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WES Weekly Roundup September 27, 2022

September 27, 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.

Transitioning to online applications for permanent residence (IRCC)

Starting September 23rd, IRCC has begun transitioning to digital applications for most of the permanent residence programs. While there are few exceptions, for example individuals requiring accommodations due to disability, all other applicants must apply online or applications will be denied. A full schedule of programs transitioning over the course of September and October 2022 are available on IRCC’s website. Among the first cohort of programs include: Provincial Nominee programs (Non-Express Entry), Family sponsorship (spouse, partner, dependent child, or eligible relative) and the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot. This new approach is part of IRCC’s efforts to modernize the immigration system and improve service. Finally, processing permanent residency applications in this way is meant to provide more flexibility for individuals to apply from their devices and receive a quicker confirmation of their submitted application.

Easier access to permanent residence for physicians in Canada to help address doctor shortages (IRCC)

Access to family physicians has become harder for many Canadians and trends indicate that this problem will only worsen in the coming years. IRCC Minister Fraser recently announced changes for internationally trained doctors to remain in Canada and continue to practice in the healthcare system. Much of Canada’s health care system uses a “fee-for-service" model where doctors are regarded as “self-employed”. For example, hospital-based physicians are not hospital employees, and are paid fee-for service directly by the provincial Ministry of Health. As such they are ineligible for immigration pathways for permanent residency like the Canadian Experience Class under Express Entry or the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). Under this new policy, IRCC will exempt physicians who work in the fee-for-service model from the current immigration requirements. This will provide a significant number of doctors already working in the Canadian healthcare system access to permanent residency and allow them to further address labour shortages across the country.

Alternative Federal Budget 2023: Rising to the challenge (Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives)

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released its annual Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), an in-depth approach on how to address pressing issues facing Canadians today. Several themes are tackled in the AFB including affordability, inflation, inequality and the care economy. At a time where the impacts of COVID are still being felt and inflation continues to rise, the 2023 AFB examines additional areas including employment insurance, immigration and post-secondary education. Among the series of proposals, the AFB recommends the following:

  • The need to broaden employment insurance (EI) to include temporary foreign workers, self-employed individuals.
  • Re-examination and re-design of the Canada Training Benefit to help workers take time off work to invest in skills development.
  • Independent review of Canada’s immigration programs to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination. • Providing status for all migrant workers.
  • Opening federally funded settlement services to all individuals who need it.
  • Greater oversight of the international student recruitment practices and tighter regulation of the sector.
  • Address the affordability crisis facing international students.

With particular attention on the federal government, the AFB places accountability on the federal level, in conjunction with provinces and territories to address the impacts caused by the pandemic and find solutions to better outcomes for all Canadians.

Influence of a Global Pandemic for Ontario Newcomers: Challenges and Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic (University of Guelph)

Immigrants and newcomers were among the groups most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe. Focusing on the Ontario region, this report explored the challenges faced by newcomers who moved to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) during the pandemic and provides recommendations on action areas for provincial and federal governments. Migration levels were severely affected, with an approximate 46% shortfall in immigration targets between 2019-2020. The pandemic also highlighted the vulnerability of several permanent and temporary residents in Canada including refugees, refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers, and international students. This was evident in the disparity of access to settlement services and cultural supports as many services transferred online or were paused. In relation to the workforce, Ontario experienced the "biggest drop” (43%) in labour demand when comparing 2019 and 2020 levels. Closer examination of the data reveals that recent immigrants experience greater rates of unemployment than non-immigrants whereas long-term immigrants had lower rates. Besides labour, environmental factors exacerbated by the pandemic also impacted the experiences of immigrants. These included precarious housing conditions (crowding and poor ventilation), heightened racism and discrimination, limited access to non-covid related healthcare.

Refugee Resettlement

Canada’s immigration minister leaves door open to extending Afghan resettlement programs (Toronto Star)

While Canada celebrates the arrival of 20,000 Afghans through specialized streams, advocates and government officials alike are spotlighting the roughly 8,500 Afghans who have been approved and have yet to arrive. In June, announcements were made that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would be capping and no longer accepting applications through the Afghan response stream, with specific approval targets being met. However, many have called on the government to expedite the expansion of existing pathways or explore the creation of additional ones. IRCC Minister Sean Fraser reassures that Canada is not wavering in its commitment to 40,000 Afghan allies and those seeking refuge in Canada, however, cites numerous external obstacles that have delayed the response.

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