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WES Weekly Roundup August 3, 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.

Canada needs to build more affordable housing for newcomers

Canada continues to depend on immigrants, for population and economic growth. While employment outlooks are improving, housing remains a critical issue, with many recent immigrants struggling to access affordable living arrangements. With housing costs rapidly increasing yet availability decreasing, this presents an even more dire situation for newcomers hoping to settle in Canada. Canada’s population is rapidly increasing and according to housing experts, Ontario must build 1 million homes, and Vancouver 156,000 over the next decade to address housing gaps and match the pace. To adequately attract and support newcomers, Canada's economic policy should focus on maintaining a stable workforce but also increasing housing supply and affordability; policy that is responsive to newcomers' needs. This can be facilitated through more intentional and coordinated collaboration with community-based organizations leading affordable housing initiatives and consultation with newcomer populations.

Canada’s Immigration Department revamps anti-racism strategy following criticism

A recent document released from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) indicates that updates must be made to their current anti-racism strategy. The department notes that the strategy's objective is to better understand systemic racism and biases potentially embedded in the delivery of services and to exercise transparency in the release of date to researchers and the public. The recommendations come following criticism garnered during the Ukrainian refugee crisis, however concerns are growing on whether things will change. A key finding from the document explains that there has been little consultation with groups outside of the government to inform strategy and practice, outlining plans to do so in 2023. Organizations including the Canadian Council for Refugees and the National Settlement and Integration Council were invited to IRCC consultations however, much of the discussion focused on racism in the workplace. Findings from an independent employee survey determined that workers experienced microaggressions and biases in hiring and promotion. While a critical component of the department's progress, advocacy group representatives cite that in addition to the workplace, racism within the application and selection process of immigrants and refugees may result in differential treatment; a grave source of concern that should be addressed in future strategies.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Lives on hold: profiles and intentions of refugees from Ukraine

Conducting nearly 5,000 interviews of Ukrainian refugees across Europe, the UNHCR reports on the main findings of refugees’ profiles and intentions. Researchers found that many Ukrainian refugees are women and children, and that most are highly educated. Most refugees interviewed expressed a desire to eventually return to Ukraine, though few were planning to return in the near future. From neighbouring countries around Ukraine, 10 percent of interviewed Ukrainian refugees indicated intentions to soon move to Canada. As of July 27, IRCC reported having approved 276,338 temporary resident applications from people fleeing Ukraine . By July 24, 67,631 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Canada, with thousands of additional Ukrainians potentially arriving in the coming months. While the government provides Ukrainians traveling to Canada through the CUAET program with priority processing, increased newcomer services, fee waivers, and support for flights, refugees face many challenges upon arrival. Ukrainian newcomers struggle to navigate affordable housing, public transit, and employment, with housing widely considered the greatest challenge. Although newcomers are supported by Ukrainian community groups and agencies, high demand and low availability continues to limit options.

Retention of government-assisted refugees in designated destinations: Recent trends and the role of destination characteristics

A study conducted by IRCC, and Statistics Canada found that the retention rate of Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) in designated communities across Canada increased from 71 percent for 2000-2004 to 85 percent for 2010-2014 and 2015-2018. Alternatively, the retention rate declined among economic and family class immigrants. The change in retention rate was not largely affected by sociodemographic characteristics, but rather by factors such as the number of GARs resettled in the same community the same year (cluster resettlement) and the presence of co-ethnic communities. Larger cities also have higher retention rates than smaller cities, with 30 percent of GARs choosing to leave small cities compared to 14 percent choosing to leave large cities. A recent study found that the smaller the city of initial resettlement, the greater the likelihood of a secondary migration. GARs are most frequently leaving small cities due to lack of employment opportunities and fewer ethnic communities. Research has shown that, to some extent, social connectedness may play a larger role than economic conditions in the retention of refugees. The IRCC/Statistics Canada study also found that retention rates were higher in communities with Resettlement Assistance Program Service Provider Organizations (RAP SPOs).

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