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Quebec sees record-low unemployment rate in February: Labour Force Survey

Quebec employment rates have been on an upswing over the past three months, and in February, about 66,000 people got jobs in the province.

As a result of these gains, Quebec saw a historically low unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent last month. This is the lowest since comparable Statistics Canada data became available in 1976.

Most of the jobs went to youth aged 15 to 24. The unemployment rate for this age group declined to 6.8 per cent, which is also the lowest rate since 1976.

The employment rate, as defined by Statistics Canada, is the number of employed people over the age of 15 as a percentage of the population. The rate for a particular group is the number of people employed as a percentage of the population of that group, for example, youth aged 15 to 24.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labour force, both employed and unemployed.

What does the low unemployment rate mean for immigrants?

Low unemployment rates are good for job seekers because it means that there are more jobs available to choose from. Employers are under pressure to attract and retain talent. This is why periods of low unemployment can be considered a “job-seekers market.”

In the next 10 years, as over nine million baby boomers retire from their jobs, Canada is going to see more and more labour shortages. With not enough young people entering the workforce, Canada is turning to immigration to help support labour market needs.

In his first major speech as Canada’s immigration minister last week, Marco Mendicino estimated that about 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth will come from immigration, and may reach 100 per cent by the 2030s. The majority of these are expected to be economic-class immigrants, in other words, foreigners moving to Canada for work.

Employment in other Canadian provinces

Employment increases were also seen in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. The rest of the country was little changed.

Alberta saw 11,000 jobs filled last month, mostly among youth. Unemployment was little changed at 7.2 per cent. Compared to last year, employment in Alberta was virtually unchanged.

On Canada’s east coast, Nova Scotia employment rose by 3,700. The unemployment rate increased by 0.4 per cent to 7.8 per cent. Employment in Nova Scotia was little changed compared to 12 months earlier.

Though the unemployment rate in Manitoba was virtually unchanged at five per cent, about 3,200 more people were employed in February. Manitoba has been seeing an employment uptrend since December. Since last year employment has gone up 1.5 per cent in this Canadian Prairie Province.

New Brunswick’s employment rate was unchanged last month, and unemployment fell to 6.9 per cent.

In British Columbia (B.C.) and Ontario, the unemployment rate rose as more people searched for work. B.C. had an unemployment rate of five per cent, and Ontario saw unemployment at 5.5 per cent in February.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) saw a slight employment rate increase and a larger unemployment rate increase, up 0.5 percentage points to 8 per cent.

Newfoundland and Labrador was relatively unchanged between January and February. Both employment and unemployment went up slightly. The unemployment rate is now 12 per cent.

Unemployment in Saskatchewan went up slightly to 6.2 percent, however, the employment rate remained the same.

Global economic uncertainty may affect coming labour force

In recent weeks, the spread of the Coronavirus has increased economic uncertainty in Canada and abroad.

Last week, the Bank of Canada cut its overnight interest rate to help stem potential impacts to Canada’s economy.

Global oil prices have also crashed due to a price war between major suppliers such as Saudi Arabia which is also likely to have a negative impact on Canada’s economy, particularly in oil-rich provinces such as Alberta.

These factors may result in weaker employment numbers in Canada in the coming months.

How do we know if immigrants are succeeding in Canada’s economy?

Canada cares deeply about ensuring immigrants succeed in its economy. Its economic class immigration programs are designed to select candidates who have the highest chance of finding a good job in the Canadian labour market.

Decades of federal government research shows that immigrants who arrive in Canada at a young age, with a high level of education, and strong English or French skills have a better chance of success.

Canada’s commitment to supporting economic integration is further demonstrated by the $1.5 billion in funding it provides annually in settlement supports for newcomers. These supports help immigrants find jobs and improve their language skills.

When it comes time to evaluate the performance of immigrants in the Canadian labour market, the focus tends to be on comparing their incomes with the Canadian-born population. This makes sense to some extent, but such comparisons can be misleading. On the one hand, we want immigrants to earn salaries similar to those of Canadians. Salaries give us a strong sense of whether immigrants have similar living standards as the Canadian-born population.

