Displacement crises are unfolding across Latin America as people cross borders to seek safety from oppression, violence and environmental disaster. The number of Venezuelans alone who have fled their homes is approaching the scale of displacement caused by the war in Syria. They and others from across Central America are in neighbouring countries, often without work and decent living conditions, or making dangerous onward journeys. More than one million people are expected to seek safety at the American border this year.
A significant Canadian contribution to this continent’s humanitarian emergency can be further opening skilled visas to talented applicants in displacement.
A policy brief released today co-authored by Craig Damian Smith, a senior research associate with the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration program at Ryerson University, and I outline a clear and actionable set of policies to support displaced talent in Latin America. The policy brief is the first in a new series launched by the CERC in Migration and Integration.
We explain how “Canada’s economic pathways could provide new routes to safety and permanence for refugees in Latin America, enabling them to fill chronic skills shortages across the economy including in lower-wage sectors.”
Recommendations include modifying the “ability to leave” requirement in temporary work permits to enable refugees to access this swift mode of entry and with it, a broader range of jobs and visa pathways; and creating additional permanent residence pathways to fill lower-wage jobs in sectors and locations facing chronic skills shortages, such as agriculture and personal support work in populous provinces.
The recommendations would require just modest policy change and funding. By taking these steps, “Canada can show its commitment to responsibility-sharing in the region by pioneering open economic pathways to refugees, in a clear signal that the global talent pool includes millions of people displaced in the Americas.”