Let's talk diversity

November 2nd 2009

The uproar over attempts to change the Old Age Security Act triggered more than just a fierce opposition to tampering with the Canadian pension system. Beneath the furious debate about pension entitlement in Canada, there was an unavoidable undercurrent of anti-immigrant sentiment voiced in some corners.

There will always be the small-minded and bigoted in the crowd eager to add their two cents to any discussion involving the immigrant community and fuel the still simmering fires of intolerance. But there are also many ordinary, average residents who genuinely feel like the walls of immigration are closing in around them.

Last June, Brampton-Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla introduced a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Old Age Security Act so immigrant seniors can qualify to receive monthly benefit payments after three years Canadian residency instead of 10 years.

While there has been support from various communities and organizations, there has also been a hue and cry from many Canadians. Emotional opposition and criticism from Canadians, who believe recent immigrants have not earned the right to access a government-funded pension program, appear to have drowned out vocal supporters of the proposed bill. Even the nation’s largest seniors support organization, Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), joined the chorus of boos. The organization also warned the fruitless legislative attempt in the House of Commons has only managed to stir up ill-will for Canada’s immigrants.

“CARP requests that you withdraw Bill C-428 in order to prevent the further corrosion of the public discourse on immigration and stem the tide of anti-immigrant sentiments that Bill C-428 has provoked,” said Susan Eng, the organization’s vice-president of advocacy, in an open letter.

Letters and calls to The Guardian revealed there are Brampton residents who feel this city is no longer their home. The changing face of the community makes them feel like strangers.

Longtime residents are migrating north and west of city limits. There are those who feel they are fleeing a tsunami of sorts̢-̢Рmoving further inland to escape an immigration tidal wave.

Projections show no hint the tide will turn anytime soon. According to data gathered during the 2006 census, immigrants now represent about half of Brampton’s population.

The recurring stories of longtime residents leaving are told in hush conversation in the corner of social gatherings and public meetings. No one dare discuss such things in mixed company for fear of being labelled racist or bigoted. In the end, each of us have to take some responsibility for our inability to adapt or feel comfortable with the changing world. But trying to achieve a harmonious community has to be a two way street for old and new arrivals. Perhaps the time has come to speak these issues aloud if the diversity Brampton, Peel and Canada so often boast about is truly our goal.

©ty is Canadas principal arthritis health charity dedicated to funding and promoting arthritis education, research-based solutions and community-based support. The Society empowers the nearly 4.5 million Canadians with arthritis, 1.8 million in Ontario alone, to live their lives to the fullest by combating the daily limitations of arthritis. In the last 60 years, The Society has invested $160 million towards arthritis research to develop better treatments and, ultimately, find a cure. ‘ The mission of The Arthritis Society is to search for the underlying causes and subsequent cures for arthritis, and to promote the best possible care and treatment for people with arthritis.’

Visit www.arthritis.cafor more information on The Arthritis Society


Volunteer Engagement Opportunities


JUNE 10th, 2012

 Walk to Fight Arthritis

The Walk to Fight Arthritis is the signature event of The Arthritis Society. It is a 1 or 5 km walk in support of the nearly 4.5 million Canadians living with the disease. The third annual Walk takes place on Sunday June 10th in 23 communities across Canada. Join us in support of a future without arthritis!

We cannot do this walk successfully without support of volunteers. There are many volunteer opportunities that you can get involved in. Opportunities include: registration, route marshalls, set up and clean up, entertainment and check point.

This is a great opportunity for a group of students, employee engagement programs, friends or family to come out and help us fight arthritis.

Walk to Fight Arthritis Details

Date: Sunday June 10th, 2012

Distance: 1 km or 5 km

Website: www.walktofightarthritis.ca/toronto

Click on volunteer at the top and register. You can also register to participate, just let us know and we will try and find a position that allows for both. For further information please contact Lori Gotlieb at 416 977 7228 x3327 or [email protected] or Marie John at [email protected] or 416 977 7228 x3355.

I would be pleased to discuss this wonderful opportunity with you and/or your group.

Lori Gotlieb
Manager, Community Engagement