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WES Weekly Roundup February 7, 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.

Ottawa pledges $362 million to provinces, cities to temporarily house asylum seekers (Toronto Star)

The Federal Government is allocating an additional $362 million to provinces and cities to support access to shelter for asylum seekers. Housing and shelter systems across provinces and cities in Canada have been under increased pressure with the influx of asylum claimants, navigating a limited supply. The funding announcement comes after several appeals to the federal government by representatives at the local and provincial level. However, it is questionable as to whether this is enough. Traditionally, housing support for asylum seekers is the responsibility of provincial and municipal governments, with the federal government providing 'top-up' payments to ease the load. According to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, more can and must be done to support systems throughout the country and IRCC will be looking into reforms to enable long-term provisions. Current housing concerns have presented an unsustainable solution for those most vulnerable. As of January 2024, a reported 7300 asylum claimants in need of housing were staying in 4000 hotel rooms focused in six provinces. Of the pledged funding, $100 million will go to Quebec with much of the additional allocation expected to go to Ontario, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area.

Provinces introducing measures to improve integrity of post-secondary education for international students (CIC)

The provincial governments of Ontario and British Columbia have introduced new initiatives seeking to enhance the quality and integrity of post-secondary education for international students within provinces. In Ontario, efforts are underway to address unethical recruitment practices by working closely with sector partners and the federal government. The province is also reviewing academic programs with significant numbers of international students, to ensure they meet local labour market demands and improve student outcome survey response rates. Additionally, Ontario has initiated a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships to strengthen the oversight of these programs. British Columbia, alternatively, has paused the approval of new Designated Learning Institutions for two years, aiming to maintain the quality of education offered to international students. The province is reviewing private degree programs and enforcing higher standards for degree quality, labour market relevance, resources, and student support. Additionally, BC is introducing minimum language requirements for students at private training institutions to ensure they are adequately prepared for their educational and professional journeys. Both provinces are taking steps to ensure housing for international students, with Ontario requiring colleges and universities to guarantee housing options. This initiative aligns with the federal government's provision of low-cost loans for student housing to alleviate housing costs in cities with higher international student populations. These measures collectively aim to improve the educational experiences of international students, while also providing adequate housing and integration supports.

To read more about international students, see below:

The good, the bad and the ugly: who is to blame when policy lacks clarity, coordination and is contradictory? (The Pie)

Canada recently announced a number of changes to the International Student Programming (ISP), notably a temporary two-year intake cap on new study permit applications. As noted in previous summaries, this will represent a nearly 35 percent decrease in arrivals - excluding masters, doctoral, elementary, and secondary students. Since its launch in 2002, intentions of the program have centered on ensuring Canada remains a destination of choice; stimulate economic growth and social inclusion; and providing a viable pool of future temporary foreign workers and permanent residents. Although reforms are necessary to strengthen the integrity of programming, several coordination challenges have led to 'finger-pointing' amongst stakeholders. Canada has worked for decades to succeed in these goals; however, it is suggested that potential restructuring should include the following objectives:

  • Place educational pursuits and academic success at the forefront of policy responses;
  • Develop a strategy to retain international students focused by academic level or program of study to address gaps in key sectors;
  • Reduce dependence on the ISP as a means to resolve compounding crises and policy inadequacies.

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