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Unemployment Rates in Immigrant Communities

After overcoming the challenge of immigrating to Canada, newcomers are set before the question of unemployment.

Finding an adequate job to provide for their families is a struggle many immigrants must endure to be economically secure and comfortable in Canada. As a country of immigrants, Canada relies heavily on immigrant labour. However, immigrants are facing trouble finding jobs in Canada. This is a major problem for the country. Around nine million baby boomers will be retiring over the next decade, as reported by the Financial Post in an article they released last year. Canadian cities mostly experience growth as a result of immigration. A report by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) tells us that Vancouver grew by two per cent from immigration compared to 0.3 per cent from births, Toronto had 2.4 per cent growth from immigration, and Montreal had 1.8 per cent, both cities had significantly lower birth rates, 0.5 and 0.3 per cent. Similar trends are reported in other Canadian cities. In Manitoba, immigrants who had arrived and lived in Canada for less than five years had the highest unemployment rate for five consecutive years from 2016 to 2020. Their unemployment rate was 7.8 per cent in 2016, 9.4 in 2017, 10.6 in 2018, 9.7 in 2019 and 13.1 in 2020. Those born in Canada had the lowest unemployment rate for the same years, 6.0, 5.2, 5.7, 5.2 and 7.5 per cent. According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, one in three workers will be an immigrant.

Language barriers, isolation and cultural differences are some of the many problems newcomers face when recently immigrating to Canada. If an immigrant is unable to converse in either of the two official languages, then they might not be able to land the job they are qualified for and might instead work in a lower-paying job. Immigrants are also more likely to experience loneliness upon immigrating, which might affect their mental health and make it difficult to find employment. Additionally, cultural differences might make it more difficult for an immigrant to adapt to living in the country and might influence their chances of finding a job.

The situation for immigrants became worse in March 2020, when daily COVID-19 cases began to grow in Canada, and people began to be laid off from work. Further research done by Statistics Canada reveals that immigrants had an average of four per cent higher probability of being laid off than Canadian-born individuals. As of June 2021, the employment rate for recent immigrants was 67.7 per cent, an increase of 3.7 per cent from Feb. 2020. However, as employment opportunities begin to return, employers find themselves with little to no applicants. According to a report by the RBC, job vacancies in Canada were up 22 per cent. The reason behind these vacancies, as they believe, is the continuous monetary support from the government to individuals during the pandemic. This support incentivizes people to remain at home rather than searching for employment. The report also predicts that the employment crisis will grow, especially for job positions that offer lower wages. One solution for employers would be to raise salaries.

Currently, the federal government has announced it will help employers find and train workers through different proposed recovery programs. One such program is the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to support struggling businesses hiring workers. The program will help subsidize wages. Another proposal would see $960 million invested over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada to further help train new employees for small or medium-sized businesses. The federal government expects to see this program help 90,000 Canadians.

The federal and provincial governments will announce more projects as Canada continues its path of recovery.

– Michael Spivak, U Multicultural

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