The Differential Impact of COVID-19 on Labour Market Outcomes of Immigrants in Canada

Another study on the differential impact of COVID on immigrants, recent and long-term, highlighting, as expected recent immigrants were most affected, followed by established immigrants. Conclusion below:

Our results indicate that the pandemic has had an obvious large adverse effect on a wide range of labour market outcomes for all workers in Canada. The adverse effects, however, have been particularly large for recent immigrants relative to the domestic-born as they experienced a disproportionately lower probability of being employed and of holding a full-time job, a higher probability of having only temporary work and substantially more unpaid overtime. When these disproportionate adverse effects for recent immigrants are added to the overall adverse effects for all workers, the magnitudes of the total adverse effects of the pandemic for immigrants are extremely large. The same applies to established immigrants. In essence, the overall workforce experienced substantial adverse effects of the pandemic, but those adverse effects were disproportionately large for recent and established immigrants.

Most of the effects of the pandemic were concentrated in the initial first wave as the shutdowns and social distancing forced consumers, employers, and workers to adjust immediately; however, recent immigrants continued to experience disproportionately negative labour market outcomes in later waves. Heterogeneous effects were also documented with greater adverse effects for recent immigrants relative to domestic-born who are women, who have child responsibilities and who are the less educated. Of particular note, recent immigrants working in occupations with greater exposure to COVID-risk reported increased employment and substantially more unpaid overtime than domestic-born during the pandemic.

The pandemic generally had different effects across the quantiles of the distribution of the outcomes for recent immigrants, relative to the domestic-born, with the differential adverse effects tending to be concentrated at the bottom of the outcome distributions. Although recent immigrants gain a small positive wage premium relative to the domestic-born at the bottom of the wage distribution, the benefits of this may be illusory if it reflects wage bonuses for COVID risks or low-wage workers more likely not to be employed. Recent immigrants at the bottom of the outcome distributions reported fewer weekly hours worked, fewer hours worked relative to scheduled hours, and more unpaid overtime than domestic-born workers. The hours differences could exacerbate inequality in hours worked between immigrants and the domestic-born for those working in precarious arrangement (i.e., few hours, large scheduling uncertainty, and more unpaid overtime hours).

While hazardous to suggest policy implications from such an unanticipated and still unfolding event as the pandemic, a number of policy considerations merit attention. The disproportionate adverse effect of the pandemic on more vulnerable disadvantaged recent immigrants (e.g., women, less educated, low-wage, those with childcare responsibilities and high exposure to COVID risk) should be recognized, and targeted rather than applying “one-size fits all” initiatives.8 Koebel et al. (2021), for example, argue that a basic income guarantee targeted toward low-income workers, in combination with Canada’s pre-existing Employment Insurance program, would have produced better employment and public health outcomes than the less targeted combination of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that were used. Qian and Fuller (2020) emphasise the importance of enhanced child-care arrangements given the disproportionate adverse effect on women with child-care responsibilities.

Immigrants tend to face barriers in having their foreign credentials recognized and in acquiring occupational licenses and the associated wage gains that are disproportionately large for them (Gomez et al. 2015). Removing such barriers and relaxing occupational licensing restrictions can be a targeted initiative for immigrants (Gomez et al. 2015). The fact that the adverse effects tended to occur early in the pandemic highlights the importance of early intervention and having a playbook in place to facilitate an early response. Elements of a playbook for labour policy include: having a first-responder labour policy team in place; determining early the novel versus permanent nature of the shock; acting quickly but flexibly to make mid-course corrections if necessary; keeping people in their existing jobs to preserve firm-specific human capital; balancing active labour market policy versus passive income support; co-ordinating with other departments and jurisdictions; anticipating conflicts; and planning for the recovery with an exit strategy (Gunderson 2020). Lessons from this pandemic as well as previous shocks can be invaluable for preparing for future shocks.

