Tag: LMO

The portal is closing….

This is in response to the new changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program. There has been a lot of coverage of this in the press already, but unless I’ve missed it, no one has yet actually asked the views of the people actually in the middle of this program – ie: the foreign workers themselves.
I’ve picked the Globe and Mail article because it’s a national newspaper and, well, it was the first one I found. Taking out all the editorial and opinion pieces though, they all say pretty much the same anyway!
Here’s the original article:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/jobs/ottawa-set-to-unveil-sweeping-changes-to-foreign-workers-program/article11601857/

“The federal government will announce sweeping changes to the temporary foreign workers program Monday, aimed at ensuring non-Canadian workers are employed in this country only after every effort has been made to put Canadians in the jobs first.”

– “sweeping changes” says it all. I’ve found nothing to suggest that these changes were on the cards before the RBC scandal broke. In other words, this sounds very like a knee-jerk reaction, and the Tories are just trying to be seen to be Doing Something.  The system ALREADY includes a process that should ensure the Canadians are given the opportunity first – it just needs enforcing better, not completely re-writing. A Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is exactly that – an opinion on the local labour market that identifies a skills shortage. They are only approved for skilled/managerial level jobs, and only after the prospective employer demonstrates that they have tried to recruit locally for a set amount of time, and not found any suitable, Canadian candidates.

“Other measures, to be announced either Monday or at a later date, are expected to require employers to pay a fee for a permit to hire from overseas.”

This is the bit that really, really annoys me. I can see the logic behind it: why should Canadian taxpayers pay for the system that gets foreign workers in to do local jobs? However, to my mind, this is going to severely hamper the system – both from the point of view of small businesses who can’t necessarily afford it, and for the would-be immigrants who then not only need to find a job, but also find an employer who is willing to cough up the fee, AND wait whilst keeping the job open for that person for the months it takes for all this bureaucracy to process. Even the old system was problematic for small businesses, because if you have few staff and are seeking to hire a key worker, the chances are you’d struggle to keep the business afloat during the ridiculously long wait for the application to go through anyway. As I have pointed out repeatedly, my LMO took an epic five months to go through, and I was just lucky that my employers waited for me (not that I ended up doing the job I was originally offered, but that is a different issue). To my mind, adding a fee on to that as well would be enough to make most small business rule out the option entirely.

“The reforms – which will also address the question of wage discrepancies between foreign and Canadian workers doing identical jobs – aim to reduce abuse of the system while not shutting off the tap supplying an essential source of workers.”

Rubbish. Again, the old system did address wage discrepancies – or at least, aimed to prevent temporary foreign workers undercutting the local labour market. Under the old system, a Labour Market Opinion document was only granted if they employer was willing to pay “the going rate” or the local average wage for that specific job or industry. My LMO was actually refused initially because my employers weren’t offering me the provincial average for the role.

The problems with the original LMO system arose from very large companies basically flouting the rules, fudging the applications, and exploiting the workers they brought in. To combat this, the CIC or Service Canada need to be a bit more rigorous with enforcing the existing system, and – most importantly – do checks on the company and the workers after they have entered Canada to check that the foreign workers are actually doing the jobs set out in the LMOs, check they are being paid what they should be according to the job description, and in the case of RBC, check that they are not actually being trained to replace Canadian workers facing redundancy!

There is no need to charge a fee for the application: big businesses will hardly be affected, and if they are determined to flout the system anyway, they won’t be dissuaded by an additional fee. The fee only hurts small businesses and makes the program an option exclusive to huge multinational companies. If a fee has to be charged, it should be in return for much faster, more efficient processing times so that small businesses don’t have to struggle to hold a job open for so long.

From the perspective of would-be immigrants, making the leap into Canada is difficult enough already. Either you get in on the Temporary Foreign Worker program – which in turn, means finding a job in Canada from outside the country, then persuading your prospective employer to not only apply for an LMO, but also hold the job open for you for several months – and then making your own way to Canada and paying for your initial work permit, and then going through the whole process again with even higher fees as soon as you are eligible to apply for permanent residency….

