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WES Weekly Roundup November 15, 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 is offering hope and dashing dreams’ (New Canadian Media)

IRCC’s recent announcement on 2023-2025 immigration targets has been welcomed by many immigration supporters from across the country. However, some critics including immigration advocates and lawyers disagree with the increase in annual levels plans. The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA), the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario (RLA) and the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association (AQAADI) have emphasized that while immigration is vital to the country’s economic growth, the current state of operations cannot adequately support the influx of immigrants to Canada. Prior to COVID-19 the immigration system was already understaffed so the current backlogs are not a result of the pandemic, but instead exacerbated by it. While IRCC has responded to backlogs with technology upgrades to the system and the hiring of additional staff to address backlogs, critics point out that IRCC’s online application portals are still riddled with glitches which makes it difficult for individuals to submit applications. Finally, CILA stresses that limited options for entrepreneurs, investors and self-employed individuals is a missed opportunity to maximize the economic benefits of immigration. Canada’s immigration system needs review and re-examination before further increases to target levels. Otherwise, IRCC’s grand goal of 1.45 million newcomers by 2025 is not only misleading potential immigrants, but it will leave many individuals stuck in immigration limbo indefinitely.

Diversity our Strength: Improving Working Conditions in Canadian Nonprofits (Imagine Canada)

This report explores the nonprofit workforce in more depth and reveals that nonprofit workers are incredibly diverse but undervalued.  Research by the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) found that the sector is viewed as “dependent, nurturing, caring, emotional, unintelligent, unskilled and requiring guidance and monitoring.” Seventy-seven percent of employees in the nonprofit sector are women - compared to 49% of employees in other sectors economy-wide. Half of the nonprofit sector’s workforce are immigrants and a third are from racialized communities. Many immigrant women working in the sector note that it was not their first sector of choice. Due to limited options, employment in the nonprofit sector was ideal because their language skills, lived experiences and/or cultural competencies were valued. The authors call for several recommendations on funders, all levels of government and sector leaders to better the nonprofit sector including: 

For funders – Provide funding that allows for decent work for the nonprofit sector’s workforce and: 

  • Provide more core and unrestricted funding opportunities
  • Allow for more flexibility in moving funding between cost categories; and 
  • Allow organizations to use project-based funding for employee benefits (i.e. parental leave top-ups, pension contributions, and health benefits), professional development, and, at a minimum, a living wage.

For government - Treat the nonprofit sector as a valued partner and:

  • Remember and include the nonprofit sector and its workers when introducing economic programs, such as programs for small businesses; 
  • Create a home in government for the nonprofit sector, so that it won’t get left behind; and
  • Collect macroeconomic and labour force data on the nonprofit sector on an ongoing basis.

For nonprofit sector leaders – Adopt decent work and anti-racism/anti-oppression practices to help ensure respectful, fair jobs where diverse workforces can thrive and:

  • Eliminate racial and gender pay gaps; 
  • Pay fair and competitive wages. At a minimum, pay a living wage to all employees and offer cost-of-living increases; 
  • Offer employee benefits (i.e. parental leave top-ups, pension contributions, and health benefits) and paid sick and vacation time to permanent and contract employees;
  • Implement anti-racism and anti-oppression practices such as pay transparency.

Unlocking the potential of youth-led social enterprises (OECD)

Youth are the leaders of today, increasingly engaging in ventures that will facilitate sustainable change and impact. According to a recent OECD survey, two in five youth see social impact as a key factor in motivating their career choices, with an increasing number of youth preferring to be self-employed. The share of young people engaging in the social entrepreneurship model is higher than among commercial entrepreneurship within OECD countries. However, youth social entrepreneurs may face challenges including reduced access to sustainable financing and limited social capital to build networks and scale initiatives. In 2021, 76 percent of stakeholders in the youth-led social enterprise ecosystem consider access to finance the biggest challenge for youth-led organizations, with 48 percent of policy makers noting a lack of tailored supports available for these youth. Recommendations to better support youth leaders in making an impact through social entrepreneurship include:

  • Helping young people develop skills and knowledge to launch, run, and scale social enterprises (ex. co-creation of learning opportunities, specialized training opportunities, mentorship etc.)
  • Encouraging and developing tailored financing opportunities for youth-led organizations, with clear guidance 
  • Improving the evidence base through disaggregated data 
  • Giving youth a seat at the table in policy and decision-making frameworks.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Climate migration front and centre at COP27 in Egypt (New Canadian Media)

Climate related crises will be the leading source of forced migration and displacement in the near future. In 2020, more than 30 million people were displaced as a result of environmental factors. Homelands of nearly 280 million people are at risk of being permanently submerged due to rising sea levels by the end of the century. Although weather related crises are at the forefront of climate migration coverage, agricultural impacts such as deteriorating farmlands, contaminated water supplies, and heightened regional food insecurity also contribute to forced migration globally. Within the next few decades, projections forecast that nearly 1 billion individuals could be displaced, driving a surge in climate migration. Climate justice advocates are reminding large emitter countries - including Canada, of their responsibility to not only reduce their emissions but to compensate countries within the Global South through international climate response funding and support mechanisms.

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