Ready and Resilient Immigrant Children and Youth

The Cause

Our project idea seeks to empower immigrant and refugee women and their families with the financial independence and autonomy to be able to provide necessary resources for their children in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many immigrant and refugee families are struggling disproportionately to adapt to the economic and social changes that the pandemic has brought. In particular, immigrant and newcomer families are more likely to struggle to meet basic needs during the pandemic as they are more likely to be laid off, are working in low paying jobs and often times “front line” or essential jobs, live in communal housing, and are less likely to have social networks that they can rely on to buy groceries for them in the event that they need to self-isolate. With the re-opening of schools, immigrant women will face additional financial burdens in addressing the health, educational and recreational needs of their children.

With this project, we will give immigrant and refugee families in the community who are struggling to meet basic needs the necessary resources to be able to support their children this coming school year. Although the lockdown is over, there are many long term effects of the pandemic that will continue to negatively impact immigrant and refugee communities such as low employment rate, food security concerns, poor access to PPE and other sanitary products, heavy reliance on public transit (where risk of transmission is higher), communal housing situations, etc.

According to Statistics Canada, as a result of the pandemic, immigrants are more likely than Canadian-born to report that the pandemic has an impact on their ability to meet financial obligations (43% vs. 27%). Our project will provide immigrant and refugee communities the funds and flexibility to be able to afford to meet their families’ basic needs. The project will give newcomer families the financial independence and flexibility to provide for their family’s needs.

Who Will it Benefit?

This project will benefit immigrant communities who are currently disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in terms of health outcomes, financial instability, and food security. According to Statistics Canada, the immigrant population in Calgary is one of the highest in the country with 404,705 immigrants residing in the city (2016 census). In fact, Calgary hosts the 4th largest immigrant population in Canada.

Although there is a large immigrant population in Calgary, before the pandemic, 17% of the people who immigrated to Calgary from 2011-2016 are living are considered low income ($22,352/year as a single person, $31,611/year as a single parent and one child, and $44,704/year as a couple with two children) – in comparison, 7.6% of non-immigrants between 2011-2016 were living considered low income. This number will only continue to grow now due to the many business closures and layoffs that occurred during the lockdown.

Immigrants and refugees disproportionately work in unsafe workplaces during COVID-19. Many immigrant and refugee workers work as “front line” essential staff, in meatpacking plants, as caregivers in senior homes (temporary foreign workers), or in “under the table” informal labour where there is little to no labour regulations—all of which are work settings with greater exposure to COVID-19. In fact, many of the cases in the Calgary and nearby regions have occurred at the aforementioned work settings (i.e. grocery stores, meatpacking plants, senior homes, etc.).

Additionally, many immigrants and refugees live in clustered city neighbourhoods with extremely high population density, making it difficult to practice physical distancing. Many immigrants also live in communal living spaces with 2-3 families due to low income status which leads to higher contraction rates within immigrant communities as self-isolation is nearly impossible.

Our project will address these concerns and support immigrant and refugee communities during the pandemic in order to make sure that the needs of children are being met and that the financial instability that newcomer families face does not prevent immigrant children and youth in accessing crucial resources such as school supplies, lunches for children, masks if required, clothes ,etc.