OR,

There’s the Federal Skilled Worker program, a process which can easily take over two years to complete, and which also requires you to have $12000 Canadian dollars  in cash, after the already steep fees for the application process, and on top of all your moving costs, to support yourself while you look for a job in Canada. Practically speaking, you couldn’t really look for a job in Canada from outside the country under this system, because you wouldn’t be able to tell your employer when you’d be able to start. Also, the backlog of applications for this program was so long in recent years that they just cancelled ALL the applications, refunded everyone’s money and restarted the whole system from scratch.

We started the whole process of emigrating when my daughter was one year and one month old. By the time we got here (even going through the LMO program), she was nearly two, (10 months in total) and the whole thing cost us over $10000. To reiterate, that was the Temporary Foreign Worker program. The Federal Skilled Worker program wasn’t even an option for us – whereas we did qualify under the points system, we don’t have that sort of money anyway, but more significantly, we couldn’t put ourselves into that program with no guarantees of the timescale and no guarantees of employment nor income, not with a small child in tow. You can’t plan your family’s future with the vague hope that you’ll get to emigrate “sometime in the next few years”, it’s just not practical, especially when children’s schooling, your own career and most problematically – your mortgage, are all up in the air indefinitely during the application process.

For the vast majority of people the Temporary Foreign Worker program, while difficult enough, is the only realistic method of emigrating to Canada. Watch any news program about Europe and you’ll see why there are many people wanting to escape. This article quotes the Canadian unemployment rate as being “stubbornly 7%” – well, the European average is now 12.1%. In the UK there’s around 2.6 million people unemployed: that is over twice the total population of Saskatchewan. Despite this regressive, knee-jerk reaction legislation, Canada is a wonderful place to be. If there are jobs to be done, let us in to do them.   Please don’t close our only portal!

 

 

 

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Canuckiversary Part 1 – Sensible stuff

The other week we celebrated our “Canuckiversary!” On 4th April, we had officially been here a year! Unfortunately that means that since then, we’ve had to go through and renew EVERYTHING – health cards, Carl’s driving licence, even our library cards! It is very nice to be able to renew them though. Best of all, Carl’s work informed us that our work permits will actually be renewed for THREE years more, not the two we’d thought we’d get. Woopedoo! This should allow us enough time to go through the Permanent Residency application process.

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the Temporary Foreign Workers scheme in Canada, and in particular, certain companies abusing the system. In the worst cases, they were firing Canadian workers, replacing them with temporary foreign workers on considerably lower wages and even worse, giving those foreign workers contracts that forbade them from applying for permanent residency once they got here!! Desperately not good!

This is the sort of situation the LMO process is designed to avoid. There are several sorts of Temporary Foreign Worker schemes, but the one we came in on, the scheme requiring and Labour Market Opinion, is specifically set out so that ONLY skilled foreign workers are allowed into the country, to do skilled/managerial level jobs, once it has been established that there are no suitable candidates to be found locally. And even then, there are a lot of checks,  and prospective employers have to prove that they have advertised the job locally first, and also that they will pay the foreign worker at least the industry-standard wage for the job, so that they can’t undercut Canadian workers. You can’t get an LMO for an unskilled, entry-level job, and you can just go ahead and recruit from overseas without first advertising the position locally for a set amount of time.

On the surface, that sounds like a very fair, sensible system. It is hindered by bureaucracy, but then, *everything* done through national government is. Ours took FIVE  MONTHS to process, and that wait is soul-destroying, which is part of the reason I started this blog! A year ago, I would have advocated that the UK adopts a similar system, to cope with the “influx” of economic migrants from Eastern and Central Europe – if immigrants already have jobs to go to before they arrive, if there hasn’t been any suitable British candidates applying, and if the immigrants can’t undercut British workers, why not let them in? Good luck to them if they actually want to move there!

However, this past year has uncovered some major flaws in the system for me. In addition to the abuses by a certain large national bank mentioned above, my own experiences lead me to believe the system is skewed far too far in the favour of the employers. Basically, after the LMO is approved and accompanying work permit has been granted at the port of entry, there are no checks whatsoever. Once the foreign worker is in place, the employer can do what they like. There’s no follow-up from Service Canada to make sure they are actually doing  the job they got the LMO for. The only ‘insurance’ is that the work permits granted under the LMO system are employer-specific. You can’t chop and change jobs if you entered Canada under this scheme.

