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WES Weekly Roundup June 14, 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.

Racial bias amplifying Canada’s high study permit refusal rate (The PIE News)

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration published its report on differential treatment of international students. The report lists 35 recommendations for better treatment of international students including: the creation of an ombudsperson’s office, transparency and data on study permit processing times, and reasons for refusal subcategorized by applicants’ country of origin. Another recommendation provided in the report notes that IRCC must “review and clarify the dual intent provision” as many students have been penalized because of their failure to prove their intention of leaving post-graduation. However, it is well documented that international students apply for permanent residency after their studies. Finally, the report also found that IRCC visa officers may be influenced by racial bias and stereotypes that can directly impact their work. Therefore, an ombudsperson’s office with regular metrics on the results of anti-racist and anti-oppression trainings taken by IRCC is highly recommended. Several advocates for international students welcome the report findings however critics argue that recommendations do not go far enough. In particular, the creation of the ombudsperson’s office has been suggested previously and truly it is up to IRCC to take these findings seriously to make deep changes within the department’s work.

Why are Public Attitudes Towards Immigration in Canada Becoming Increasingly Positive? (CERC Migration & Integration)

In Canada, public perceptions towards immigration have often been positive. This report seeks to explore why this is the case. Using datasets from 1998-2021 with nearly 6,000 participants, this research pulls from a sample group of individuals across the country, regardless of citizenship. Looking at range of factors including age, employment status, education attainment levels and more, the researchers sought to find indicators that could explain this further. Positive attitudes towards immigration have been on the rise for the past two decades, however larger increases have taken place between 2010 to 2021. Interestingly, researchers found that the 2008 economic crisis and its aftermath had a deep impact towards negative attitudes regarding immigration across all subgroups. This is especially critical to note as the global pandemic may also have important implications on public attitudes on immigration in the future as it intersects with individual’s perceptions on the country’s economic stability.

Recent immigrants less likely to have family doctor (Mirage News)

In addition to navigating a new cultural, academic, employment, and linguistic landscape newcomers can also experience unique challenges in accessing healthcare. Many recent immigrants are unfamiliar with the healthcare system and may lack the necessary supports including language, transportation, and social inclusion. According to a recent study from Western University, newcomers (arriving within the last five years) are roughly half as likely to have a family physician than established immigrants and citizens - indicating that the length of time as an immigrant impacts healthcare accessibility. The study also compared recent and established immigrants on whether they had a regular healthcare provider and the number of times they access health services within a year. Although newcomers were less like to have a primary healthcare provider, they had a similar number of healthcare consultations when compared to established peers. Further analysis demonstrated that recent immigrants may be interacting with the healthcare system for episodic care through services including walk-in clinics or urgent care. Researchers and advocates suggest that a lack of primary healthcare provider does not only pose direct risks to newcomers well-being but may also generate further stigma and misinformation, resulting in an overall reduced uptake in care.

Timbilla: Canada can lead the way in accepting climate refugees (Ottawa Citizen)

As weather-related disasters have increased around the world, climate refugees are expected to be the next generation of newcomers seeking refuge in Canada. As a welcoming nation with a history of supporting refugees, Canada can play a leading role in assisting climate related refugees. In order to do so, Canada must acknowledge that climate change will cause mass migration flows and individuals will seek support and protection from the government. Furthermore, legislation related to refugee resettlement requires amendments to recognize the unique situation of climate related refugees. For example, in Section 96 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) convention refugees are defined as “individuals who have a well-founded fear of race, religion, nationality or membership to a particular group or political opinion.” In its current form, this would exclude climate related refugees from any protection. Now is the time to act on opportunities to expand the scope of refugees under IRPA and Canada’s future refugee populations.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Report of the Special Committee on Afghanistan (House of Commons)

This past week, the Parliamentary Special Committee on Afghanistan released their report assessing Canada's response the Afghan refugee crisis and exploring areas for improvement. The document called for the expedition of process, providing 37 recommendations to IRCC. Such recommendations include enabling the immigration minister to lift biometric and passport requirements, introduce specialized visas, expand refugee sponsorship programs, and air travel gateways. Also noted within the report is the need to increase Canadian diplomatic personnel; urging regulatory bodies to increase resources and reallocate staff to embassies and departments to restore a seamless flow and reinforce capacity ahead of future crises. Additionally, Canada’s response has been critiqued, with many advocates calling for greater urgency, systematic policy, and transparency in planning efforts to allow for the safety of all Afghan seeking refuge in Cananda. However, several bureaucratic obstacles remain on the ground in Afghanistan, with many Afghans waiting for documentation to allow for their evacuation or departure to Canada. Roughly 15,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada, as part of the federal government's commitment to accept 40,000 under specialized streams.

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