COVID-19 Immigration Effects – March 2023 update

Latest monthly update. Of particular interest, percentage of TR2PR of permanent resident admissions continues to remain around 60 percent for the first quarter. Two-step immigration as the norm.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – February 2023 update

Latest monthly update. Of particular interest, percentage of TR2PR of permanent resident admissions is over 60 percent in both January and February. Not sure whether this reflects a conscious decision to address housing availability and affordability concerns, given TRs already in Canada, or not.

Lightman and Akbary: New data provide insight into pandemic inequalities

Insightful analysis, contrasting vaccination rates (relatively similar) and health outcomes (disparities):

Existing analyses of COVID-19 in Canada and internationally suggest infection rates were highly variable across populations, with researchers highlighting the disproportionate burdenexperienced by groups that are intersectionally disadvantaged.

Early in the pandemic, widespread evidence emerged of the unequal rates of infection experienced by residents and care workers in long-term care homes in Canada. Soon after, racialized populations and immigrants were also found to be especially hard-hit. The COVID-19 mortality rate was significantly higher for racialized populations.

Our new research finds that while these individuals had higher rates of COVID-19 infection, they were equally or more likely to get vaccinated than comparison groups. This has important policy implications. Rather than focusing on individual decision-making, the data suggest a need to prioritize protections and pay for workers in essential jobs that are unpredictable, dangerous, physically demanding and/or low wage.

Overwhelming evidence shows that vaccines are an effective protective measure, both in terms of reducing infection ratesand severity of illness. Using the 2022 Statistics Canada dataset “Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians – Testing and Vaccination,” our analyses found that variable vaccination rates were not the reason behind differing rates of infection.

These data were collected as part of Statistics Canada’s crowdsourcing initiative which aimed to gather timely information on Canadians’ experiences of testing for COVID-19 and access to vaccination during the pandemic. Statistics Canada used open advertising to obtain participants who chose to self-select by completing an online questionnaire from February 21 to March 13, 2022.

For racialized minorities, 20 per cent tested positive, compared to 15 per cent for non-racialized minorities (outcomes were similar when comparing PCR to rapid test results). In particular, those who identified as Black and Filipino (populations that also have high rates of employment in care occupations and in service industries fared worst. Black populations experienced a one-third rate of positivity for rapid tests (see Figure 1).

Citizenship was also an important factor. Those without Canadian citizenship status (including temporary foreign workers) fared worse for both types of testing (at an average of 22 per cent positivity), compared to those immigrants with citizenship status and the Canadian-born. The latter fared by far the best, at 14 per cent positivity via PCR tests, and 17 per cent positivity via rapid tests (see Figure 2).

Women and men, interestingly, were found to have had similar rates of infection. However, those who identified as essential workers had higher rates of infection (see Figure 3), with women overrepresented among this population.

Yet the data on rates of vaccination tell a different story. This suggests that variable infection rates were tied to specific jobs or to systemic inequalities, rather than a function of individual choice.

There was only a marginal difference in vaccination rates between essential workers and non-essential workers. Racialized people and immigrants had higher rates of vaccination than non-racialized people and non-immigrants (see Figure 4).

Finally, the data reject explanations tied to access to health facilities. In the five cities in Canada with the highest rates of infection, residents had higher rates of access to at least one health facility and a pharmacy close to them (see Figure 5).

Together, this information suggests that COVID-19 infection rates were not related to personal decision-making or access to health services. Instead, it raises concerns about broader social responsibilities. Populations that are racialized and/or non-citizens and those doing essential jobs were infected at disproportionate rates, even as they took steps to get vaccinated.

Notably, the data do not provide information on time order, so it is plausible that those workers on the front lines reported positive cases prior to having access to the vaccine. This raises further questions about which occupations and which areas of each city were prioritized for personal protective equipment and early access to vaccination, while refuting suggestions of a lack of awareness or interest in vaccination by underserved communities.

