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Canada To Address Inequities Affecting Immigrants Key To Economic Recovery

Canada will have to address inequities that have been exemplified by the COVID-19 crisis in order to make a full economic recovery, a new report says.

Immigrants, racialised persons, LGBTQ2S+ and women have bared the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the University of Toronto’s paper: “A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada.” The report shows how coronavirus has affected these groups and makes recommendations for Canadian policymakers to ensure a fast and equitable post-pandemic economy recovery.

“There was the focus on immigrants and migrants in the report because they play such a important role in what’s called the ‘essential economy,’ these jobs that are so important to keep our society running and yet federal government have not enacted policy that make sure they are protected,” said Carmina Ravanera.

Previous economic meltdowns have generally impacted goods-producing industrial sectors where men were more likely to be relieved of their jobs, the report says. COVID-19, however, has had great impact on women more than men in the number of infections and the number of deaths.

Women are mostly the frontline workers of the pandemic. About fifty-six (56) per cent of women workers are concentrated in occupations like healthcare, catering, cashiering, cleaning and clerical functions.

The coronavirus pandemic has also revealed how immigrant workers are essential to the economy, yet those working on farms and long-term care homes may be exposed to unsafe environment and unable to take sick days.

Supporting the care economy helps immigrants workers

Immigrant workers make up a large percentage of workers in long term care homes. A Quebec non-profit organization, Maison d’Haiti, estimate that about 1,000 asylum-seekers are working in the province’s health sector alone.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important immigrant workers are to the care economy, the report said. It also emphasized the importance of investing in social infrastructure and the care economy in supporting the overall economy.

Research from the U.K. predicts spending 1.9 per cent of GDP in care would create about two (2) million sustainable jobs, raise the employment rate by five (5) per cent and reduce the gender employment gap by four (4) per cent.

Other research has indicated that investing in care services results in direct returns for the federal government. In 2008, each $100 invested that the government of Quebec invested in childcare returned $104 to the provincial government and $43 to the government.

The report suggests that policymakers consult organizations that support immigrant worker caregivers in decision-making for pandemic recovery.

They also said to create an expedited pathway to permanent resident status for immigrant care workers, provide personal protective equipments, conduct rigorous inspections on working condition, and ensure they have access to income supports.

“We are just trying to emphasize as much as possible how crucial it is to focus on inequities in Canada when we are doing recovery policies,” Ravanera said. “If we don’t focus on these inequities inequities now then we are not going to be able to have a strong and robust economic recovery across the country.”