Source: The Differential Impact of COVID-19 on Labour Market Outcomes of Immigrants in Canada

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – June 2022 update

My latest monthly update.

June numbers reflect a gradual but uneven opening across the suite of immigration-related programs compared to April and May.

The number of TR2PR transitions increased slightly compared to May but remained significantly below the latter half of 2021, again suggesting a decreased “inventory” and/or a conscious government decision to redress the balance and address backlogs.

While TRs/TFWP remained largely stable compared to May, the number of TRs/IMP climbed dramatically for Canadian Interests and the frustrating unclear categories of “other IMP participants” and “not stated.”

International students, applications and permits, continue to reflect normal seasonal patterns.

While last month, I thought that citizenship looked on track to continue whittling away at the backlog of close 400,000 (as if July 4), this appears unlikely at IRCC has been averaging about 30,000 per month in 2022.

The number of Ukrainians arriving in Canada, mainly under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel remains significant, but has declined to only about one-third of all visitor visas in June compared to one-half in April and May, while overall numbers have declined somewhat and remain below pre-pandemic levels.

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Canadians are seeking asylum in US due to Trudeau’s Covid policies

Funny and sad that some think they can apply for asylum in the USA given COVID-related restrictions. At least the lawyer involved is reasonable honest about the likelihood of success (while pocketing his fees). “True” North is not exactly innocent in promoting such beliefs:

Buffalo immigration lawyer Matthew Kolken has filed asylum applications for at least half a dozen Canadians who hope to flee the country permanently due to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pandemic policies. 

In an exclusive interview with True North, Kolken, who is a former director of the Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, explained that his clients fear being persecuted for being unvaccinated should they return to Canada.

“If you just don’t want to go back to Canada, you actually need to fear that you will be the victim of targeted persecution by the Government of Canada or by groups within the country that the government either can’t or won’t protect you from,” said Kolken. 

“(The application) says they’ve either expressed some sort of political speech or a member of a particular social group like unvaccinated individuals that have faced persecution before either through seizing of bank accounts, or loss of employment, or forced quarantines, things of that nature.”

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, those seeking asylum must apply within one year of arriving in the country. Groundsfor seeking asylum include suffering persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. 

An application filed by Kolken in January for one client cited the Liberal government’s crackdown on the Freedom Convoy in February. To deal with the situation, Trudeau took the unprecedented step of invoking the Emergencies Act which enabled the government to freeze the bank accounts of protesters.

Kolken stated that his clients were also “scared to death” of being singled out by the Trudeau government for speaking out against vaccine mandates or have their employment opportunities limited. 

“They’re scared to death that if they go back to Canada they will be singled out and isolated by the Government of Canada, they will be unable to travel,” said Kolken.

“They’re afraid they wouldn’t get onto a plane in Canada and they will be trapped within their own country and that their abilities to obtain employment are limited there.”

Although the Liberals lifted travel mandates which prohibited unvaccinated Canadians from boarding a plane and train domestically or abroad, public health officials have not ruled out re-introducing restrictions in the future. 

“[If] COVID-19 takes a turn for the worst and we need to readjust and go back to a different regime, maybe similar to what we might have had before, we’re ready to do that,” said Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo in June. “We have no idea what the long term success rate is but I counsel my clients over the phone, the applications that clearly are justifiable under the law and regulations. They set forth a bonafide non-frivolous case.”

He also warned those seeking asylum that the Safe Third Country Agreement which dictates asylum applications between Canada and the US could be used against them. 

“The Safe Third Country Agreement cannot differentiate either country’s treaty obligations to accept asylees from one of the two contracting countries. You can’t say that because of the Safe Third Country Agreement that nobody who is a Canadian citizen can’t apply for asylum in the United States.”

