Immigration to Canada is not new. It has been an integral part of human history. Canada has welcomed immigrants since the first European colonizers of the 16th century.
Today, the government of Canada welcomes around 500,000 new immigrants annually to fill in the skill gap in the job market or improve the growth of the labour force.
People move in pursuit of a better life, fleeing adversity or responding to global shifts. However, misconceptions often surround newcomers to Canada. Let’s talk about some of those prevalent myths.
Myth 1: Immigrants Take Jobs Away from Canadian Citizens
A common myth suggests immigrants deprive Canadians of job opportunities. But let’s take a closer look at their substantial contributions to economic growth.
Here are a few facts to challenging this myth:
- The Canadian market shortage drives immigrant skills after thorough research that the government conducted. Canada strategically attracts skilled individuals to maintain economic prosperity.
- Statistics Canada’s 2022 Labour Force Survey revealed an 8.2% unemployment rate of recent immigrants who have been in Canada for 5 years or less as compared to 5.0% for non-immigrants.
- Since the mid-2010s, immigrants have contributed 63% of the increase in Ontario’s labour force, much larger than the 39 % from the late 2000s to early 2010s.
The persistent myth that immigrants take jobs away from Canadian citizens is rooted in a misunderstanding of the economic dynamics. For example, temporary foreign workers fill critical gaps in Canadian industries, preventing agricultural sectors from suffering. Sometimes, and for several reasons, newcomers end up with different jobs because they can’t get a job in their field.
During COVID-19, precautionary border closures led to a slowdown in immigration, and we saw a dip in the economy, but experts like Andrew Agopsowicz, a senior economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, emphasized that the resurgence of immigration is vital for our economic recovery.
Think about it: the government wouldn’t even invite newcomers if Canadian citizens had the skills and could fill the jobs. The real issue lies in flawed immigration laws enabling worker exploitation, not immigrants taking jobs.
Myth 2: Immigrants Are a Burden on the Canadian Economy
High-skilled immigrants contribute to a virtuous cycle in the Canadian economy, fostering expansion, boosting productivity, and creating employment opportunities. Their arrival and contribution to the economy (and taxes) enhance the job market and benefit employers, leading to a thriving future in Canada.
Here are a few stats to support this:
- According to the Canada West Foundation, for every 10% increase in immigration, there is a 1% increase in exports.
- Immigration accounts for all of Canada’s labour force growth. Roughly 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mainly in the economic category. By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, compared to 20.7% in 2011.
- Immigrants account for 1 out of every 4 healthcare sector workers, including 37% of pharmacists, 36% of physicians, 39% of dentists,23% of registered nurses, and 35% of nurse aides.
- In scientific research and development services, immigrants make up 34% of the workforce.
- Our Career Edge program contributed to generating 1$ billion for the Canadian economy by giving job opportunities to many newcomers in Canada.
Rather than viewing immigrants as a burden, we should appreciate and celebrate their positive impact on our country’s growth and prosperity.
Myth 3: Newcomers Don’t Speak English or French
Language proficiency is a common concern, but it’s essential to dispel the myth. English is an international language. It’s not unique to North America. Many newcomers will learn English early in their education and use English as a first or second language.
But to counter this myth, here are a few facts:
- Statistics Canada reveals widespread language abilities and newcomers’ commitment to integrating into Canadian society through language learning. Over 90% of recent immigrants can converse in English or French.
- Most newcomers must take challenging English tests to obtain Permanent Residency (PR) status as a way for the government to emphasize commitment to solid language skills among those coming to live in Canada.
Myth 4: Immigrants Need a Special Work Permit or Visa
Contrary to a common myth, most immigrants in Canada are not required to have a special work permit or visa to work.
Here is a few basic info you might need to know if you want to hire newcomers to Canada:
- Immigrants with Permanent Resident (PR) status don’t need additional work permits; a Social Insurance Number suffices.
- Refugee claimants receive work permits to contribute to the Canadian workforce.
