Visa Crunch

How Canada can improve economic outcomes for immigrants in the aftermath of the pandemic?

In a recent survey, it was revealed that a large number of immigrants who are currently situated in Canada lost their jobs due to the economic depression caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

This survey was conducted to look into the economic well-being of recent migrants to Canada by World Education Services (WES), which is an educational credential assessments provider. The results were determined based on 7,496 responses across three surveys conducted in the months of April, June, and August in 2020.

It was found that many new immigrants were unemployed and struggled to make ends meet amidst the ongoing pandemic.

According to the survey, 14 percent of total immigrants in Canada have been unemployed due to COVID-19 lockdown, 13 percent are employed but for reduced hours or at reduced pay, and 17 percent have temporarily lost their primary source of income, another 6 percent report that they have lost their primary source of income permanently.

It was also found that one in five immigrants in Canada is having trouble affording housing accommodations and one out of ten immigrants is having difficulty affording essentials like groceries.

More than 50% of individuals who lost their jobs during the pandemic did not receive any economic help from Canada’s government. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was created to deal with the urgent economic needs of people who were impacted by the pandemic but only about 48% of individuals received Employment Insurance and the rest were left hanging. A large number of permanent residents received employment insurance as compared to immigrants.

Further, the survey also found that most immigrants are not accessing employment or settlement help from social service agencies. Many permanent residents and temporary workers were found to be not interested in contacting these services. Almost half of the international students and temporary workers did not think they are eligible to qualify for these services.

The findings of this survey can help Canada figure out a way to improve economic recovery prospects for migrants by undertaking three specific courses of action.

  1.  Canada should introduce more pathways to permanent residence status for temporary workers. This is an important step as temporary workers are at greater risk because their temporary status does not provide them with full legal protections and makes them ineligible for economic supports.
  2. Canada must improve its settlement and employment service interventions. Temporary workers and international students should be made aware of the existence and eligibility criteria to access these services. Services like this are becoming increasingly important as more temporary residents transition to permanent residence.
  3. Canada should also pay attention to improving policy interventions aimed at addressing the systemic issues that have caused migrants to be inexplicably affected by the pandemic.

“Viewed holistically, the economic vulnerability of the respondents in this study is linked to their employment in precarious, low-wage, and often essential work, reflecting the impact of gender, racialization, and the devaluing of international education and experience in the labor market,”

“Policy interventions aimed at addressing these systemic issues across the Canadian economy—in the context of the pandemic, the recovery, and beyond—will contribute towards mitigating disproportionate negative impacts on immigrants, temporary workers, and international students.”

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