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WES Weekly Roundup February 14, 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.

OPINION: Canada’s cap on international students shows a university bias (Globe and Mail)

Exemptions to the recently announced international student cap were granted to master's and PhD students and those completing short-term graduate programs at universities, making them eligible for three-year postgraduate work permits. This policy shift, purportedly aimed at addressing labour market needs, has sparked a dialogue on the actual demand for highly skilled labour within Canada's economy, especially in sectors not traditionally associated with university degrees. Critiques of this policy have emphasized a mismatch between the labour market's requirements and the educational pathways being prioritized. There's a noted discrepancy in recognizing the value of polytechnic and college education, which significantly contributes to the workforce in areas experiencing acute shortages, such as advanced technical professions, healthcare, and skilled trades. It was argued that polytechnics and colleges maintain a dynamic approach to education, characterized by strong employer engagement, practical training, and direct industry relevance. These institutions not only facilitate work-integrated learning but also play a pivotal role in innovation through applied research activities, collaborating closely with industry and non-profit partners. Despite these contributions, there is a perception that federal support and recognition are skewed towards university education, potentially overlooking the diverse talents and skills nurtured within polytechnic and college systems. This narrative also touches upon the broader implications of immigration and educational policies on international students, particularly those who seek to pursue education in polytechnics and colleges. These students, often with advanced degrees from their home countries, look towards Canada not just for education but as a pathway to immigration. The discourse calls for a more inclusive policy framework that acknowledges the contributions of all post-secondary educational pathways in fulfilling the labour market's needs and driving innovation, advocating for evidence-informed policymaking that aligns with national interests and labour market realities.

To read more about International Students this week:

Immigrants most affected as Quebec boasts 'robust' 2023 job market (CTV)

Canada is working to strengthen relationships with the provincial government of Quebec towards enhanced francophone immigration and addressing labour market needs. Recent measures have been taken including additional allocation of funds through the Canada-Quebec Accord, to cover the costs of settlements services, linguistic supports, and cultural and economic infrastructure to facilitate newcomer integration in the province. For 2023-2024, Quebec will have received $775.1 million. As provinces across Canada initiate reforms to international student programming, Quebec is seeking to incentivize study in the province for international students enrolled in Francophone programs. The government of Quebec is reopening the graduate stream of the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) to help fast track the Quebec immigration process. Beginning November 2024, only students who completed at least three years of full-time studies in French in Quebec or elsewhere or completed a program of study in which 75 percent of the courses or credits were conducted in French, are eligible. Government and higher-ed officials are welcoming the change, citing that it will set the province up for success in educating and potentially retaining Francophone talent in the labour market. Although experiencing successful rebounds from pandemic level, acute labour shortages persist in areas of healthcare and construction - where temporary immigration is said to have played a key role in alleviating concerns.

Organized crime, including Mexican cartels, smuggling migrants to Canada (Globe and Mail)

While seeking haven in Canada, many migrants including asylum seekers, are increasingly at risk of smuggling and human trafficking. According to recent reports from the Canadian Border Services and Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), cartels, particularly from Mexico, are among the organized crime units being investigated for smuggling individuals into Canada. RCMP argues that many migrants crossing via land into Canada are exceptionally vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups and organizers. Government officials and immigration researchers have urged the federal government to reconsider reinstating visa requirements for certain countries such as Mexico, from where Canada has seen a surge in asylum claims since the lifting of requirements in 2016. Immigration Minister Marc Miller cites that with the influx of asylum seekers through land crossings, Canada is continuing to 'tighten screws' to ensure regularized migration and enhanced policies to criminalize and eliminate bad actors - regardless of country of origin. Canada is also looking at the rates of migrant workers who are vulnerable to employers through closed work permits and is exploring potential reforms.

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