Canadian immigrants: More education, less employment


From the Canadian Council on Learning:

As a consequence of Canada’s immigration policy, immigrants to Canada have higher educational attainment than native-born Canadians. Very recent immigrants are more than twice as likely to possess a university degree and are four times more likely to have a graduate degree than native-born Canadians.

Labour-force outcomes change over time as immigrants become more established and acquire Canadian experience and/or credentials. As a result, it is important to distinguish between recently arrived and more established immigrants. In the following discussion, very recent immigrants include those who have been in Canada for less than five years. Recent immigrants are those who have been in Canada between five and 10 years. Established immigrants have been in Canada for more than 10 years.

Despite their educational assets, recent and very recent immigrants suffer lower employment and higher unemployment rates than Canadians with similar levels of education. Immigrants also earn less than their Canadian-born counterparts. Data from the 2006 census reveal that, among recent immigrants, men earn 63 cents and women earn 56 cents for every dollar earned by their Canadian-born counterparts. These income disparities are growing over time: in 1980, both male and female recent immigrants earned 85 cents on the dollar, relative to their native-born counterparts.

As a consequence of their labour-market difficulties, immigrants are much more likely to live in poverty than non-immigrants. In 2000, low-income rates were twice as high among recent immigrants as among non-immigrants, and three times as high among very recent immigrants. Low-income trends are growing steadily worse among immigrants, while improving among other vulnerable groups in Canada.

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Canadian immigrants: More education, less employment

  1. Pingback: watercooler » Word around the web, oh the horror! edition

  2. There are quite a few factual errors in this piece. Here are a few:

    (1) The writer says that “immigrants to Canada have higher educational attainment than native-born Canadians”. Around 80% of the 240,000 immigrants who have arrived here every year since high immigration levels were introduced in 1990 have very few skills and do not have to meet any points requirements. The 80% consist of family class, refugees, humanitarian class, and spouses/children of economic class immigrants. Around 600,000 immigrants were refugee claimants, most of whom were fraudulent, and who acted as the proverbial “foot-in-the-door”. Subsequently, these people brought in immediate family and relatives who had little education.

    (2) The writer says that very recent and recent immigrants earn much less than their Canadian counterparts. The writer then says that “As a consequence of their labour-market difficulties,immigrants are much more likely to live in poverty than non-immigrants.” We would like to point out that the cause of their difficulties is not so much “their labour market difficulties” as the fact that Canada did not need most of the immigrants it has taken since 1990. In other words, most of these people have been excess labour. That is the real cause of their unemployment and it is a significant contributor to their low earnings.

    Why do I say they were excess labour? Close to 5 million immigrants have arrived since 1990. Immigration Minister Barbara MacDougall, who introduced high immigration levels in 1990, shamelessly admitted at that time that she was doing so because she wanted her Progressive Conservative party to compete with the Liberals for the recent immigrant vote. She ignored two landmark research studies which told her that raising immigrant levels would not solve problems relating to aging and that they would not provide an economic stimulus. She also abandoned a Canadian practice of raising immigration when Canada had a genuine need for workers and lowering immigration when Canada did not need workers.

    The Liberal and Conservative gov’ts which followed Ms. MacDougall and the Mulroney gov’t refused to restore some sanity to Canada’s immigration system. As a result, Canada has had 18 years of uninterrupted, high immigration levels. Most people would call this a completely senseless immigration policy.

    That is what is at the heart of immigrants’ problems. Mr. Kirby and the Canadian Council on Learning should take a long look at what has been going on.

    Dan Murray
    Immigration Watch Canada.org

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