Three reasons why income is a misleading indicator of economic integration

On the other hand, focusing on salaries can be misleading for several reasons.

First, immigrants tend to arrive in Canada at a disadvantage in the labour market. They often arrive without social or professional networks and need time for Canadian employers to recognize their skills. Immigrants that earn high salaries typically need at least five years in Canada before their salaries match those of Canadian-born individuals.

The second reason why income can be a misleading indicator of economic integration is that the majority of Canada’s immigrants are welcomed for social and humanitarian reasons.

While the economic class accounts for about 60 per cent of all immigrants to Canada each year, the actual share of immigrants who are assessed for their skills accounts for about 25 per cent of all newcomers admitted by Canada on an annual basis.

These are principal applicants evaluated under the economic class for factors such as their age, education, language skills, and work experience. Hence, Canada does not welcome most of its immigrants to grow its economy, but rather, it welcomes them in an effort to reunite families and help refugees.

The third reason is that income alone does not allow us to understand the economic performance of newcomers. There are several other useful metrics that we can also use to assess economic integration.

Immigrant economic integration is better than you think

One of these metrics is the degree to which immigrants participate in the housing market. The biggest purchase that Canadians and immigrants make is buying a home. Statistics Canada research shows that homeownership rates among Canadians and immigrants are identical (69 per cent of both groups own a home). The average value of an immigrant’s home in Toronto and Vancouver is the same as that of the Canadian-born population. This tells us that immigrants bring significant savings with them which increases their purchasing power in Canada.

Second, the household incomes of immigrants are nearly at the same level as those of Canadian households. The average immigrant household earns about $85,000 per year, compared with about $90,000 for Canadian households. This tells us that even if the average immigrant earner makes less money than the average Canadian, the fact that the average immigrant household has multiple earners enables immigrant families to have nearly the same purchasing power as Canadian-born families.

The first and second findings also help to underscore the importance of family class immigration. Canada’s decision to reunite families is good policy because families can support one another financially and increase their overall living standards.

Third, the fairest way to measure how immigrants are performing is by comparing current immigrant cohorts with previous immigrant cohorts. Given that immigrants have a natural disadvantage in the labour market, it does not make sense to compare them with Canadian-born workers. What Canada should aspire to instead, is for current immigrant cohorts to outperform previous immigrant generations. Government research over the past decade shows this is, in fact, the case.

Finally, the economic performance of second-generation immigrants is comparable to that of Canadian-born children. This tells us that while first-generation immigrants do not perform as strongly as we all hoped, their children help to enhance the family’s overall contribution to the Canadian economy. We should never lose sight of the fact that immigration is inherently long-term in nature.

Immigrants are succeeding in Canada

There is no question that more can be done to improve the economic performance of immigrants in Canada. At the same time, there are numerous indicators that undoubtedly show immigrants are succeeding in Canada.

Canada will continue to improve its economic class programs and make investments in settlement and integration supports. This, plus the fact that nine million Canadians will reach retirement age within the next decade suggests that the economic performance of immigrants, as well as their incomes, will continue to improve.

Canada to welcome over one million new immigrants between 2020-2022

Marco Mendicino laid out his vision for Canada’s immigration system today in Toronto.

It was his first major policy speech since his November 2019 appointment as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Mendicino was appointed after the Liberal Party of Canada was re-elected to a second mandate in October and he is currently pursuing an immigration plan laid out in his mandate letter.

“Vision” speeches are a long-standing tradition among Canada’s immigration ministers. They outline the government’s aspirational goals and what policies and programs the government will pursue to achieve the goals.

Mendicino’s speech was no different.

Mendicino opened his speech by stating that Canada’s future depends on immigration. As such, it is critical to have a dialogue on how many people Canada needs to secure its economic prosperity.

This dialogue, Mendicino said, is necessary due to Canada’s demographic realities. As an aging country with a low birth rate, Canadians are living longer and not having enough children to maintain the size of its population.

This places greater pressure on Canada’s economy and fiscal standing. This is due to fewer workers being relied upon to fund rising government expenses, such as health care, which will become more expensive to deliver as the share of elderly Canadians continues to rise.

