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WES Weekly Roundup December 6, 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.

‘There’s going to be friction’: Two-thirds of Canadians say immigration target is too high, poll says (The Star)

A recent poll by Abacus Data reveals that two-thirds of Canadians, or 67 percent, believe the country's immigration target of 500,000 permanent residents per year is too high. This sentiment reflects a 6-point increase since July 2023, and spans across various political affiliations with voters from the Conservative Party, NDP, and Liberal Party having expressed concerns about the current immigration levels. This shift in public opinion is attributed to rising living costs, housing shortages, and reduced access to healthcare, which have created a sense of scarcity among Canadians. Historically, Canada has been supportive of immigration, using it as a strategy for population and economic growth. Despite a pandemic-induced dip, immigration numbers have been on the rise, with 431,645 newcomers welcomed last year and 465,000 expected in 2023. While current major federal political leaders support high immigration levels, this stance could change under public pressure with immigration becoming a potential point of debate, especially in a close federal election. The survey also highlights generational differences in attitudes towards immigration, with younger people being more supportive compared to older generations, although post-pandemic economic challenges have broadened resistance to immigration across all age groups. The article concludes by highlighting the necessity of immigration for Canada's economy and addressing the aging population. It suggests that while maintaining high immigration levels is essential, there's a need to simultaneously address the perceived negative impacts of immigration and prevent further societal division through public policy and decision-making.

Is Canada losing ground as a preferred destination for Indian students? (ICEF Monitor)

Despite a current diplomatic dispute between Canada and India, Indian agents remain optimistic about the demand for study in Canada. However, there is a growing perception that Canada's brand position in India is weakening. A significant survey involving 1000 agents across 6 countries showed that a majority of agents in India foresee a slightly significant negative impact on referrals to Canada, due to deteriorating relations between the two countries. This situation is compounded by Canada's reduced diplomatic and visa-processing capacity in India. The Indian market is crucial for Canadian educators, with Indian students comprising nearly 40 percent of Canada's total foreign enrollment in 2022. However, recent reports of student exploitation and fraud in Canada have raised concerns among Indian parents about the safety and desirability of studying in Canada. Additionally, the CEO of Worldwide Educonnect observed a shift in student and parent perceptions of Canadian education, from a high regard in 2021 to increasing skepticism now. He expressed concern about a decline in the quality of students opting for Canada, with preferences shifting toward Australia and the UK. Experts suggest that Canada's approach to the Indian market has been somewhat complacent, and there is a need for a more proactive and supportive strategy. Institutions like the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) emphasize diversifying their international enrolment to avoid over-dependence on any single market and are investing in enhancing student services. It was stated that Canada must renew its commitment to diversifying its foreign student base, manage risks associated with market dependence, and improve support services to maintain its appeal to Indian students.

HungerCount 2023: When is it enough? (Food Banks Canada)

As Canada grapples with a range of economic challenges, a growing number of Canadians are turning to food banks to offset food insecurity. Over the last decade, food banks across Canada have experienced a rise in newcomer clients. According to the 2023 Annual HungerCount report, Food Banks Canada found that nearly 26.6 percent of clients of food banks are newcomers - most of whom have lived in Canada for less than a decade. This is a marked increase from last year's figure of 17.2 percent, and it is nearly double that of the 12.5 percent recorded in 2016. As cited in the report, many newcomers coming to Canada are more likely to be found in precarious work with fewer benefits such as health insurance. They are also more likely to be renters, who may have experienced challenges in accessing affordable housing and financial support depending on their status - making them increasingly vulnerable during periods of uncertainty. Recent data from Stats Canada indicates that monthly increases in food prices are slowing, however, grocery inflation remains high. Amid the cost-of-living crisis, increased reliance on food banks shows "cracks in the country's social safety system" and the need for comprehensive policy measures to combat current crises, as cited by CEO Kirstin Beardsley. While food banks support emergency response, additional work is needed to address systemic barriers to accessing safe and healthy food; this includes enabling access to commensurate employment and social capital.

More international students are seeking asylum in Canada, numbers reveal (The Star)

The number of international students who are seeking asylum in Canada has more than doubled in the past five years, with a total of 15,935 international students filing refugee claims in the country. Globally the number of people displaced worldwide has increased from 70.8 million to 108.4 million, a historic rise. Although less than one percent of international students seek protection in Canada, the annual rate of study permit holders seeking asylum has risen from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent from 2018-2023. The increase is said to reflect current global displacement trends as well as Canada's humanitarian and resettlement policies. IRCC has announced a range of sweeping measures to combat fraud and ensure the ethical treatment of international students when accessing education in Canada. Measures include the recognized institutions framework that would 'recognize' institutions that support sustainable recruitment, support for students, and vetting authenticity of applicants. Asylum claims, however, have not been named as an indicator to be included in the framework.

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