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WES Weekly Roundup May 10, 2022

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World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.

Report unpacks why too many Arab women are struggling professionally

A new report released by the Canadian Arab Institute and Newcomers Students’ Association examines the experiences of Arab-Canadians in the labour market. This demographic is one of the fastest growing immigrant communities, however they also have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In September 2020, the national unemployment rate was nine percent while the rate among Arab Canadians stood at 17.9%. In hopes to uncover the contributors to this reality, the study combines surveys respondents from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta - provinces with the largest Arab-Canadian population. The report emphasizes several barriers including inadequate employment services, lack of foreign credential recognition, language/communication obstacles and discrimination to name a few. Among the report recommendations particular emphasis is placed on:

  • Creating central portals of information about the labour market so it’s easier to access information about the job market.
  • Encouraging the federal government to work with the provinces to provide information to immigrants about degree equivalency processes before their arrival to Canada so they can better prepare.
  • Encouraging workplaces to implement standardized performance evaluations to remove concerns about bias in performance reviews and fears of reprisals when individuals report microaggressions or blatant discrimination.
  • More funding for organizations that provide mentorship and social networking for newcomer and racialized women.

OCASI and BMRC releases pandemic response survey findings

In the fall of 2021, frontline staff and managers of OCASI members agencies were surveyed in collaboration with Building Migrant Resilience in Cities (BMRC) research partnership. From the perspective of frontline workers and managers, the survey investigates the impacts of COVID-19 on workers, clients and Ontario agencies in the past twelve months of the pandemic. This web-based survey was distributed to OCASI’s 200+ member agencies in both English and French. Among frontline staff findings:

  • 78% of respondents noted that their organization has had difficulties ensuring that all clients have digital access to services over the past year.
  • 30% of respondents noted that their organization has not yet been able to return to pre-COVID levels of service
  • For organizations who expanded their client base due to COVID, three main groups of new clients came from: jobseekers, refugee claimants and international students

Among management staff findings:

  • 68% indicated that the number of clients increased in the last year
  • In terms of changes to services, 87% shifted services online, 59% increased services and 29% returned to in-person delivery in the last year
  • 72% of respondents indicated that collaboration with other organizations had increased in the past year 

The findings provide insight into the experiences and reflections from the settlement sector and illustrate the resiliency of agencies that have continuously adapted and successfully supported immigrants in difficult times. Subsequent reports on behalf of OCASI and BMRC will provide further analysis about the data collected in these surveys.

Healthcare gig platforms help migrant workers survive but at what cost?

The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the underutilization of internationally educated professionals - with many skilled immigrants at risk of being overqualified in jobs they currently occupy. Many internationally educated healthcare professionals have been relied on to meet increasing skill and labour demands in the Canadian workforce. In Ontario for example, a nursing regulatory body approved only 42% of international nurses' applications in comparison to 89% of domestic applications. Digital gig work platforms such as Uber, Doordash, Deliveroo, Upwork, and Fiverr have become popular amongst individuals seeking flexible employment amidst workforce transitions. During their transition into the labor market, many IEHPs participate in the gig economy as a steppingstone to sustained employment. Gig work platforms can provided health care professionals an avenue to applying their education and experience. Some platforms in Canada include Healthie, Livecare, and Teladoc. However, advocates have flagged certain implications for relying on such platforms - where some platforms may compound existing inequities and precarious working conditions, placing workers further at risk of exploitation.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Canada so far resettles 12,605 of promised 40,000 Afghan refugees

According to latest numbers, 12,605 Afghan refugees have arrived: in line with Canada’s commitment to welcome 40,000. Approximately 6,230 have arrived through a specialized stream for Afghan nationals who previously assisted the Canadian government, while another 6,375 have come through humanitarian stream. At this point, Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in the region and is coordinating efforts with neighboring countries and international allies to ensure the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in Canada. As Canada grapples with an immigration backlog of over 2 million applications, many Afghans report hurdles in trying to receive word on their applications.

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