In my case, my employers for whatever reason, never trusted me to do the job they’d gone to all the effort of getting me over here to do. Far from being a manager, I was demoted to a waitress position and cleaner before I even started the job properly – hardly the skilled job I’d sold my business and left my husband behind to do! If that were not frustrating enough, they then cut my wage, gave me a new job description with all references to the word “manager” removed, but never gave me a chance to agree to the new contract, and then they started cutting my hours as well, so I was left bringing in about $550 a month less than I was when I started there, but still needing to find the same amount of rent and childcare costs.

This put me in an impossible position. My work permit did not allow me to work for another employer because the permit is job-specific. By cutting my hours and my wage, my employers had effectively breached contract. However, I couldn’t quit and get another job because my permit doesn’t allow me to work for anyone else. If they’d fired me, I could have claimed unemployment benefit, but not if I quit.  I couldn’t apply for permanent residency because I would have needed a supporting letter from my employer and a permanent job contract. My contract that they’d already breached was only for a year. Finally, I couldn’t apply for another LMO document to extend my work permit, because the job I was doing no longer fitted the managerial/skilled criteria that an LMO requires.
I did try to appeal the conditions of my work permit, but the process took months anyway, and was eventually rejected, costing me $300 (non-refundable) for the privilege!

So basically I was left with the “choice” of ‘put up with whatever shit the employers hurl at me’ or ‘give up and go back to the UK’.  A tough choice indeed! I put up with it for much longer than I should have done, but felt like there was no alternative. There is also no one to offer any advice! I could have reported them to Labour Standards I suppose, but they couldn’t do anything about work permits, so eventually I decided it wasn’t worth the stress.

Eventually, I was “rescued” by Carl, or at least, his employers. When my LMO had been granted, Carl got an open work permit to support me. His job has turned out wonderfully, and his employers want to keep him longer than a year, so they applied for a separate, and three-year LMO for him which was approved easily – and I get a three year open-permit to go with it, meaning I can work anywhere. WOOHOO!

That’s how I finally escaped, but the whole thing was a confidence-shattering experience. After the bank scandal, temporary foreign workers got a lot of bad press – of the usual ‘coming over here, taking our jobs’ type remarks. Far from it! If the system works flawlessly, then there is no opportunity for job-stealing. More, the problem lies with the company abusing that system, and the lack of regulation in that system that leaves it open to abuse. Unfortunately, there are occasions when unscrupulous employers are given free-run to take advantage of temporary foreign workers, who are left extremely vulnerable with few real choices and very little help and support inside Canada.

“Tweet away – LMO is approved!”

I am now at liberty to “blog my head off!!”

I do feel a little like my head has fallen off actually. That sensation is a welcome relief from the stress of the last few months where my head has felt like it was trying to curl in on itself and implode. I was contemplating trephination, but a positive Labour Market Opinion is possibly a less risky solution…

So yes, THE LMO IS APPROVED!!!

A mere FIFTEEN WEEKS AND FOUR DAYS after we applied for it… talk about backlog!!

Emma seems highly relieved too, can’t wait to meet up with them both again!

What this means in a practical terms is that we can now fly out, and get my work permit stamped at the port of entry, ie: Calgary airport. There are some advantages of the Commonwealth and being a UK national after all. If I were coming from anywhere else in Europe I’d be stuck waiting another few months for the work permits to be approved by the Canadian embassy at home! From then on, I am legally allowed to work (and pay taxes!) at the coffee shop in Regina.  It is employer-specific, so I have to stay at 13th Avenue for a year at least. Fine by me!! The best bit is though, as Carl is my spouse, he gets to come with me and automatically gets an Open work permit, so when he finds a job over there, he doesn’t have to go through this whole LMO process himself! Lucky sod.

We’re all official!! And today I booked the flights. (was intending to do it earlier but we had to see how long Carl could get off work… he’s coming out for just over 2 weeks this time, then unfortunately he has to come back, and carry on working until September when his redundancy comes through! Waa!!)

So I actually have a One Way Ticket!!!

I’ve never owned a one way flight ticket before. EEEP!!

I am sure there are plenty of jokesl to be made out of “I’ve got a ticket for Regina” or “single entry only”… I’ll await the blog comments from the usual suspects….

