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WES Weekly Roundup January 24, 2024

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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.

Income dynamics of new immigrants to Canada (Parliamentary Budget Office)

The report on income dynamics of new immigrants in Canada from 2014 to 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis, emphasizing the substantial rise in median income of immigrants, from 55 percent to 78 percent relative to all Canadian tax-filers. The increase is linked to factors including enhanced pre-landing work experience (where immigrants who had previously worked in Canada on temporary permits showed higher income levels upon gaining permanent residency); the shift in immigrant source countries towards South Asia (for whom the income increase was the highest); and stronger family ties within Canada. Professional sectors can also play a significant role, where immigrants in specialized fields like engineering and applied sciences, greatly contributed to the overall improvement in median income levels of new immigrants in Canada. The study also examines the impact of Canadian immigration policies, including the Express Entry system, which prioritizes skilled workers, likely adding to the influx of professionally skilled immigrants with higher income levels. Narrowing the income gap between new immigrants and the Canadian median could positively influence Canada's productivity growth, noting that closing this gap entirely could potentially increase it by up to 0.21 percentage points.

Canada is caught in a population trap (National Bank of Canada)

Canada is caught in what some economists are labelling as a population trap - that can only be solved through further 'reining in' immigration, according to leading experts. Within the last year, Canada’s population rose by nearly 1.25 million individuals (3.2) percent, making it the quickest pace of growth since the 1950s. The increase was largely driven by non-permanent residents; over 2.5 million individuals in Canada, representing a growth rate of roughly 310,000 arrivals in three months. Experts from the National Bank argue that explosive rates of immigration are exacerbating economic challenges facing the country. The proposed trap signals that Canada lacks the necessary infrastructure and capital stock to adequately absorb current population growth and living standards are unable to improve. While IRCC has announced plans to stabilize annual immigration levels to 500,000 permanent residents by 2026, concerns are mounting over inadequate policy responses to monitor the rapid expansion of temporary resident programming. To support Canada's economic health long-term, the authors recommend that annual targets must be reconsidered in line with current crises facing the economy and quality of life of residents.

Legault asks Trudeau to slow influx of asylum seekers (National Post)

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling upon the federal government to better regulate and slow the influx of asylum seekers entering the province. Through a letter written to the Prime Minister's office, Premier Legault cites that an excessive number of asylum seekers entering Quebec are at unsustainable levels. Based on analysis from Quebec, numbers indicate the province welcomed highest rates of asylum seekers across Canadian provinces in 2022. While according to Legault, in 2023, the closure of Roxham Road temporarily reduced the flow by land, additional spikes have occurred at the airport and through individuals arriving on visitor visa and applying for asylum. Nearly 60,000 new asylum seekers were registered in Quebec between January to November 2023, which Legault argues placed significant strain on public supports and services available within the province. IRCC is being urged to tighten policies around granting visas and reimburse the province for the $470 million spent during 2021 and 2022 to support asylum seekers, and funds spent in subsequent years. In addition to exhausted housing and shelter supply, resettlement services are reported to also feeling pressure.

Feds announce two-year cap on international student admissions (CP24)

From 2024 to 2026, the federal government is implementing a cap on study permits, leading to a 35 percent decrease from 2023 levels, with about 364,000 permits expected to be issued in 2024. The number of international students in Canada has tripled over the past decade and the cap by IRCC is a part of an effort to re-position Canada as a top destination for students and improve the integrity of the International Student Program. Additionally, the cap seeks to alleviate challenges to housing, healthcare services, and infrastructure, better aligning with Canada’s 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan. This cap will be distributed among provinces based on population, potentially reducing permits in some areas like Ontario by up to 50 percent, while others may see an increase. Provinces will decide the allocation of these permits to designated learning institutions (DLI), but master’s and PhD programs, and professional degrees will be exempt from this cap. From September 1, 2024, post-graduate work permits will no longer be issued for students from public college-private partnership models. The availability of open work permits for spouses of international students will be restricted to those in higher degree programs, such as master's, PhD, and professional degrees. These changes, however, will not apply to current study permit holders and are only for future applicants. The recent announcement from IRCC has garnered mixed responses from across the landscape, see statements below:

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