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WES Weekly Roundup November 8 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 Leaving almost $13 billion on the table due to labour and skills shortages in manufacturing (Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters)

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) released their annual labour survey that found that labour shortages over the past year have resulted in over $13 billion in economic losses.  Over 500 respondents were represented across the country in various subsectors of the manufacturing sector from small businesses to large multinational corporations. Ongoing labour challenges combined with the fallout of the pandemic have contributed to limited growth within the sector. Participants noted that over the past year, 62% of manufacturers have lost or turned down contracts and faced production delays due to the lack of workers. Eighty percent of manufacturers reported that labour shortages in related sectors – like transportation and logistics – are further affecting their businesses negatively. Fifteen percent of employers admitted that they are considering relocation of some or all of their production outside of Canada due to the labour shortage. Finally, over 70 percent of respondents have increased wages and benefits as a method to retain and attract workers to their companies. CME is calling on all levels of government to take concrete action to fill the more than 85,000 vacant positions in Canada’s manufacturing sector within a year. More specifically they ask for government support in four areas:

  • Providing more support for automation, 
  • Bringing in more economic class immigrants and enacting reforms that reduce backlogs and improve processing times
  • Providing employer-led training benefits to help upskill and reskill the workforce
  • Renewing and increasing funding for programs that encourage persons from underrepresented groups to seek a career in manufacturing

Ottawa reveals plan to welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025 (CBC News)

The federal government has announced big plans for immigration targets in the next three years. With an aim of 465,000 newcomers in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 by 2025, these ambitious levels intend to address the country’s labour shortage. Recent data from the 2021 census reveals that immigrants have been critical to fulfilling labour needs and accounted for 4/5 of Canada’s labour force growth between 2016-2021. Immigration accounts for a majority of the country’s labour force growth and by 2032, it is projected to reach 100 percent of labour force growth. Among other highlights include increases among the number of family reunification immigrants, refugees and further attention will be placed on individuals with skills and qualifications in sectors facing acute shortages (e.g. healthcare, manufacturing and STEM). Finally, regional programs targeting local labour market needs – Provincial Nominee and Atlantic Immigration programs - will see additional increases in the numbers admitted.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Growing wave of unaccompanied minors among Ukrainians fleeing to Canada (CBC)

According to various human rights and settlement agencies who have been on the frontline supporting Ukrainian nationals arriving through the CUAET program, there are a large number of unaccompanied youth who have arrived to Canada. There are mechanisms to support post-arrival tracking, however, a serious gap persists in locating minors who have come to Canada alone - an unanticipated reality. Legally, minors can travel alone however, applicants are not required to submit itineraries. It is difficult to assess and track whether a minor intends to travel alone and how many have already arrived. Resettlement agencies have taken to local Facebook support groups to help identify and provide aid to Ukrainian minors who need care. Most of the youth identified are teenagers, typically 16 - 17 years old, however there are cases where some as young as 15 have come alone. Minors arriving are already at risk of health challenges, namely those related to mental health and trauma, and having to navigate resettlement puts additional strain on them. Child welfare agencies and advocacy groups are urging the federal government to establish a safe, comprehensive, and centralized system for welcoming and supporting these youth.

We can do a better job of welcoming displaced students and scholars (University Affairs)

Canada is recognized globally as an advocate for refugee resettlement, with several specialized programs for those seeking protection abroad. A growing number of people in Canada have forced migration and displacement, however significant challenges persist for those who wish to continue their academic pursuits upon arrival. There are various initiatives in place to support access to Canadian post-secondary institutions such as the Scholars-at-Risk Network, WUSC's Student Refugee Program, and the York University's Access to Education program. These are promising steps; however, allies point to more structural barriers that need to be addressed. Currently, scholars who are not permanent residents or protected persons are required to pay international student fees and are not eligible for provincial loans and many scholarships. Some students are facing financial precarity in juggling disparities in tuition fees, supporting families abroad, and limited social capital, while striving to complete their studies. Newcomer students may experience trouble navigating resettlement services in addition to a new educational landscape - while racialized and visibly religious scholars may face additional layers of discrimination related to racism and xenophobia. Advocates have outlined a number of approaches to better facilitate access to education and wellbeing that include: 

  • Application and tuition fee waivers of discounts from displaced students 
  • Clearer and more equitable opportunities for funding 
  • More explicit recognition and validation for international credentials and expand opportunities for those with little to no Canadian work-experience 
  • Ensure safer and more equitable working conditions for researchers and instructors on contract

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