As well, the data do not indicate the severity of illness. Thus, the analyses may tell a story of lives saved due to vaccination for populations that were at greater risk of infection due to their workplace conditions.

In terms of policy, this suggests that there is an urgent need to focus on improving working conditions for essential workers. This includes providing paid sick leave and job guarantees for those who take time off work to care for themselves or others. Staffing levels and accommodations to work from home for those who are sick (when possible) should be ensured. Accommodations to reduce workplace injuries and increase mental health supports must be made available. Providing safe transportation to and from work facilities as well as paid time to travel to get vaccinated should be a policy initiative. Finally, emergency housing for self-isolation when needed and access to child and elder care, as well as affordable housing for those with lower socioeconomic status, should also be top priority.

Perhaps most critically, wages must be raised for workers who are systematically at higher risk of infection due to the face-to-face nature of their employment (while also structuring workplaces to avoid dangerous work conditions where possible.) This would at least partially compensate for increased rates of infection within certain jobs and recognize the toll it takes on individuals, families and communities.

All this reinforces a structural rather than individual analysis of disease burdens and public health measures. Clearly, getting vaccinated is not the end of the story. Ongoing social responsibility is needed to protect vulnerable groups – whether this takes the form of masking, work-from-home measures, or other workplace accommodations.

The implications of the pandemic are nowhere near over. There must be a move beyond rhetoric of “gratitude” to essential workers; instead, governments and employers must implement better policies and pay. These policies must be evidence-based so Canadians have an accurate understanding about the pandemic and its effects.

Given the emerging information about the potentially long-term implications of COVID-19, these measures take on added urgency for groups such as children, people with disabilities and intersectionally disadvantaged populations.

A note about methodology

Statistics Canada started the crowdsourcing initiative as part of a data collection series to address the informational needs of Canadians and enhance their understanding related to the impact of COVID-19. According to an evaluation report, Statistics Canada’s crowdsourcing products have proven to be useful for briefing purposes, policy research and analysis, program and service planning and decision-making, as well as knowledge-production and modeling. Statistics Canada uses a number of measures to ensure the quality of data collected through the crowdsourcing initiative. First, the questionnaires are designed based on Statistics Canada’s standard practices and wording used in a computer-assisted interviewing environment. During data collection, a computer application is used to automatically control the flow of questions, depending on participant responses, and to check for logical inconsistencies and errors in participant responses. The computer application used for these purposes is tested extensively. After data have been collected, Statistics Canada maximizes the quality of crowdsourced data through error detection of invalid or missing values for age, gender and postal code at micro levels. Furthermore, Statistics Canada compensates for overrepresentation and underrepresentation by calculating a benchmark factor for every participant based on demographic projections of the number of people by province and territory, sex and age group. As recommended by Statistics Canada, therefore, the authors of this article used the benchmark factor to produce their results in the same way that survey weights are used to produce estimates from non-crowdsourced data.

Source: Lightman and Akbary: New data provide insight into pandemic inequalities

Immigration-related programs monthly update: January 2023

The government continues to struggle to make progress on backlogs as the percentage failing to meet service standards has deteriorated slightly: temporary residence 53 percent, permanent residence 56 percent and citizenship 27 percent. The backlog of visitor visas remains high at 70 percent (January 31 data).

Most  programs show a seasonal increase following the Christmas holiday slowdown with the exception of students, asylum claimants (but irregular arrivals continued to increase) and visitor visas.

Of particular note is the dramatic increase in TR2PR transitions; after trending downwards in 2022, the number increased six-fold, accounting for more than 60 percent of all PRs.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – December 2022 update

Full-year data for 2022 across the suite of immigration programs.

The government continues to make progress on backlogs although the percentage failing to meet service standards has largely not improved: temporary residence 45 percent, permanent residence 48 percent and citizenship 28 percent. The backlog of visitor visas, highlighted in recent media articles, remains high at 70 percent (Dec 31 data).

