Can Specialized Programming Help Newcomer Women Cope with COVID-19?

Summary

The Career Pathways for Visible Minority Newcomer Women (CPVMNW) pilot is a project that aims to help visible minority newcomer women in their integration with the Canadian labour market. While it was designed to be offered in-person, service providers had to switch to virtual delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using novel survey data, we first summarize the opportunities and challenges of virtual delivery, as well as participants’ financial situation, wellbeing, and employment outcomes. Second, exploiting the random assignment of program participation, we report the short-term impacts of the pandemic on program participants’ mental health, stress levels, and employment outcomes. We find that the program significantly improves the mental health of participants and increases their confidence in finding work in the near future. Unsurprisingly, with weak labour markets and a short timeframe, we find that the program had no impact on the likelihood that participants were employed. However, the program did improve participant expectations of the likelihood of finding employment within the next three and six months. Future research will analyse the CPVMNW follow-up surveys and investigate whether the positive impacts on mental health and employment outlook translate into increased employment as well as improvements in other employment outcomes such as hours of work, job satisfaction, and earnings.