I am somewhere in between knicker-wettingly excited to gibbering-in-the-corner with nerves now.

Of course, we needed to celebrate. We cracked open an eleven year old bottle of wine that has been gathering dust in the corner of the kitchen. We bought it for under £5 from the Kwiksave supermarket behind our old house in Chester-le-Street in 2001. It’s Chilean cab sav and says it ages well, so we kept it “for a special occasion”. We could never decide on what occasion would warrent its opening (not the birth of our daughter, the opening of my coffee shop nor handing in my PhD thesis!) so it has sat there, rejected,ever since, and even moved house with us in 2004. Aging it definitely improved it – it is incredibly strong tasting now, almost smokey!! But its one of the last bottles we’ll be able to pick up for under a fiver in a supermarket – from now on, it’ll all have to come from a Liquor Store. Hmm!

We first started talking about moving to Canada more than eleven years ago, before we bought that bottle anyway, so I think it is very fitting that we glugged the stuff on the eve of finally doing it!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Here’s some pictures of us getting excited, in case you’d missed the general vibe of this post.

With the aforementioned Old Wine.
"Mother, you are embarrassing me!"
I missed Carl, but then he hates being in photos anyway! He is excited too. Just in a quieter way than me.

Of Lolcats, bread and (de)motivation

I have quit Facebook.

In many ways this is quite liberating. I spent far, far too much time faffing around on it, I had nearly 300 friends on there but only ever talked to the handful of friends that I saw locally anyway, and frankly it got too annoying. I am not a fan of “kittehz”, ‘cyoot’ or otherwise, and having a timeline full of Lolcats drove me quietly insane. However, my main qualms about leaving facebook were because if I ever do get to emigrate, Facebook is the method of choice for the vast majority of people to keep in contact internationally. By deactivating my account, I risk losing touch with a great many people.

But then I asked myself, who is on there that I would really be completely unable to contact without it? Only the people who I never talk to on there anyway. If I really want to talk to my friends, or if they want to talk to me, we can find a way. (and given recent events which I will spare the public airing, my enthusiasm for keeping in touch with one or two “friends” has been severely curbed anyway, but that is a different story.)

This is not to say that I am puritanically shunning all forms of social media – a fact made acutely obvious by this blog and my shameless promotion of it. I have discovered the wondrous simplicity of Google+ and my Twitter addiction is getting worse by the hour. Google+ is an odd one though – it is not a direct replacement for Facebook because it allows and actively encourages you to converse with total strangers. It is not just ‘boast-by-post’ popularity contest like facebook, and I’ve got into some very interesting discussions on there. However, it also gives rise to all manner of well-meaning but slightly nauseating motivational memes, more bloody lolcats and “epic lolz” videos of people falling over. I now have a ‘circle’ for all people who I normally like, but who post cute kitten pictures, so that they can be censored before perusal. Sound harsh? Well you’ll never know if you’re in the circle, so go swing a cat! 😛

The sort of motivational memes are sometimes sentimentally inspiring, but mostly just toe-curlingly insipid. I give you an example:

Believe it or not, that is one of the less cringe-worthy ones.

I’d argue that anyone who designs these things, anyone who advocates the carpe diem, ‘chase your dreams’ or ‘reach for the stars’ or ‘just do it’ attitudes has obviously never dealt with international migration bureaucracy. I would dearly love to ‘follow my heart’ and jump into the unknown and ‘never stop believing’ or whatever little soundbyte you care to mention, but it is never as simple as that!! I posted a rhetorical question on Twitter the other day: “why can’t life be cheaper and less complicated?” I got one response: “because then it wouldn’t be life, it would be, erm… BREAD.” I like this metaphor. Bread is simple to make and relatively cheap. It is also quite dull unless you add things to it. It takes a long time, to, erm, (im)prove.  And the more you beat the crap out of it, the better it gets. Yep, I could do with Life being more like Bread.

But back to real life: my lovely new employers have been busting their proverbial guts to satisfy the immigration office’s requirements, continually phoning to see how long the application will take and so on. But the standard answer is still “12-15 weeks from 9th December” (when, apparently, they received the application. Or at least, when they opened the letter a week after we’d sent it). It has now been 12 weeks since then.

