Immigration: Success?


Immigration: Success?
Syrian Refugee Initiative
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Aboriginal Peoples' Past
Aboriginal Rights Today


1) Is Canada's immigration policy successful?


There are many indicators of success for immigration, but one important criterion is the economic integration of immigrants.


The rates of employment and unemployment between immigrants and Canadian born tend to converge in time, although the gap does not disappear entirely:


Employment and unemployment rates' gaps between immigrants and Canadian born aged 25 to 54, 2011


Employment rate

rate gap

Unemployment rate

rate gap



Very recent immigrants





Recent immigrants





Established immigrants





Born in Canada





Source(s): Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey


However, the income levels of immigrants have fallen over the last 30 years:

  • In 1970, men who immigrated to Canada earned about 85% of the wages of Canadian-born workers, rising to 92% after a decade

  • By the late 1990s, they earned just 60%, rising to 78% after a decade

  • Today, university-educated newcomers earn an average of 67% of their Canadian-born, university-educated counterparts

What are the reasons for the disappointing economic integration of immigrants in Canada ?

- Immigrants in Canada tend to be highly educated (80% hold a university degree, compared to 25% of the Canadian-born population) while a majority of jobs are low-skilled

- Canada has a point-system based on a mix of language skills, education and work experience, while in other countries where immigrants do better, immigration is possible only with a job-offer (United States, Australia)

As an answer to this problem, in 2013 the Conservatives introduced fast-track immigration programs to encourage immigrants that have a job-offer or qualified for targeted occupations


But there are other indicators of successful integration:

- The vast majority of immigrants (85%) choose to become Canadian citizens after the three-year waiting period for naturalization eligibility has elapsed

- Immigrants have a high rate of acquisition of one or both official languages: 93% in 2011

- Second-generation Canadians tend to perform better in school, are more likely to earn university degrees and often earn more than children of Canadian-born parents, even if their parents earn low incomes.


So we can conclude that on the whole, immigrants to Canada do well.



Analysis of the Canadian immigrant labour market, 2008 to 2011

Hao Lu, “Employment Rate Gaps between Immigrants and Non-immigrants in

Canada in the Last Three Decades”. Major paper presented to the department of economics of the University of Ottawa in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the M.A. degree. 2015



2) The reasons of the successful integration of immigrants in Canada


- Heavy investment of the federal government’s to support socio-economic integration, official language acquisition, and citizenship acquisition: 1 billion $CDN per year


- A policy of multiculturalism that aims at making immigrants comfortable in Canada: 12 million $CDN per year


- A selective approach to immigration based on a point system that favors educated immigrants


- Controlled immigration: quotas voted every year; very little illegal immigration due to the geographical situation of Canada, a country that can be reached only by crossing the Arctic, Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, or the whole length of the United States. By contrast, the United States receive around 1 million legal immigrants every year, but it is estimated that twice as many illegal immigrants arrive yearly. According to Will Kymlicka, one of Canada’s leading thinkers on multiculturalism, this geographical characteristic is very important to explain the success of Canada’s immigration policy:

Kymlicka Will, “Marketing Canadian Pluralism in the International Arena,” International Journal 59 (Autumn 2004): 829-52. Click here