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by workincanada

Immigration and integration: How we can make it work

"Immigration and integration: How we can make it work"

The Globe and Mail
November 15, 2007



Immigration and integration: How we can make it work

BRAHIM BOUDARBAT AND MAUDE BOULET

Special to Globe and Mail Update

November 15, 2007 at 12:16 AM EST

Much of the rhetoric in today's debate on reasonable accommodation of minorities misses a critical and obvious point: that integration into a new society begins with a job. Work is a source of both cultural socialization and acclimation.

For this reason, a recently released Statistics Canada report on immigrant labour-market integration is troubling. It revealed, among other things, that unemployment among newcomers is double the Canadian average.

While the fact that recent arrivals make less money and experience higher unemployment is hardly news, the profile of the current cohort of immigrants makes this very troubling. Since the 1990s, Ottawa and Quebec (which establishes its own selection requirements) have emphasized education and experience as criteria for immigrants. As a result, recent groups of newcomers are better educated and more skilled than previous generations. Their educational credentials now surpass those of the average Canadian-born citizen.

What, then, is happening to these immigrants' entry-level earnings?

In a study published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, we tried to answer this question by looking at how the numbers break down provincially.

Our investigation revealed a gender gap between men and women. In Ontario, the average entry level salary for male immigrants has fallen by 18 per cent compared with their cohorts from the 1960s and 1990s. In Quebec, male immigrants make 27 per cent less than they did a generation ago. In B.C., entry-level earnings are a staggering 31 per cent less than they were in the 1960s. The overall drop for women is less sharp, but it's most pronounced in Quebec, where over the course of a generation, entry-level earnings for female newcomers have fallen by 15 per cent.

Identifying this phenomenon's exact cause is impossible. However, given that immigrants are more educated and better skilled than ever before, lack of foreign-credential recognition appears to be a problem.

How to remedy this situation?

One possible answer lies with the foreign students in Canadian postsecondary institutions. As of December, 2006, Canada was host to 157,000 members of this group — a large number considering that Canada admitted a quarter of that number (44,200) as skilled workers in the same year.

We recommend placing greater emphasis on foreign students as a preferred source of immigration for a number of reasons. First, having lived in Canada, foreign students have already begun adjusting to Canadian life and they have (or will soon have) a Canadian degree. Most notably, they generally do not have foreign work experience to be recognized — circumventing a difficult problem. The Quebec government's plan to boost immigration levels by 10,000 a year represents an ideal place to test our proposal.

How is this to be done? As a start, both the Quebec and Canadian governments should consider encouraging foreign students to apply for permanent residence, through regular outreach programs at colleges and universities. Next, both governments should make it easier for students to be accepted by rearranging the point system and facilitating the process. (This does not mean opening the door to all foreign students, but those individuals whose profiles best meet our labour markets' needs.)

Another solution lies with increased information about the realities of the Canadian labour market. Better information would result in fewer credential-recognition problems and lead to a more positive work experience for newcomers. To this end, we believe the creation of more bridge-training programs would help. These have had tremendous success, but demand currently outstrips supply.

Both the Quebec and Canadian governments have made it clear that immigration is a central plank in the drive to improve our economic prospects. However, if either government is to reap the benefits of immigration, more must be done to improve the economic prospects of the highly educated immigrants currently arriving. The alternative is both unreasonable and unaccommodating.

Brahim Boudarbat and Maude Boulet are, respectively, a professor and a PhD student at Université de Montréal. Their study, "Détérioration des salaires des nouveaux immigrants au Québec par rapport à l'Ontario et à la Colombie-Britannique," published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, is available at www.irpp.org.
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by workincanada | 2007-11-25 00:44 | 移民・移住に関する統計等