So it can’t be long now.

Can it?

It could still get rejected, too…..

 

I have escaped for the weekend to my parents house with Miri, just to chill out for a bit. This wait is depressing me so much, I really cannot stand Darlington now, there is nothing there for me any more, and I don’t want Miranda to be in such a depressing, grey, unpleasant place any more than she has to be.

Being here has given me time to mess around too, so I’ve made my own pastiche meme in my favourite style, the Demotivational Poster. I fully expect it to go viral and find its way all over teh interwebz. Service Canada take note, here is the world’s first “LolMiri”:

demotivational

Positivity

The other day I posted this rather nauseating little meme on Google+ in an effort to try and stay positive.

Time to be assertive and try to snap out of the malaise. I think success is knowing yourself, knowing your passions and being true to them. Doing something that’s ‘not you’ always ends in failure. I have not succeeded yet, but i have tried bloody hard – and i’ll never regret trying. Best of all, i know what i’m capable of & what i love. So, with that knowledge on board, i’ve just got to figure out how to do it!

And then, yesterday, I FINALLY received some positive news from Canada!!! Apparently “15th April is realistic”. This still means hanging round in Dull Darlo for another 6 weeks which may half kill me and there’ll be two more end-of-month financial disasters to avert. However, it also means Carl and I get 6 weeks longer together, and 6 weeks longer to sell the house.

And at least I can be reassured that the job is going to be kept open for me, and that alone is an incredible relief!!

This is the GOAL:

Focus….

Worried. More than Worried.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

I celebrated too soon. At the beginning of January, New Employers phoned Service Canada and were told that the decision on the LMO should arrive in the last week of February. This sounded excellent news. Unfortunately, it is now unlikely to happen.

Briefly, an LMO is a Labour Market Opinion which identifies a skills shortage in the local area. If there are no applications for a job from local people with the necessary skills, then the company is allowed to recruit from overseas. I’ve moaned enough on this blog already about the Epic 12-weeks-and-5-days it took for my first one, for Kave Haz, to arrive. This one, apparently, may take even longer.

Service Canada, who are the office in charge of processing LMOs, applications for temporary residency and work permits, never admit on their website how long it takes to process an LMO, with good reason. 13th Ave are now being told 14-16 weeks, and someone on the ex-pat forums I read has reported 21 weeks and counting!!! It’s utterly ridiculous.

Here’s a Canadian lawyer explaining the situation:

http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/4012/processing-delays-in-the-age-of-increased-scrutiny.html?print=1&tmpl=component

This puts us all in impossible positions. New Employers offered me the job because they genuinely need a new staff member. With all these delays, they are having to cope without a key worker. Worse still, all the bureaucracy means that they are frantically faxing off every single irrelevant document they can to satisfy a random audit for Service Canada, on top of running the business and working full time.

Meanwhile, I just do not know what to do here. We are just keeping out heads above water financially but it was all done with the view that I would be over in Canada very soon and earning a salary. If that is not going to happen then we are stuck: there are no jobs here, which is why we want to emigrate anyway. I can’t go back to my cafe because Miranda would be climbing the walls in there nowadays, she needs more entertainment than “coming to work with Mummy” now. And Jo would kill me. I am apparently not eligible for any sort of help or support whatsoever from the benefits office. Even if I could find a job, I can’t work full time because I can’t afford childcare for Miri. I am therefore restricted to working evenings and weekends when Carl can look after her for me. And those sorts of jobs tend to be minimum wage – a fine toss up between the advantages of a minimal income vs the disadvantages of seeing even less of my husband and general exhaustion.

Another potential buyer  is coming round to view the house again tomorrow. If they do decide they want it, do we accept and risk having to move out of here before we can move to Canada?

After my truly gutting experiences with Kave Haz, I am totally and utterly paranoid about whether or not 13th Avenue will just give up on the LMO application, not hold the job open for me and find someone else to do it in the mean time. It is asking so much of them to wait for me, they’ve got a lot to deal with anyway, and for a small business, the wait is crippling. I can totally understand their frustrations – neither of us expected anything like this amount of hassle, and I wouldn’t blame them if they decided not to wait for me. However, they both seemed lovely, I do trust them, and they’ve never given me any reason not to, they always respond and update me, and a rational person would have no reason to believe they won’t wait for me and sort out this LMO. I am losing my rationality very quickly though.

