Myth: Immigrants take jobs away from Canadians.
Fact: Immigrants fill up vacuums in the job market.
This is a misconception perpetrated largely through uncorroborated testimonies. The facts, however, are opposite.
Fact 1: Canada has a low unemployment rate which means there are enough jobs and immigration helps offset extreme labour shortages.
The doors of Canada remain open to refugees and immigrants from all over the world as a matter of national policy, making it a destination of choice for immigrants. And going by historical records, only 4.3% of the country’s population are native-born Canadians. The remaining, over 95% are either first generation immigrants or descendants of immigrants. It is therefore erroneous to say that immigrants take jobs away from native-born Canadians.
In a March 12th 2020 publication Immigrants…they get the job done in Canada’s National Observer, Bruce Anderson stated inter alia: “For people who worry about whether the economy has enough jobs for more immigrants, the bigger worry is what happens if we don’t have more workers coming into the economy. Today, 4 in 10 small and medium companies have trouble finding the employees they need. There are labour shortages in Atlantic Canada, BC, Ontario, in manufacturing, retail and construction. Too few workers is leading to slower sales.”
In summary, Canada has labour shortages which are being filled by immigrants.
Fact 2: Immigrant Canadians create jobs as entrepreneurs.
Canadian story of success and prosperity will be incomplete without an acknowledgment of the highly entrepreneurial quality of immigrants. Six Degrees Citizen Space 2016 wrote a paper on New Canadian Entrepreneurs’ contribution to Canada’s prosperity, stating that “Entrepreneurial immigrants do more than open convenience stores, ethnic restaurants or cleaners (the business many people think of when they think about immigrant entrepreneurs).”
The table below by Statistics Canada provides the percentage of business owners who are immigrants by sector:
|Business Sectors||Percentage Of Business Owned|
|Data Processing, Hosting and Services||40%|
|Computer Systems Design and Services||51%|
Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.
Immigrant entrepreneurs have the potential to make direct contributions by starting new businesses and creating jobs. Job creation is essential for economic growth, and there is growing international information on immigrant entrepreneurship that attempts to identify factors influencing immigrant entrepreneurship and the success of immigrant-owned firms.
Forthcoming research at Statistics Canada focuses on job creation among private Canadian incorporated companies owned by immigrants. It shows that firms owned by immigrants tend to be younger, and younger firms create jobs at a higher rate than older firms.
These figures amply prove that immigrants are creating jobs and not taking them away. Some notable immigrant entrepreneurs include:
- Aldo Bensadoun, Founder of ALDO Group
- John Molson, whose brewery is in his name
- Peter Tielmann, Founder, President and CEO of EQ3, a Canadian furniture company
- Ajay Virmani, CEO of Cargojet
- Karim Hakimi, Founder, Hakim Optical with over 600 employees
- Rola Dagher, head of Cisco Canada who was in 2020 named one of Canada’s top 25 Women of Influence, to mention a few.
What then could be the basis of the myth that immigrants take jobs away from Canadians?
Suspicion of immigrants by First Nations has always been with us and it is not without justification. At the beginning of the 18th century, natives were forcefully and fatally ejected from their land by earlier migrants. In the aftermath of the 2nd World War during the Great Depression, there was increased hostilities against the minority immigrant population. Jobs were few, and their presence meant more competition and a likely increase in the unemployment numbers of the native-born Canadians. However, as more countries began opening their borders to asylum-seekers and refugees, Canada included, there came the need to “regularize” the teeming population of predominantly Chinese, Indian, American and European immigrants. Canadians were wise enough to recognize the need for these immigrants as there were labor shortages in the manufacturing industry. This acceptance changed the trajectory to some extent. They were, however, still wary of the newcomers and expressed it through actions that are considered hostile and racist as reported by new immigrants all around Canada at different times in our collective history.
In the social context, humans are known to be protective of what is theirs, jealously guarding it. When there’s a feeling of encroachment, we naturally react. The new entrant or foreigner is suspected and is seen as an interloper and the original owners as endangered. It is, therefore, apt to state that those (most of whom were descendants of earlier immigrants) who feel threatened by new immigrants and accuse them of taking jobs meant for Canadians, are expressing fears and sentiments through their accusations that don’t carry much weight.
The public perception, however, is changing rapidly in favor of immigrants. A new study by the Environics Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes original social research on issues of public policy and social change, suggests that acceptance for new immigrants is growing in Canada. As reported by CIC News on the study, “about 78% of Canadians disagree that immigrants take away jobs from other Canadians… And it may reflect a solidifying public consensus that Canada’s economy (and one’s own livelihood) depends on making space for newcomers, especially this year when the economy needs all the help it can get,” the study says.”
The tilt of this perception, not the myth, is achievable if immigrants share their stories. The Immigrant Life is a movement in that effort. Our narrative reflects our doggedness and collective will, both of which have seen us this far and will go on to build a better Canada.
By The Editorial Board.