Source: Canadians are seeking asylum in US due to Trudeau’s Covid policies

StatsCan Study: The religiosity of Canadians and the COVID-19 pandemic

Of interest, both the overall trend and the differences between different religious groups. Can’t wait for the October release and opportunities for deeper analysis:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on many aspects of Canadian life, including religion. In particular, the risks associated with the virus, as well as physical distancing measures, have limited access to places of worship. Many religious organizations have offered the option to attend religious services online. Although the pandemic has made group worship difficult, some surveys conducted by private firms have suggested that it has led to an increase in prayer or a strengthening of faith.

Using data from several cycles of the General Social Survey, a new study released today examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the religiosity of Canadians. Specifically, it analyzes changes in rates of religious affiliation, frequency of participation in religious activities on a group or individual basis, and involvement with religious organizations from 2015 to 2020.

The study found a decrease in group religious participation from 2019 (pre-pandemic) to 2020 (start of the pandemic). In the general population, the percentage of people who participated in a religious group activity in the previous year fell from 47% in 2019 to 40% in 2020.

The study also found that the impact of the pandemic on participation in religious group activities was greater for some religious groups. For example, the proportion of people who had participated in a religious group activity in the previous year fell more sharply than average among Buddhists (from 74% in 2019 to 50% in 2020) and Muslims (from 71% to 57%). This proportion fell from 60% to 53% among Christian-affiliated groups, from 75% to 67% among Jewish people, and from 78% to 70% among Hindus.

Finally, the data revealed that, overall, the pandemic had no measurable effect on the frequency of individual religious or spiritual activities (e.g., prayer, meditation, etc.). Similarly, it did not appear to have affected self-reported religious affiliation.

On October 26, new data from the 2021 Census will provide a more detailed picture of the diversity of religious affiliation groups in Canada and of the people that form them.

Source: Study: The religiosity of Canadians and the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – May 2022 update

My latest monthly update.

May numbers are similar to April as the first months of the pandemic resulted in drastic shutdowns and reductions across the suite of immigration-related programs.

The number of TR2PR transitions continued to decline. While in 2021, these transitions (some double counting) averaged about 68 percent of all Permanent Residents admissions, in 2022 this share had dropped to about 51 percent, suggesting a decreased “inventory” and/or a conscious government decision too redress the balance and address backlogs.

Temporary residents (IMP and TFWP) continued reflected an ongoing return to pre-pandemic levels along with the seasonal changes in agriculture workers. The number of not-stated IMP has increased, from forming about 9 percent of all IMP in 2021 to about 23 percent in 2022, possibly reflecting coding issues.

International students, applications and permits, reflect normal seasonal patterns. As noted, given the number of media and other reports regarding private colleges being used more for immigration than study purposes (and related exploitation), IRCC needs to consider seriously disaggregating post-secondary study permits data to separate out public and private sector institutions.

Citizenship looks on track to continue whittling away at the backlog of about 400,000 (as if June 1st).

The number of Ukrainians arriving in Canada, mainly under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel remains significant, comprising half of all visitor visas in April and May.

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – April 2022 update

My latest monthly update.

April 2022 is the two-year first full month comparison. As a result, the changes are particularly dramatic given the full impact of travel restrictions such as the shut-down of citizenship, the virtual shutdown of visas and the impact on permanent resident arrivals and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The number of Permanent Residents admissions declined slightly in April, as did the number of TR2PR transitions, the latter continuing a trend since December 2021, suggesting that the “transition pool” may be drying up.

Temporary foreign workers, both IMP and the TFWP also increased, the former returning to pre-pandemic levels, the latter showing both the seasonal increase in agriculture workers as well an increase compared to pre-pandemic levels for workers with a LMIA, suggesting an impact of labour shortages.

The number of students continues to increase, well beyond pre-pandemic levels. Students from India comprise more than 40 percent of all study permits. This reflects in part that many of these students, particularly at private colleges, using study as an immigration pathway. Unfortunately, IRCC data for post-secondary studies is not broken down by type of institution.

While citizenship dipped in April compared to March, it is too soon to tell whether this is a blip or a sign of operational difficulties.

