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.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (ONIP) is preparing to align with the new National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2021 system. NOC 2021 is already in use by Employment and Social Development Canada and Statistics Canada, but IRCC is expected to begin implementation on November 16. By synchronizing ONIP with NOC 2021, provincial immigration streams and their eligible occupations will be affected. For example, the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) previously required job offers or work experience in NOC skills 0, A or B will now require –under NOC 2021 – TEER 0,1,2 or 3 levels. The province is also proposing amendments to the Employer Job Offer Foreign Worker and International Student streams in order to support successful integration and reduce further burdens for applicants.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced that a plan is underway to ensure that undocumented workers have a pathway to permanent residence. Regularizing undocumented through building on existing programs is a key item included in the Immigration Minister's mandate letter, however, IRCC has only hinted that a plan is on the horizon with little details on which skill and education levels would be included, number of applications to be allowed, and the number of migrants this would impact. Current estimates indicate that there are nearly 1.7 million migrants and workers without secure status in Canada. Many of these migrants lack the information and protective rights to defend them against exploitative employer practices and human rights abuses with many workers being threatened with deportation or detention should they speak out or seek care due to their lack of access to public health services.
Canada's economic success is supported by international talent. International students currently contribute roughly $22 billion to the Canadian economy, with their studies supporting 218,000 jobs. With the skills and labour shortage expected to outlive the decade, international students as well as internationally trained professionals are sought after, yet encounter several challenges along the path to achieving their goals in Canada. Canada, a choice destination for students coming from abroad, currently competes with Britain, the U.S., Australia, and China in the race to attract and retain students. However, several barriers must be acknowledged and addressed in order for Canada to maintain an inclusive and resilient workforce that supports prospective Canadians including international students. These include extensive timelines in permit and certificate accreditation, skills and employment mismatching, lack of work-integrated learning and unclear pathways to permanent residency.
New research has identified that by 2025, retirement, physician burnout and decreasing interest in practicing family medicine will result in more than three million individuals in Ontario without a family doctor. Data from the Ontario College of Family Physicians notes that nearly 1.8 million patients in Ontario did not have access to a regular primary-care provider at the onset of the pandemic and this will likely worsen in the coming years. Currently, one in five Canadians do not have a family doctor and this is particularly acute in British Columbia and Quebec. Simultaneously, while 1.7 million Ontarians have a family doctor, many of these physicians are over the age of 65 and likely to retire soon. Among those reported to have a family doctor, only 14 percent have easy access to their medical professional when needed, leaving many to wait a few days to over a week to get an appointment which further illustrates the strain on the system for primary healthcare services.
Processing updates are happening within the IRCC including the replacement of the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal (CRPP). The CRPP is being replaced with the new "eApp" less than a year after its launch due to criticism from prospective refugees, immigration lawyers, and additional advocates. Several points of critique highlighted potential complications with digital literacy and access to technology for applicants, a challenge that would delay the initiation or approval of a claim. The CRPP would also require those seeking protection abroad to complete the application in one sitting, with all exact dates for travel, addresses, employment, and education. The portal also did not allow claimants to list their period of detention for fewer than 24 hours or that their first language is English. So far, migrants accepted through refugee or humanitarian stream is currently up by 30 percent compared to the 30,000 welcomed in 2019 - the last full year before disruptions to migration due to the pandemic.