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.
An internal memo at IRCC has revealed that the department is working hard to reduce immigration backlogs significantly. In late 2022, there was a reported two million immigration applications in the backlog and IRCC is concerned that this is “eroding public trust” in the department. According to the memo, IRCC is debating two possible options: 1) Process an estimated 195,000 applications in bulk and this could include many tourist visas for visitors to Canada, or 2) Minister Fraser would waive certain eligibility requirements for approximately 450,000 applications which would mean individuals would not need to indicate that they will leave Canada when their visa expires. Sources within IRCC have indicated that the government has chosen option two and it will be announced within days.
In response to the increasing healthcare crisis, Premier Ford has announced legislation that allows health-care workers from any province in Canada to practice in Ontario. Under this announcement health-care workers who are registered in other Canadian jurisdictions are permitted to practice in Ontario without having to register with a provincial regulatory college. However, despite the Premier’s directions, the Ontario College of Nurses stress that registration is a “legal requirement” for anyone wishing to practice as a nurse. It is unclear who will be performing background research for individuals seeking to take up this opportunity and practice in Ontario. Finally, the government also said it would increase staffing levels on a short-term basis and could allow nurses, paramedics and respiratory therapists to expand their work outside their regular responsibilities. Yet details of exactly how this will work out in practical terms were not disclosed.
Despite disruptions to migration levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada continued to surpass annual goals set in earlier stages. Canada, like many major immigrant-receiving countries continues to rely heavily on increased immigration levels to bolster economic recovery post pandemic. First introduced in 2015 the Express Entry System (EE), is the portal through which most economic migration occurs in Canada. However according to migration research experts, gaps remain when utilizing EE to address the needs of the labour market. The emphasis has long been placed on 'skilled immigration' where EE restricts eligibility based on skill level. However, labour needs persist in other sectors including 'mid' or 'lower-skilled' occupations. This presents higher vacancy levels in the skilled trades, personal support work, early childhood education, and engineering; placing the economy at a disadvantage especially in times of crisis where such occupations are essential. To enable a more responsive migration model, additional coordination is needed between policy makers, labour unions, and occupational regulatory bodies.
Canada welcomed nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 as a humanitarian crisis response. The Lived Experience Project looks at the comprehensive outcomes of a cohort of Syrian refugees that were part of this mass resettlement. Upon arrival, many individuals within this cohort experienced challenges in accessing comprehensive or sufficient information about Canada or what is needed to thrive in Canadian society. When asked about settlement support, many respondents cited having received helpful support including language training, accommodation, and access to healthcare. However, finding employment was a challenge that was more difficult navigate. About half of the refugees interviewed were employed full or part time (including self-employment and those working multiple jobs). For those who were employed, they were working in sectors that typically provide-entry level opportunities; only 1 in 5 cited having work that matched their education, skills, and experience. Almost all the refugees interviewed were satisfied with their local community and social network, most having connections to local organizations including mosques or churches, community centers, and schools.