This paper presents the current knowledge of how newcomers and migrants are being impacted by the pandemic, the responses of rural communities, and what this means for our understanding of rural immigration moving forward.
The authors outline how the pandemic has revealed the need to better understand the roles of newcomers and migrants in rural areas and their implications for rural economies and communities. Immigrants, refugees, and migrant workers in these places fill different kinds of jobs and have access to different levels of services than their urban counterparts, and therefore are affected by COVID-19 in unique ways.
The paper focuses on:
- The impact of COVID-19 on employment for newcomers and migrants and their role in rural economies.
- The effects that COVID-19 has had on various immigration systems in Canada and how rural newcomers and migrants may be impacted.
- Disruptions experienced by immigrant service providers in rural areas and how these have changed the ways that they interact with their clients.
- Mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s migrant workers through increased financial and medical support.
- Provide help to individuals and families dealing with the effects of disruptions to rural immigration systems with locally-informed strategies. It is vital to consider the needs of rural newcomers specifically, rather than bundling them together with their urban counterparts.
- Invest in the vital work of settlement service organizations and community volunteer groups to support rural newcomers. Limited/no internet access and smaller support networks make settlement services even more vital to newcomers in rural areas. With in-person service more difficult and in some cases impossible during the pandemic, this may leave some rural newcomers without the help they need during this time.
- Assist rural businesses and employers to protect newcomers in the workplace. The vulnerability of agricultural migrant and immigrant workers can clearly be seen in outbreaks that have already occurred in these workplaces, with vast implications for Canada’s food systems and rural economies. This vulnerability directly transfers to food systems, economic productivity, and rural communities in general.
- Promote policy, research, and coordination that supports rural immigration during and after COVID-19. Immigration to rural areas presents a wide range of concerns that are not
necessarily the same as those found in cities. Canada’s immigration systems have been affected and, in some ways, impeded by COVID-19, causing increased stress for rural newcomers who have less support than those in urban areas.
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