The number of Ukrainians arriving in Canada, mainly under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel continued to increase, more than tripling from March to almost 68,000.

The U.S. Failed Miserably on COVID-19. Canada Shows It Didn’t Have to Be That Way

Not to be smug, as USA provides too easy a benchmark. Better comparison is with Europe, where we are slightly better in terms of infection and death rates. Hard to see how even an enquiry will address the deeply divided public opinion and Republican denialism of science, evidence and susceptibility to mis- and disinformation:

646,970 lives.

This is the number of Americans who would be alive today if the United States had the same per capita death rate from COVID-19 as our northern neighbor, Canada.

Reflect for a moment on the sheer magnitude of the lives lost. 646,970 is more than the entire population of Detroit. And it is more than the total number of American lives lost in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam combined.

No country is more similar to the U.S. than Canada, whose economy and culture are closely intertwined with our own. Yet faced with a life-threatening pandemic of historic proportions, Canada showed far greater success in protecting the lives of its people than the U.S. How are we to understand Canada’s superior performance and the disastrous performance of our own country, which has the highest per capita death rate (3023 per one million, compared to Canada’s 1071) of any wealthy democratic country?
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In comparing the two countries, the starting point must be the different response at the highest levels of government. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in March 2020, “I’m going to make sure that we continue to follow all the recommendations of public health officers particularly around stay-at-home whenever possible and self-isolation and social distancing”. This message was reinforced by Dr. Teresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, who in March delivered a message urging solidarity, declaring “We need to act now, and act together.”

In the U.S., President Trump in striking contrast declared that he would not be wearing a mask, saying “I don’t think I will be doing it…I just don’t see it”. And instead of reinforcing the messages of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other leading public health officials, Trump actively undermined them, declaring in reference to stay-at-home orders in some states, “I think elements of what they’ve done are just too tough.” Not content with undercutting his top public health advisers, President Trump further undermined public confidence in science by suggesting “cures” for COVID-19, including at one point ingesting bleach and taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that research confirmed had no efficacy as a COVD-19 treatment.

These divergent responses at the national level were to shape responses at the state and provincial level of the U.S. and Canada, respectively, as well as the response of the public. By the beginning of July 2020, the impact of these divergent responses was already visible, with Canada’s death rate just 60 percent of the American rate. As Canada’s more stringent public health measures—which included larger and stricter stay-at-home orders, closure of restaurants, gyms, and other businesses, curfews, and limits on public gatherings—took effect, the gap between the two countries widened even more. By October 2020, the per capita death rate in Canada had dropped to just 40 percent of the rate in the U.S.

It is tempting to blame America’s disastrous response to COVID-19 on Trump, and there is no question that he bungled the situation. But the pandemic revealed deep fault lines in America’s institutions and culture that would have made effective responses difficult no matter who was in the White House. Had Barack Obama, for example, been in office when COVID-19 arrived, he, too, would have faced the country without a national health care system, one with deep distrust of government, exceptionally high levels of poverty and inequality, sharp racial divisions, a polarized polity, and a culture with a powerful strand of libertarianism at odds with the individual sacrifices necessary for the collective good.

The differences between the U.S. and Canada became even more starkly visible on the issue of vaccines. The U.S., which had purchased a massive supply of vaccines in advance, was initially far ahead, with 21 percent of Americans and only 2 percent of Canadians vaccinated by April 1, 2021. The U.S. was still ahead in July, but by October 1, 74 percent of Canadians were fully vaccinated, compared to just 58 percent of Americans. Part of the difference no doubt resides in the superior access provided by Canada’s system of universal, publicly funded healthcare. But equally, if not more important, is the far greater trust Canadians have in their national government: 73 percent versus 50 percent in the U.S. Coupled with greater vaccine resistance in the U.S., the net result is a vast gap in the proportion of the population that is not fully vaccinated: 32 percent in the U.S., but 13 percent in Canada.