But if they did cancel the application, that would just leave me hung out to dry, house up for sale, unemployed and with my business here already gone. And I don’t think I could cope with that AGAIN!

Very, very worried.

Homeward Bound… temporarily!

Long post alert! It’s been a while. Today I am also thankful for my ability to touch type: the laptop is perched on my knee in the car as Carl drives us back to Darlington, but it is five o’clock and completely dark, so I can;t actually see the keyboard at all. I think I am doing remarkably well, considering. Miranda is wailing miserably in the back. She slept for just under an hour of the journey, scoffed two chocolate bars and a bottle of milk and is now plain bored and frustrated at being strapped in for four hours. Methinks she is going to have to get used to this pretty quickly. Canadians do not think of “four hours” as a long distance at all…. (erm, not that an hour is a measure of distance really… you know what I mean!)

Anyway, I had quite a good flight back. I eventually changed the date because of all the strikes and industrial action at home, supposedly on the day I was due to arrive into London Heathrow. The idea of no staff at Heathrow, no underground running in London, and no trains running anywhere, all the schools closing because of no teachers… etc, was a bit inconvenient, but then, that was the whole point. This is what happens if you piss off a very large proportion of the working population, Mr Cameron! Those that can, leave. Those stuck here will and should cause you as much disruption, inconvenience and embarrassment as they possibly can. As my friend put it, “If people are willing to sacrifice a day’s pay now to attempt to stop them losing far more than that in the future, then good luck to them!” – well actually, he put it far less politely than that, but I appreciate the sentiment. Anyhoo, Air Canada graciously allowed you to change your flight free of charge if you were flying into London on 30th, so I changed it so I flew out the next day. This took me one hour and thirty seven minutes on hold to the airline, fortunately on a toll free number, because it seems everyone else had the same idea.  Consequently it turned out that Heathrow experienced virtually no delays whatsoever, with people reporting it was actually quieter and quicker than normal. DOH!!

The new flight involved flying via Toronto rather than Calgary, and seemed quicker and easier all round – possibly as a result of not having Miri and the pushchair with me. I bought yet another “Regina” pen at the souvenir shop in Regina airport having used up the last one in my Nanowrimo effort, and then waited for the flight to Toronto. During the wait and listening to all the other flight calls, I learned that you can fly direct from Regina to Cancun, Mexico!! FANTASTIC!! This means whenever I get the urge to bugger off to Latin America again (which happens on a two-yearly basis at least, and is actually a medical necessity, if recognised only by me), I DON’T HAVE TO GO VIA THE STATES!!!! This is fabulous news. My experiences with Air Canada only highlight again the ridiculousness of attempting to fly through the USA: neither in Regina nor Toronto did I have to remove my shoes to go through security checks, they didn’t treat you like dirt anywhere in fact they were all very polite and helpful. No one raised an eyebrow at anything in my hand luggage, not even the unmarked foil packet containing white powder, or aromatic sealed bag with “organic produce” in it. (Miri’s formula milk powder and a bag of coffee beans, respectively). They scanned me, but not with the new potentially dangerous scanners, and for once I didn’t set any buzzers off anywhere. I did NOT have to pay $10 for a visa to spend 3 hours in Toronto during my stopover and my bag made its way from one plane to the other without me seeing it, let alone lugging it through immigration and back again like I’ve had to do in Miami so often, for no apparent reason. There was also free wifi throughout the airport. I say again, watch and learn, America!

I got myself some dinner in Toronto, doing the sitting-alone-at-an-airport-bar-whilst-stupidly-tired-and-people-watching thing that is an essential part of any trip. This time I got to overhear the first lot of French Canadian men I’ve come across. They were speaking in French, but the Quebec accent is so, so much easier to understand than French from France. A business trip, I assumed, judging by the suits, the three iphones, 2 blackberries and a posh laptop on the table with them. National stereotypes were abound. One was in a grey polo neck, another had a very metrosexual leather manbag. Another had a silk scarf on indoors. Now assuming my grasp of French isn’t too embarrassingly inept, they were quite obviously talking about women. Monsieur Poloneck said something along the lines of ” Ma femme vit ici et mes vies d’amie ici” or, “my wife lives here” (patting his heart) “and my girlfriend lives in here” and pats his iPhone. Oh my, how awfully French.

