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WES Weekly Roundup January 18, 2023

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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.

Matching Rapid Growth with Adequate Supports: How Colleges and Government Can Enhance International Student Experiences in Ontario (Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario)

Over the past decade, the growth of international student enrollments in Ontario has raised a number of concerns across municipalities, institutions and students. These concerns include recruitment practices, program quality, accountability as well as the financial, academic and well-being of students. Between 2012-13 and 2020-21, international student enrollment in Ontario colleges increased by 342%. Within the same time period, provincial funding per college student has been steadily on the decline forcing many institutions to find ways to fill in the resource gaps. However, this report emphasizes that as the province continues to recruit record numbers of new international students each year, reflection and revision of accountability is required. Public College-Private Partnership (PCPP) programs have existed in Ontario since 2005, and currently 12 colleges have established these partnerships with private providers. As part of the partnership, private providers are responsible for facilities, support services and hiring instructors on top of delivering college curricula. In return, private providers keep 70-80% of tuition revenue and public colleges retain the remainder. Interestingly, with the exception of two PCPPs located in Vancouver, all other PCPP providers are located in the Greater Toronto Area. Many students could complete their education via a PCPP provider without ever having visited their school’s primary home campus.

Under the Ministry of Colleges and University there is a Public College-Private Partnerships Minister’s Binding Policy Directive (2019) identifies responsibilities of PCPP programs including standards of services and even guidelines on housing access. However, after further examination, implementation and the oversight outlined in the Directive has been unsuccessful. This report highlights that the most pressing challenges for international students and higher education providers to address have been areas of housing, transportation, health and wellbeing and safety, noting that these overlap with many settlement supports that newcomers require. Therefore, a more coordinated effort among individual colleges, local communities and all levels of government is needed to better address the needs and fulfill the promises of quality education and service that international students to Canada expect. Moving forward, among several recommendations, the authors emphasize: 

  • All levels of government should examine the resources and supports available to new international graduates and other immigrants and bring adequate resources to support newcomer transitions.
  • Federal and provincial government should work together to review and update the current 2014 internationalization strategy. New policies and regulations have been introduced that shape the international students and immigration pathways. 
  • Federal and provincial governments have positioned international students as potential immigrants who can help fill labour shortages however, it is unclear if the one to two year credential programs align with actual labour market needs and priorities
  • Revisit and revise the 2019 Ministry of Colleges and University Public College-Private Partnerships: Minister’s Binding Policy Directive to ensure accountabilities on colleges and the student support requirements are clear.

Global Skills Mobility Partnerships: An Opportunity for Canada (U Waterloo)

Canada continues to grapple with increasing labour shortages across a range of occupations. The pandemic has placed additional strain on these longstanding trends. Some migration researchers cite Global Skills Mobility Partnerships (GSMP) as a potential solution to addressing chronic shortages in key areas, mainly in the nursing profession. According to the WHO's Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, GSMPs are defined as bilateral or multilateral agreements between countries that support migrants in gaining the skills and training necessary to be recognized in a receiving country. GSMP advocates say that Canada has the unique opportunity through existing mobility pathways to enable access to ethical and subsidized recruitment, training, and employment for internationally trained professionals. Through partnership with Global Affairs Canada, IRCC, and additional stakeholders, Canada should prioritize: 

  • Developing a GSMP pilot focused on the nursing profession; to alleviate persisting labour challenges
  • Designing set criteria or code for selecting partner sending countries; targeting countries experiencing labour and skills surpluses 
  • Partnerships with institutions and stakeholders that already have the necessary capacity for building GSMPs

Labour Force Survey, December 2022 (Statistics Canada)

According to the latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) data from Statistics Canada, national employment levels rose by 0.5 percentage points over the month (+104,000) jobs in December 2022. Nationally, there is hourly wage growth for employees - remaining steady at over 5% for the seventh month in a row. The private sector has seen the greatest increase in the share of employees, the number of employees in the sector jumping by 112,000. Employment levels appear to have improved across age ranges, with youth aged 15-24 experiencing an increase of 2.7 percentage points (+69,000 jobs) while workers aged 55 and older saw an increase of 31,000 jobs. Six provinces saw the sharpest increase in employment levels; these include Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. Ontario experienced the steepest rise in employment levels with 42,000 jobs in December, up 1.4 percentage points from year over year data.

Refugee Resettlement

Why Some Groups Are Quitting Canada’s Popular Refugee Sponsorship Program (The Star) 

Canada's Syrian refugee resettlement mission has inspired the development and expansion of private sponsorship programs (PSPs) in Canada. Since 2015, the number of sponsorship agreement holders (SAHs) authorized to resettle overseas refugees in Canada increased from 90 to 138 in 2022. Through SAHs and local community groups, the annual number of refugees doubled from 9,350 to 19,143 in 2019 - before the pandemic. In 2023, nearly 27,750 refugees are expected to arrive through PSPs. In order to adequately regulate the work of these organizations, IRCC has implemented revised assessment and governance frameworks. While many advocates are in support of these changes, concerns are mounting about the rigorous and cumbersome nature of the mandatory applications and audits. According to the Star, at least 10 organizations have said they are unable to continue their work due to capacity constraints, signaling that fewer refugees may be arriving through PSPs in the future.

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