All programs show a seasonal decrease in December except where noted.

PRs: 435,000 in 2022 compared to 404,000 in 2021. Drop in TR2PR transitions, from 279,000 in 2021 to 177,000 in 2022. Quebec 69,000 in 2022, compared to 50,000 in 2021 (despite public debates).

TRs/IMP: 494,000 in 2022 compared to 326,000 in 2021.

TRs/TFWP: 137,000 in 2022 compared to 106,000 in 2021.

Students: December end-of-year increase. 576,000 in 2022 compared to 469,000 in 2021.

Asylum claimants: Increased in December compared to November. 92,000 in 2022 compared to 25,000 in 2021. I have added a slide on “irregular arrivals” and their percentage of total asylum claimants.

Settlement Services (July): Decrease compared to June. YTD 1,031,000, 2021 same period 918,000.

Citizenship: 369,000 in 2022 compared to 137,000 in 2021.

Visitor Visas. Stable compared to November. 1,238,000 in 2022 compared to 236,000 in 2021.

Angus-Reid: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy

Of note. 13 percent call the policy racist, perhaps an indicator of the more activist and woke portion of the population (my understanding of the testing requirement is that it is partly due to the unavailability of credible Chinese government data):

China abandoning its COVID zero strategy has caused a ripple of concern around the globe as the world’s second-most populous country faces an unprecedented wave of infections affecting as many as four-in-five people.

In response to rising cases in China, Canada, alongside other countries, set a new requirement this month that travellers form China must produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to takeoff.

Data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a majority of Canadians supportive of this policy, but unsure if it will be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in their country. Indeed, Canadians who support the policy (77%) outnumber those who are opposed (16%) by nearly five-to-one.

However, those who believe the policy will be effective at reducing COVID-19 infections in Canada (34%) are in the minority. More Canadians believe it will be ineffective (38%) or are unsure (28%). And even among Canadians who support the policy, fewer than half (44%) say they believe it will be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are other concerns with this policy. Some, including the Chinese government, have called it “discriminatory”. Others have gone further and called it “racist”. The pandemic has produced plenty of negative side effects, including discrimination and racism experienced by Canadians of Chinese descent. Some worry this new policy of testing travellers from China will rekindle those ugly sentiments. 

One-in-eight (13%) Canadians call the policy racist. However, more (73%) believe it’s not. Canadians who identify as visible minorities are twice as likely to label the policy racist (23%) than those who don’t identify as such (10%). Still, majorities of those who identify as visible minority (62%) and those who don’t (76%) say the policy is not racist.

More Key Findings:

  • Nearly all (94%) of those who oppose the COVID-19 testing policy for travellers from China believe it won’t be effective at reducing the spread of the virus in Canada.
  • One-in-five (19%) Canadians say they are not travelling at all because they are worried about COVID-19. A further 33 per cent say they have approached their recent travel with caution. Two-in-five (41%) are less worried about the risk of COVID-19 when it comes to travel.
  • Two-in-five (37%) of those who have not travelled at all outside of their province since March 2022 say they aren’t travelling because they worry about catching COVID-19.

Source: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – November 2022 update

The government continues to make progress on backlogs but the significant still not meeting service standards: temporary residence 44 percent, permanent residence 45 percent, citizenship 72 percent, visitor visas 70 percent in backlog (November 30 data).

PRs: Decrease compared to October. YTD 412,000,  2021 same period 360,000. Of note, an ongoing and dramatic drop in TR2PR transitions, from 251,000 in 2021 to 172,000 in 2022 YTD. Quebec YTD 63,000, 2021 same period 44,000 (despite public debates).

TRs/IMP: Flat compared to October. YTD 446,000, 2021 same period, 305,000.

TRs/TFWP: Slight decrease compared to October. YTD 133,000, 2021 same period 105,000.

Students: Flat compared to October. YTD 479,000, 2021 same period 415,000.

