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- COVID-19's Impact on Canadian Immigration, Settlement and the future of the Canadian Labour Market
- Pathways to an Equitable Reset
- COVID-19 Pandemic's Impact on BIPOC Women
- Tackling Anti-Black Racism as a Public Health Crisis
- Anti-Black Racism and its impact on the LGBTQ2S+ Community
- Anti-Black Racism in the City of Toronto
- Unconscious Bias and Anti-Black Racism Workshop
COVID-19 & Anti-Black Racism: A Double-Edged Sword for Black Entrepreneurs
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods. It has shed a spotlight on all inequities and exacerbated the already longstanding systemic barriers through the glare of systemic racism and in particular, Anti-Black Racism and related inequities in employment, resources and wealth that have further compounded socioeconomic inequities. The extreme experiences of Anti-Black Racism have brought to the fore, the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests around the world calling out Anti-Black Racism, raising heightened awareness about the rights of Black people and Black communities. This February, as we honor Black History Month, reflecting on the profound traumas of Black History and honoring the remarkable contributions and struggles of Black Canadians, it is a watershed moment to acknowledge the tremendous work still needed to address Anti-Black Racism. It is also an opportunity to discuss the challenges caused by the pandemic unique to Black entrepreneurs, who, over the years, have strengthened the Canadian economy and labour market.
Research has shown that the Black Canadian population across Canada has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Canadians face higher rates of unemployment and are over-represented in the industries like food and accommodation services that are most affected by the pandemic. They are also over-represented in precarious employment in jobs that are at the greatest risk in the work of the future. Research has also shown that Black people are pursuing self-employment and entrepreneurship due to the negative experiences in the workplace caused by explicit racism, discrimination and microaggressions, and exclusion from employment.
The pandemic has been a harsh blow to Black entrepreneurs adversely affecting the scale and revenue of their businesses. Black entrepreneurs have faced financial losses and challenges, the urgent need to invest in digitization to balance their stalled offline and physically based business activities with online business, the lack of a stable customer-base exacerbated by the physical distancing norms and series of lockdowns causing many businesses to shut down. Many Black entrepreneurs have also faced financial exclusion due to biases at financial institutions making accessible financing a major hurdle for their businesses. In sum, Black entrepreneurs have been sidelined by the systemic discrimination embedded in the institutions in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, ranging from education, finance, business support, incubators and accelerators, and government funding. Moreover, there is also a lack of support in the ecosystem in the form of encouragement, mentorship, sponsorship, and access to networks and information.
With the pandemic paralyzing Black-owned businesses, this has taken a mental health toll on Black entrepreneurs. Black women entrepreneurs have been hardest hit faced with more disruptions in their businesses, picking up more of the childcare and household responsibilities. As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in 2020, it gave visibility to some Black-owned businesses through the Buy Black-owned campaigns but many continue to struggle to stay afloat. These unique struggles of Black entrepreneurs have led to the federal government extending aid to qualifying Black entrepreneurs. Questions still arise: is this enough? What policies should be put in place to deconstruct systems that help perpetuate Anti-Black Racism? Can more loans truly help businesses already experiencing financial constraints?
As Canada gears up for a reset, key discussions should be on how to build a more equitable future for Black entrepreneurs and providing for the right business ecosystems that can mitigate or negate the effects of structural obstacles to business building for Black business owners. The economic recovery policies should also take on board provisions to support Black-owned businesses and empower Black entrepreneurs to become more resilient and equipped to offset entrepreneurial challenges.
On February 23, Skills for Change’s Spotlight Series had a panel to discuss challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing Anti-Black Racism and its magnified impact on Black-owned businesses and the economy. The session highlighted how Black entrepreneurs are tackling the unique challenges to keep businesses afloat and explore ways to create sustainable change and a lasting legacy for Black entrepreneurs to succeed and thrive. The session brings together business leaders, innovators and changemakers to discuss solutions and policies to support Black-owned businesses and create an equitable ecosystem. It also called for concerted efforts by public-, private-, and social-sector organizations to address Anti-Black Racism and the racial inequality and social injustice it spews and how to close that gap.
Wes Hall, Executive Chairman & Founder, Kingsdale Advisors and Founder and Chairman, The Black North Initiative
Karima-Catherine Goundiam, Founder & CEO, Red Dot Digital Inc. & B2BeeMatch
Isaac Olowolafe Jr., Founder & General Partner, Dream Maker Ventures
Ejibola Adetokunbo-Taiwo, CEO, Simply Ejibola Inc. & Founder of de Sedulous Women Leaders
Dean Delpeache, Director, Consulting, Strasity & Director of Talent and Diversity, Fiix Software
Moderator: Surranna Sandy, CEO, Skills for Change
COVID-19's Impact on Canadian Immigration, Settlement and the future of the Canadian Labour Market
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on the immigration and settlement sector in Canada, and far worse disproportionate impacts on immigrants and refugees. The pandemic has also blurred Canada’s international reputation as a world leader with respect to immigrant and refugee resettlement, especially since the last few years had witnessed an influx of immigrants from around the world who had revitalized the Canadian economy in terms of labour force, productivity and culture. With immigrants and refugees filling gaps in Canada’s labour force, the Canadian economy has significantly become dependent on their expertise, resources and experience. The pandemic has negated this progress, creating an unprecedented crisis posing critical threats to the social and economic well-being of immigrants and refugees with long-term repercussions for their settlement and the future of the Canadian labour market.
