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.
A recent report by the Business Council of Canada has found that 80 per cent of employers surveyed are having trouble finding skilled workers and this has resulted in labour shortages across the country. Canada’s immigration backlog has now grown to 2.4 million people including over 522,000 awaiting permanent residency, 1.47 million waiting on work and study permits and over 400,000 for citizenship. Among the employers who participated in the study, 67% report that they are forced to cancel and/or delay projects, 60% are suffering revenue loss, and 30% are relocating work outside of Canada. Many employers use the immigration system to hire and address labour shortages however 67% said the processing delays have become the top barrier for employers to meet these needs. Common skills shortages are in computer science, engineering and information technology but demand for construction workers, plumbers and electricians are also on the rise. The Business Council of Canada stresses that Canada is in a global competition for talent and risks losing out to other countries as the backlog ensues. The report stresses that a more effective and efficient immigration is needed as soon as possible.
Prior to the pandemic, Canada was seeking to welcome nearly 350,000 new immigrants annually. Now looking forward towards 2024, immigration targets have been set to 450,000. IRCC Minister Fraser suggested that given current trends Canada’s immigration levels will soon surpass 500,000 and will be based on community’s needs. Updated targets are scheduled to be announced in November 2022 however the Minister emphasizes that reaching this number requires a number of considerations including the capacity to provide the necessary infrastructure and supports including affordable housing for both the existing population as well as future newcomers.
The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) has enabled an unlimited number of Ukrainians to be welcomed to Canada. The pathway has multiple unique features including a three-year visa with an open work permit. Advocates have argued that the innovative response tailored for Ukrainians should be scaled and replicated for other humanitarian migration programs to adequately support newcomers through their transitions. Although there is no-one size fits all approach to resettlement, critical supports are necessary to sustain impact. These include in-depth information on locations to settle, expansion of foreign credential recognition, increased proximity and accessibility of settlement services, and transparent pathways to permanent residency.
Ukrainian nationals arriving through the CUAET stream are temporary residents, a commonly misunderstood feature of the pathway. Although there are several support mechanisms, there are certain components that are missing from typical humanitarian programs. For example, unlike refugees, Ukrainians are not being granted permanent residency (PR) under the CUAET, must pay international student tuition fees if attending a designated learning institution, and depending on the province do not necessarily have immediate access to social assistance. During their stay, Ukrainians are free to travel - and after three years of residence in Canada, are eligible to apply for PR. Advocates within the human rights and Ukrainian community have praised Canada's urgent response, however greater coordination is necessary to ensure other vulnerable populations are not left behind.