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Author Archives: Ty Campbell

September 27, 2020
Through the temporary measure, asylum seekers can get an early chance at permanent residency.

 

The three words that stand out from the ongoing pandemic are ‘front-line workers’. Those three words have not been heard or read as much before. Amongst other things, the pandemic has made everyone view the challenges faced and roles played them in our society in a different light, a more vociferous light, and rightly so. Before the pandemic, we all knew of them and some even watched TV shows based on their lives, but we still did not see them. Their role in our society before the pandemic was similar to The Dark Knight- a silent guardian, a watchful protector. The pandemic changed that. We now see their efforts, feel their fatigue and hear the cheer to celebrate them. To put it bluntly, we are more mindful of their existence.
An abstract of a policy paper authored by Francesco Fasani and Jacopo Mazza in May 2020 on behalf of the European Commission, notes that on an average 13% of key workers are immigrants in the EU.[1] The conclusion of the paper reads ‘The overarching picture that this note paints is that of a migrant workforce that acts as an integral part in keeping basic and necessary functions of European societies working amidst periods of forced closure. It is worth stressing how, among migrants, the low skilled workers are especially over-represented in a number of key occupations that are vital in the fight against COVID-19, underscoring their often neglected value within European economies.’[2]
In the United States, six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines working for the safety of U.S. residents. Collectively 12 million immigrant workers are at the leading edge of the response to and impacts from the pandemic. In the Unites States, 30% of doctors and 27% of farm workers are foreign born.[3]
Should then, the efforts of frontline workers turn into policy change?
Portugal has temporarily granted all migrants and asylum-seekers citizenship rights; in Italy, the regularization only applies to some sectors. Still, these are all steps in the right direction.[4] Spain and Ireland are considering similar moves.[5]
Canada too took the first step in that direction when the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on August 14 announced a temporary measure, in recognition of their exceptional service, to provide a pathway to permanent residency for asylum claimants working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the temporary measure, asylum seekers can get an early chance at permanent residency.
To apply for residency now, they must have claimed asylum in Canada prior to March 13 and have spent no less than 120 hours working as an orderly, nurse or another designated occupation between the date of their claim and Aug. 14. Applicants must also demonstrate they have six months of experience in the profession before they can receive permanent residency and have until the end of Aug. 2021 to meet that requirement. Quebec will select those qualifying for this special measure who wish to reside in Quebec. In- Canada family members of the principal applicant would be included in the application and granted permanent residency, if the application is approved. Those who have been found ineligible to make an asylum claim, or who have withdrawn or abandoned their claims, would be excluded from applying.[6]
Applauding Canada’s move for the temporary measure, Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR’s Representative in Canada said “This is an exemplary act of solidarity which recognises the service and dedication of some of the most marginalized and vulnerable members in society. It is a reminder of the exceptional contributions refugees and asylum-seekers make to the communities that welcome them”.[7]
Some have also criticized the move saying it is discriminatory to other front-line workers not working in the health sector such as farm workers, security guards and cooks and janitors working in long-term care centres[8]. Mendicino said the emphasis of the special program was on “those who put themselves at greatest risk by working in hospitals, by working in retirement homes where COVID-19 was ravaging through like a wildfire.”[9]
Whether the government will expand the temporary measure to include other front-line workers is something only time will tell but for now, it seems like it is a step by the government to acknowledge the efforts of asylum claimants and have them viewed more as a boon than a burden on the system.
July 6, 2020
Yet, the provinces have continued to invite prospective immigrants to submit Express Entry profiles and apply for permanent residence.

 

