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WES Weekly Roundup May 25, 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.

Immigration backlog must be tackled immediately

As Canada continues to grapple with mounting immigration backlogs, several advocates are calling on regulatory bodies to expedite the process. The COVID-19 pandemic placed significant strain on application processing, with many federal offices performing duties remotely or pausing services. Despite this fallout, immigration continues to be the driving source of Canada's economic growth. Given this context, IRCC expanded immigration streams to include programs like the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway and the Agri-Food Pilot and applications continued to grow. In response to humanitarian crises, the federal government opened specialized streams for Afghan and Ukrainian nationals. At the same time, other federal immigration streams including the Federal Skilled Worker Program have not held selections since December 2020, with many highly skilled workers delaying their immigration to Canada. For individuals who applied under the Canadian Experience Class, selections have not been made since September 2021. Recently, IRCC has announced the development of a pathway to permanent residency for international students and extended Post Graduate Work Permits for an additional 18 months. With the backlog nearing 2.1 million applications, processing times have been significantly delayed, placing further pressure on applicants and reviewers alike. Advocates suggest that next steps should include a detailed strategy to balance the number of new applications with decision making and processing capacity and provide clear and realistic timelines to deliver for newcomers.

Canada needs to stop wasting talent of skilled immigrants

For several decades, Canada’s immigration system based on merit has been the trusted approach to addressing the country’s aging population. More recently, in pandemic recovery planning, immigration continues to be a main source for population growth. Despite the increasing number of newcomers welcomed each year, ample research has identified the challenge of securing meaningful and commensurate employment for immigrants upon arrival. Through a research study with recent immigrants using photovoice, participants identified that immigration policy based on skills and educational attainment creates a false sense of labour market security for newcomers. Canadian experience, deskilling, and underemployment were identified as just some of the barriers to their employment success. Many noted that these challenges in job market integration were seen as personal failures, and several considered leaving the country soon after arrival. The researchers stress that ideas of integration where immigrants must “start from the bottom” and need “Canadian experience” are antiquated. For immigrants to be able to succeed and stay in Canada, we need to ensure their smoother transition to the labour market.

From the front lines: An urgent agenda for Decent Work

The COVID pandemic has illustrated the deep fractures within the labour market, especially for many workers. Since the beginning of the pandemic workers in low-wage, part-time and precarious work were far more likely to lose their jobs or available hours. Similarly, these workers often were found in essential, frontline jobs from food services, caregiving to hospital and cleaning staff. Using a variety of research methods among precarious workers including surveys and in-depth interviews (in eight different languages), this report conducted by the Workers Action Centre underscores that more can be done to ensure decent work for all workers. With a focus on decent wages, paid sick days, equal pay for equal work and other subcategories, strengthening labour legislation is a significant approach to protect frontline and precarious workers. Furthermore, as the gig economy and remote work opportunities grow, the current employment standards legislation requires re-examination and reconsideration to better include workers who have been traditionally excluded under these policies like self-employed, freelance workers.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Government of Canada launches online portal to support Ukrainians

In efforts to adequately support Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada, the federal government is partnering with Canadian businesses to launch the Canadian Industry for Ukraine Donation Portal. Through this portal, Canadian business and advocates can provide goods and services to displaced Ukrainians and resettlement organizations supporting them. Most donations under this stream would consist of larger-scale donations such as interim housing, essential goods, gift-cards, transportation, and opportunities for employment. So far, donations made from businesses represent a combined value of roughly $400,000, from companies including Metro, Loblaws, and Canadian Tire. In addition to the online portal, recent announcements in support for Ukrainians have been communicated from the federal government that include targeted charter flights to Canada, short-term income assistance, and temporary hotel accommodations.

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