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WES Weekly Roundup June 20, 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 wastes the skills of its immigrants, and the economy suffers as a result (Globe and Mail)

Immigration has long been favoured as the best approach to economic growth in Canada. Low birth rates, an aging population and a smaller work force have often been the main reasons supporting immigration. Critics claim that current housing, healthcare, and infrastructure in the country is insufficient to handle an influx of newcomers. This author argues that immigration is a critical part of the solution, but that immigration alone will not address Canada’s economic woes. The real challenges lie in the barriers that prevent immigrants from full economic and labour market integration. Today’s labour needs are different than previous decades with rising labour shortages among highly skilled workers such as nurses, doctors, engineers and others. The time and money required for reaccreditation programs and "Canadian experience” are excessive and can take several years for newcomers to attain. While governments and policymakers are taking steps towards addressing these challenges, the progress is moving far too slow. Ensuring a smoother path to professional integration is the key piece in connecting immigration and Canada's future prosperity.

Women International Students: The Invisible Workforce (Laadliyan)

Given the short distance to many colleges and universities in the Toronto area, as well as the services available in a large metropolis, Peel Region in Ontario has become a popular destination for many South Asian international students in Canada. This report examines the experiences of women international students in this region and the challenges they faced in their settlement journey in Canada. The key challenges they identified were:

  1. Exploitation by employers – Several students found themselves in vulnerable situations and they did not know how to protect themselves. For example, options for recourse in cases of unpaid wages, and unfamiliarity with workplace laws.
  2. Lack of support – Many highlighted the lack of access to support and services in their workplaces, academic institutions and community. For example, little assistance in finding suitable and safe employment opportunities, lack of professional development and difficulty in navigating the healthcare system.
  3. Isolation – For many this was the first instance of being isolated from their family members while others were challenged by the uncertainty of where to go if they needed help.
  4. Harassment – A range of encounters of physical and sexual harassment were identified by women from employers, co-workers, landlords and strangers.
  5. Discrimination – Several students reported discrimination in searching for employment, gender bias from their male counterparts and being treated poorly in the workplace.
  6. Fraud – Stories of financially fraudulent activities by individual students knew and others they did not know were reported as well.

Given these experiences, the report offers several recommendations including employer accountability for workplace training and education, cultural and diversity training for staff to promote an inclusive workplace, training for international students about discrimination and grievance procedures and finally awareness building of supports and services for students to navigate.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Safe Third Country Agreement is constitutional, Supreme Court rules (Global News)

On Friday, June 17, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States is constitutional; upholding the decision to expand the agreement in March. In an 8-0 ruling, SCC found that the STCA does not violate sections within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protect rights to life, liberty, and security of person. The ruling comes after numerous calls from refugee and human rights advocacy groups to suspend the agreement due to a heightened risk of entering through more precarious crossings and exposure to human rights abuses on either side of the border. The STCA came into effect in 2004, through which both the US and Canada are designated as safe countries for individuals seeking protection. Consequently, migrants must seek asylum in the first country they arrive in, meaning that migrants would be considered illegal or irregular upon arrival in the other country.

Through what was seen as a loophole, in the past, many migrants have utilized irregular crossings such as Roxham Road to seek asylum in Canada. Under changes introduced in March, the STCA extends across the nearly 9,000 km US-Canada border and migrants who cross irregularly could face deportation for up to 14 days after arriving in Canada. According to federal reports from the Canadian Border Services Agency, there has been a significant and immediate drop in the number of border-crossing refugee claimants. Many refugee rights advocates argue that recent measures have been taken with little to no external consultation and urge the government to listen to and co-develop equitable policies with frontline workers and those with lived experience of displacement. Representatives from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada cite that the Canadian federal government is actively engaged on migration issues and is dedicated to working with like-minded partners to promote safe and regular pathways that offer protection to refugees and asylum claimants.

Visualising the global flow of 35 million refugees (Al Jazeera)

At the end of 2022, the number of refugees stood at 35.3 million, an increase of nearly eight million from the previous year. Displaced persons from Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine make up 52 percent of refugees globally. Each year on World Refugee Day, the global community honours the ongoing strength of refugee and displaced populations and celebrates efforts to support those seeking protection abroad. Researchers have developed an infographic to visualize the data of over 70 years of refugee migration patterns. Following the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations established the Refugee Convention to protect the rights of refugees in 1951. In 1967 the convention was expanded to address global displacement crises. By 1980, the number of refugees recorded by the UN surpassed 1 million, with the number of displaced persons increasing to 20 million by 1990. It was 30 million by 2021 due to several geopolitical upheavals including crises in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Iraq. The war in Ukraine has led to the displacement of nearly 5.7 million people, the fastest growing refugee crisis since WWII. Currently, there are nearly 110 million people facing displacement across the globe. Through enhanced collaboration between governments and civil society, allies can work to support the expansion of ethical migration pathways to ensure the most vulnerable are protected and empowered to safely begin a new chapter.

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