Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced its intent to provide an additional $5.8 million in support for 10 projects under the Racialized Women Newcomers Pilot Program. The announcement was made in Halifax on December 9 as part of a 16-day awareness campaign about ending gender-based violence against women.
The Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot Program started in 2018, then called the Visible Minority Newcomer Women at Work Program, with the intent of helping newcomer women overcome barriers to finding employment. When it was established, the program committed $31.9 million over three years to support employment and career advancement for racialized newcomer women. Budget 2021 included $15 million in funding over the following two years.
“Racialized newcomer women face significant challenges in entering the workforce,” said immigration minister Sean Fraser. “This isn’t just about getting women jobs, it’s also about providing a sense of dignity and belonging. This support is integrated within the work the Government of Canada is doing to prevent and end gender-based violence by ensuring that gender equality is supported across all sectors. Canada’s gender equality is for all women.”
The need for these initiatives was brought more prominently into the light throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a disproportionate impact on newcomers, particularly women, as they were frequently working in positions within retail or grocery stores. Overall, recent immigrants to Canada have a higher rate of employment within the food, hospitality, and accommodation sectors, which took the brunt of the impact during lockdowns
Additionally, Labour Force Survey data from January to June 2021 shows that a significant unemployment gap persists between recent immigrant women and Canadian-born women (15.2% vs. 8.0%).
Newcomer women are also more likely to hold part-time positions. A Statistics Canada study shows that 66% of immigrant women who are married or in common law relationships are likely to work fulltime, compared to 70% of Canadian-born women.
In 2019-2020, more than 2,500 clients participated in activities related to the Pilot. The majority of participants were of core working age (between the ages of 25 and 54) and recent immigrants (those who have lived in Canada for less than five years).
The current projects, run by independent organizations throughout Canada, are geared towards providing newcomer women with language skills, connecting them with employers and teaching them other soft skills that can be beneficial in finding employment.
There is also one project that works with newcomer women with IT and technical skills that will assist them in gaining the necessary credential recognition to successfully find employment in Canada.
The latest announcement also includes funding for programs aimed at ending gender-based violence toward newcomer women. Specifically, the Gender-Based Violence Settlement Sector Strategy project was created.
This project is a partnership between the settlement and anti-violence sectors that works on gender-based violence prevention by facilitating more action, awareness, and multi-sectoral collaboration. Funding will go toward capacity building among frontline settlement sector workers who respond to gender-based violence situations.
IRCC says the training, knowledge, and resources they receive will allow them to respond to the needs of victims more efficiently. The project will be monitored over the next four years to develop a common knowledge base on gender-based violence across the settlement sector while simultaneously creating programs that educate newcomers on the services and resources available to them, including those in smaller cities and rural areas.
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