Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions


For the latest statistics on Toronto immigrant employment, visit Statistics Canada. You can also find useful information on the Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative.

This page answers some of the most common questions on immigration and employment:

Why do employers hire immigrants?
In spring 2011, TRIEC engaged EKOS to poll employers in the Greater Toronto Area* on their reasons for hiring skilled immigrants and found the following:

  • Almost 1 in 5 had hired a skilled immigrant:
    • To target local cultural communities to find new business opportunities – of these 83% felt the skilled immigrants hired were effective in helping on this front
    • To help diversify their company’s client base globally – of these 93% felt the skilled immigrants hired were effective on helping on this front
  • 1 in 10 hired a skilled immigrant because they discovered that competitors were benefiting from hiring skilled immigrants – of those employers, 81% felt the skilled immigrants hired were effective.

*1,461 employers surveyed in the Greater Toronto Area using EKOS’ Probit© online panel. All respondents were either employed full-time or self-employed (and employed at least another employee). All respondents either had primary or shared responsibility for hiring.

What skills do immigrants bring?
Immigrants bring a wide range of skills, education and experience.

  • Of the immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006 – 349,800, or 51%, had a university degree. Learn more.
  • Although 23% of Canadians aged between 25 and 64 were born outside Canada, they accounted for 49% of the doctorate holders in Canada and for 40% of adults with a master’s degree. Learn more.
  • Skilled immigrants also contribute a breadth of international work experience. With familiarity about how business is conducted in international markets and knowledge of other languages, skilled immigrants are an asset to businesses looking to grow overseas.
  • Here in the Toronto Region, skilled immigrants can help employers tap into growing ethnic markets and new ways of doing business.

What employment obstacles do skilled immigrants face?
Skilled immigrants may face the following barriers when trying to enter the labour market:

  • Difficulty obtaining Canadian work experience;
  • Employers not able to recognize international education, training and experience;
  • Insufficient information about employment opportunities and requirements;
  • Lack of professional networks;
  • Lack of occupation-specific terminology in English or French; and
  • Lack of targeted training programs to bridge gaps in qualifications.

How do immigrants fare in the labour market compared to Canadian-born?

  • Education achieved abroad is discounted by the Canadian labour market by a factor of 30%.
  • Work experience achieved abroad is discounted by a factor of 70%.
  • The average unemployment rate for all university-educated immigrants is double the unemployment rate for their Canadian-born counterparts even though both groups have similar labour force participation rates.
  • University graduates born in Pakistan and Iran report the lowest annual earnings and highest unemployment rates of all immigrants with university degrees.

Source: University Educated Immigrants: What are the labour market outcomes of university educated immigrants? (TIEDI Analytical Report 8: March 2010)

How many immigrants settle in the Toronto Region?
The Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) is Canada’s largest immigrant receiving centre. The Toronto CMA includes all of Toronto, Peel and York Census Division and parts of Durham and Halton. Below are the number of immigrants who arrived in the CMA over the last several years:

2005: 112,831
2006: 99,289
2007: 87,138
2008: 86, 900
2009: 82,644
2010: 92,183
2011: 77,739
2012: 77,466

What percentage of the population is made up of immigrants?
In the City of Toronto, immigrants already make up 50 per cent of the population. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the most common countries of birth of immigrants living in Toronto were China (10.6% of the immigrant population in Toronto) and the Philippines (8.2%). Large numbers of immigrants are settling in other local municipalities within the Toronto Region, for example:

  • In Markham, 57.9 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada
  • In Mississauga, 52.9 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada
  • In Brampton, 50.6 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada

For more information visit Statistics Canada


Why is immigration so important to the Toronto Region?

  • The Toronto Region is growing and labour market growth depends on skilled immigrants, as baby boomers retire and the birth rate declines. Canada cannot count on our training systems to produce the numbers of skilled workers needed for the labour force.
  • By 2021, Statistics Canada expects almost one in four workers will be aged 55 or older. By 2031, one in three workers will be born outside of Canada.
  • Many immigrants are highly skilled and therefore a valuable asset to Toronto Region employers.
  • Many skilled immigrants also bring entrepreneurial capacity and contribute to the competitive advantage offered by their diversity.