Research and insights

State of Immigrant Inclusion 

in the Greater Toronto Area Labour Market

The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) was founded in 2003 to ensure that immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area could enter the labour market and find work in their field. Fifteen years on, there have been changes, both in terms of what the local labour market looks like and in terms of immigrants’ chances of finding career success.

Our new report The State of Immigrant Inclusion examines what’s changed – or remained the same – in this regard through original research, interviews, and a survey of over 200 GTA employers, employment service providers, and individuals.

Newcomers are forced to often take on survival jobs that are well below their skills, experience, and expertise, just to make ends meet. One of them was a man named Miguel Abascal who immigrated to Canada from Mexico. Below is his story.

From coffee company CEO to coffee server – one newcomer’s journey

It’s the year 2010 and I’m the CEO of a very successful coffee company in Mexico. As CEO, I was traveling the world and showcasing the company’s excellent coffee. I was in my early 20s and was living the dream – working at a profitable company, and living in a house by 
the ocean surrounded by coconut trees that had a large pool in the backyard. It was at this point in my life that I received a call about an application I had filed to immigrate to Canada two years earlier. I was given six months to decide if I wanted to move there…

Report Findings



The unemployment gap in the Greater Toronto Area is narrowing.

 Yet, at 12.5 per cent in 2016, the unemployment rate for university-educated newcomers is still twice that of the rate for people born in Canada.


Employers who focus on hiring from the immigrant talent pool are more likely to appreciate the benefits.

 80 per cent of employers with a focus on immigrant professionals felt immigrants had positively affected their organization.


Increased focus on diversity and inclusion = increased efforts to attract and retain immigrants.

 61 per cent of the employers we surveyed said that a new focus on diversity and inclusion was the main reason their organization had changed its practices around hiring and retaining immigrants in the last few years.

Areas for Improvement


Newcomer women are lagging behind.

 Those with a university degree earn on average half the amount of their Canadian-born counterparts..

Immigrants with a Canadian degree are doing better than those without.

 This could mean that some immigrants are paying for a degree as a way of getting around the Canadian experience barrier.


 Immigrants are underrepresented in senior positions.

 Just 35 per cent of senior managers with a university degree in the Greater Toronto Area are immigrants… even though immigrants make up 52 per cent of the university-educated workforce.


Fewer newcomer men are getting to the top of the pay scale compared to men born in Canada.

Key Recommendations

Support immigrants to achieve success throughout their careers


Make the Canadian experience requirement a thing of the past


Support immigrant women


Scale what works


Change how we think about credentials


Survey dissemination partners

ACCES Employment


Chinese Canadian Advertising, Marketing and Media Association

Conference Board of Canada

Corporate Council for Volunteerism

Council for Access to the Profession of Engineering


Human Resources Professionals Association

Indo-Canadian chamber of Commerce


Survey dissemination media partner

Canadian HR Reporter


Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)

Latin American MBA Alumni Network

Markham Board of Trade

Mississauga Board of Trade

Newmarket Chamber of Commerce

Toronto Region Board of Trade

Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

World Education Services Canada