Public health measures and restrictions on international travel to combat the spread of the coronavirus resulted in a 26% decline in Canadian immigration numbers in March 2020 causing a sudden jolt to the economy and labour market. The confinement measures necessary to protect public health have also resulted in a negative shock to the Canadian labour market. OECD reports a drop in employment of over 1 million in March 2020, followed by a further decline of 2 million in April 2020.The employment loss from February to April (-15.7%) far exceeded declines observed in previous labour market downturns, and further escalated Employment Insurance claims. The hardest-hit population were racialized minorities, immigrants and refugees, who were further impacted due to systemic barriers of racism, language and gender. Previous Spotlight Series have covered in greater detail the pandemic’s impact on newcomers, immigrants and refugees.
Questions about the future of work have also been pertinent, with forecasts that automation will likely accelerate in a post-COVID-19 labour market having different spatial impacts across Canada.Undoubtably, immigrants are more negatively impacted by these changes and all the economic fallout due to the pandemic. In addition to increased unemployment and the role of international travel in the initial spread of the pandemic, there is increased risk of a backlash in public opinion against immigrants.
These social and economic implications have put a strain on Canada’s immigration and settlement sector. The 2021 – 2023 immigration plans developed by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada considers the changing scenario of COVID-19 and its consequences on immigration numbers.As we constantly gear to adapt, it is essential to address the economic, social, and cultural impact of the pandemic on immigration and the labour market to rebuild opportunities and spaces for immigrants and refugees. Efforts to revive the sector and support Canada’s economic recovery and growth includes increased immigration levels to support a stronger economy. This immigration boom will require enhanced capacity for the sector to provide comprehensive services to all immigrants and refugees to seamlessly integrate in Canada and contribute to Canada’s economic growth. This will also include concerted efforts to combat systemic racism.
On January 26, Skills for Change CEO Surranna Sandy amongst a panel of experts discussed the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian Immigrants and refugees, the impact on the immigrant and refugee settlement sector and the implications on the future of the Canadian labour market. The session highlights solutions on equipping the Canadian labour market to create equal opportunities for immigrants and refugees eliminating major obstacles from their journey in Canada. The discussion also covered concerted efforts and policies required to future proof the sector’s resilience and bring everyone together to tackle the socio—economic impacts of the pandemic in the sector.
Adwoa K. Buahene – CEO, TRIEC
Carl Cadogan – CEO, Reception House Waterloo Region
Prof. John Shields – Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University
Pedro Barata – Executive Director, Future Skills Centre
Francisco Rico-Martinez – Co-Director, FCJ Refugee Centre
Pathways to an Equitable Reset
Women, and in particular, racialized newcomers, immigrants and refugees have borne the catastrophic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. These racialized women communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic due to already longstanding systemic barriers. These include the effects of systemic racism, such as employment inequity, inequitable distribution of power, wealth, and resources resulting into high rates of poverty, and lack of access to basic needs such as health care, housing, food as well as lack of resources and tools for internet connectivity.
Women’s participation in the workforce has also regressed, with many women leaving work to shoulder the burden of unpaid care work at home, while those earning the lowest wages in the most precarious sectors continue to serve at the frontlines of the pandemic. As a result, this crisis has been described as a She-cession, uprooting the gendered progress made on gender equality and women economic empowerment. Our September Spotlight Series extensively covered these issues and much more.
We now stand at a pivotal moment to seize the opportunity and join forces to address the challenges before us, to map out and consolidate integrated intersectional policy measures that have been identified to address the disproportionate challenges faced by women, particularly in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, while addressing any gaps to avoid going back to “business as usual” and conversely, “building back better”.
Take a look at our Spotlight Series diving deeper into the COVID-19 Pandemic’s impact on BIPOC Women. Thank you to Surranna Sandy, CEO of Skills for Change for moderating the panel and Thank to you all our panelists:
– Dr. Jill Andrew, MPP, Toronto-St. Paul’s
– Maya Roy, CEO, YWCA Canada
– Carmina Ravanera, Research Associate, Institute for Gender & The Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman’s School of Management
– Chanel Grenaway, Principal, Chanel Grenaway & Associates
COVID-19 Pandemic's impact on BIPOC Women
Tackling Anti-Black Racism as a Public Health Crisis
This is our fourth workshop on Tackling Anti-Black Racism as a Public Health Crisis.
This session was held virtually on August 4, 2020 with 100+ participants.
Liben Gebremikael, First Executive Director, TAIBU Community Health Centre
Anti-Black Racism and its impact on the LGBTQ2S+ Community
This is our third workshop on Anti-Black Racism and its impact on the LGBTQ2S+ Community.
This session was held virtually on July 14, 2020 with 100+ participants.
Dr. Wesley Crichlow, first past Associate Dean of Equity, Chair of the President Equity Taskforce, Professor and Director for Engagement and Recruitment for Youth in Foster Care Pathways to University
Kim Borden Penney, President, Penney Consulting Services Inc.
Anti-Black Racism in the City of Toronto
This is our second workshop on Confronting Anti-Racism in the City of Toronto.
This session was held virtually on June 30, 2020 with 200+ participants.
Anthony N. Morgan, Manager, Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit at the City of Toronto
Aina-Nia Ayo’dele Grant, Director of Community Resources at the City of Toronto
Unconscious Bias and Anti-Black Racism Workshop
Hear from our HR expert panel who will speak to their lived experiences and deep dive into the microaggressions and larger biases black individuals face in the workplace; and what the HR community and allies need to do to ensure equity and fairness to eliminate anti-black racism at work.
This session was held virtually on June 23, 2020 with over 100+ participants.
Dean Delpeache, Sr.Manager of Talent Acquisition at FIIX Software
Nicole Pitt, HR Engagement Lead at Kinross Gold Corporation
Nadisha Berry, HR Specialist at Skills for Change