- Many work permit scenarios, such as those under trade agreements, are LMIA-exempt.
- We at Career Edge only work with newcomers in Canada who have open work permits.
For more information about work permits, you can visit the Government of Canada website.
Myth 5: Immigrants to Canada Do Not Want to Work
Many immigrants come to Canada to create a better life and future for themselves and their children. For most, achieving a better life includes securing a suitable and fulfilling job.
- According to Stat Canada, new immigrants are three times more likely than Canadian-born workers to be found in low-skilled jobs.
- Between 1993 and 2001, immigrants in Canada for 10 years or less had a higher over-qualification rate. This is not because these jobs are suitable or fulfilling but because immigrants strongly desire to work and contribute to their new homes.
Immigrants are used to hustling; coming to Canada is not an easy feat, and it takes a lot of effort and resources for them to do that. The fact that they are in Canada shows a huge initiative and risk-taking; many are passionate and ready to roll once given a chance.
Myth 6: Internationally Trained Professionals Are Not as Qualified as Canadian Professionals
A persistent myth questions the qualifications of internationally trained professionals compared to their Canadian counterparts.
- To work in Canada, foreign-trained professionals must have their credentials reviewed and assessed by accredited assessment bodies, such as WES, to compare how their international education translates to Canadian standards.
- Data from the 2016 Census shows that 30% of newcomers to Canada often hold higher education levels than non-immigrants, with a significant percentage having master’s or doctorate degrees.
- Only 40% of professionals with international training in Canada work in their field.
- Adult immigrants who graduated outside Canada had significantly higher rates of overqualification than adult immigrants who graduated in Canada.
Understanding these dynamics is crucial for dispelling myths and fostering an inclusive environment for internationally trained professionals in Canada.
Myth 7: Newcomers Must Have Canadian Experience to Secure Jobs
By expecting Canadian experience, some employers would want to see adaptability to the workplace culture, market trends, market dynamics, legislation, technologies, or occupational language. However, having Canadian experience (or lack thereof) doesn’t guarantee the candidate is suitable for a job or a “cultural fit.”
The lack of Canadian work experience is a common obstacle for newcomers seeking meaningful employment. Some unconscious biases may be real barriers, sometimes masked as the lack of Canadian work experience.
Newcomer candidates can be invaluable if your company wants to represent the market. They can often offer up insights and contacts in their communities and save their employers time and money. That’s why employers need to break the cycle.
Here are a few solutions to the chicken-and-egg situation:
- Giving the candidates a chance to represent themselves, many of the highest quality candidates don’t even get the chance for an interview just due to the lack of Canadian experience.
- LinkedIn can be utilized to verify candidates’ former employers and references, offering transparency and validating professionalism.
- Adapting to workplace culture can be learned, and fostering an inclusive environment where individuals thrive and feel accepted is a practice all top employers adopt to contribute to a level playing field for skilled migrants.
Myth 8: Immigration Brings Crime to Canada
While some hold onto the myth that immigrants bring crime to Canada, factual evidence suggests otherwise. Immigrants contribute to the country’s safety and well-being, challenging unfounded assumptions about their impact on crime rates.
While many newcomers seek refuge in Canada, aiming for a secure and stable life for themselves and their families, immigrants in Canada pose minimal risk to the country’s security and sovereignty.
Here are a few facts:
- The government conducts a thorough background check on anyone who comes to Canada, especially those with PR.
- Crime rates in Canada have decreased since the 1970s, paralleling the increase in immigration.
- Immigrants, according to the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy, are less involved in criminal activity compared to Canadian-born citizens.
- Established immigrants, over time, contribute to decreased property crime rates. Immigration has a positive “spillover effect” on neighbourhood characteristics and native population behaviour, reducing crime rates in the long run.
As Canada embraces a diverse immigrant population, it’s crucial to dispel myths and appreciate newcomers’ positive contributions to the workplace, cultural, and economic fabric. Let’s foster a more informed and inclusive perspective on immigration.