WES Mariam Assefa Fund Awards First Grants in Canada, Committing C$1.9M to Create More Equitable Systems for Immigrant and Refugee Workers

November 26, 2020

By WES |

The WES Mariam Assefa Fund, the philanthropic arm of World Education Services (WES), today announced its first grants in Canada. The Fund is awarding C$1.9 million to six organizations that are building stronger career pathways for immigrants and refugees, supporting workers affected by COVID-19, investing in immigrant leaders, and nurturing the development of innovative solutions and greater capacity in the immigrant-serving sector. 

The six grant recipients, located across Canada, are Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS); Calgary-based ActionDignity; Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC); RADIUS – Refugee Livelihood Lab in British Columbia; Toronto Community Benefits Network; and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) in Quebec.

“We’re proud to partner with and learn from these six organizations,” said Monica Munn, Senior Director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. “Each has a deep knowledge of the needs of immigrant and refugee communities. We are excited to provide them with the funding to innovate and implement new, scalable solutions to serve their communities and to identify strategies, tools, and approaches that will help to ensure a more inclusive Canadian economy as the nation moves toward recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.”

The Fund launched its efforts in Canada recognizing that immigrants and refugees are crucial to Canada’s labour market and long-term economic competitiveness: Immigrants currently make up 25% of the Canadian workforce and are expected to account for 100% of labour force growth in future years, according to the Conference Board of Canada. However, they experience high rates of unemployment and underemployment. In 2019, WES surveyed 26,395 immigrants and refugees who had applied to WES for credential evaluations as part of their journey to Canada. Only 39% of respondents reported that their employment in Canada was commensurate with their work pre-migration. Women and visible minorities found even fewer opportunities to enter the evolving labour market or to advance within it.

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