Mendicino said a major part of the solution is to welcome immigrants. Today, some 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth will come from immigration, and estimates suggest this will reach 100 per cent by the 2030s.

This is why Canada will welcome over one million immigrants over the next three years, said Mendicino, as he noted that he will formally table Canada’s 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan in March.

Express Entry will remain the flagship program for welcoming immigrants to Canada and has been successful since launching in January 2015. Mendicino noted that 95 per cent of Express Entry arrivals have jobs and some 80 per cent are working in their fields.

In addition, programs such as the Global Talent Stream and Atlantic Immigration Pilot have been key to supporting Canada’s economy.

Nonetheless, there remains a need to promote the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities across the country. This explains why the federal government launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in 2019.

The Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) is another initiative that the federal government will pursue to help economic growth across Canada. The Minister stated that the government is in pre-consultations on what the program will look like and welcomes feedback from stakeholders on how to shape the MNP.

Minister Mendicino urged attendees to support a national dialogue that immigration is a net positive for Canada. He observed that Canada’s immigration system has been lauded by the OECD as the international standard on how to effectively manage an immigration system.

He concluded by stating that Canada is built on the strength of immigration.

Welcoming immigrants will help to grow the labour market, support businesses, and ensure that “Canada remains the best country in the world.”

Canada’s March 4 Express Entry draw issues 3,900 invitations

Canada issued 3,900 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence in the March 4 Express Entry draw.

Invitation totals went down from the February 19 draw’s record-breaking 4,500 ITAs. Canada has now sent out a total of 18,700 invitations this year.

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirement went up slightly to 471 this round.

Go to CIC News for more information on this draw.

Canada expands special measures to include visa applicants affected by coronavirus outbreak in Iran and South Korea

The Canadian immigration department is working to accommodate visa applicants from China, Iran and South Korea as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) causes service disruptions and travel restrictions.

Nationals of these three countries who have applied for a Canadian visa, but who are unable to comply with certain requirements due to circumstances beyond their control, will be given more time to complete the necessary steps, such as providing their fingerprints and photo.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) expanded the special measures implemented for China, on February 7, to include citizens of Iran and South Korea on February 29.

The IRCC webpage says that special measures apply to the following types of applicants:

  • Chinese, Iranian, or South Korean Nationals; or
  • those who are in China, Iran, or South Korea; and
  • those who are affected by service disruptions or travel restrictions related to COVID-19

“Disruptions” may include any of the following:

  • visa application centre closures;
  • service disruptions;
  • limited access to local government offices and businesses; and
  • limited access to a panel physician who can do the immigration medical exam.

IRCC will also be able to help those who need a permanent resident travel document to return to Canada.

In addition, the immigration department will still accept incomplete applications from those who are applying for a visitor visawork permitstudy permit, or permanent residence.

“No application in progress will be closed or refused due to a lack of documentation,” the IRCC webpage says. “We’ll automatically give you an extra 90 days to complete these steps. Once you’re able to, complete the steps as soon as possible to avoid delays.”

The additional 90 days also applies to the biometrics deadline. Though the instruction letter says this step must be completed within 30 days, the IRCC is giving applicants an additional 90 days to those who have been affected by service disruptions— no new biometrics instruction letter required.

Special instructions are below for applicable permanent residents, permanent resident applicants, work or study permit applicants, and citizenship applicants.

IRCC has laid out special instructions for affected permanent resident applicants, work or study permit applicants, and citizenship applicants. In most cases, it is necessary to communicate with IRCC through their online web form.

Permanent resident applicants

Those who are applying for Canadian permanent residence through the Express Entry system must submit their application within 60 days of receiving their Invitation to Apply (ITA).

However, IRCC will accept incomplete applications provided that applicants were unable to send all the required documents due to disruptions related to COVID-19. Applicants must send a letter explaining the reasons why the documents are missing, and the application will be held until further notice.

When applicants do obtain the missing documents they may send them to IRCC using the online web form. This same form can also be used for those who wish to withdraw their application. Refunds may be available to those who withdraw within 24 hours of submitting, as long as processing has not yet started.

