Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic must focus on immigrants

An immigrant-focused fiscal stimulus package should be at the forefront of Canada’s post-pandemic goals.

This need is highlighted in a recent study conducted by World Education Services (WES). In June, WES surveyed 1,800 permanent residents, international students, and temporary foreign workers in Canada to understand the impact of COVID on their economic health.

WES is a leading provider of ECA. ECAs are used to verify that foreign credentials are equivalent to Canadian credentials. They are often required by would-be immigrants when submitting economy class applications to the federal government or a province or territory.

Income Loss

According to the study, 15% of all respondents lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them also had difficulty paying rent or making mortgage payments.

Just under a quarter (24%) of permanent residents had lost their main source of income. For temporary workers, this percentage was 22 percent. For international students, 34% had difficulty paying rent or utilities.

As such, eligible permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, and international students have applied for emergency benefits to compensate for lost income due to the pandemic. This includes the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Employment Insurance (EI).

The CERB was accessible to Canadian workers as well as the self-employed and permanent residents. CERB was introduced after the start of the pandemic.

On the other hand, employment insurance provides temporary benefits to eligible people who have lost their jobs. Employment Insurance is not tied to the pandemic and some form of employment-related benefits has been available for 80 years.

Also, many permanent residents who are also students were eligible for the Canada Emergency Student  Benefit (CESB), an emergency benefit specific to Canadian students and permanent residents.

As of June, about a third of those claiming to be eligible for EI had received the benefit. This is a significant increase from April when it was only 13 percent.

About half (48 percent) of those who said they were CERB eligible had received the benefit by June. It also means a significant increase. In April, it was only 19%.

The WES survey found that recipients of EI or CERB were largely made up of permanent residents and temporary workers (90%).

Few international students were likely to benefit from any of the benefits. This is because of the eligibility requirements of these programs. To be eligible for CERB, international students must have earned more than CAD 5,000 in 2019.

CERB is slated to end in October, and eligible people will receive Employment Insurance benefits instead.

This means that many freelancers and workers in the “odd-job economy” will not be able to receive benefits. It is because many of these workers are not eligible for employment insurance.

To remedy this, the Canadian government will introduce a transitional benefit. This is good news for immigrants and students, many of whom had unstable jobs and therefore are not eligible for EI.

Canada’s economy has rebounded in recent months, with some 2 million jobs lost by the pandemic since its resumption.

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