Also implicated in the far higher COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. is the simple fact that Americans are less healthy than Canadians. Lacking a system of universal healthcare and plagued by unusually high levels of class and racial inequality, Americans are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions associated with death from COVID. Americans have an obesity rate of 42 percent versus 27 percent for Canadians and a diabetes rate of 9.4 percent versus 7.3 percent for Canadians. Overall, the health of Canadians is superior and they live longer lives, with an average life expectancy of 82.2 years compared to 78.3 years in the U.S.

Exacerbating these differences in health are the deep cultural differences between the two countries. More than three decades ago, the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset noted in Continental Divide that the ideologies of anti-statism and individualism were far more resonant in the U.S. than in Canada. For the many Americans influenced by the powerful libertarian strand in American culture and by its elaborate right-wing media apparatus, masks were a violation of freedom and vaccines a form of tyranny. Canada, which produced a trucker convoy that shut down the nation’s capital, is not immune to such sentiments. But they were far more pervasive in the U.S. and led to a degree of non-compliance with the government and public health officials that had no parallel in Canada; to take but one example, the percent of Canadians wearing masks in January 2022 when the Omicron variant was at its height was 80 percent compared to just 50 percent in the U.S.

Following a national disaster of this magnitude, there must be a serious inquiry into what happened and how it might be prevented or mitigated in the future. This is what the nation did after the attack on September 11, forming a Commission that issued a major report within two years of its formation. Surely a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than one million Americans warrants a report of at least equal seriousness. But in the current atmosphere of intense political partisanship, it might be better if such an investigation were conducted by a nongovernmental entity composed of distinguished citizens and experts, or by a non-political body such as the National Academy of Sciences. But whatever form such a commission might take, it must address a pressing question: why so many countries, including Canada, proved so much more effective in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We could—and should—learn from their experiences, so that the U.S. does better when the next pandemic arrives.

Source: The U.S. Failed Miserably on COVID-19. Canada Shows It Didn’t Have to Be That Way

COVID-19 Immigration Effects – March 2022 update

My latest monthly update.

March 2022 marks two-years since the COVID measures and lockdowns began. As a result, the two-year comparisons become more striking.

The government’s not wishing the “crisis to go to waste” by increasing immigration levels by about one-third compared to pre-pandemic 2019 continues, with just over 40,000 admissions in March, across all categories. However, there is a declining trend of temporary residents transitioning to permanent residents, suggesting an “inventory” decline.

The planting season can be seen in the increase of Temporary Foreign Workers in the agriculture sector, both in terms of the regular seasonal patterns as well as the COVID disruption in March 2020.

The citizenship program continues to increase the number of new citizens and thus starting to reduce backlogs or at least move to restoring normal processing times.

The introduction of streams for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion is seen in the dramatic jump in visas issued to Ukrainians, mainly under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel, from a pre-pandemic average of 648 per month in 2019 to 21,465 March 2022. 

Governments have undercounted the COVID-19 death toll by millions, the WHO says

Similar analysis to that of The Economist. Biggest surprise to me is the inclusion of the USA in the top 10 – but perhaps I shouldn’t be:

The COVID-19 pandemic directly or indirectly caused 14.9 million deaths in 2020 and 2021, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, in its newest attempt to quantify the outbreak’s terrible toll.

That’s around 2.7 times more than the 5.42 million COVID-19 deaths the WHO says were previously reported through official channels in the same 2-year period.

Here’s a rundown of four main points in WHO’s report:

Overall, deaths are far higher than those in official reports

In its tally, WHO aims to quantify “excess mortality,” accounting for people who lost their lives either directly, because of contracting COVID-19, or indirectly, because they weren’t able to get treatment or preventive care for other health conditions. The figure also takes into account the deaths that analysts say were prevented because of the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects, such as curtailing traffic and travel.

The pandemic’s current reported death toll is 6.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker.

