- engaging Community
- equipping Deacons
Behshad and his family finally made the decision to come to Canada because Ayda’s family was there. They had spent endless amounts of time getting their paper work in order, filling and filing their application forms, paying application fees, gathering employment documents and other documentation to prove their history and personhood, and awaiting their permanent residency card. When they arrived in Canada, they did not expect the challenges they faced. They were not recognized or treated as persons – none of their past experiences, finances, credentials, accomplishments or equity was of value. In Iran, Behshad had been educated and employed as an engineer, and he had compiled all of this training and accreditation documents before leaving. They were not recognized, and Behshad had to go through the whole process of re-certification. Furthermore, he and his wife were unable to get financing for a car, despite having a positive credit history and acquiring equity from their previous country. They were only able to navigate many of these struggles because of the support, assistance and presence of Ayda’s family.
Who is an Immigrant? | Challenges | Do Justice | Through Ministry | Through Advocacy | More Links & Resources
An immigrant is defined as a person who seeks lawful permission to land in and establish residence in Canada. The Immigration Act and attendant regulations define several categories of immigrants: independent immigrants, entrepreneurs, investors, self-employed persons, family, assisted relatives and temporary migrants (farm or industrial workers).(1)
Immigrants in Canada
Based on 2006 statistics, the largest numbers of newcomers to Canada (58.3%) were born in Asia and the Middle East. India surpassed China as the country of origin of the highest number of immigrants. 16.1% of immigrants were from Europe. Other areas of origin were Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa.
While the urban centres of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal continue to be the main areas in which immigrants settle, there has also been growth in the number of immigrants moving to smaller cities and suburbs such as Calgary, Ottawa-Gatineau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London Ontario, accounting for 16.6% of recent immigrant settlement in 2006.(2)
Most immigrants enter Canada through a points system which looks at areas like education, employment experience, and language skills. Immigrants qualify for entry based on their number of points. The majority of immigrants fall in the category of “skilled immigrant.” Compared to the Canadian-born population, the immigrant population is older, of “working age,” and more likely to have a university degree; however, their integration into Canadian society is difficult, and their standard of living is poor.(3)
New immigrants confront many obstacles and challenges when coming to Canada, including the loss of leaving their country. They must adapt to new laws, customs, cultures, and often a new language. They have no political voice and knowledge of how to negotiate available services. Many immigrants realize that their employment options are limited and their credentials are not recognized. Re-accreditation can take years. Racism and discrimination are also very real and present in Canada. They become a barrier for accessing jobs, housing, services, and they can also lead to ethnic segregation and the marginalization of immigrants. Racism creates social barriers, and, furthermore, results in the underutilization of people's skills, talents and capacities. It blocks opportunities and wastes both talents and needed resources.
Immigrants experience higher rates of poverty than the local population often because of a lack of access to jobs, and adequate and affordable housing. They are unable to obtain a job either due to a lack of language skills or of Canadian work experience; they may also fail to receive credit for work experience in other countries.(4) Without a job, immigrants are quickly limited in resources and face impoverished conditions.
Immigrants who may be fortunate to get a job often have employers who do not undertake a fair or unbiased appraisal of the skills they possess when hiring or promoting staff. This contributes to an over-representation of immigrants in low-skill jobs.(5)
Housing options also become limited because of economic disadvantages. Immigrants often confront racism and discrimination from landlords and housing agencies, and receive limited housing information.(6)
Immigrants - then and now
We may wonder why immigrants aren’t as successful in Canadian society as they might have been several years ago. Much of this may be explained by the many barriers mentioned above. Immigrants are facing greater challenges in the labour market in recent years due to unrecognized and underutilized skills and education. Furthermore, discrimination greatly impacts the competition for jobs, access to services and the social inclusion of other cultures.(7) Today, it is more difficult to obtain employment, reunite with families, and acquire language training, proper housing and even health services.(8)
DMC wants to encourage a community ministry model which incorporates justice and advocacy. When we meet immigrants that are facing challenges while trying to integrate into Canadian society, we might feel most equipped to take care of their physical, immediate needs. This is an important and needed response. However, DMC also wants to encourage you to pursue wider action. We suggest seeking opportunities for the following:
Click here for resources to help you welcome newcomers into your community.
* Available from Chapters/Indigo at www.chapters.ca
1 Taken from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website: www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/index.asp
2 Tagoe, Yvonne. “Newcomers. Statistics Canada 2006 Census.” Found at http://apps.fims.uwo.ca/NewMedia2008/page3224377.aspx
3 From the Canadian Council on Social Development Website: www.ccsd.ca/pubs/2000/up/chapter2.pdf
4 From the article “More Education, Less Employment.” From the Canadian Council on Learning’s website at www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/LessonsInLearning/Oct-30-08-More-education-less-emplyment.pdf
5 Jackson, Andrew. “Poverty and Racism.” From the Canadian Council on Social Development’s website: www.ccsd.ca/perception/244/racism.htm
6 Teixeira, Carlos. “Housing Experiences of Black Africans in Toronto’s Rental Market.” Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal. September, 2006. Found at www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-32729465_ITM
7 Becklumb, Penny. “Canada’s Immigration Program.” Library of Parliament. Found at www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/bp190-e.htm
8 Written by Jimenez, Marina. “Canada Not Welcoming to Immigrants, Study Finds.” Globe and Mail. July 11, 2006. www.globeandmail.com