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 is set to develop a 'broad and comprehensive' program to regularize many undocumented residents. Currently, there is an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people in Canada without valid documentation - many who are at increased risk of deportation due to their precarious status. These figures would also include individuals who entered Canada legally, either as temporary work permit holders and international students, who remained in the country once their visas expired. However, as cited by Minister Miller, not all individuals without valid documents will be eligible to apply for permanent residency, including those who may have recently arrived. IRCC is exploring options to regularize individuals with skills that will address critical gaps facing the economy. For example, creating a path for undocumented construction workers would be “a good way to test the narrative” for the wider program that is under development, according to Minister Miller. The proposal for the program is expected to be submitted to cabinet members by spring of 2024.
In 2023, the Quebec Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) issued 97 statements of offence to 11 companies for violations related to the treatment of temporary foreign workers. There has been a notable rise in reported occupational injuries among these workers, potentially linked to the increased workforce and enhanced monitoring by CNESST. This action, announced by CNESST President Manuelle Oudar and Labour Minister Jean Boulet, reflects heightened efforts to safeguard these workers, who are increasingly found in sectors beyond agriculture, such as manufacturing and retail. A notable case involved Bombardier Recreational Products, which received 41 statements for underpayment issues. The increase in temporary foreign workers since 2015 has coincided with rising concerns over the "closed" work permit system, being tied to a single employer, which is perceived as restrictive and exploitative. In response, the Canadian government has initiated open work permits for workers at risk. The response includes expanded CNESST prevention activities and increased education and support for both workers and employers.
As Canada navigates a range of economic challenges, housing is increasingly rising to the forefront of policy agendas. Housing Minister, Sean Fraser, recently announced that potential changes to Canadian immigration policy - primarily temporary programming for international students and work permit holders, will be adjusted in amid Canada's housing crunch. A new report from the National Housing Council proposes the right to adequate housing as the pathway forward in ensuring access to equitable and accessible housing in Canada. In collaboration with all levels of government and community actors, researchers recommend that the federal government should adopt a rights-based approach to housing policy design and implementation. To facilitate a comprehensive response, housing must be viewed through the lens of shared impact; where strategies consider implications in line with areas such as public health, education, economic development, and immigration.
A significant number of Ukrainian refugees in Canada, initially welcomed under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program, are now showing a strong preference for permanent residency. The CUAET, designed to allow Ukrainian nationals to work, study, and live in Canada for up to three years, has seen over 210,000 Ukrainians relocate to Canada, with another 726,000 approved for relocation. A recent survey demonstrates a pronounced desire for permanent residency, with 90 percent of the participants, encompassing approximately 1,200 families, expressing this preference. This sentiment remains predominant despite the potential cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, with a large majority still favoring residency in Canada over returning home. The employment rate among Ukrainian refugees in Canada is high, and many have expressed an eagerness to integrate and contribute to the Canadian economy. However, the impending expiration of their visas raises concerns about their future in the country, especially regarding employment stability and access to education. This situation is further complicated by the Ukrainian government's wish for refugees to return for post-conflict rebuilding. Canadian immigration authorities face the challenge of balancing the refugees' aspirations, the temporary nature of the CUAET, and diplomatic relations with Ukraine. Additionally, Saskatchewan has adjusted its immigration policies to favour Ukrainian applicants, including expanding eligibility for permanent residency and modifying educational fee structures.