An immigrant-focused financial recovery plan should be at the front line of Canada’s post-pandemic goals.

This need is revealed in a recent study carried out by World Education Services (WES). In June, WES surveyed about 1,800 international students, permanent residents, and temporary foreign workers in Canada to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their economic health.

WES is one of the major providers for Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs). ECAs are used to confirm that foreign credentials are equivalent to Canadian certificates.

They are often required by prospective immigration candidates when they submit economic class applications to the Canadian government or a province or territory.

Loss of income

According to the study, fifteen (15) percent of all respondents lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of them also found it challenging to afford rent or make mortgage payments.

Just under a quarter (twenty-four (24) percent) of permanent residents had lost their primary source of income. For temporary foreign workers, that percentage was twenty-two (22) percent.

For international students, thirty-two (34) percent found it difficult to afford rent or utilities.

As such, qualified permanent residents, temporary workers, and international students applied to enjoy emergency benefits that were aimed to offset the loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The CERB was accessible for employed, self-employed Canadians as well as permanent residents. The CERB was launched after the start of the pandemic.

On the other hand, Employment Insurance offers temporary benefits for eligible persons who lost their jobs. EI is not bound by the pandemic, and some form of employment-related benefits has been available for eighty (80) years.

In addition, many permanent residents who are also students were qualified for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), an emergency benefits specific to both Canadian and permanent resident students.

In June, around a third of those who claimed to have been qualified for EI had obtained the benefit. This is a significant increase from April when it was only thirteen (13) percent.

Around a half (forty-eight (48) percent) of those who claimed to have been qualified for the CERB had received the benefit in June. This also spells a significant increase. In April, this was just nineteen (19) percent.

The WES survey found that those receiving EI or CERB were largely made up of permanent residents and temporary workers (ninety (90) percent).

Few international students were likely to enjoy either benefit. This is because of the eligibility criteria of these programs. To receive the CERB benefit, international students must have earned more than CAD$5,000 in 2019.

The CERB is scheduled to end in October and eligible persons will receive EI instead.

This means that many freelancers and “gig economy” workers may not be able to receive such benefits. This is because many of these workers are not eligible for EI.

To address this, the federal government of Canada will be introducing a transitional benefit. This is good news for students and immigrants, many of whom had unsteady employment and therefore do not qualify for EI.

Canada’s economy has rebounded in recent months with some two (2) million jobs lost by the COVID-19 pandemic since recovered. The federal government’s immigrant-focused approach immigrant-focused approach to restoring the economy is expected to bring Canada back from economy debacles.

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