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 strategy to bolster its economy and population through immigration is facing hurdles with an increasing number of immigrants choosing to leave the country, as reported by The Conference Board of Canada. The trend of immigrants leaving Canada within the first seven years highlights a gap between what immigrants expect before arriving and the realities they face once they settle. Issues such as finding suitable employment, securing affordable housing, and feeling welcomed into Canadian society, can be more challenging than anticipated, possibly leading to a decision to leave. The report suggests that retention rates could be improved by continuous monitoring and implementing enhanced settlement services, aiding employers to better utilize immigrant skills, and making significant infrastructure investments to support community growth. The research indicates that early positive experiences are crucial for long-term retention, and thus, policy efforts should focus on providing such experiences to prevent the loss of immigrants. This retention is not just a matter of numbers but is crucial for Canada's economic growth, cultural diversity, and overall prosperity. With a surge in departures in 2017 and 2019, Canada is urged to take a more proactive stance in understanding and improving immigrant experiences to maintain its growth trajectory.
Canada is recognized for its ethnic diversity, with over 40 percent of Canadians being first or second-generation immigrants, and cities like Toronto and Vancouver having roughly half their population born overseas. Although sentiments of prejudice and racism against immigrants may persist in Canada, the prevailing attitude is one of acceptance, with immigration widely viewed as beneficial to the country's growth and diversity. According to research by the Environics Institute, Canadian multiculturalism is a strong point of national pride, with Canada ranking highly in global polls for migrant acceptance and as a desired destination for potential migrants. Despite challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturns, public support for immigration has been consistently strong. However, a significant shift occurred in 2023, with a growing minority of Canadians, now over 40 percent, believing that immigration levels are too high, which marks a notable change in public opinion attributed to concerns over housing availability and affordability. Although this shift suggests infrastructure is struggling to meet immigration targets, there is no comparable change in Canadian sentiment towards the contributions of immigrants and refugees. The discourse is evolving from the type of immigrant Canada accepts to the number it can manage, especially in terms of housing, healthcare, and other infrastructure. While some view high immigration levels as essential for economic growth and labour markets, there is an increasing call for a balance that ensures a well-functioning society for both existing citizens and new arrivals.
Canada and the United States must do more to ensure the safety of displaced individuals fleeing conditions of strife within the Americas, according to key refugee and human rights advocates. Current data indicates that the Americas are experiencing unprecedented levels of migrants seeking refuge; often using risky routes such as the Darien Gap or Roxham Road. In response, several measures have been launched through the Safe Mobility program, a joint agreement to regulate irregular migration into both the US and other countries including Canada. Government officials from initiating countries argue that the aim is to provide lawful pathways and mitigate risks associated with onward mobility. The US has made commitments including the following:
As part of Canada's commitments, Immigration Minister, Marc Miller announced that 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere will be welcomed on a humanitarian basis with a path to economic opportunities. IRCC cites that regular migration pathways will be provided through leveraging current permanent resident humanitarian and economic pathways, and temporary work programs. However, it remains unclear whether these admissions will be a standing annual target for IRCC. Advocates counter that the ever-increasing number of displaced individuals within the region warrants a more comprehensive approach and are urging the government to expand resettlement programming to assist this larger pool of asylum seekers.