Asylum claimants: Small increase compared to October. YTD 80,000, 2021 same period 19,000.

Settlement Services (July): Decrease compared to June. YTD 1,031,000, 2021 same period 918,000.

Citizenship: Increase compared to October. YTD 347,000, 2021 same period 115,000.

Visitor Visas. Increase compared to October. YTD 1,097,000, 2021 same period 194,000.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – October 2022 update

The government continues to make progress on backlogs but the significant not-meeting service standards: temporary residence 60 percent, permanent residence 54 percent, citizenship 30 percent, visitor visas 55 percent in backlog.

PRs: Decrease compared to September. YTD 386,000,  2021 same period 313,000. Of note, an ongoing and dramatic drop in TR2PR transitions.

TRs/IMP: Stable compared to September. YTD 393,000, 2021 same period, 282,000.

TRs/TFWP: Slight decrease compared to September. YTD 123,000, 2021 same period 100,000.

Students: Large seasonal decrease compared to September. YTD 456,000, 2021 same period 394,000.

Asylum claimants: Small increase compared to September. YTD 70,000, 2021 same period 15,000.

Settlement Services (July): Decrease compared to June. YTD 1,031,000, 2021 same period 918,000.

Citizenship: Slight increase compared to September. YTD 311,000, 2021 same period 88,000.

Visitor Visas. Increase compared to September. YTD 959,000, 2021 same period 144,000.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – August 2022 update

NEW DATA on Settlement Services, showing an overall decline compared to the pre-pandemic with only partial recovery. Afghanistan and Ukraine have shown the greatest increase given the number of refugees from those two countries. Pre-arrival information and orientation, language assessment and resettlement assistance have increased the most.

While the government has made some progress in reducing backlogs with respect to temporary residents and citizenship, it has not made progress with respect to Permanent Residents.

PRs: Decline compared to July. YTD 308,000,  2021 same period 222,000.

TRs/IMP: Increase compared to July. YTD 280,000, 2021 same period, 228,000.

TRs/TFWP: Slight decrease compared to July. YTD 100,000, 2021 same period 90,000.

Students: Large seasonal increase compared to July (may reflect processing issues). YTD 366,000, 2021 same period 295,000.

Asylum claimants: Stable. YTD 53,000, 2021 same period 10,000.

Settlement Services (July): Decrease compared to June. YTD 1,031,000, 2021 same period 918,000.

Citizenship: Increase compared to July. YTD 248,000, 2021 same period 55,000.

Visitor Visas. Increase compared to July. YTD 752,000, 2021 same period 67,000.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – July 2022 update

A few changes to the standard deck of note. Monthly update delayed slightly given citizenship data delays.

I have removed the separate slide on Provincial Nominee Program admissions given that the admissions chart separates the economic class by federal and Provincial Nominee Program (can send those interested the data tables).

Given the large numbers of temporary residents, I have added charts (slides 27 and 30) comparing the changes by province for both IMP and TFWP, year-over-year, 2022 compared to 2020, and 2021 compared to 2018. With respect to the 2021 compared to 2018, the most notable increases have been in Atlantic Canada and Ontario for IMP, and Quebec and Atlantic Canada for TFWP.

These numbers are in the context of remaining high levels of processing backlogs for the vast majority of IRCC programs although some progress is being made.

July Permanent Residents admissions continue at over 40,000 per month with the greatest year-over-year increases for Provincial Nominee Program and refugees.

TR2PR transitions declined slightly compared to June, roughly accounting for 40 percent of all admissions (some double counting).

The greatest increase since 2020 for TRs/IMP continues to be with respect to Canadian Interests for for TRs/TFWP with respect to permits requiring a LMIA.

While International student permits have largely returned to seasonal patterns, the number of applications has increased the most compared to 2020.

The number of new citizens slightly declined to less than 30,000.

The number of visitor visas declined with once again, Ukrainians forming one-third of visas issued.