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WES Weekly Roundup August 30, 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.

Expanding the benefits of immigration in rural and northern communities (IRCC)

Minister Fraser has announced that the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has been expanded. RNIP is a community driven program which has been designed to support smaller communities create a pathway to permanent residency for skilled workers in one of the 11 participating regions. Community partners are involved in the RNIP to provide support to candidates and employers in the program. Among the areas of improvement are: 

  • Expanding the geographical boundaries of the participating communities to encourage more employers to participate
  • Making it easier for those in the healthcare and trades sector fulfil labour market needs through an expansion of job offers available to candidates with specific work experience
  • Extension of the RNIP to August 2024

In January 2022, the federal government invested $35 million into supporting newcomers with essential services in their first year in small and rural communities across the country.  Since June 2022, 1,130 newcomers have arrived in communities across Canada addressed labour shortages across the healthcare, hospitality, food services, retail and manufacturing sectors.

Canada will Lose Highly Skilled Immigrants without a Proper Retention Strategy (Future Economy)

The global competition for talent continues to grow as labour markets tighten and the knowledge economy expands. On one hand, Canada has been successful at attracting highly skilled migrants to the country, however on the other hand, more work needs to be done to fully utilize the range of skills immigrants bring with them. According to data from the National Household Survey, immigrants hold one-third of degrees in Canada, while only representing about 25% of the population. Yet large numbers of skilled and highly educated immigrants still struggle to find jobs commensurate with their professional experience and skills.

The underutilization of immigrant skills and experience is a multidimensional problem and as such it impacts several different stakeholders. Thus, effective solutions must be created with the various governments, educational institutions, professional bodies, employers and community agencies that interact with immigrants. Attracting immigrants is no longer enough for Canada, so the ability to address these barriers immigrants face will help fuel further economic growth. If Canada does not do more to support the labour market integration of immigrants, these individuals will choose to settle in other countries with better opportunities.

How universities can support international students beyond orientation (National Post) 

As a new school year begins, thousands of universities are welcoming students back on to campus in-person. Orientation week is often a way for new students to connect with one another but this article highlights that more can be done to support international students post-orientation. Research has shown that creating social spaces (physical or virtual) to connect international students with their local peers and communities allows students to engage and learn. Educators and institutions are encouraged to create social spaces that deliberately bring together international and domestic students as an essential part of an open campus culture. These social spaces should support and encourage international students (and all students) from diverse backgrounds to participate. Furthermore, higher education institutions should engage with local communities beyond the campus to explore experiential learning for students. By building bridges between international students, local organizations and the community, these various stakeholders can truly support the individual in adjusting socially, culturally and academically for greater success.

Almost half of Canadian report a strong sense of belonging to their local community (Stats Canada)

A heightened sense of belonging within one's local community is a key indicator of social integration and increased quality of life. Roughly 47% of Canadians reported a strong sense of belonging, however this percentage was lower for young people aged 15-34 (37% - 44%) and the LGBTQ2+ population, at 36%. The pandemic significantly impacted the lives of Canadians across communities and for those who previously experienced socio-economic challenges, these conditions worsened. Census data revealed that for groups that experienced challenges such as discrimination or unfair treatment within the last five years were less likely to have a strong sense of belonging to their community (38%) compared to a rate of 51% for those who did not report these experiences.

Also, a larger proportion of residents in rural communities expressed a sense of belonging (56%) versus (45%) for residents in urban centres. Data from the latest census indicates that immigrants continue to feel a stronger sense of belonging within their local communities. Immigrants were slightly more likely to have a stronger sense of belonging (50%) when compared to their Canadian born counterparts. A key factor driving this may be that immigrants tend to settle in communities with similar ethnic or national backgrounds, settlement networks, or other cultural related supports. The research in the report further explores how the sense of belonging varies across racialized groups in Canada, with such groups experiencing an increased sense of belonging when compared to those who do not identify as racialized or BIPOC.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight 

As the planet warms, people are moving. Will Canada welcome them? (National Observer) 

The ongoing global climate crisis raises significant concerns for the future of migration. Rising sea levels, droughts, natural disasters, and depleting farmland continue to force individuals from their homes. Canada, a leader in humanitarian response, is being called to act. Recently, more than 100 environmental advocacy groups collectively penned an urgent letter, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to grant permanent residency to all 1.7 million migrants, including half a million undocumented people. The letter cited that this process is a key to climate justice - advocating that climate care is not simply about reducing emissions, but Canada’s response to individuals and communities facing increased challenges as a result. While there are individuals migrating to Canada due to climate related issues (as workers, students, or refugees), there are limited direct pathways to migrate as a result of climate change. As climate related concerns become a driver of migration globally, Canada will need to explore avenues of protection for displaced individuals. Potential solutions may include a specialized humanitarian program for climate migrants, a permanent residency pathway, or a "protected persons" classification for those fleeing due to climate crises.

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