As 2019 comes to a close, we would like to provide an overview of research published this year that has contributed important new insights on immigrant inclusion in the workforce. The reports cited below have all contributed to the goal of better leveraging immigrant talent for a more inclusive Canada.

Here are our top 11 picks for the year (in reverse alphabetical order):

  1. Who is Succeeding in the Canadian Labour Market? Predictors of Career Success for Skilled Immigrants – WES

How do demographic characteristics, work experience and education of skilled immigrants affect their employment outcomes in Canada? This insightful research by WES underlined that immigrant men were 1.6 times more likely to be employed than immigrant women, and that employment rates were lower for immigrant professionals who were more educated & at senior levels before moving to Canada. Those in IT and professional sectors were more likely to be working in commensurate employment.

  1. Untapped Potential: Canada needs to close its immigrant wage gap – RBC

Canada has made significant progress in integrating newcomers to the labour force. However, underemployment and income gaps are still persistent. The report reminds us that immigrants on average earn about 10% less than people born in Canada – and addressing such wage and employment gaps would potentially add $50 billion to the GDP.

  1. The labour force in Canada and its regions: Projections to 2036 – StatCan

If we were to stop immigration in 2018 and after, Canada’s labour force would begin to contract as early as 2022. In addition, 80% of our population growth could be attributed to immigration in the 2017-18 period. The Statistics Canada study provides such key insights and offers various scenarios of population growth based on the labour force participation rates of Canadians towards 2036.

  1. The Canadian Express Entry System for Selecting Economic Immigrants: Progress and Persistent Challenges – Migration Policy Institute

This study explores how and why the Express Entry system was designed, along with its potential impact on the Canadian immigration system. Express Entry can adjust the selection criteria and minimum points thresholds for economic immigrants in a flexible and timely way, yet there isn’t enough data yet to determine whether it has significantly enhanced the integration outcomes of newcomers.

  1. Scaling International Education – Century Initiative

The number of international students in Canada has increased significantly in the last decades. From 1990 to 1994, only 31,000 international students were admitted to Canada each year, by 2017 there were over 492,000 international students admitted to Canada. The report advances the discussion on how the potential of international students can be leveraged to boost the populations and economies of mid-sized and small communities.

  1. Recruiting Immigrant Workers Canada – OECD

OECD deemed Canada’s labour migration system the “most elaborate ” among the member countries in this study. The success of the Canadian migration system relies on innovation and infrastructure. This system leads to good integration outcomes, high levels of acceptance of migration among the public and strong attraction to potential migrants.

  1. Rebalancing the Opportunity Equation – United Way Greater Toronto

The United Way Greater Toronto report was a grim reminder that income inequalities have grown in the city – and immigrants, young adults and racialized groups in Toronto have become poorer over time. An established immigrant in 2015 made the same or lower income than an individual born in Canada made back in 1980.

  1. Immigration: Ontario’s Uneven Success – Mowat Centre

This report underlined that mid-sized cities & smaller towns in Ontario have much fewer immigrants, relative to their population, than the big cities in the province, especially Toronto. Over 70% of Ontario’s total immigrant population has settled in Toronto, compared to 3.4% in mid-sized cities. The report provided recommendations on how to attract immigrants to Ontario’s smaller cities.

  1. Immigration Beyond the GTA: Toward an Ontario Immigration Strategy – Conference Board of Canada

An aging population, decreasing birth rates and high levels of outmigration in certain regions pose significant economic and fiscal challenges to Ontario’s prosperity. The report suggested the formulation of an “Ontario Regional Immigration Strategy” and revision of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program to achieve more equal distribution of immigrants across the province. 

  1. Empowering Workplaces Combat Emotional Tax for People of Colour in Canada – Catalyst Canada

The study highlights the critical concept of “emotional tax,” which is the culmination of the experience of being different than others (due to a certain identity characteristic, whether gender, ethnicity or something else), while feeling “on guard” to protect oneself against bias. Around 33% to 50% of Black, East Asian and South Asian professionals under study reported being highly on guard against bias in their workplaces.

  1. Can’t Go it Alone: Immigration Is Key to Canada’s Growth Strategy – Conference Board of Canada

The report analyzes different scenarios of immigration and workforce participation, with the goal of assessing their relative impact on the economy. The findings are definitive: increasing immigration to one per cent of the population annually and leveraging the labour force participation of all groups would add $435 billion to Canada’s economy by 2040, with the largest contribution from the former.

These studies offered key insights to our work at TRIEC, and were  a source of inspiration when we were conducting our study on immigrant career advancement – Building a Career Ladder for All. Our research found that immigrants are largely unrepresented at the C-suite level in the GTA, specifically only 6% of executive leadership (VP or above) in the region are immigrants. The report included a set of recommendations to employers on how to advance more diverse and inclusive leadership, drawing upon a number of the studies we have highlighted here.

We look forward to a fruitful 2020 where we collaborate with partners to advance employment and career prospects for immigrants and others through our work in networking, mentoring and learning as well as new and useful research and insights.


As TRIEC, we wish everyone a restful and enjoyable holiday season.