India is seen suffering a much deeper loss than reported — a finding that India disputes

In some cases, WHO’s figures depict a shockingly wide gulf between official figures and its experts’ findings. That’s particularly true for India, where WHO says millions more people died because of the pandemic than has been officially reported.

India reported 481,000 COVID-19 deaths in 2020 and 2021. But William Msemburi, technical officer for WHO’s department of data and analytics, said on Thursday that the toll is vastly higher, with 4.74 million deaths either directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic — although Msemburi said that figure has a wide “uncertainty interval,” ranging from as low as 3.3 million to as high as 6.5 million.

The data behind the staggering figures promise to expand the understanding of the pandemic’s true effects. But the findings are also a flashpoint in debates over how to account for unreported coronavirus deaths. India, for instance, is rejecting WHO’s findings.

India “strongly objects to use of mathematical models for projecting excess mortality estimates,” the country’s health ministry said on Thursday, insisting that WHO should instead rely on “authentic data” it has provided.

10 countries accounted for a large share of deaths

Deaths were not evenly distributed around the world. The WHO says about 84% of the excess deaths were concentrated in three regions: Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.

And about 68% of the excess deaths were identified in just 10 countries. WHO listed them in alphabetical order: Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

Overall, WHO found the number of excess deaths was much closer to reported COVID-19 deaths in high-income countries than in lower income countries.

Many countries still lack reliable health statistics

The WHO says it relied on statistical models to derive its estimates, looking to fill in gaps in official data.

“Prior to the pandemic, we estimate that 6 out of every 10 deaths were unregistered” worldwide, said Stephen MacFeely, director of WHO’s department of data and analytics. “In fact, more than 70 countries do not produce any cause of death statistics. In the 21st century, this is a shocking statistic.”

By creating its report on excess mortality, WHO is pursuing several goals, such as urging governments to improve their health-care interventions for vulnerable populations and to adopt more rigorous and transparent reporting standards.

“Knowing how many people died due to the pandemic will help us to be better prepared for the next,” said Samira Asma, WHO’s assistant director-general for data and analytics.

Source: Governments have undercounted the COVID-19 death toll by millions, the WHO says

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 4 May Update and end of this series

As this note from the Globe notes:

“Due to changes in the prevalence of testing, case counts alone are no longer a reliable indicator of the spread of COVID-19. In part due to this, recovery data is no longer available from all provinces and territories. Some provinces have also shifted to weekly or irregular updates, which impacts the timeliness of data shown below.With some provinces and countries no longer reporting on the number of infections, comparisons between provinces and countries on the omicron variant are imprecise.”

In addition, the data from many of the countries surveyed has remained largely static over the past month, with some revisions downwards. This data has served its purpose in in helping me analyze the effect of COVID on immigration (see my How the government used the pandemic to sharply increase immigration).

One other note, visiting Switzerland, Holland and Germany to visit friends and family, it was striking the differences in COVID restrictions, with Holland the most relaxed (no required masking on planes and transit) and Germany the most strict. Nice to have a sense of normality but disconcerting at the same time (we wore our masks).

Vaccinations: Ongoing minor shifts and convergence among provinces and countries with plateauing of overall vaccination rates. Canadians fully vaccinated 81.8 percent, compared to Japan 80.2 percent, UK 73.2 percent and USA 66.6 percent.

Immigration source countries: China fully vaccinated 88.3 percent, India 61.8 percent, Nigeria 6.5 percent, Pakistan 55 percent, Philippines 61.7 percent.

Trendline Charts:

Infections: As noted, variations in reporting make comparisons difficult. Steep increase in Atlantic Canada may reflect more consistent reporting.

Deaths: No relative changes.

Vaccinations: Minor changes. All provinces have stalled in vaccinations, Saskatchewan reporting gaps account for Prairie fluctuations.

Weekly

Infections: Italy ahead of New York, Australia ahead of California, Atlantic Canada ahead of Canada less Quebec, China ahead of Nigeria. 

Deaths: No relative change.