Canadian citizenship applicants

Those who anticipate that they will miss an important date in their citizenship application process must contact IRCC via their online form, and explain why. Citizenship events or appointments may include one of the following:

  • the knowledge test;
  • a retest;
  • the interview;
  • a hearing; or
  • taking the Oath of Citizenship.

You must contact IRCC within 30 days of missing the appointment.

If you need to submit documents use the online form to tell IRCC when you have returned from an affected country. You will be given an additional 30 days for most required documents and an additional 45 days for medical opinion forms.

Citizenship applicants will still need to meet the physical presence requirement. Canada requires that applicants be present in the country for at least three years out of the five years immediately preceding the date of their citizenship application. Extra days spent in affected countries due to the virus will not count as days in Canada.

Restricted from travelling to Canada after permanent residence approved

Those who have been approved for permanent residence, but are unable to travel to Canada before their documents expire must use IRCC’s web form to explain their situation. Once travel becomes possible again, they must tell IRCC via the online form in order to receive instructions regarding restarting the processing of the permanent residence application.

The same instructions apply for those whose confirmation of permanent residence has already expired.

Temporary workers, students, and visitors unable to leave Canada

Foreign nationals who are in Canada on a visitor visa can apply online to extend their stay in Canada.

Temporary workers and students have a couple of options depending on their circumstances.

Those who are no longer working or studying can apply to change their status to a “visitor,” as long as the study or work permit has not expired.

Some may be able to extend their work permit or study permit if they are eligible. IRCC says it is important to include a note in the application explaining the reason for extending a stay in Canada.

If the visitor record, work or study permit has expired within 90 days it may be possible to restore status.

If the 90-day mark has been passed, it may be possible to apply for a temporary resident permit.

Special instructions by country

If you are a permanent resident, visitor visa applicant, study permit applicant, or work permit applicant who needs to travel to Canada urgently, IRCC recommends following the instructions below:

China

Those who need a permanent resident travel document to come to Canada from China urgently due to exceptional circumstances can email the visa office in Beijing, China, (beijing-immigration@international.gc.ca) to request urgent processing. The application must be submitted to the visa office by courier.

If you need a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit to travel to Canada urgently:

  • Apply online at the government’s webpage
  • After applying, or if you have already applied, request the urgent processing of your application to the visa office in Beijing, China via email: beijing-immigration@international.gc.ca. Applications will be processed on a case-by-case basis.

Iran

Permanent residents coming from Iran who need their permanent resident travel document can submit a web form to IRCC.

The form will ask “Is your application being processed by an office outside Canada?” You must answer “Yes.”

It will then prompt you to “Choose the visa office processing your application” where you need to select “Turkey — Ankara.”

In exceptional circumstances where you need to travel to Canada urgently, email the Ankara, Turkey, visa office at ANKRA@international.gc.ca. The application will need to be submitted to the visa office by courier.

If you need a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit to travel to Canada urgently you need to apply online at the government’s webpage.

After you apply, fill out a web form and explain your situation and request urgent processing of your visa or permit application. In order to make sure it goes to the right office, IRCC recommends the following:

  • When asked “Is your application being processed by an office outside Canada” answer “No.”
  • Complete the rest of the form.

South Korea

Canadian permanent residents in South Korea who need a permanent resident document to travel to Canada must submit a web form.

The form will ask “Is your application being processed by an office outside Canada?” You must answer “Yes.”

It will then prompt you to “Choose the visa office processing your application” where you need to select “Philippines — Manila.”

In cases where you need to travel to Canada urgently due to exceptional circumstances, email the visa office in Manila, Philippines, at MANILIMMIGRATION@international.gc.ca. The application will need to be submitted to the visa office by courier.

If you need a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit to travel to Canada urgently you need to apply online at the government’s webpage.

After you apply, fill out a web form and explain your situation and request urgent processing of your visa or permit application. In order to make sure it goes to the right office, IRCC recommends the following:

  • When asked “Is your application being processed by an office outside Canada” answer “No.”
  • Complete the rest of the form.