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WES Weekly Roundup August 9, 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 rolls out measures to help international students stay — and work — in this country (Toronto Star)

After weeks of delays due to application backlogs and IRCC’s “antiquated” technological system, post-graduate work permit (PGWP) renewals are being processed again as of Monday, August 8. Former international students holding PGWPs that have expired, or will be expiring, between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022 (an estimated 93,000 people) will be eligible for an extension through May 31, 2023. Individuals with PGWPs expiring between October 2 and December 31 of this year will automatically receive an extension, while those with permits expiring before October 2 will be notified by email and must apply online. IRCC is working to expand its capacity to process applications; it has already processed 2.3 million permanent and temporary residence applications in 2022, nearly doubling the number processed during the same period in 2021. IRCC is working to increase efficiency by actively hiring nearly 2,000 new employees, adjusting policies to allow people to continue working in Canada, and transitioning to a fully digital system.

Lives Put on Hold: The Impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s youth (C.D. Howe Institute)

Youth in Canada were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across various metrics including health, social inclusion, education, and workforce integration. Educational disruptions as a result of school closures led to the widening of learning gaps faced by youth pursuing education and employment gaps due to the cancellation of work-integrated learning programming. At the federal level, Canada has taken steps to improve outlooks for youth that have and continue to face challenges in bridging education and meaningful work. Current programming included in the 2021 budget recovery plan pledge to support the creation of 215,000 new work-integrated learning opportunities and higher quality jobs for youth. The road to recovery has still been uneven across youth demographics in Canada, with marginalized youth including those not in education, employment, or training, (NEET) facing compounded challenges. To adequately support youth in post-pandemic recovery strategies and mitigate long-term negative effects (career scarring), all levels of government must coordinate to ensure that young Canadians are equipped with targeted, relevant skills development tools to make up for potential learning loss and employment disruption. Experts are recommending that a comprehensive strategy would: 

  • Expand employment services (career counselling and job search assistance to reduce the risk of un- and under-employment among youth
  • Enhance labour market flexibility and labour mobility to match skills with the first job and reduce job mismatching
  • Encourage participation in and support for opportunities in education, learning and skills development, and address barriers to participation for non-student youth.

Changes to Ontario’s control over immigration begin rounding into form (iPolitics)

Immigration continues to be the leading source of Canada's population and labour market expansion. Within the last 5 years, Canada's 85 and older population grew at more than twice the rate of the overall population - Statistics Canada warning that this will put significant pressure on all levels of government. As the immigration agreement between Ontario and the federal government expires this fall, the provincial government is seeking more autonomy over immigration programming. Approximately 50 percent of all immigrants to Canada settle in Ontario each year. Potential changes to Ontario's immigration plan include an expansion to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program through allowing an increased allotment of economic immigrants. More than half of the 200,000 immigrants welcomed in Ontario last year were admitted as economic immigrants, and according to Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton Canada continues to grapple with severe labour and skills shortage, where such shortages are felt most in Ontario within the healthcare and construction sectors.

 Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Why newcomers, including Ukrainian refugees, struggle to obtain bank accounts, credit cards (Globe and Mail)

Misconceptions around credit markets and difficulty navigating Canada’s financial system both pose barriers for newcomers, and especially refugees. In order to open a bank account, clients must supply two forms of Canadian government-issued identification; this process is often more complicated for newcomers such as refugees, who often must provide more pieces of identification, such as IRCC forms, debit or credit cards, or foreign passports. Once a bank account is opened, newcomers continue to face challenges such as monthly fees and the need for a Canadian credit score to rent or buy a home. Many newcomers also arrive from countries with different credit systems and may be wary of accessing credit products. Similarly, many newcomers lack adequate information about how to file taxes in Canada while also accounting for property ownership or income from another country. To aid newcomers in navigating the banking system, groups such as the Ukrainian Credit Union have been accepting temporary visas and foreign passports to open bank accounts, as well as operating programs for no-fee bank accounts, debit, and credit cards for Ukrainian refugees. To facilitate accessing housing, some lenders also accept alternative proofs of creditworthiness, such as letters from current landlords or 12 months of bank statements, in lieu of a credit score. 

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