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WES Weekly Roundup October 25, 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.

Pilot program launches to streamline work permit processing for Canadian employers recruiting in the Philippines (IRCC)

Aligning with the Philippines-Canada Friendship Week, the Canadian government has announced the 'CAN Work Philippines' pilot program to streamline the work permit process for Canadian firms hiring from the Philippines. The program aids Canadian employers in arranging group medical and biometric screenings for Filipino prospects. Eligible employers must either hire 50+ workers from the Philippines or recruit for sectors like health care, construction, and agri-food, adhering to the International Organization for Migration's ethical guidelines. In support, IRCC has allocated $200,000 to the IOM to strengthen ethical recruitment in the Philippines. 960,000 Filipinos resided in Canada by 2021, and by mid-2023, 1 in 10 Temporary Foreign Worker Program permits went to Filipinos. By then, Filipinos were also included in Canada’s visa-free air travel program. The upcoming Friendship Week, co-hosted by the Philippines' Department of Migrant Workers and IRCC in Manila, features information sessions, testimonials, cultural displays, and Canadian cuisine sampling. Employers interested in participating can contact IRCC via email for more on the CAN Work Philippines program.

Canada’s change to its Roxham Road deal is called a ‘shameful downgrading’ (Toronto Star)

The Canadian government has been criticized for allegedly backtracking on its promise to admit 15,000 migrants on a humanitarian basis, a commitment made when it agreed to close the border to asylum seekers. Instead of the full 15,000 for humanitarian reasons, Ottawa has designated 4,000 spots for temporary foreign workers, with the remaining 11,000 spaces allocated for permanent residence to Colombians, Haitians, and Venezuelans only. This decision has been labeled a "shameful downgrading" by the Canadian Council for Refugees, which highlights that the temporary foreign worker program is not humanitarian in nature. This move came after Canada and the U.S. extended the Safe Third Country Agreement, effectively closing unguarded border crossings like Quebec's Roxham Road that had been used by irregular migrants. The new arrangement stipulates that to qualify for permanent residence, migrants must have extended family in Canada who commit to supporting their integration.

Processing Applications for Permanent Residence - IRCC (Office of the Auditor General)

The recent assessment of Canada’s immigration processing revealed that 'inefficient management and changing priorities' are pressing issues that contribute to backlogs and increased wait times for some applicants, according to Canada's Auditor General. The audit focused on eight permanent residence programs under the economic, family, and refugee and humanitarian streams. Many of the delays experienced in application processing can be attributed to 'inefficient management practices within inventory, placing additional strain on rates of backlog that have exceeded immigration levels for a given year. Primarily within refugees and spousal sponsorship streams, the system continues to have a large backlog. Recommendations from the office of the auditor general include improvements to the application review and approval process as well as providing transparency to applicants on wait times. IRCC cites that the department will continue to scale digitization of applications, hiring new staff, and will use AI to decrease processing times.

Newcomers need more support to succeed in the Canadian job market (Globe & Mail)

As a result of the increased talent shortages in Canada, more businesses are considering newcomers as essential labour sources. However, without necessary changes, there's a risk of high-skilled migrants being funneled into lower-skilled job. Pedro Barata, of the Future Skills Centre, highlighted that nearly half of Canada's newcomers are economic migrants, with an aim to raise this to 60% by 2025. One of the strategies the federal government is employing to boost the number of new permanent residents annually is refining its Express Entry program to prioritize workers with specialized experience in areas like healthcare, skilled trades, and STEM. However, despite these efforts, there are concerns that Canada is not adequately serving these skilled migrants. Historical views of immigrants, often rooted in negative stereotypes, have allowed employers to exploit them with subpar wages and working conditions. Improving the recognition of foreign-acquired experience and easing pathways for their integration into the job market is seen as essential for Canada's long-term economic success, especially as retirement rates surpass birth rates.

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