How Canada can improve economic outcomes for immigrants
According to a new survey, many immigrants became jobless without being able to support themselves economically during the coronavirus outbreak in Canada.
Immigrants have been extremely impacted by the pandemic, and this crisis didn’t affect only Canada, but the whole world. Migrants are unbalanced in essential services and industries that have been hardly affected hit by coronavirus prevention restrictions according to Statistics Canada.
World Education Services (WES), an educational credential assessment provider, conducted a survey to examine the economic well-being of recent immigrants to Canada. The results came from 7,496 responses out of three surveys conducted in April, June, and August 2020.
Findings show that many newcomers have lost their income and could not afford their basic needs. Due to COVID-19, about 14 percent have lost their jobs and 13 percent are working reduced hours or at reduced pay. About 17 percent have temporarily lost their primary source of income, another 6 percent report that they have lost it permanently. One in five is facing difficulty affording to house, but when looking at just international students it becomes one in three. One out of 10 is struggling to afford basics like groceries and medicine.
More than half of those who lost their jobs or income did not benefit from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which was created to meet and afford the urgent economic needs of people who were affected by the pandemic. About 48 percent received the CERB or Employment Insurance and the rest did not. Permanent residents were most likely to have received the benefit.
The survey also found that many immigrants are not receiving employment or settlement help from social service agencies. Many permanent residents and temporary workers are not interested in getting benefits from these services. Nearly half of international students and temporary workers do not think they are eligible for services. About 19 percent of permanent residents have contacted an agency, and about 12 percent would, but they do not know how.
The results of the report point to three specific actions that could enhance economic recovery prospects for migrants were starting with supporting more pathways to permanent residence for temporary workers, who may be more at risk because they are not legally protected, and this puts them at risk, or it makes them ineligible for economic benefits.
The pandemic has also drawn attention to the need for settlement and employment service interventions especially needed for temporary workers and international students as well. These are becoming intensively important as more temporary residents transition to permanent residence. The survey also states that all classes of migrants need to be made more aware of what supports they are eligible for and how to access them.
Finally, the report calls for policy interventions towards addressing the systemic issues that have caused migrants to be disproportionately 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,” the report says. “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.”