Met a girl on the plane who was travelling from some obscure part of Ontario to Bangladesh, only the poor woman couldn’t afford to go the sensible way round the globe over Russia, because the flights were too expensive. Instead, she was going from Toronto to London, to Kuwait City, and finally to Bangladesh, which was over 20 hours in the air and then stopovers as well. She has my deepest sympathies!

After a quick catch up with birthday girl Hils and D, and a snooze, the Parents arrived with Miranda to collect me from London. Miri was so sweet – she missed me and just clung on to me, limpet-like as soon as she saw me!! So I’ve been at the parents’ house for the past few days until Carl appeared to take us all home again. Once I’d got over the initial jetlag, it was wonderful to see Miri and Carl again, we put the Christmas tree up and went to a local Christmas fair and got festive properly – haven’t really had a chance yet. I explained all the 13th Avenue Coffee House news and got all excited! I now officially have a full contract with number of hours and key responsibilities and so on, which is far more confidence boosting. But unfortunately, we went to the Service Canada office on my last day, just to see if I could get my LMO transferred to a new company. Since the point of an LMO is to identify a skills shortage in the area and allow an immigrant to be employed to fill it, I had hoped it would be relatively straight forward. It is essentiually the same job and in the same city, just with more trustworthy employers so the skills shortage it identified is still there. However, Service Canada insist that 13th Ave must complete a brand new LMO anyway. GAH. To be fair, they were sympathetic to my situation, but there wasn;t really much they could do since the LMOs are all dealt with in Vancouver anyway. Most have said that my epic 12 week and 5 day wait was exceptionally long though, and I do think 13th Av have put together a better application anyway, so hopefully it shouldn’t take that long again! They need me to start in January though, so its in their interest to push and push and harrass Service Canada as much as possible.

Anyway, that is the positives – I do feel a lot more comfortable about 13th Av, I think I am really going to enjoy it there and the owners are genuinely lovely. The business has been established for years too, which is reassuring, plus I think I’ll get a lot more freedom to at least put forward my ideas there. However, assuming all goes well with the LMO, the January Start thing is headache inducing and stressful I have no problem with going over in January, but Carl does. He is waiting on a voluntary redundancy scheme at work, which means, if he is accepted for it, they will give him quite a generous pay out. However, it is all on their terms, and the payout won’t happen til September 2012!!!! aaaaargh. We’ve also got to sell the house and sort out everything with that and shipping our stuff and so on. Now, the redundancy money would sort us out properly – pay off our existing debts and overdrafts, and get us the down payment for a new house in Canada. But, at the moment there are no guarantees he’s even going to get it, and he won’t hear til February. If he is accepted, we;ve got the problem of him having to work there until September and what do we do in that nine months?? It would mean me going over alone, Carl working at his job in the UK, and keeping the house (and of course, paying the mortgage, council tax, insurance, everything) on that place, while I paid for a one-bed place in Canada at the same time. And Miranda would either have to be in nursary in Regina (which my salary wouldn’t cover) or at nursary here with Carl, (where we would no doubt have to fight tooth and nail with the benefits office to get any help with the extortionate costs of that) and either way she would be without one parent, and I do not think that is good for anyone. She missed us just in a week! I know I couldn’t cope on my own without Carl AND without her, in a strange town where I barely know anyone. But then, we couldn’t all live off my salary in Canada anyway, The only realistic way we could all go over together is if Carl got a job there too – but then, if he accepted it, we’d have to forgo the redundancy money and be left sending money back to the UK to pay off overdrafts and credit cards and so on. GAH!!!

I decided with all this buzzing round my head,  I just didn;t have the mental energy to rush home to Depressing Darlington yesterday and go to the Nanowrimo N’Oscars party in the evening, partly because Jo held it at my – well, THE cafe, which brings up a whole new emotional bag of worms at the moment. Unfortunately Carl and I started trying to discuss all the above until 2am which eventually turned into snivelling, snotty emotional wreckage with no resolution. I really really want this, but at what cost?