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WES Weekly Roundup April 17, 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.

Essential but unprotected: Migrant farmworkers in Canada (CERC Migration and Integration)

The policy brief from the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration & Integration discusses the crucial role of migrant farmworkers in Canada's agricultural sector, who despite their importance, remain under protected by current laws. Migrant workers, making up about 25 per cent of the agricultural workforce in 2022, face restrictions on their mobility and rights under the Temporary Foreign Worker Programs (TFWPs). The brief criticizes these programs for not enhancing protections but merely simplifying how employers access vulnerable workers. It points out that non-state initiatives in other countries have helped fill protection gaps, though these cannot replace state regulations. The brief recommends several measures to improve the situation, including better legal protections, reforming enforcement frameworks, and integrating non-state initiatives more effectively. It emphasizes the need for a systematic approach to ensure the safety and rights of migrant farmworkers, highlighting the significant enforcement gaps, especially in housing and workplace safety.

The Great Rebuild - Seven ways to fix Canada’s housing shortage (RBC Thought Leadership)

Housing supply and affordability continues to be one of Canada's most pressing socio-economic concerns, cutting across policies on immigration, health, education. Ultimately, compounding economic crises are impacting Canada's reputation and capacity to attract and retain top talent and investment. Factors including pandemic shock responses, shortages in construction workforce, migration influxes, and outdated housing policy have contributed to current strains. Despite recent changes to cap international student and temporary foreign worker admittances, experts warn that this may not be an adequate response to curb housing pressures long-term and that time is running out. If affordability rates remain similar recent trends, nearly 455,000 new social housing units would need to be developed by 2030; equivalent to all rental units built since 2018. Solving Canada's housing crisis will require collaboration from across sectors, governments, and communities. Proposed reforms may include:

  • Expanding the labour pool in construction and trades workers; prioritizing construction skills among new immigrants;
  • Develop and adopt innovative designs, building techniques and technology; streamline and accelerate permit approvals;
  • Modernize zoning and density regulations;
  • Expand housing stock and reduce affordability constraints; creating additional units and reclaim units from corporations.

The paradox of immigration policy will require a new model (Policy Options)

The article argues that Canada's immigration policy needs a comprehensive overhaul due to deep-seated social and economic inequalities that affect newcomers and racialized groups. It highlights that public perception of immigration has become increasingly negative, influenced by economic anxieties and populist politics that emphasize economic benefits while neglecting social integration. The article includes recommendations for a renewed policy framework: it suggests recommitting to multiculturalism, establishing a stand-alone ministry to better oversee immigration and multicultural policies, enhancing engagement with diverse communities, using government spending to fuel social innovation, and investing in cultural initiatives that reflect and celebrate Canada’s diverse demographic landscape. With these changes, it is argued that Canada may be able to shift immigration policy from merely filling quotas to a robust strategy integral to nation-building, and enhanced social cohesion.

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