meant the official count omits many deaths and infections, prompting experts to estimate the real figures could be five to ten times higher.

The situation is particularly bad in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, home to more than 240 million.

Television has broadcast images of families weeping over the dead in rural hospitals or camping in wards to tend the sick.

Bodies have washed up in the Ganges, the river that flows through the state, as crematoriums are overwhelmed and wood for funeral pyres is in short supply.


The second wave of infections, which erupted in February, has been accompanied by a slowdown in vaccinations, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi threw open inoculations for all adults from May 1.

Although India is the world’s largest vaccine producer, the huge demand has left it low on stocks. By Thursday, it had fully vaccinated just over 38.2 million people, or about 2.8% of a population of about 1.35 billion, government figures show.

More than 2 billion doses of vaccine are likely to be available between August to December this year, top government adviser V.K. Paul told reporters amid criticism that the government had mishandled the vaccine plan.

Those would include 750 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, as well as 550 million of Covaxin, made by domestic producer Bharat Biotech.

“We are going through a phase of finite supply,” Paul said. “The entire world is going through this. It takes time to come out of this phase.”

(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru, Tanvi Mehta in New Delhi and Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Final leg of Huawei CFO extradition hearings set to resume in August



Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou and her legal team are set to return to court for three more weeks of extradition hearings starting Aug. 3, following a fourth attempt by Meng’s lawyers to introduce new evidence, a Canadian court heard on Wednesday.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant for bank fraud in December 2018. She is accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei’s dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break with U.S. sanctions.

Meng maintains she is innocent of the charges and has been fighting her extradition while living under house arrest in Vancouver. For more than two years, her lawyers have pushed to have the case thrown out because of alleged abuses of process that they say violated her rights.

Last month Meng requested a delay in proceedings to allow her legal team to review new documents that could bolster her defense. The request followed a settlement between HSBC and Huawei in a Hong Kong court allowing company records to be released.

Meng’s lawyers told the British Columbia Supreme Court on Wednesday they plan to file their application to introduce new evidence on June 7. The case is expected to wrap on Aug. 20.


(Reporting by Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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