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WES Weekly Roundup March 28, 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.

Canada’s population estimates: Record-high population growth in 2022 (Statistics Canada)

According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, Canada's population increased by more than 1 million people for the first time in history - mainly due to a surge in immigrants and temporary residents. As of January 2023, Canada's population now sits at 39.57 million, with 96 percent of the rise due to international migration. This solidifies Canada's position as the fastest growing G7 country, with a population growth rate in the 2.7 percent - leading to a population doubling in about 26 years. In 2022, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants and the number of non-permanent residents increased by nearly 600,000 individuals. Immigration counts for almost 100 percent of Canada's labour force growth. Immigrants are expected to make up 30 percent of the population by 2036 - a 10 percent increase from rates reported in 2011. As cited in the most recent immigration plan, Canada aims to grant permanent residency to 465,000 people in 2023 and towards 500,000 people by 2025.

Refugee Resettlement

The Safe Third Country Agreement & Roxham Road

As of Saturday, March 24, Roxham Road has been closed. Roxham Road is an unofficial border crossing between Quebec and New York, where many asylum seekers have entered Canada within the last decade. The closure is a result of a recent visit from US President Joe Biden, where he met with Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to discuss US-Canadian relations. A key outcome of the meeting was a renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), where new provisions rely on the closure of Roxham Road and additional unofficial crossings. As it stands, the STCA stipulates that individuals are only able to apply for asylum in the first country they arrive in - either the US or Canada. As a result, individuals who travel from the US by land seeking asylum in Canada are considered irregular and could be subject to arrest after 14 days. Advocates, however, are calling out the federal government's decision to uphold the STCA and closure of Roxham Road, citing that this is a rushed decision that will only lead to a further politicization and endangerment of asylum seekers. Instead, they are suggesting a suspension of the STCA, would allow for people to enter at official points of entry safely. Following a press conference held by Prime Minister Trudeau and President Joe Biden, Premier of Quebec, Francois Legault welcomed the road's closure, citing that it was a 'very good victory' for Quebec; however, reassured that Quebec will continue to uphold their humanitarian duty to support asylum seekers on a regular basis. WES will continue to monitor developments and provide updates.

Canada extends emergency travel program for Ukrainians fleeing war (CBC)

The federal government has announced plans to continue support for Ukrainian nationals and their families seeking protection in Canada. According to IRCC, the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program will be extended until July 15, 2023. The program was set to expire in March 31; however, it will now give additional time for Ukrainians and their families to settle in Canada for up to three years. Since the launch of the program in March 2022, IRCC has received nearly 1 million applications to the program, approving nearly 616,000 of them. Over 133, 000 individuals have arrived in Canada through the program. Many advocates have called for a more long-term or concrete pathway for Ukrainians fleeing war - however Immigration Minister Fraser cited that the temporary nature of the program aligns with what Ukrainians are asking for, however the situation will continue to be monitored.

Tackling the labour shortage by helping more skilled refugees and other displaced people build their careers in Canada (IRCC)

Towards addressing chronic labour shortages emerging across sectors, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced plans to launch a new economic pathway under the Economic Mobility Pathway Pilot (EMPP). This will enable employers to hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals. The EMPP is a program that matches qualified displaced persons with Canadian employers facing vacancies in key occupations. The upcoming expansion of the EMPP will further support access to untapped talent, where employers can source and retain talent with the skills needed to grow the Canadian economy. The new pathway will provide additional avenues to employment in key areas of work including hospitality and tourism, healthcare, education, and technical trades and is expected to open this summer. Within the next few years, nearly 2000 individuals are expected to arrive through the expanded pathway.

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