Immigrant Women In Canada Earn Less, Face Barriers


OTTAWA: Immigrant women in Canada face greater employment barriers and earn less money than both male immigrants and Canadian-born women, data compiled by the immigration department suggests.

The information, obtained by the Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, shows a persistent gap between female immigrants, both new and established in Canada, compared with their Canadian-born counterparts. The data also shows that more women arrive in Canada as the spouses of economic immigrants or as non-economic newcomers or refugees and have lower employment rates and earn less than the average wage.

That, the internal government report says, indicates selection policies for immigration programs are not tailored to capitalize on the economic value of female immigrants.

The report uses internal government data to provide an overview of economic and social outcomes of immigrants from all sources, including economic-class, family-class and refugee streams.

It flags labour market integration as more challenging for female newcomers.

“Unlike male immigrants, a persistent gap exists between very recent, recent and established female immigrants and their Canadian-born counterparts,’’ the report states.

The data shows similar employment barriers also exist for the children of immigrants, especially those whose parents are visible minorities, despite the fact they achieve higher levels of education than Canadian-born children. Children of immigrants from nearly all visible minority groups earn less than their Canadian-born peers.

Pari Karem, general manager of immigrant services at the YMCA in Kitchener, Ont., works directly with newcomer youth and women. She says she has seen the children of immigrants attain master’s degrees and PhDs, yet still have difficulty finding good jobs. She attributes this partly to a lack of connections among their parents. Some clients have told Karem they felt employers passed over them for jobs because of their race, she added, calling it a form of “hidden racism’’ among some employers.

“Just because they finished their education here does not take away some of the stereotypical factors that some employers judge these (people) by, which is their na me, their visible minority and it’s unfortunate,’’ Karem said.

But Karem believes it’s more complicated when it comes to why women work and earn less.

“If I, as a female, think it is my role to only stay home and look after my children, no matter how many programs are out there for me, I’m not going to try them.’’

She suggests immigrant women instead need better education about balancing family life with employment opportunities.

Karem believes more education among Canadian-born residents should also be a key part of addressing inequalities facing newcomers. – Canadian Press