Importance of immigration to Canada …
Canada is a nation built on immigration and, for a myriad of reasons, immigration is hugely important to the present social, cultural, and economic growth of our country. Immigration serves to reunite families and provide immigrants with educational and vocational opportunities not available in their countries of origin. It also enriches Canadian culture by connecting different parts of the world, thereby diversifying ideas and customs.
The economic benefits of immigration, in particular, have become especially pronounced in recent years. According to the Conference Board of Canada[1], “Canada’s fertility rate is 1.5 babies per woman, below the replacement rate of 2.1”. On the other hand, all of Canada’s “9.2 million baby boomers will be of retirement age by 2030”, and “23% of Canada’s population will be 65 or older by 2040”. Canada’s low fertility rate and the impending swell of individuals in the 65+ age bracket means that Canada will have fewer people to produce and consume goods and services, as well as a smaller number of taxpayers[2]. Thus, Canada will soon be more dependent than ever on immigration to counter imbalance in the labour force and alleviate strain on the healthcare system.
The impact of COVID-19 on immigration to Canada …
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges to Canada’s immigration system. More precisely, IRCC’s transition to working remotely, travel restrictions, and reduced flights have contributed to a drop in permanent resident admissions to historically low levels in June[3]. Thus far, BC has admitted only 350 new permanent residents, a figure which stands in sharp contrast with those from January (4,235), February (4,240), and March (2,950).
Yet, the provinces have continued to invite prospective immigrants to submit Express Entry profiles and apply for permanent residence[4]. Further, as the foregoing statistics indicate, applications are still being processed. The Canada Immigration Newsletter reported there could be four Express Entry draws in June[5]. On June 10th, British Columbia invited 87 individuals to apply to its Provincial Nominee Program [6].
This indicates the doors will remain open to immigration as Canada navigates the unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic.
IRCC stated the following categories of individuals can continue to enter Canada notwithstanding the travel restrictions currently in place[7]:
· Canadian citizens
· Permanent residents
· Immediate family of Canadian citizens and permanent residents
· Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence prior to March 16 and who had not yet travelled to Canada
· Temporary foreign workers
· International students who held a valid study permit or had been approved for one as of March 18
· Transiting passengers
Immigration to Canada in the aftermath of COVID-19 …
In its 2020-2021 Departmental Plan, IRCC unveiled its plan to admit 341,000 new permanent residents in 2020 and 351,000 the following year[8], marking a large increase from the previous decades’ average yearly admission rate of 250,000 and “the most ambitious immigration levels in recent history”[9]. Some have argued Canada cannot afford to stick to this plan in light of the economic fallout of COVID-19; they believe immigration should be put on the back-burner until the economy recovers and employment rates amongst those already living in Canada have bounced back to previous levels.
However, a variety of factors indicate Canada’s commitment to immigration will endure, and in fact flourish, in the aftermath of COVID-19. Indeed, the impact of COVID-19 means that Canada is, in many ways, in greater need of new immigrants than it was before. First, it is important to understand that the employment market isn’t a zero-sum game; gains made by immigrants and members of a host society are compatible and, in fact, tend to be mutually reinforcing, particularly when considered over the long run. Immigrants will contribute to the creation of Canadian jobs through spending and entrepreneurial activity.
Second, continuing to welcome newcomers into Canada is consistent with the proactive immigration policy our country has followed over the past three decades. As Kareem El-Assal[10], a senior research associate for immigration at The Conference Board of Canada, explains, Canada had originally taken a “tap on, tap off” approach to immigration, meaning more immigrants were accepted when the economy was doing well, and less when it was not. In the late 1980s, Canada realized the tap-on, tap-off approach was insufficient to offset labour shortages resulting from the retirement of older generations of Canadians. Consequently, the tap on, tap off approach was displaced by a new policy that has a long-term focus and prioritizes a consistent flow of migrants. Canada has persevered with this new, proactive approach through various economic crises, including the Great Recession.
Finally, the pandemic highlighted the vital importance of immigrants to ensuring the well-being of Canadian society in a period of crisis. Newcomers contributed massively, both directly and indirectly, to efforts to combat the virus[11]; as federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino succinctly stated, “we could not support our front-line workers without immigration”[12]. Standing firmly by our commitment to immigration is the only way to deal with the ever-present possibility of another, future pandemic.
Conclusion …
The Canada Immigration Newsletter reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in immigrating to Canada[13], and, all things considered, prospective immigrants should continue to apply to immigrate to Canada. The importance of immigration to Canada and its post-COVID-19 recovery means our country is unlikely to back away from its commitment to welcoming newcomers. This point is supported by recent statements made by Mendicio, in which he said “[i]mmigration will absolutely be key to our success and our economic recovery”, and that “[w]e will continue to rely on immigration, it will be an economic driver, and this will be the North Star of our policy going forward.