Myth: Immigrants do not want to work
Fact: Immigrants work harder than native-born Canadians. It is a fact that immigrants fill important gaps in Canada’s job market, ensuring that the demand for skilled workers does not outstrip supply.
Immigrants and refugees leave their places of birth to immigrate to countries like Canada that offer better living conditions and opportunities than their countries of origin. They arrive in their adoptive countries for economic reasons, safety for their lives and that of their children, improved access to better health, quality education etc. Statistics Canada revealed that in 2020 alone and despite the negative impact of the pandemic, Canada welcomed 184000 new immigrants into her shores.
It is therefore preposterous and somewhat malicious to say that the same set of immigrants, with such clear-cut objectives, do not want to work. In fact, immigrants are here for the work and the safety it provides to their lives by extension.
Public opinion differs on the subject. Yet, a greater percentage of Canadians believe that immigration has done more to improve the economy of Canada through the job slots that are filled by immigrants and through the jobs created by entrepreneurial immigrants. Canada, as a settlement country, does not joke with labor migration, selecting a large share of both temporary and permanent migrants with higher skill levels. And what do these migrants do upon arrival? Fold their arms or wait for jobs to fall into their laps? Several stories are told by immigrants about how they had to resort to employment below their training and education in the absence of professional jobs, to survive. These jobs have been tagged “survival jobs”. The Canadian system does not provide support for immigrants who are even required to bring with them settlement funds commensurate with their family sizes. In Canada, as in other developed countries of the world, the rule for survival is gainful employment or entrepreneurship. Only refugees are offered limited support and that is, until their papers are filed, and they can get employment.
Immigrants are not lazy. Many new immigrants work, often hard laborious jobs, up to 3 jobs for economic survival, a condition which natives may not find themselves in. In fact, the working population of native-born Canadians has been on a steady decline as the age of baby boomers move towards the statutory retirement age of 55. Population has been on the decline with fewer children being born to replace those retiring from active service. There is therefore an increasing labor shortage in different fields for skilled professionals and skilled trade workers. The Canadian government knows that only immigration can fill the gap. In 2020, 82 percent of Canada’s population growth which stood at 76000 between January and March came from immigration, most of them from selection pools. Immigrants and temporary foreign workers fill gaps in Canada’s labor force and help employers respond to vacancies in various sectors.
According to The Environics Institute’s “Spring 2019 Focus Canada” the findings showed that Canadians’ views on immigration and refugees have “held remarkably steady” since its previous study with over half of Canadians (53 percent) agreeing that immigrants tend to work harder than people born in Canada.
Approximately 1 in 4 workers (26%) in Canada are immigrants. As of 2016, there were 600,000 self-employed immigrants employing over 260,000 Canadians.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, the labor market participation rate of very recent immigrants was 71 percent and recent immigrants was 76 percent.
In 2016, over one third of nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates in Canada were immigrants.
The Government of Canada’s 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration acknowledges the fact that immigrants are successful and important to the country. “Immigrant owners of small and medium-sized enterprises are successful in introducing a product, process or marketing innovation into the marketplace. Many of those that immigrate as children, or the children of immigrants, on average, contribute to Canada’s labor force and go on to earn as much or more as the Canadian-born.”
Some remarkable immigrant entrepreneurs:
By The Editorial Board.