Canadian immigrant labour market performances were on an upward trajectory before the coronavirus pandemic became the new normal, a report by Statistics Canada has found.
According to the report, labour market performance gaps between Canadian immigrants and their local-born counterparts were either closing or remaining steady before the pandemic.
In the report, Statistics Canada compared labour market performance factors, such as employment rates and wages, of Canadian born workers and immigrants aged from 25 to 54 years between 2000 and 2019.
The outcome of the report shows that over the two decades since the turn of the millennium, male immigrants in Canada who had been in the country for less than 10 years were enjoying a faster employment rate than Canadian-born men.
Moreover, female immigrants to Canada who had been in the country for less than five years also had better employment rates than before.
In terms of earnings, there was a significant gap between Canadian workers and immigrant workers between 2000 to 2015. This disparity between wages ebbed away in the remaining years of the study period, which could be attributed to the increased demand for immigrant workers during the closing months of 2010.
In addition to increased demand for international talent to join and boost the country’s workforce, policy changes and an improved economic condition post-2009 also played a part in labour market performance improvements for Canadian immigrants.
The report also highlights how economic changes have a direct impact on immigrant economy, as seen when an increased demand for immigrant workers led to improved earnings for Canadian immigrants following 2015.
However, despite male immigrants enjoying improvements in their labour market performances, female immigrants to Canada remained several steps behind in terms of earnings; the wage gap between immigrant men and women in Canada who had stayed in the country for at least 10 years saw an underwhelming improvement during the study period of the report.
Canada’s “two-step” immigration selection approach also proved to be particularly fruitful, as it contributed towards better economic outcomes for immigrants, with increased employment opportunities since 2000 for temporary immigrants in Canada.
Furthermore, the introduction of new immigration pathways – such as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) – also benefitted Canadian immigrants with better employment opportunities and improved earnings.
Although the pandemic disrupted this positive trend for Canadian immigrants, it remains to be seen what kind of hand they are dealt by the post-pandemic economic conditions of the country.
Policymakers must monitor the post-pandemic labour market to ensure that Canadian immigrants are not left behind by their local-born counterparts, and that the upward trajectory for immigrant labour market outcomes picks up where it left off.