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In most provinces, the employment rate among the immigrant population (aged 25 to 54) lagged behind that of their Canadian-born counterparts in 2006. At the same time, their unemployment rates were also higher. Nevertheless, the gaps between immigrants and the Canadian born tended to narrow with the passage of time since landing in Canada. These gaps were narrowest in Alberta and Manitoba and widest in Quebec. Atlantic Canada immigrants had some favourable outcomes also worth noting.
In 2006, the employment rate for Canadian born in the core working-age in Alberta was the highest (86.5%) of all the provincial employment rates for this group (Chart 3). Among immigrants, those living in Alberta also had relatively high employment rates, regardless of time since landing. The employment rate for very recent immigrants was among the highest in the country (second only to Manitoba) and well above their national average. This is likely a reflection of the strong demand for labour in the province in 2006. Recent immigrants in Alberta also had employment rates well above their national average.
Very recent immigrants in Alberta had an unemployment rate of just 5.8% (Table 4) — less than half the national unemployment rate for very recent immigrants (11.5%), but still twice that of Canadian born Albertans. This seems to indicate that even if very recent immigrants are living in strong labour markets, they can still face obstacles in their initial labour market integration.
Recent immigrants in Alberta, however, had an unemployment rate that was not significantly different from the Canadian-born rate in the province.
Like the Canadian born, immigrants living in Manitoba had high employment rates compared to those elsewhere in Canada in 2006. Very recent immigrants in Manitoba had the highest employment rate of all very recent immigrants. In addition, the unemployment rate for very recent immigrants in Manitoba was just 6.8%, the second lowest unemployment rate for very recent immigrants in the country. These results may be influenced, in part, by their Provincial Nominee Program, which matches skilled workers to employment before landing, in addition to recruiting business immigrants. In 2006, Manitoba received 50% of all provincial nominees who came to Canada.
In 2006, regardless of time since landing, employment rates among core working-age immigrants living in Quebec were substantially lower than their respective national averages. Very recent immigrants in Quebec had the lowest employment rate of all very recent immigrants in Canada (59.3%), trailing the national employment rate for very recent immigrants by 6.1 percentage points (Chart 3).
Immigrants in Quebec also had the largest gaps between their employment rates and the employment rates of Canadian-born Quebeckers. In 2006, very recent immigrants living in Quebec had an employment rate 22.6 percentage points below Canadian-born Quebeckers; however, the gap was narrower for recent immigrants (9.9 percentage points).
Unemployment rates for immigrants living in Quebec were well above their national averages and also significantly higher than for immigrants in any other province. For very recent immigrants, the unemployment rate in Quebec was an estimated 17.8% in 2006 (Table 3). This was nearly three times as large as the Canadian-born unemployment rate in Quebec (6.3%). For recent immigrants, the unemployment rate was still more than double the Canadian-born rate in Quebec (13.4% vs. 6.3%).
Research has indicated that many Canadian immigrants aged 25 to 44 who landed in 2000-2001 and had not yet entered the labour force by 2003 had not done so because they were either attending school (39%) or taking care of their families or households (47%). Quebec reported the highest rate of all provinces where immigrants were attending school instead of entering the labour force (60%). This may explain some of the employment rate gaps between Quebec immigrants and the Canadian born in the province, but is less telling about the unemployment rate gaps. Another factor that could explain higher unemployment rates among immigrants in Quebec could be related to the countries of birth of immigrants living in Quebec compared to other provinces. This topic will be discussed in a subsequent report on the immigrant labour market.
In 2006, an estimated 65,800 landed immigrants were living in Atlantic Canada, almost half of whom were in the core working-age group. These immigrants had strong labour market outcomes. Compared to other provinces, very recent immigrants, aged 25 to 54, living in Atlantic Canada lagged behind their Canadian-born counterparts by the least, with an employment rate gap of about eleven percentage points (Chart 3). Further, recent immigrants in Atlantic Canada had a substantially higher employment rate (83.6%) compared to the rates for both the very recent immigrants (65.5%) and the Canadian born (76.4%) living in the region.
As mentioned in the “Immigration: an overview” section, Ontario was Canada’s largest provincial destination for immigrants. Despite its popularity, Ontario’s core working-age very recent and recent immigrants had employment rates that were significantly lower than Canadian-born Ontario residents in 2006 (Chart 3). In addition, very recent immigrants, aged 25 to 54, in Ontario had an unemployment rate that was 2.5 times that of Canadian-born Ontarians (11.0% vs. 4.4%).
British Columbia, Canada’s second-most popular immigrant destination, had similar results to Ontario in 2006 with lower employment rates for very recent and recent immigrants. Likewise, unemployment rates for very recent immigrants were about 2.6 times the rate for Canadian-born British Columbians.