This paper will explore the economic contribution made by immigrants to the Canadian economy over the past 20 years. This period of immigration has been different from the historical patterns of immigration that opened up Canada. Patterns of immigration over the past 20 years have been more to large urban centers, particularly Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa (King and Newbold, 2007). Immigrants are drawn to large urban centers for economic reasons; it is in these centers that they find the largest number of entry-level jobs. Immigrants compete with native-born Canadians for work, but generally, must start at the lowest rung when they arrive in Canada (Hum and Simpson, 2004). These jobs are low-skill, and low-wage, and recent immigrants obviously hope to achieve jobs that match their abilities. I will explore what happens to immigrants after they initially arrive in Canada, and how they contribute to the economy.
[...] Immigrants are not entirely ‘trapped' in these industries, as the income disparity between immigrants and native born Canadians closes the longer immigrants live in Canada, but they definitely seem to represent a large number of employees in these areas. As Breau (2007) notes, immigrants seem to push down wages in unskilled or semi-skilled occupations. They seem to fit into a pattern in the globalization of work, one where unskilled jobs flow to countries where wages are lower, and unskilled workers are paid less. [...]
[...] Empirical studies in the United States indicate that the impact of recent immigrants may account for anywhere between 5 and 20 percent of the recent increase in wage inequality (Borjas et al. 1997; Cline 1997; Reed 2001).” (Breau: p. 77) The figure provided by the CIC, that 51% of landed immigrants in 2005 were in the skilled worker category (http://www.cic.gc.ca/EnGLIsh/resources/statistics/bus-stats2005.asp) needs to be looked at in more detail. There are quite specific requirements for this group; the CIC publishes a list of jobs that need to be filled, and each applicant must get enough points (based on education, age, language skills, and occupation, among other things) to qualify to enter Canada. [...]
[...] The need for the dispersion of immigrants to other regions in Canada has garnered growing academic attention as well as the attention of both federal and provincial levels of government, with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently implementing measures in their Sustainable Development Strategy to encourage a more equitable distribution of immigrants across Canada (CIC 2006).” (King and Newbold: p. 244). King and Newbold argue that specific policies could encourage immigrants to migrate outwards to smaller metropolitan areas and rural areas, where they could contribute in different ways to the Canadian economy. [...]
[...] There is also evidence, Hum and Simpson argue, that being a visible minority has an impact on the earnings of immigrants when they arrive in Canada: and Simpson (1999) find from the 1993 SLID an entry effect of for visible minority males compared to for other males and an entry effect of for visible minority females and for other females.” (p. 51). Finally, Hum and Simpson describe growing evidence that immigrants who arrive in Canada after 1990 may never reach income parity with native Canadians (p. [...]
[...] Since immigrants to Canada are more frequently under the age of 65 (for example, CIC indicates that 51% of the total of landed immigrants in 2005 were in the skilled worker category, and you cannot be eligible for this category if you are over the age of retirement), the net impact of immigrants on the economy is to contribute to services that are needed by the existing population. With fewer immigrants, the composition of the population would be older, and fewer workers would be supporting more elderly people, so overall, there would be less funds for social programs. [...]
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